Accredible Contest Hack #9: Leveraging the Power of Peers

socialnetwork

With the end of the #AwesomeSlates contest less than a week away, we’re ready to reveal perhaps the best contest hack yet:  how going social can help you gain endorsements on your Slates (and make them even stronger contest candidates!) and how a strong network can help you stay motivated!

As Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates, we thrive when we feel a sense of belonging and feel respected. These very needs easily explain why “peer pressure” and the “bandwagon effect” can be so influential. While these might have negative associations, if we acknowledge the power of peer accountability, we can then leverage it to build networks that help us stick with a course of study, providing inspiration, motivation, and thought partners.

Find Study Buddies

Finding a group study with in college or in MOOCs is a great way to meet people that share your interests and can help you better understand the material you’re learning. Even if you are really confident in your own knowledge, if you find yourself in the position of explaining concepts to others in your group, you’ll find your own understanding solidifying and becoming more nuanced (Teaching is one of the best ways to learn!) So hop on a study forum for a MOOC or host a study session for some classmates.

Go Public

Accredible endorsements are simply quotes from colleagues and peers that attest to your knowledge or skill. After creating a Slate, and filling it up with your impressive collection of evidence, you should ask for endorsements! Asking for endorsements for your Slate can be a intimidating, but the rewards vastly outweigh the initial nervousness. Gaining endorsements boosts your credibility; this is especially valuable for people who may not know you as well or know you within a particular context. Besides the main benefit of gaining credibility and looking even more like the rock star you are, you gain…

  • Increased motivation to continue adding evidence and build out your strengths. The more people see your work after you’re done and shared your Slate with community, the more motivated you’re to put much more into it – creating Slate and learning itself. Accredible helps you to create a portfolio of your mind with every Slate representing your capabilities, talents and value. Accredible allows you to share your achievements with the world and document all your knowledge, making it timeless and enduring.
  • An avenue for feedback about your learning. Feedback is crucial for improvement because it allows you to take a deeper look at yourself and spot weaker areas.  You can get many ideas for improving your work, and even get suggestions for other topics to look into, by sharing your knowledge profile publicly and sharing your Slates.
  • An expanded network. This was an unexpected discovery for us. Some users found new friends based on interests when they shared their Slates with community.

 

Our educational journeys are enriched by the people who cheer us on, critique our missteps, celebrate our achievements, and endorse our strengths.  Don’t be afraid to share your new slates with the world — even if they’re still “blank slates,” you’re inviting others to follow your journey.

0. Contest Announcement

1. MOOC Slates

2. “Saylor category for self-paced learning” Slates

3. Formal Learning Slates

4. Knowledge/Skill Slates

5. How to Make the Most of Accredible

6. Skills ToolBox, an Overview

7. Filling Your Skills ToolBox: How to Brainstorm

8. Adding Creativity to your Toolbox

9. Leveraging the Power of Peers (current)

 

 

Accredible Contest Hack #8: Adding Creativity to Your Toolbox

via flickr: Eddi van W.

Creativity is a key that unlocks doors of great opportunities, innovative products, and original solutions for different problems in a variety of fields. It is one of the main skills for 21st century… the question is, how do you develop creativity?

Practice thinking outside of the box
First, you need to develop the habit of seeing things differently, Thinking outside of box is a mindset that once developed is hard to lose, and like any skill, it gets easier with consistent practice.

Begin by relaxing and emptying your mind. Consider the problem that you want to solve and approach it from as many different angles and perspectives as possible…even nonsensical ones. When you’re brainstorming in this way, associative thinking is your greatest ally. And remember, if you get in the habit of thinking from multiple angles often, you’ll begin to see new associations and ideas on a regular basis! (Another great way to develop this skill is to take a course on it — Try NovoEd’s A Crash Course on Creativity)

Be Observant & Take Notes
Even the most mundane things, such as personal routine, can give provide many insights and new ideas. Notice patterns in the world around you, write down your observations, and reflect on why those choices were made. Applications like Google Keep or Evernote are useful for capturing thoughts on-the-go. If you make a practice of writing down your thoughts, you’ll not only start to see hidden details that you might have missed if you weren’t paying attention, but you’ll also find yourself becoming better at articulating your thoughts in everyday conversation and discussion. You can also review notes and combine and mix different ideas. To optimize the creation of new ideas and connections, use brightly colored pens or markers and plenty of images. Though they may not be the tools associated with a “serious” workplace, they can help create a more visually compelling brainstorm and help us see connections we may not have considered.

Rediscover Your Inner Child
Do you remember being a child and thinking that the world was full of wonder and magic? Kids are filled with curiosity and a desire to explore. Rediscovering your inner child can help you to recapture that sense of endless possibility. Keep asking “why,” always staying curious. In his famous Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs reminded us to, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

Turn Everything into a Game
Games can be useful for your work and studies they help you to do things more productively without losing enjoyment. Games are enticing because even when you’re working towards a goal, the gameplay itself is energizing and fun. Games are also enticing because “failure” can easily be fixed; there’s always a way to restart. Bringing this optimistic mindset from gaming to your coursework or career goals is greatly beneficial; this mindset can transform your work and studies from labor to an amazing journey which will set you free of any fears you may encounter. Moreover, it brings freedom and ingenuity into your work – no more faking and hardships, as there’s no losing in the end, only winning.

Try creating Accredible Slates for different skills and areas of your life to help you stay motivated and track your progress; turn your goals into a game. Next time you get stuck, take a walk through our gallery for inspiration on how to create awesome Slates (and don’t forget there’s still time to enter the #AwesomeSlates Contest and win $150 for each winning slate you’ve made)!

