Buzzwords Decoded: Dynamic

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘motivation’ and are back again with ‘dynamic’ to take your resume up another notch.

 

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

: always active or changing

: having or showing a lot of energy

: of or relating to energy, motion, or physical force

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Saying that you are a dynamic person can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts.  Usually, ‘dynamic’ refers to something that changes.  In the workplace, that may not necessarily be a good thing.  Flexibility?  Yes.  Employee who randomly decides to change his approach to work?  No.  Are employers really that nitpicky about the word and its exact meaning?  Probably not, but if your usage of a word doesn’t click immediately, someone who has mere seconds to look at your resume will just gloss over it and you will have lost an opportunity to make an imprint in their mind.

Unless you have an extensive amount of work experience full of career moves and advances, your resume usually will be limited to 1 page.  Cramming your entire personality and life experience onto a single page is difficult and every word is precious.  Losing the chance to shine because of a poorly used word in an unfortunate opportunity cost.

 

How to Use it Properly

Like any overt claim you make about yourself on your resume, it is important to back it up and provide context. If the executive summary of your resume refers to you as a ‘dynamic go-getter’ and never goes back to explain why later, the word is lost and has no meaning.  Assuming you absolutely must use the word, talk about how dynamic your ideas were on a project.

Still, ‘dynamic’ is simply an overly vague word.  If you mean that you are a flexible person, use ‘flexible’.  If you mean energetic, just use ‘energetic’.  The person reading your resume is probably a person (or sometimes a computer, but that’s just another reason to keep it simple) who doesn’t use flowery vocabulary themselves in real life.  The easier you make it for them to get through your entire resume quickly, the more likely they are to get the impression you originally intended from your application.

 

Take Away

‘Dynamic’ is an odd word that doesn’t usually describe a person clearly without direct examples.  Even with a lot of context, it can usually be replaced with a much more simple and straightforward term.  Just Keep It Simple, Silly!

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

3 Traits that Made Sherlock Holmes a Genius

ALDERNEY - 2009: shows Sherlock Holmes

Whether you think of him as the quirky young gentleman from 19th Century Britain or the high functioning sociopath with a drug problem from present day London, Sherlock Holmes’ genius is undisputed.  The question is, how did Arthur Conan Doyle develop his legendary character’s powers of deduction?  An excellent formal education?  Natural skill?  Well, natural skill certainly had a lot to do with it, but the secret ingredient is a healthy dose of autodidacticism.

 

Lots of Reading & Background Junk

Sherlock Holmes was always reading something new – whether it was in Doyle’s books, one of the several subsequent movies, or the most recent Sherlock series, Dr. Watson mentioned the stacks of papers and books all over Sherlock’s work space and apartment several times.

Naturally, with all this reading came a wealth of background knowledge.  In his most modern adaptation, Sherlock is seen conducting research and tests that only trained professionals are able to do.  Yet, Sherlock Holmes is known to have attended college only briefly and never finished his undergraduate degree.  His natural talent and ability to learn quickly opened him to information that a formal education never provided.

This extensive background knowledge is integral to Sherlock Holmes’ powers of deduction.  After all, to deduce something, you must be able to rule out options which is only possible if you have enough information about it to make a decision.

 

Chaotic Creativity

Anyone who has seen the most recent, highly acclaimed Sherlock series can attest to the the fact that the apartment the detective shares with Dr. Watson is not only messy, but straight up gross.  There are disgusting eyeballs in the fridge and human skulls on the mantle of the fireplace.  In one scene, one such eyeball even falls into Sherlock’s tea – which he continues to drink contemplatively.

Such chaos (except maybe a bit more hygienic) is characteristic of a number of creative geniuses.  Mark Twain always had the messiest desk that spawned some of the best loved literature of all time.  Albert Einstein was cool with a crazy workspace too, saying, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

So basically, keeping himself surrounded by chaos kept Sherlock’s mind in a chaos as well, with everything zooming around in disarray.  Often, things lined up in the right order, and the result was Arthur Conan Doyle’s infinite success.

 

Focus

It is contradicting to say in one breath that Sherlock’s mind was full of chaotic creativity, and in the next that he had an amazing level of focus. His ability to focus on certain parts of the chaos is what allowed him to zone in on the things that had lined up in the right order. Clearly focus is important.

