Sunday, September 02nd, 2012 | Author:

Good design is everywhere: on websites, in objects you use in your home, the car you drive every day. But often, design is missing from the modern classroom, and we think that’s a big mistake. Educators have a lot to learn from the principles of design, bringing strategic thought and creativity to today’s classrooms. Well-designed classrooms and ed

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ucational plans can have a positive impact on educational outcomes, and it all starts with educators. Read on to find out about the 25 design principles that we think are important for educators to use and understand.

  1. Unity:

    In design, unity is all about bringing elements together, making sure that no one part is more important than the whole design. Finding balance and unity in your classroom is similarly essential. Thinking about how all of your lessons and educational tasks come together is a great way to find balance and unity in your classroom. Use repetition, rhythm, and themes with variations to bring it all together.

  2. Predictability:

    Designers don’t like to leave users guessing about what will happen next. When you click on a website link, you expect to be taken to a new site. Students should expect the same. Be predictable in your teaching style so that students can know what to expect when they walk into your classroom each day.

  3. Balance:

    Much like unity, balance helps to create a unified design, making sure that no one space takes away from the whole of the design. In the classroom, balance is a great way to make sure you’re not focusing too much on any one thing, neglecting other important lessons.

  4. Movement:

    Designers use movement to guide viewers to focal areas, often with lines, shapes, and colors. Educators can use this principle, guiding students to key ideas with leading questions and helpful hints.

  5. Variety:

    Just as users and viewers crave variety in design, so do your students. As an educator, making variety an important principle in your instruction can help keep your students’ attention and guide them through the coursework.

  6. Hierarchy:

    In a good design, it’s clear what’s most important, with a defined hierarchy that leads viewers through elements in order of their significance. Educators can use this principle, focusing on what’s most important early on in the lesson when you’re most likely to have the attention of your students.

  7. Anticipation:

    Great designers anticipate how their viewers and users will need to interact with what they create, and teachers can do the same thing. Anticipate how your students will go through new lessons as you’re planning them, and make adjustments for better flow if you need to.

  8. Harmony:

    Harmony in art and design means combining similar and related elements, like adjacent colors on the color wheel. For educators, harmony can be used for better comprehension, bringing related lessons together in the same unit and considering which concepts might complement one another.

  9. Consistency:

    Consistency is what makes design look professional, offering a perception of quality and coherence. Clearly, consistency in education is key and can go a long way to making students better understand your instruction and feel comfortable in your classroom. Consider how you can make everything “match” in your work as a teacher. Do you approach all lessons in the same format? Keep a regular schedule for each day?

  10. Feedback:

    We’ve all sat and stared at a screen as a video is loading, watching as it goes from 10% to 50%, 90%, and finally 100%. This kind of feedback is great in design, giving users the reassurance they need to know everything is still on track. In the classroom, giving this kind of feedback is great for creating confident students, letting them know whether they’re headed in the right direction.

  11. Positive and negative space:

    Designers use positive and negative space to keep things uncluttered and simple, with objects representing positive space, and the environment itself as negative space. For educators, positive and negative space can represent instruction and learning. Paying attention to the principle of positive and negative space can help teachers keep a balance between instruction and students’ independent learning.

  12. Spacing:

    Related to positive and negative space, spacing can make things clearer in design, with line spacing, padding, and of course, white (or negative) space. Classroom instructors can use this principle to keep an even pace. Cramming lots of instruction in at once isn’t just distracting, it’s terrible for keeping the attention of your students. Spread things out a bit, and you’ll be able to focus on what’s important without overwhelming your students.

  13. Scale a

    nd dominance:

    Designers use scale and dominance to create focal points, and educators can do the same thing. Whether you’re physically showing the difference in size between two objects, or comparing country statistics, showing scale can help students put things in perspective.

  14. Similarity and contrast:

    In design, it’s important to keep things structured, simple, and consistent. The same principles are effective in the classroom, giving students a learning style that they can count on. Developing a style manual for your classroom can help you stay consistent, and creating a simple, repeatable learning structure is comforting and dependable for students to follow as they learn.

  15. Attention conservation:

    Designers and educators alike know that these days, it’s hard to keep anyone’s attention. That’s why attention conservation is key to success in both design and education. Remember that attention in your classroom is precious, and don’t squander it.