This post is part of a series on the Hacks to Create Winning Slates:

0. Contest Announcement

1. MOOC Slates

2. “Saylor category for self-paced learning” Slates

3. Formal Learning Slates

4. Knowledge/Skill Slates

5. How to Make the Most of Accredible

6. Skills ToolBox, an Overview

7. Filling Your Skills ToolBox: How to Brainstorm

8. Adding Creativity to your Toolbox (current)

 

3 Simple Tips for Recent Grads Looking for a Job

Today we have a guest post by Benjamin Kim of RedHoop, a super helpful site that helps self-directed learners search for online courses across different platforms. Ben’s job-hunting tips are not to be missed! Read on! 

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For us recent grads, getting a job in this economy is tough.

The unemployment rate may be around 7%, but according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, 36.7% of recent grads are “mal-employed,” meaning they hold jobs that don’t require a college degree.

If you’re like me, you didn’t go to college and accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt to wait tables or bartend, but that’s the unfortunate reality facing many young people today. During my year of cover letters, job fairs, and interviews, I struggled to make myself stand out – a fancy degree from a private university meant little without substance to back it up.

Simply put, a one-page resume is no longer enough for today’s job search. Spending hours upon hours on job boards may have worked for people in the past, but for those of us who are entering this rapidly changing workforce we must make ourselves stand out.

Here are some job hunting tips to help you put your best foot forward:

1. Display your passion and present it well!

Websites like LinkedIn and Accredible are great ways to get started. If not, consider making an online portfolio – while it may be perceived as a resource for artists, aspiring professionals should consider getting one as well. This way you can display your work from classes, volunteering, freelancing, passions, etc. in a medium that truly highlights your personality.

One note about social media: as it becomes an integral aspect of the job search it’s easy to forget that a simple Google search can reveal more information than you’d like! So before anything, clean up your social media. Toggle your privacy settings. This is not to scare you, but instead I’m stressing the importance of finding ways to separate your personal social life and your professional work life.

2. Hone your knowledge and skills as often as you can

A regular course load won’t be enough to impress an employer. Make it apparent that you’re doing more than just the minimum. Skill-based courses will provide you the practical experience that transfers well into the work force. However, I’m a big proponent in taking a wide range of topics that may interest you, so I recommend taking additional courses or learning valuable skills like online. (You can use RedHoop to find more than 4000 online courses, 1500 free online courses).

3. Create genuine relationships, don’t network

One critical mistake many people make is not conducting a deep, insightful research on your prospective employer. If you’re at a job fair, don’t ask questions like “so what do you guys do?” or “what would I do at this job?” Instead, you should be asking questions that really showcase your deep understanding of the company, as well as its industry. Be ready to emphasize why you think you’d be a great fit by relating your previous experiences with the company’s core competencies.

Recruiters get tens, if not hundreds, of unsolicited emails every day from job seekers. People often forget recruiters are not only responsible for bringing talent to their respective companies, but also making sure new hires fit the culture. If you’re shooting off random emails with your resume attached, those emails will likely go straight to the trash or receive one my favorite replies: “I’ll send this to the right people,” only to never hear from them ever again.

Be genuinely interested in not only the job position, but also be genuine to recruiters. After dealing with hundreds of hungry, ambitious job-seekers, they’ll appreciate someone without a giant “Please give me a job” sign posted on their forehead. Of course, your goal is to get a job, but your relationship with a recruiter is a long-term investment that will pay great dividends if you build a genuine personal foundation. Instead, ask great questions and avoid talking about yourself. After meeting them for the first time, follow up via email and briefly explain again why you’d be a great fit – professionally and culturally. Also, to keep the conversation flowing, consider asking a question to further highlight your interest and knowledge. By knowing whether or not you’ll be a great culture fit, you can separate yourself from the students who interview for the sake of interviewing. Instead, you’ll be a job-seeker that is determined and prepared to tackle the challenges ahead, making yourself stand out from the crowd.

Ben is a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in Television and Media Studies. He is currently interning at RedHoop(www.redhoop.com), a website that helps self-directed learners further their education by making it easier to search for online courses. For any questions, clarifications, or comments, he can be reached on LinkedIn (benk.im).

Slates: The Story Behind the Name

SlatesIf you’ve been following us from the beginning, you may have noticed that we originally referred to an Accredible “slate” which contains the evidence of learning for a particular course or skill as a “cert,” short for “certificate.” The original thought around “cert” was that it represented, much like its real-life counterpart, a formal recognition of learning. But what we realized was that a certificate is something awarded at the end of learning; it implies that learning is complete. But how can we ever be done with learning?

What we realized was that we’re far more interested in documenting educational journeys from their beginning rather than signaling their ends. Instead of a certificate, we needed a symbol of openness, possibility, potential. This is where “slate” came from; a “blank slate,” from the Latin tabula rasa, is meant to be filled with new ideas and experiences.

The reality is that a simple sheet of paper cannot convey—no matter how nice the calligraphy or how shiny the gold foil may be—how much learning and new knowledge has really been gained, and since Accredible is building a new system for recognizing and showcasing learning, we wanted to think beyond the boundaries of a sheet of paper. We’re hoping that your love of learning will guide you to join thousands of users creating entire series of slates ready to be filled with exciting new knowledge!

For those of you needing a bit of a more practical motivator, we’d like to remind you that we’re still running the #AwesomeCerts #AwesomeSlates Contest. Winners within each of the following five categories will each win a $150 Amazon gift card:

• Best Slate for MOOC learning
• Best Slate for Formal Learning
• Best Slate for Skill/Knowledge
• Best Slate for Self-paced learning
• Most Innovative Slate

The contest runs through the end of July; for more details on how to submit your Accredible slates see the contest info page.

So get those slates started and win big! Afterall, learning something new and sharing it with the world is already a win.