There are so many options out there for getting that degree you never finished, brushing up on business skills, or even to retrain for a new career—all without changing your entire life in the process.
The New York Times reports on whether or not online education is right for you . . . and your current or future employer.
"While every employer is different, Susan Kryczka, director of distance education at Boston University, said that most treat online degrees as equivalent to degrees obtained by attending classes in classrooms.
Ms. Kryczka said that many employers would cover online education as part of existing tuition reimbursement programs, provided that employees could prove that the online degree pertained to their current job.
Once employees have completed their degrees, she added, many are rewarded with additional compensation for advancing their education. . . .
When employers are considering job applicants, online degrees are also becoming more accepted. Bob Leber, director of education and work-force development at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., says that when employers are evaluating prospective employees, most don’t ask applicants to specify how they obtained their degrees, just where they obtained them."
So how do you find a good program?
OnlineEduBlog.com rates online universities here. This rating service offers news updates, ratings, and links to a wide selection of online education classes that are available.
"OnlineEduBlog is an education directory and guide that provides exclusive information, reviews, tips and suggestions on choosing the best online college, online course and online education resources that will help you complete your higher education very conveniently along with the degrees they offer for various levels."
The Denver Post reports that with the rising cost of gas these days, online classes are becoming the preferred choice of prospective students.
"As the price of gasoline swells by the day, online education appears to be one industry that has grown sweeter for those hoping to get a degree.
The wait list at the University of Colorado Denver's online program is up 90 percent from last fall. The number of students enrolled in CSU's distance-learning courses is up by 300 students from last year."
What are you waiting for?
This increase in the use of technology has lead to management asking employees to do more. The name of the game is productivity. More output with fewer employees equals higher profits. If we are going to be asked to use technology then it makes sense that we use it to its full potential.
Telephone calls, conference calls, web or video conferencing, they all take time to organize and of course, they all take time from our schedule to participate. There is much in the way of software that can help a busy person plan and control their daily activities. If you are a MicroSoft Outlook user then you have a fairly comprehensive calendar and task manager right at your fingertips.
If the in-built features of Outlook aren't quite powerful enough to handle your requirements, you can download and install plugins that extend Outlook's capabilities. There are several plugins available including AccuConference Outlook Plugin. This is a free conference call scheduler.
Most schedulers allow you to view calendars for all the proposed participants to find common free periods. You are then able to book a conference call and send emails to each participant.
One of the benefits of using a plugin is the auto feature which will automatically dial the participant's phone numbers at the scheduled time. Using this feature, you can schedule individual calls throughout the day to an individual number or schedule a group of numbers for a conference call.
To use the software, you would normally activate the function through a button on Outlook's toolbar. To select the participant(s) from your contacts list (or manually insert numbers), select a time and day and save. You can set a reminder for any period prior to the scheduled start time. This appears as a popup displaying the reminder message and details. At the scheduled time the software would activate the auto call function.
Plugins help you to schedule your time. This helps you plan your day leading to more control over your activities, less stress and better productivity.
Webinars have become trendy these days. To entice viewers to sign up as well as watch the entire webinar you have to offer something that when the viewer ponders the question "What's in it for me?" His answer will be "plenty." If your invitation to the webinar has the fingerprints of an aggressive copywriter all over it you're going to decrease the number of attendees.
Don't turn your webinar into a sales pitch. Some people will be bored while some will be resentful and they will simply exit the webinar. It's not like sitting in a convention room and having to awkwardly walk out of the conference while hoping a representative of the host won't stop and say "Where are you going?" They will simply "click you off."
It has been estimated that less than 10% of people who participate in a webinar are prepared to sign on the dotted line. Don't focus your seminar on your specific products or services. Don't instruct your sales team to contact the audience immediately after the conclusion of the webinar.
Offer a presentation filled with interesting and unique information that will establish your company as an exceptional source of information. This will create a rapport and a trust with potential clients. The delighted attendees will actually be promoting your webinar and your company to other potential customers.
Sometimes in the flurry to plan an event, such as a web conference, many details are left unattended. This can happen to any organization, whether it is their very first web conference or they hold such an event every week.
Take some time to think about all that is involved, make lists, and divide up tasks. Do what you have to so that you can be assured that things will run smoothly.
You have no control over attendees' schedules, but you can make sure that the timing is coordinated. If you have participants in different parts of the U.S. or different parts of the world, you need to be certain that everything is set for the right people at the right time.
It is quite possible to get into a tizzy about speakers, technology, topics and other matters, forgetting that time is of the essence.
Also, be certain to inform participants not only of the time, but also of the duration of the web conference. It is so easy to concentrate on getting the start time correct, that you omit to advise people of how long they are expected to attend. You want key people to be able to take part in the entire web conference, so give them advance notice to clear time on their schedules.
Have you gotten on a conference call and the moderator hasn't dialed in yet? You called on time or maybe even a few minutes early, but you were waiting and waiting. Hold music is soothing, but when you are a multi-tasking executive your time is valuable and it appears it is being wasted by someone else!
Think of a conference call as a face-to-face meeting and present yourself accordingly. For all of your conference calls, I recommend that you, the moderator, call in at a minimum of five minutes early. This allows you to personally greet each participant as they arrive. It also gives you a chance to chat with the early attendees and break the ice.