But Sherlock Holmes’ biggest strength was not his ability to concentrate on something in particular – rather it was the organization with which he quickly refocused on detail after detail.  The infamous scene where Sherlock deduces that Watson had been in a war, for example, required him to zoom in and out with his observations very quickly (considering he deduced this after a mere glance).

Even without an extensive formal education, Sherlock Holmes was able to teach himself what the average person would require several formal degrees to learn even a fraction of.  Why?  Because he learned for the sole purpose of knowing and utilizing information rather than with the specific goal of obtaining a degree or job.

The beauty of how things work today is the sheer number of free resources available to all aspiring autodidacts.  From MOOCs to free online books to YouTube tutorials, it’s all there – along with tools like Accredible that can help focus and organize your learning process.  So do you want to be as smart as Sherlock Holmes?  Go do some reading, drive your mind to crazy chaos, and then focus and organize it.  Easy as pie.

5 Awesome Online Learning Tools

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Whether you’re a high school student studying for a test, a college senior cramming for your last exam, or an entrepreneur taking an online class to improve your leadership skills, online learning tools can become your best friend.  Not only are they easy to use, but are also increasingly accessible and decidedly a leap into the future of education.  Here are 5 such tools to keep on your radar.

 

Anki – Powerful, Intelligent Flashcards

photo credit: ekai via photopin cc

Many of us are familiar with the beauty of online flashcards through Quizlet or StudyStack (fantastic classics that everyone should have bookmarked!), but Anki takes the undeniable efficiency of flashcards to the next level by making them ‘intelligent’.  Using spaced repetition software (SRS), Anki can predict what you already know and what you still need to learn, which lets it present only the information you still need to learn when you need to learn it.  So it pretty much organizes your brain for you – pretty cool and kind of scary (in a cool way).

If that isn’t enough, Anki is also highly customizable and controllable due to an open code and storage format.  Plus, you can download the app and study on the go (if you’re that hard core about it) or access the software online to prep from a different computer.  Conclusion:  Click on this link.  Stat.

 

Memrise – Learning, Powered by Imagination

Memrise is more of a tool to help you hone your mind and thought process than to help you study for a particular class.  Think Karate Kid: “Wax on, wax off.” Before you know it, you’ll be kicking butt on all your tests and projects (waxing rag in hand).

Memrise is the epitome of the gamification of learning.  You can learn the basics of languages, history, science, and trivia all while earning points and competing with other users.  It may not be the perfect tool to help you understand Organic Chemistry, but its definitely a solid summer tool to prepare for your upcoming class.  Conclusion: Check this out during your next study break!

 

Evernote – Remember Everything

Remembering a complex equation from your advanced calculus class, all the instructions your boss just gave you while you were drooling over your amazing chocolate cake from lunch, and the recipe for said chocolate cake can get complicated.  Evernote has your back with its family of apps that will help you stay organized.

Saving pictures, notes, screenshots, multimedia links, and documents in one place is the best way to make sure everything gets done, and Evernote makes it easy with a simple interface and myriad of features.  Conclusion:  Watch these videos. The background music sounds kind of like a Michael Buble song…and they’ll convince you to give the app a try!

 

Feedly – Read More, Know More.

mouse-306274_150Best thing about Feedly – it makes you sound smarter than you really are.  Just set up a few notifications for subject areas you want to know about and wait for Feedly to update you on the newest published material.  Next, just read, process, and voila!  You know about the new big thing before your non-Feedly-er interviewer or classmate and get to sound well connected and…well…smart.

Plus, its really easy to use.  You literally go to the website or download the app, pick a few websites and blogs, and start reading.  The only real effort you have to put in is to scan a few lines of words and process them.  Conclusion:  Unless you look into the Mirror of Erised and see nothing but yourself and your awesomeness, go here and pick a square.

 

ExamTime – Transform Your Potential

This one is the ultimate learning tool.  You can make mind maps and flashcards, take quizzes, and make notes.  The awesome part is that you can literally learn anything!  On my first visit to the homepage, the first thing I saw was a Breaking Bad quiz.  The second was a set of beastly chemistry notes.

If the founders of Quizlet, Evernote, a couple MOOC platforms, Google docs, and YouTube were locked in a room, they would probably come out pitching something like Examtime.  Conclusion: Give it a try!  Worst case scenario, you can brush up on some trivia.

