Monday, May 23, 2011

What Is Your Learning Style?


I remember taking a learning style quiz my sophomore year in college. I would love to say that was a turning point in my academic career, but sadly I can't. In reality it started even more of a downward spiral that had already been in full effect since my freshmen year. The results of the quiz read something like, "you learn by doing". There were several students in the class who learn by reading, memorizing, and it's possible there was even one guy's quiz that said he learns simply by being in the same room as the knowledge. Those people really aggravate me. By simply hearing or seeing something one time, they will remember it for a lifetime, but I digress. It is possible that when I found out I learn by “doing” it may be been the worst thing that could have happened to me. That idea became my crutch. The simple thought that if I am not able to do this hands-on I won't learn, became my excuse. No longer did I spend hours reading textbooks. Gone were the days of paying serious attention in class. The professor was only going to talk about things, never do it. I became so wrapped up in the thought that if I want to grasp this I need to see it in action. When in reality, I should have looked at this as a challenge, not a setback. Sure, I learn best when it's hands-on, but the quiz didn't say I couldn't learn if it wasn't. As I have now been given the opportunity to be on the other side of the gradebook, I am faced with this same thought process any time an assessment draws near. What kind of exam should I give? When it comes down to it, I would love to just give a practical application exam. The problem with that is, not everyone learns like I do. However, that is a problem in itself. The idea behind the learning style quiz is to help you figure out how you learn best. What I try to do is use a curriculum that challenges all learning styles. I don’t want to be an enabler. I don’t want to allow students to put themselves in boxes. I want to help broaden their horizon. After all, isn't that what college is all about? The challenge is not only finding out how we best learn, but how we can find a way to excel when we are put in an environment that doesn’t cater to our specific learning style.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Phones In The Classroom


Whether we recognize social media or not, it's all around us. Students are glued to their cell phones. Clothes are being made that incorporate an easier way to use your cell phone. Phones, like other pieces of technology, are not evil by themselves; it's how you use them. How do I know the student is texting the entire class period? What if the student is taking notes on his phone? What if another student is tweeting ideas from the lecture on her phone? In these simple examples, nothing has been mentioned that would take away from the integrity of the classroom. By encouraging my students to tweet thoughts and questions from my lecture, the discussion continues well beyond the classroom. Cell phones and laptops are very useful tools that, when used appropriately, can add an immense value to overall learning environment. I realize there may be some old-school professors that think all you need is a yellow notepad, a pen, a textbook, and an open mind in class. Well, this may have once been true, but things have changed. Students today don't learn the same way. If they are real students of whatever discipline you teach, they are looking up information online, asking questions in forums, and yes, even tweeting about ideas. This is a very information heavy generation. Some say Google has made us dumber. The truth is we have made ourselves dumber because we rely on Google for answers instead of feeding them to ourselves. With a more proactive approach of research to learn as apposed to research (if it can be called that) to get a quick answer our students will truly be students. Offering cell phones in the classroom can, in my opinion, open up the classroom for a very challenging discussion.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Transistions


If you haven’t seen the press release for the new Alumni Networking Center for the Paul R. Carter College of Business at Harding University, take a look.

My current job has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to meet several people and learn from incredible leaders in higher education. As I begin a transition out of my current job, I am looking forward to opportunities that are ahead. Students are one of the main reasons I like working at a university. This new assignment will give me the opportunity to help them even more. Our main focus in the beginning will be organizing our network so that we can have a higher placement rate among graduates. Just the idea of this new center further shows the dedication that the faculty have to their students. I cannot wait to begin this new journey.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cut The Cord Already...

Is it possible to do too much for your child? What do you think crosses the line? At what point does a parent become "too involved"? I ask these questions because I can't get over the fact that parents seem to be going back to college in record number. These parents aren't actually enrolled in the universities, but they are indeed very much a part of them. This is more of a self-imposed situation though. Last semester I had a student tell me he sends all of his papers to his mother for her to proofread them. This seemed to be something that would come and pass, but this phenomenon certainly doesn't seem to be going anywhere. College is supposed to be a time of self-discovery. Is college really the place where young adults can learn more about themselves? Unfortunately, because of parent's that won't let go, these students aren't growing up. In fact, they become more resilient to taking a challenge head-on. These students find ways to side step the system in place. When they call home, home calls the university and pleads to get their child out of whatever problem has been put in front of them. At what point is this student going to learn about life? Sure, educators can teach them about academic disciplines, but where are they going to learn about life? Are these parents going to have their kids moving back in after graduation? Understand what I am saying, there is a disease in the current generation that is keeping them from learning the hard lessons of life. This disease has spawn from parents who simply cannot let go. There will be a point in the life each of these student's where they will be left behind by their peers who have chosen the path less traveled, and what will a parent be able to do then? You can read more about this topic from this article.