If you are web conferencing and have your Webcam set up, don't use the few early minutes to apply makeup, comb your hair, or review your notes. Be smiling and ready to welcome each attendee with your eyes focused on the camera. Don't be caught off guard!
I also recommend that you check yourself in your webcam 10 minutes before your call starts to make sure you look the best you can. Once you're ready, forget about the camera and just consider the camera lens as the eyes of your participants. There is something welcoming about dialing in and getting a personal greeting from the host or seeing a smiling face.
Remember many attendees to your call will phone in five minutes earlier than the scheduled time of the call, so be on five minutes before that and start your teleconference off right!
If you are the main speaker for a conference call or web conference, you may want to practice before the day of the phone call or event. You can assure yourself that your audience will get the full impact of your message by taking the time to be well prepared. What you really shouldn’t do is try to conduct a conference call in an "off the cuff" fashion.
Prepare your notes ahead of time
Think about the main topic, what you want to say, and the length of the conference call as you compose your notes. Remember that people in other places will be listening, but not seeing you. They will likely be taking notes themselves, so you have to present your theme in a digestible fashion.
Practice going over your notes
Once you have your notes in good shape, it is time to practice saying them aloud. You cannot replicate what will happen during the call, but you can be familiar with what you want to say. You could tape record yourself reading through the notes and play it back to get an idea of how you might sound. Or you could ask a friend if you can could them and go over the notes. This person could ask you a few questions and give you feedback.
Sometimes you need to get your team or group together for a meeting, but it is just impossible for everyone to get together in the same place at the same time. Because it is important to have everyone seeing the same thing at the same time, a teleconference just does not seem like the best vehicle for interaction. What do you do?
Well, pretty much, you have two choices: web conferencing or video conferencing. How do you know which one would be best? It can be confusing. There is overlap in capability because web conferencing can include video and you can share documents via video conferencing.
To decide, which one is best for you and your meeting, you have to ask two things: "What do I, and everyone else, need to see?" and "What is being emphasized, the content of a presentation or interactions between people?"
If the answer is "the presentation and its content", then you should be thinking "web conference". If you want, you could arrange a small pop-up window on the screen with a video of the speaker just to add a personal touch. If the answer is "personal interaction", then video conferencing is your communications vehicle of choice.
Web conferences are very good if you are making product demonstrations, analyzing reports/data or doing software training. Video conferences are better for board meetings, negotiations, interviews, or depositions.
Of the two, because video conferencing requires more technology and infrastructure, it is the more expensive option.
If you have customers in different parts of the country or even different parts of the world, you have likely conquered the difficulties of routine communications. But what do you do when a customer has a very specific query about a product, one that cannot be answered in a quick e-mail or 10 minute phone conversation?
This is one area where web conferencing can help. You can use this technology to address the issue yourself and if you need to include colleagues, and none of you needs to leave the office.
Before you initiate a web conference, make sure that the client in question is web-savvy enough to participate. You don't want to set up a web conference only to find that your goal of helping a customer cannot be met because that person is unaware of how to use their computer or the internet. Depending on you area of business, you may be able to use this as a teaching opportunity, getting your client up to speed and answering their questions at the same time.
A web conference is not just a way to answer any questions that pop up when someone uses your product, it is also a way to impress them, with your knowledge and customer service skills.
When you want to take a college level class, learn a new skill, keep up-to-date on continuing education classes, the e-Campus has become a hot property and first choice for many.
Using the Internet with teleconferencing, application sharing, and interactive options such as forums for after class discussions the e-Campus is becoming a mainstream education choice. Not only have traditional four year colleges embraced the Internet as a way for professors to communicate lesson plans, post notes, and monitor class assignments, but graduate level courses are being served with interactive video allowing the actual class members to share and discuss topics under the supervision of an instructor in real-time.
Many of these online classes use teleconferencing and Web conferencing as ways to listen to and watch a lecture and to interact with a professor. Some classes use a forum or online blackboard to post lectures, video lessons, and some actually support far-flung virtual classrooms connected via the Web with class and instructor video feeds. The diverse use of technology to disseminate information, train and educate students, and offer higher level education to a wider sector of people is changing the face of higher level education.
Many online classes allow for self-paced learning and some prefer the strong class interaction of having everyone online at the same time. Either way education is taking a new advance and allowing more options in how you go to class on the new e-Campus.
As we indicated in the previous blog, the biggest mistake in producing webinars is under-pricing them. In part this is because people forget that this is a completely new medium, not your old-fashioned Marriott ballroom seminar event. Remember, webinars free people from the costs of having to travel and stay somewhere to participate in the event. Build some of this convenience that you are providing your audience into your price.
It is a lot easier to initially set the tuition of at the high end and see what comes in than it is to try and increase prices at a later date for the same information. Keep in mind that the important and timeliness of what you can tell participants, in addition to the convenience you are providing, can overcome almost any pocketbook issue.
An alternative way to charge for attendance is to offer a site license, as opposed to a per-seat charge. Consider this option in your pricing as it can be great way to increase participation and get more customers. Although companies will typically pay a higher tuition cost, more than one person from the same office can participate. You may even want to encourage this in your marketing message. The advantage of multi viewer participation to the company is that all of their people hear the same message at the same time. This sure beats paying for one person to go to a meeting and then come home and try to brief their colleagues. This team webinar participation approach also provides your staff with a vehicle to discuss what they have learned and share questions and think of applications after the webinar is over.