 

Buzzwords Decoded: Innovation

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1:  the introduction of something new

2:  a new idea, method, or device :  novelty

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

If there were beauty pageants for buzzwords, ‘innovation’ would be the declining star whose career took a lethal hit because of overexposure.  Innovation is the introduction of a new idea or method, which requires creativity.  So saying that you are, “an innovative, results oriented, go-getter” (which is pretty much what everyone says on their resumes, cover letters, and online profiles) is a fantastic way to ensure that whomever is reading about you will have glazed-over eyes within five seconds.

As a rule of thumb, glazed-over eyes generally mean your document is about to get trashed.  An extremely shocked expression will also achieve the same ends.  An obscene action in the middle of the street to get attention for your school play is not innovative – it is obnoxious.  Try to play it off as innovation to someone conservative or older, and you’ll be bringing on the shock factor.

 

How to Use it Properly

Three words:  Back.  It.  Up.

The reason “innovative, results oriented, go-getter” sounds silly is because it is difficult to simply take a candidate’s word for it that these terms describe them.  If it is important that your potential employer know that you are innovative, be sure to refer to actions or activities you have been a part of that required you to be innovative and the results of said innovation.

If you are throwing in buzzwords for the sake of resume or cover letter computer scanners, you know they don’t belong.  Keep in mind that after the computer decides you have enough buzzwords, a real person will also read your documents.  So if it just looks like buzzword bogus, you still won’t get that interview!

 

Take Away

If you are going to claim that you are innovative, you should show it with your use of the word and design and format of your application.  Being boring and formulaic contradicts your claim and makes your other claims questionable as well.  Solution: Be creative and provide proof for every claim you make!

Making it Easier to Finish That MOOC

Finish Line

It sounds like it would be pretty classy, telling an interviewer (or a date) that you’re studying English Literature & the Classics at Harvard.  Luckily, MOOCs allow you the luxury of saying just that (without having to pay any tuition!).

What definitely wouldn’t be so classy is saying you dropped out of the class after a week.  Of course, we all run into scheduling problems and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.  But that doesn’t mean you need to give up on your dreams of becoming a modern day Shakespeare!

Try ‘Always Open’ MOOCs

You go to a MOOC platform site and sign up for a computer science class that you need to take next semester at your home university.  You are excited because binary isn’t really your thing and this class will help you prepare for the next semester to make it easier for your to follow along during lectures.  Then, your boss calls and tells you you are scheduled to for dinner service every night next week.  You know you won’t be able to handle univeristy homework, school, and your new computer science MOOC at the same time.  With a heavy heart, you put the MOOC on the backburner and end up so behind, you have to give up on the 12-week MOOC altogether.

Now, imagine that this computer science MOOC was actually an open course that could be completed at any time.  You could turn in assignments whenever you wanted, could watch any of the lectures at any time, and could take as long as you needed for each project.  In this case, you could just start the class a week later than originally planned and not be at all behind.  Guess what?  There actually are great courses like this.  One is the CS50X Intro to Computer Science course from Harvard on edX.  It is an open class that is available for a full year and can be taken at any time within that time frame.  It is a highly praised MOOC with positive reviews from alumni and critics alike, and works around your schedule.

But wait…the offer doesn’t stop there!  What if you could have short open courses that take up a small amount of time and offer a whole lot of content?

Cut it Down

Platforms like Udemy and Khan Academy offer shorter tutorial-style classes that will probably not give you an in depth education in a particular subject area, but will provide a solid introduction.  You can complete such classes in a couple days or less, making them a great choice when your schedule is too busy for a long term class commitment.  You can cut down class time without halting your learning experience completely.

Cutting down on time commitment can also simply mean taking fewer MOOCs at once and being careful not to bite off more than you can chew.  The key to is plan a solid strategy.

Strategize

When you commit to earning a college degree with a particular major, you tend to plan out which classes you want to take and the best times to take them.  Knowing this in advance helps you plan your surrounding schedule in a way that it won’t impede on study time during a particularly tough term.

Doing the same with MOOCs is a great idea.  Planning out your time in 12-15 week blocks (a la semesters) will help you figure out when to take longer business core MOOCs and shorter ‘How to Make Marketing Plans’ tutorials so that you are able to learn everything you need within the time frame you want.

Apply these strategies, and you’ll be reading Shakespearean English in no time! Next you can make yourself sound even classier by adding foreign language and culture classes to your Accredible To-Learn List. Happy  Learning!