Respect and Responsibility


There are many characteristics of a strong leader. Some suggest a leader needs to be a people person, a conflict negotiator, or even a confident person. All of these are excellent traits. It was suggested to me by a man, Paul Carter, who has met every business leader in the country that having respect for others and always remembering your responsibility to God, family, and company. The very last words he spoke to me were over the phone. His words rang loud and clear as if he was in the room with me, "You have been entrusted with a very important role here. You obviously have the respect of David (the president of the university) and the board. You will honor God, your family, and this university by doing your best." It sounded like something straight out of a movie. The truth though is this is exactly the way Paul Carter lived his life. From the time he was the CFO and number two guy at Wal-Mart to the time he started his own company. His life was a tribute to the way he showed respect and responsibility. What if we used this notion as we conduct our tasks in higher education? If we showed respect to others and didn't ask for it, but in time received it ourselves, wouldn't a university run more smoothly? What if we put our priorities in order and took responsibility for things in our life? Paul Carter, though gone from this world, continues to live on in the lives of many he touched. His character was impeccable. Recently, the College of Business at Harding University was named in his honor. You can read more about the Paul R. Carter College of Business here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's Not About Me

This morning I sat and watched as a page was being turned in the lives of many students. This morning was just like most mornings for me. I woke up at 6:30, got ready, grabbed a cup of coffee and headed out the door. I typically don't go to campus on Saturday's but today was a bit different. Today we took part in commencement ceremonies. As I marched in with my colleagues all I could think about was how long this would take. I wasn't mad or upset that I had to be there, but I didn't actually enjoy it either. Everyone in the stands was smiling from ear to ear. The students could not contain their excitement, and I was left wondering how long I would be in the uncomfortable fold-out chair. As the first row of degree recipients stood up, the pure joy was flowing from their smiles.And then it dawned on me, I was here for them. I was here to enjoy this day, their day, with them. It's exciting to see your students walk across that stage. Today was about the celebration of hard work and finishing the task. Today was not about my feelings at all, it was much bigger. Today, I was happy to be there in support of those students that worked so hard and now call themselves college graduates. In life we may not always appreciate where we are or what we are doing. Maybe it's best to ask, "Is this really about me?" Best wishes to the class of 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Time For Rest


Most universities across the country are wrapping things up. The summer is upon us. This “time of rest” is so crucial to the overall learning experience of students. The ability to "unplug" is earned and well deserved by those who put themselves through academic rigor. However, the break shouldn't be a time for zero mental stimulation. The next three months are actually perfect for students to spend time on things they like. By simply switching gears to something you choose, your mind can be sharpened. You know what I mean. How many business students really want to take music appreciation and how many music students want to take economics? If you go straight from final exams and then take a three-month break from higher education, full of nothing, only to come back rigorous coursework in the fall, your mind will have to start up again. Keeping your mind sharp during the summer break can make a huge difference for a student who is about to face a tough semester. Even if all you can do is read a fiction novel, at the best that keeps your brain working. However, the break is not for learning every square root to every number. Another option for the summer is to put what you’ve learned into practice. For some, this comes in the form of a summer job. For others, you may have the luxury to volunteer all summer. Being active in your disciple not only looks great on a resume, it actually helps you learn more about path you have chosen in life. Just relax and enjoy the break, but take full advantage of the opportunity to keep your brain waves moving.

Cut The Cord Already...


Is it possible to do too much for your child? What do you think crosses the line? At what point does a parent become "too involved"? I ask these questions because I can't get over the fact that parents seem to be going back to college in record number. These parents aren't actually enrolled in the universities, but they are indeed very much a part of them. This is more of a self-imposed situation though. Last semester I had a student tell me he sends all of his papers to his mother for her to proofread them. This seemed to be something that would come and pass, but this phenomenon certainly doesn't seem to be going anywhere. College is supposed to be a time of self-discovery. Is college really the place where young adults can learn more about themselves? Unfortunately, because of parent's that won't let go, these students aren't growing up. In fact, they become more resilient to taking a challenge head-on. These students find ways to side step the system in place. When they call home, home calls the university and pleads to get their child out of whatever problem has been put in front of them. At what point is this student going to learn about life? Sure, educators can teach them about academic disciplines, but where are they going to learn about life? Are these parents going to have their kids moving back in after graduation? Understand what I am saying, there is a disease in the current generation that is keeping them from learning the hard lessons of life. This disease is spawn from parents who simply cannot let go. There will be a point in the life each of these student's where they will be left behind by their peers who have chosen the path less traveled, and what will a parent be able to do then? You can read more about this topic from this article.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Branding Yourself

Every semester I ask Jim Miller, professor of communication, to speak to my business communication class. He talks about social media and how it relates to business communication. Dr. Miller gives a wonderful lecture on how our students have an opportunity to market themselves, now more than ever. As he speaks about Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn I can tell the students are engaged. I don’t really expect to get a ton out of his lecture, as Jim and I frequently have discussions about social media and the like. When he started talking about blogs and domain names, my ears perked up. I have tried to write a blog before, three to be exact, and the silly things never kept my attention long enough to stick with it. (Consequently, I make no promises regarding this blog) The lecture became more of a question session asking how do you brand yourself? In a world that has information at everyone's fingertips, how do you tell people about yourself? Sure, you can type your name into a search engine and find several pages that say something about you. Is this the information you want people to see? What if the information out there isn't true? That information is out there for all to see. You may think it vain to "Google" yourself, but I would highly recommend doing so. I suggest this to all of my students. The real life application to this is you never know who is searching for information about you. It could be a neighbor; it could be a potential employer, or maybe even a co-worker. The message is simple, if you aren't branding yourself, someone else is.