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From the page: "Don't let your job get in the way of your wanderlust. Photo by Ed Yourdon/flickr/CC
Don't let your job get in the way of your wanderlust. Photo by Ed Yourdon/flickr/CC
So, youâve got a stack of files from the office and license to telecommute? Good. Hereâs the secret to being productive without being present.
This how-to was written by Terrence Russell, a regular contributor to Wired Magazine and the How-To Wiki.
1 Choose Your Weapons
2 Prepare the Troops
3 Respond Quickly and Over-Communicate
4 Master the Surgical Strike
Choose Your Weapons
Working outside the office isnât hard â" it just requires digital omnipresence. Our advice? Outline the tasks that fill your average workday and find corresponding web-based tools and services that let you perform them remotely.
Email and phone solutions are no-brainers, but also familiarize yourself with live collaborative services like video conferencing via Skype or Google+ or even IM and Group SMS messages like HipChat or Campfire. The aim is to recreate your office productivity suite in a remote setting without creating too much of a headache for the in-office employees.
PRO TIP: It canât hurt to run your selections by the office IT guru. On top of addressing possible technological hurdles, he/she will likely have recommendations for additional tools and services that are compatible your officeâs productivity suite.
Prepare the Troops
Empty chairs make the worst meeting attendees. Before leaving the office make sure to alert any need-to-know personnel or colleagues that youâll be both remote and working.
The goal here is twofold; setting that expectation not only dispels the passive assumption that youâre playing hookie, but it also lets you outline your preferred âoeout-of-officeâ contact methods.
And remember: even if you are conducting a legitimate business meeting on a tropical beach, itâs still important to function as a communicative member of a team. Transparency makes everyoneâs life easier.
PRO TIP: Manager or co-worker still uneasy about the arrangement? Offer to spend a half-day stress-testing your arrangement.
Respond Quickly and Over-Communicate
All the connectivity in the world means nothing if youâre asleep at the wheel. While itâs occasionally permissible to let email pile up when youâre in the office, itâs almost never okay when working outside the office.
Try to respond to every reasonable request (i.e., a status update on an on-going project) with a sense of urgency. Itâs perfectly fine if you donât have good news, just as long as youâre able to show that youâre on it regardless of your location in the world.
This not only builds confidence in your ability to function autonomously, but also lets you manage a workplace crisis from afar without comprising your work ethic or overall effectiveness as a member of a team.
Master the Surgical Strike
No matter how much remote e-work you do, youâll probably still have to venture into the office to complete some tasks. Try preparing a shrewdly efficient to-do list before venturing into the workplace â" itâll help keep the soul-sucking to a minimum.
The point is to maximize your face-time without getting bogged down in the unnecessary minutiae that comes with an office setting. Meetings with higher-ups and boardroom brainstorming sessions with other departments should go high on the list. Discussing Game of Thrones spoilers by the water cooler should rank fairly low.
In general, try to keep your interactions brief and remember that momentum is key. At worst youâll seem like a somewhat pushy but incredibly industrious employee. At best youâll fly through your to-do list and be back on the beach by lunchtime. "
From the page: "Retention In Online Courses: Surviving The First Week
By Timothy Clapper | Adjunct Professor and Educational Consultant, TC Curriculum & Instructional Design, LLC
Above all else, online educators must bait and hook learners in their first week of classes or risk losing a student. Photo by Zetrules.
Online learning was once considered nontraditional by academia, but time has certainly changed all of that. This mode of learning has seen the most growth over the past few years among US institutions of higher learning, with a recent study showing only 250 of 2,500 colleges and universities without any online offerings (Allen & Seaman, 2010). Whether nonprofits are feeling the crunch from the for-profit universities, or learners are demanding online opportunities because of better learning outcomes (Allen & Seaman, 2010; U.S. Department of Education, 2009, p. 51), online learning is increasing and is no longer just another innovative instructional methodology (Clapper, 2010). Instead, online learning is very much recognized as a traditional mode of education. While some institutions are still sorting out whether they will adapt or be left behind, the institutions that have embraced this modality are addressing another issue: retention after the first week.
Understanding retention means understanding the learners and the issues that are involved in their decision to stay or go. For those of us that have been on the receiving end of online instruction, we may recall the feelings we felt upon entering the course room through the learning management system (LMS) and our initial impressions. These feelings would stay with us throughout our first week as we sampled a bit of what the course would offer to us. While volumes could be written about these feelings, what they mean, and how to address them, there are some consistent variables that a course developer and facilitator must consider that will affect retention. Some of these issues may include motivation factors, such as: (a) the learning environment, (b) self-efficacy, (c) positive outcome expectations, and (d) perceived value of learning; along with learner attributes that include ability, effort, and correctly applied learning strategies (Schunk, 2012, p. 20; Stipek, 1996, ch. 8).
Dupin-Bryant (2010) identified some pre-entry variables related to course completion and non-completion in online university courses and found that prior educational experience and computer training were factors in completion. Her study revealed the importance of teaching learners how to search for resources and ensuring that learners are familiar, or supported, with using computer and web-based programs that may be a part of the instruction. Familiarity and comfort may address LMS navigation and assist with addressing the self-efficacy issue, especially for adult learners.
Online learning is very convenient for adult learners, because âoethey have a lot going onâ (Clapper, 2010, p. e9), and it allows them the flexibility they need to juggle multiple responsibilities in life including family, work, and social issues. Institutions must recognize and prepare for the new learner fresh out of high school, the adult learner who has been out of school for some time, and the learner who was not exposed to prior online learning. The learning environment must be easy to navigate, feel psychologically nonthreatening, and lead to the least amount of frustration as possible. This implies fewer LMS buttons and fewer choices at the beginning of the course so the learner does not feel overwhelmed and wondering where to start. A good suggestion would be to design the learning environment with progressing levels of activities and choices. Several discussion forums at the beginning of the course and an abundant menu of LMS tools can overwhelm and confuse the learner entering the course room for the first time. Some LMS programs allow the instructor or developer to turn off certain features, displays, and buttons in the tool panel. Many times additional buttons can be activated as the course progresses and introduced to the learner by the facilitator. While scanning and navigating through the LMS, the learner will also reflect on the value and usefulness of the contents of the course.
Few learners will spend any real time analyzing the course syllabus. Poorly written, unorganized course syllabuses that inundate the learner with detailed information can cause confusion and stress. So here lies another missed opportunity to present a convenient and useful looking course with clear expectations and meaningful outcomes without the appearance of being overwhelming. While scanning through the syllabus, the lessons, and discussion areas, the learner will assess the value of the lesson material in terms of application and outcomes, how these constructs match their needs, and their ability to be successful. The course discussion questions, a significant componen
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