How to Make MOOCs Count on Your Resume

Resume target

The job market may not be at a point yet where MOOCs are accepted by employers on par with traditional college courses.  Regardless, MOOCs on your resume show that you are willing to take initiative to increase your knowledge base and skills.  Many recruiters see this quality as an opportunity to hire employees who will continue to improve themselves, which will constantly increase the human capital they provide to the company.

It is extremely important that you are showcasing your MOOCs appropriately on your resume, however.  A disorganized list of your classes will look more unprofessional and illegitimate than your resume would be without the MOOCs on it at all.  Instead, try placing them methodically and within categories.

 

Divide and Conquer

Again, your MOOCs will not be seen the same way as a college education by employers, so don’t bother listing them that way.  You want to make sure your online classes are being seen as a positive supplement to your application, and not a glorified accessory.

Instead, MOOCs should be under a separate heading in your resume’s Education section called ‘Continuing Education’.  This simply refers to all of your important efforts to improve yourself as an employee and can include any certificates or diplomas you earned (instead of or after college) along with any MOOCs you have taken.

accredible resume education

 

 

 

 

 

Skills, Not Frills

Categorizing by skills is an easy way to organize your MOOCs effectively.  Not only does it make scanning a resume easier, but it also immediately displays the benefit of taking a certain group of courses:  The development of a specific skill that will be valuable to the company.

These categories also mean that you don’t need a detailed description of each course.  Usually, the course name itself provides a glimpse into the course content.  Listing the skill the course helped you develop is yet another way to state the purpose of the class without a fluffy description.  Cardinal rule: save the details for your interview, keep your resume simple.

moocs resume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quality Over Quantity

You don’t need to list every MOOC you have ever signed up for, or even every MOOC you have completed (but never list one that you didn’t complete!).  If you are applying for a marketing position, for example, the hiring manager will probably be less interested in your Intro to Physics class and more in your Creativity & Innovation class.  A list of classes longer than your ‘Experience’ section is unattractive and unnecessary.  Keep it simple, clear, and useful.

 

Many MOOCs are hard work and teach you a lot – there is no reason you shouldn’t receive due credit for them.  They show your versatility, desire to improve, and ability to multi-task and can be a great asset in the job search process.

Bonus Tip:  Make sure you can prove everything on your resume; build a portfolio!  If you have notes, assignments, and projects from your MOOCs saved on your Accredible profile, the only thing you need to prove your involvement in the class is a link!

Accredible Contest Hack #3. How to Create A Winning Formal Learning Slates

In the last blog post of this series we covered self-paced learning Slates. Now, it’s time to talk about more conservative yet interesting and useful types of Slates – formal learning (college courses and degrees, high school projects and curricular).

Although there are a lot of heated discussions on broken educational systems around the world, at Accredible we believe that formal learning shouldn’t be underestimated. Schools and colleges are still powerful social institutions to gain structured, organized and useful knowledge. But people are more than grades and signed papers – now all their projects, works and knowledge may be stored and shared with the world.

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Before we can begin with the hacks, make sure you are signed in. Then you can create a new Slate or open an existing Slate.


What to put into Formal Learning Slate?

First of all, official grades and syllabuses for people to see what the Slate, course or degree is about. Grades still matter and you shouldn’t omit them. However, it’s not of the biggest importance for you Slate.

Secondly, show what is behind your grade. You got “A” for particular paper? Upload this paper – show that you did great work and put in a lot of effort to achieve this grade. Your quiz grade may not have been as good as you wanted it to be for some personal reasons but you know that you put a lot of work, wrote beautiful notes but the assessment just didn’t work out for you.the Cheer yourself up by uploading all the work you did for the quiz and show the world that you deserve a better grade.

Thirdly, any kind of projects are welcome. It might be a extra project which you did not do for any particular grade but simply out of curiosity. It might be your reflections on the course or any topic which wasn’t counted at school or college. It might be mind maps or infographics for you to better understand topics. It might be summary of a required reading and your thoughts and ideas on it. Literally, you can put everything there!

 

Pro tip: Create a complete degree/curricular with all the work you’ve done.

Create multiple Slates for each course and one Slate for your degree. Insert the Slates for courses into this degree Slate. This way, your degree will be more organized and contain much more information which will give more credibility to your Slate.