  16. Rule of Thirds:

    Designers and artists carefully pay attention to the rule of thirds, frequently placing the primary element off center to make compositions more interesting. Teachers can use this idea in the classroom, both in visual design and in an instructional approach. Mix up the way you present information just slightly, and it can become a little bit more interesting to your students.

  17. Repetition:

    Designers know that repetition with out variation can become monotonous, but repetition with variation makes things interesting. You can use this principle as an educator, especially when it comes to reciting and reviewing material with your students. They may not enjoy going over the same lessons and concepts over and over again, but if you mix things up as you go along, you can make them more interesting.

  18. Direct manipulation:

    The general public loves to touch things and to manipulate physical objects, and so do students. Whenever possible, allow students to get hands-on with learning to better keep their attention, boost understanding, and make education more fun.

  19. Accessibility:

    Designers have to pay attention to accessibility in their work, ensuring that what they create isn’t unnecessarily difficult for users, especially those with disabilities. Special education teachers are likely to be well versed in accessibility, but it’s a principle that any educator can put to work. Many classrooms include students with anxiety disorders, depression, ADHD, and more. When planning lessons, consider how students with these issues might be affected.

  20. Clarity:

    Web designers go to great lengths to make sure their work is super sharp and clear, and it’s no secret that clarity is important for educators as well. While clarity for designers most often comes down to pixels, it’s a lot more complex for instructors. Keeping things clear and simple for your students is essential to comprehension. Are your lessons difficult to understand, or easy to work through?

  21. Usability:

    Similar to accessibility, usability puts the user front and center in design, making sure that a product is easy to use and understand. Paying careful attention to usability in your classroom is a great way to make learning more effective for your students, removing obstacles to understanding and making your classroom more effective. Think about the frustrations, errors, and confusion your students may experience, and consider what you can do to resolve these issues.

  22. Rhythm:

    Repeating or alternating elements in design create a sense of movement, pattern, and texture. In the classroom, rhythm can help students better understand patterns, using repetition and compare/contrast tasks.

  23. Navigation:

    For a web designer, navigation is one of the most important principles and elements of design. Navigation tells a user where they are, and where they can (and should) go. For instructors, navigation is similarly important, as you work to guide students through concepts. Remember to be a frequent guidepost, offering reference to where you currently are in the lesson, and where you’re about to go.

  24. Organization:

    With smart organization, designers can reduce the cognitive load needed for users to interact with their work. Although educators aren’t exactly in the business of reducing the cognitive loads of their students, this principle is still helpful. Disorganized learning can cause unnecessary confusion and make it difficult for students to follow what you’re learning. Help students better understand what you’re teaching by keeping things organized.

  25. Interaction:

    In design, interfaces exist in order to enable interaction between users, objects, and even themselves. Paying special attention to this design principle is great for educators, encouraging interaction and collaboration in your classroom.

    Thanks to Tim Handrof who is a writer who originally wrote this article for BestCollegesOnline.


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Thursday, August 30th, 2012 | Author:

Meetings are a fact of corporate life. They’re necessary for communication among colleagues, but can be a major time suck and waste of productivity. Allowing latecomers, meetings without focus, and a lack of clear goals can make meetings feel pretty pointless, and have a major negative impact on your company. Are you making these fatal mistakes? Read on to find the 13 worst meeting mistakes you can make, and what you can do to fix them.

  1. Flexible meeting start times:
  2. Meetings are enough of a time suck; assuming that they’re kept to specific time constraints. Let them start late, and you’re wasting even more time that could be used more productively. Create a culture that encourages prompt attendance, avoiding allowing latecomers to make their tardiness a habit. Allow for a one-minute grace period, and start without latecomers. They’ll get the hint after a few meetings. Or, try Seth Godin‘s method: the latest latecomer has to contribute $10 to the coffee fund.

  3. Poor agenda planning:
  4. Or, no agenda at all. Before you start a meeting, you absolutely must have a plan for where it will go. Determine the most important topics, and the ones that will require the most discussion. Place these first on the agenda, and you’ll be able to hit the most important points. Fail to do this, and you may spend too much time discussing topics of lesser significance early on in the meeting, failing to leave time for what the meeting’s really about.

  5. An undefined purpose:
  6. Do you have an agenda at all? Any important items to go over that can’t wait until later? As points out, “It’s Monday,” is not a good reason to have a meeting. If there’s nothing pressing to go over, skip the meeting and give your staff that time back to better perform their jobs.