You can even win $150 Amazon voucher for your learning. So don’t forget to enter your formal learning Slates to Accredible’s Slates contest: https://www.accredible.com/contest

The next hack will be for the most difficult but very interesting Slate category – knowledge/skill. Don’t miss it!

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 (current post)

4. Knowledge/Skill Slates 

5. How to Make the Most of Accredible?

6. Skills ToolBox. Overview

What were the most interesting courses during your academic experience? What were you struggles? How did you overcome them?

Accredible’s #AwesomeSlates Contest

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
- Benjamin Franklin

At Accredible, we believe that all kinds of education matter, whether it’s courses in traditional universities, certificates from MOOC classes or even reading books. We want to help you to learn, to show the world what you know. We are pleased to announce our #AwesomeSlates contest where you can show your learning by creating cool Slates, save and organize your knowledge, and even get prizes from us – vouchers for Amazon.

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The best Slate in each of these five categories will each win a $150 prize:

Why give you money for creating awesome Slates?

  • Motivation. We want you to challenge yourself, to explore new boundaries and discover new horizons. We want you to learn.
  • Help you to create your intellectual portfolio. Today employers and colleges want to see your knowledge, skills and talent. Your intellectual portfolio is the first step in standing out and demonstrating what you can do. Be the first, be creative and be credible.
  • Show you’re more than just a grade. We embrace your creativity, talents and aspirations, providing the place for you to show who you are. 

Today, on the 29th April, 2013 we are launching our #AwesomeSlates contest. The rules are simple: you create a Slate and submit it into one of 4 categories. The most creative, inspiring and beautiful slates of their knowledge, skills, or coursework will receive prizes and the chance to be on the first page in the history of digital education. Start building your slate now!

We want you to win! Every week we will post tips on how to create winning Slates, where to find ideas, and how to make your portfolio more effective.

The contest closes on 31st May 31st July (read about the deadline extension here) but remember, the contest isn’t about winning, it’s about your learning. As the talented coach and executive Vince Lombardi once said: “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is”. Try your best, be yourself and enter the contest. Start building your Slate now!

To submit your Slate and find the rules, go here: https://www.accredible.com/contest

Help about Accredible Slates:
Getting Started with Accredible Slates
What all can be added to a Slate

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

0. Contest Announcement (current post)

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?

If you have any questions, ideas or feedback, feel free to comment or send us a line at hello@accredible.com

Make All Your Education Count: Redesigning the CV

With all the amazing innovations and developments within academia and edtech at the moment, one content area that seems to have been left behind a little is the common CV.

Education has evolved dramatically over the last fifty years yet things like CVs and certificates haven’t changed for hundreds of years. They are (at best) shiny pieces of paper with a name, grade and institution printed on them.

CVs tend to contain very pigeon-hole style of content such as ‘education’, ‘work’ and ‘interests’ which ultimately only create a very low resolution image of a person and one that is liable to deception.

For example, if you get a B in Computer Science does that mean you were generally ‘average’, or are you an exceptional programmer with a weakness in some other part of the syllabus that isn’t relevant to the job at hand? 

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Here at Accredible, we’ve been working hard to improve the way that credentials and certificates are generated across MOOCs, university courses also as wider learning by using peer-review and
reputational networks to determine and maintain quality.

By re-imagining the idea of the certificate to be more than just a statement, we can create a living portfolio of evidence that shows you have certain knowledge or skills. You can also get a much ‘higher resolution’ image of who a student is, what they can do and a list of evidence proving that.

And this is where we feel there’s a parallel between our work on credentials and CVs: rather than simply listing your achievements, we feel that you should be able to provide evidence to back up your claims, be they across your education, work or skills.

Below is an example of one of our MOOC slates giving examples about how this approach could be similarly used to demonstrate your personal capabilities on a CV:

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Unlike your traditional certificate or CV, you can create as many Slates as you like, each with a different course or program you studied to help build up a more rounded vision of your education.

Of course there’s also a direct benefit to your prospective employer as well as it gives them a much better chance to understand who you really are and why you really are perfect for their role. With greater transparency, comes better hiring decisions and a much lower risk of hiring the wrong candidate!

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the future of CVs and how developments in the EdTech space are changing the way we list our achievements. Is there still a place for CVs and if so in what sort of context? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Do you want brand-new CV of 21st century? Sign up at https://www.accredible.com 

Need inspiration or don’t know where to begin? Here’s some amazing slates to help you. https://www.accredible.com/gallery