  7. Overloading the schedule:
  8. Alternatively, meetings that are packed full of information can be killers as well. Trying to fit too much information into one short meeting is a recipe for disaster and can lead to frenzied discussions and meetings that run late. Does every single attendee need to take part in every single agenda item, or are there some discussions that could be broken down into smaller groups?

  9. Allowing meetings to go on forever:
  10. Show respect for your employees’ time by not allowing for meetings to on for an extended period of time. Studies show that after about an hour and a half, meeting attendees start to lose focus, so any time after that is not nearly as productive as the first 90 minutes. Plan your meetings to last for an hour and a half at the most, and let attendees know so that they’ll be able to plan the rest of their day after the meeting as well.

  11. Failing to prepare:
  12. There’s nothing worse than trying to run or participate in a meeting where no one really knows what’s going on. Valuable meeting time is wasted having to go back and catch everyone up. Instead, meeting participants should be briefed, before the meeting, on what they’ll need to know ahead of time. Require preparation and tasks before the meeting, and if participants fail to meet these tasks, simply kick them out. There’s no time for people who aren’t up to speed.

  13. Technical difficulties:
  14. If you’re familiar with your presentation equipment and can do what you need with minimal problems, that’s great. But in a new location, or when you’re working with new technology, you may run into technical difficulties that can really put a snag in your meeting. If you’re presenting at a meeting, show up early and be 100% sure that you’re ready to share without any time-killing technical problems.

  15. Silent participants:
  16. If attendees aren’t contributing to the meeting, why are they there? Although it’s understandable that some may be shy and unwilling to speak up during meetings, you need to enforce a meeting culture that requires them to speak up. Find ways to engage even the most quiet participants, whether through direct questions or round-robin responses. Also consider giving attendees a few minutes to write down ideas before brainstorming in general discussion, or breaking into small groups before a larger discussion.

  17. Poor date choice:
  18. Just about any weekday works, right? Wrong. Religious and government holidays, even major sporting events, can get in the way of perfect attendance. Before setting your meeting, ensure that the day and time do not have any major conflicts that might keep attendees from being able to make it.

  19. Missing key staff:
  20. Often a consequence of poor date choice, holding meetings without the key players is just a terrible idea. No concrete decisions can be made, important insight is missing, and it sends a message that the meeting just isn’t as important as it really is. Before scheduling a meeting, check in with the most important attendees to make sure that they can commit to making it. Also, be sure to make it clear that meetings are not optional and are only productive if everyone attends.

  21. No decisions are made:
  22. Agenda is key here. What do you hope to accomplish at your meeting? Which decisions must be made? Make sure that all attendees know the goals and outcomes expected for the meeting. Prioritize your agenda to make sure the most important, or linchpin, decisions can be made before moving on to the next item. Set the expectation that you’ll be working through impasses during each meeting so that they actually get done.

  23. Little/no followup:
  24. So you’ve had your meeting, now what? Do you go your separate ways and never discuss the meeting topics again? That sounds like a huge waste of time. Shortly after the completion of a meeting, the organizer should send each attendee a summary of what the meeting was about, plus individualized action items to maximize the effectiveness of the meeting.

  25. Allowing disruptive behavior:
  26. There’s no shortage of distractions that can cut into precious productive meeting time. Mobile phones, personal conversations, fidgeting, and even dominating discussions can make it hard for everyone to pay attention. When a person’s behavior is disrupting the group, don’t let it go on. Politely but forcefully call out the offender and address the distraction.

About the author:

Thanks to Alissa Alvarez from the #1 Online MBA Destination, for providing this great post.

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 | Author:

One of the most important parts of your networking strategy is to know very specifically who you want to meet. Experienced networkers don’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone is a potential client or referral partner. They know the business, demographics, age and even some of the thought processes of their ideal contact. They purposely spend their limited available networking time trying to find, meet and get to know those people.

Still, even the most experienced and focused networkers take just a bit of time every month to attend either a general networking event or something that is an unknown to them. There are several good reasons why they do this.


You never know who you will meet. While you may know your target market and where they spend the majority of their networking time, you can’t know everything about them. They will of course have hobbies or outside interests that you’re not aware of. Meeting them outside the usual places will help you find something in common and strengthen or even create bonds that weren’t there before.


Your target market may be very small and so might the networking events and activities that they frequent. By becoming involved in larger groups, you’ll be seen more often by more people. Even though the group may be more general than your needs, they are still part of the larger business community. You don’t know who knows someone you might want to meet. And who will talk about your commitment to good networking.


It sounds simple and maybe even a bit silly, but don’t underestimate the power of just going to a networking event for sheer fun. I’ve been the hostess of probably 1,500 networking events in the last seven years. After a while, it’s tiring to always be “on,” which is what you need to be with your target market. That’s not to say that you need to get sloppy, wear a t-shirt, drink too much or stick with just your friends. You still need to dress well, be a good guest and look for opportunities to meet with people. But you can stay as little or as long as you like and relax just a bit more than usual.

Instead of thinking that a general, non-targeted networking event is a waste of time, see it from the perspective of providing you with an opportunity to meet new people, increase visibility and relax in a networking environment.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention as the original source).

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | Author:

You've decided to take the plunge and get started in networking. You've decided what you want out of it. You know what to say when people ask, “What do you do?” You know where you want to go because you've thought about who you need to connect with, what you can do for them and how they will fit into your network. You've made sure to always be ready with your business cards and you've got a good roster of networking events to attend. Once you get started and get over this initial preparation, you want to deepen your networking skills. Here are several to work on.

Polish your small talk

We sometimes think that small talk, the light conversation style that includes the latest sports or weather or complaints about traffic is pointless. But it's important in that it provides a bit of cushion when we first meet someone new. While it's not good to beat around the bush or have pointless, meaningless conversation, we want to give someone a little bit of time to size us up. We learn about each others rhythms and styles before we do start going deeper in our conversation. We also find out what we might have in common and what interests we share when we engage in small talk.

Follow up with people you meet

There's a saying that “the fortune is in the follow up.” This is probably based on the statistics which show that salespeople rarely close a deal on the first contact with a potential customer. Or the advertising statistics which state that it takes seven exposures before someone even registers an advertisement. Whatever you're trying to accomplish with networking, it requires more than one exposure to us.

Follow up is our way of getting familiar with other people and getting them familiar with us.

Keep track of whom you've met

When you need to follow up or get back in touch with someone you've met, it's hard to dig though a stack of business cards, or paw through your desk drawers. A Rolodex, a database or any other way of keeping track of who you know is vital. It's worth hiring someone to put them into a searchable system so you can always refer to them by name, company, what they do or how you met.

Networking is a process of building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships by sharing information, idea, experiences, and relationships. It is a skill that can be built, improved and refined by knowing the ins and outs of connecting with people and creating long-lasting connections. Work on these skills consistently and you'll find your networking growing and supporting you.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention as the original source).


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Sunday, August 12th, 2012 | Author:

Nowadays, there are multiple ways to conduct professional networking. People can network in informal places (such as bars) or in more formal places (such as conventions). Both places are ideal for expanding your prof

essional network, but it might be harder to approach a potential employer or business partner in a bar, because they are usually preoccupied with talking to other people. On the other hand, conventions are usually less crowded, but the conversation might end within several minutes after the exchange of business cards.

However, due to the popularity of the Internet, networking opportunities can also be carried out on online social networking platforms. Due to the convenience of the Internet, professionals can easily find potential clients or business contacts that are suited to their needs on sites such as LinkedIn and Video. Instead of scanning through a mountain of CVs and cover letters, employers can narrow down their search results on these sites to save time and money. In turn, people can also find potential employers online by searching for their work prefe

rences and matching their skills to certain requirements of a position. Instead of going through the complicated process of administration and application, they can contact the employers directly online to increase their chances of employment.

While there are various kinds of social networking sites available online, not all of them are suitable for professional networking purposes. Online chat sites such as Bazoocam are mainly used for leisure purposes for users to make new friends or to find a potential spouse. The main purpose of these social networking sites is not to expand your professional network, but to chat with a random person as a form of entertainment. Since registration is not obligatory on these kinds of sites, users can sign in with a different username every time and even create a false identity with false contact information.

Before conducting professional network meetings, it is important to search for the mission and client base of a site. While there have been rumours that job interviews have been carried out on chatroulette, there are higher chances of finding an appropriate contact on sites specifically aimed for professional networking.


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Monday, August 06th, 2012 | Author:

While the Internet has made our lives more convenient and interesting, there are new dangers and crimes that come with the anonymity of the Internet. Since Internet users can easily create a false profile or fake identity online, people take advantage of this feature for various purposes. For example, some users explore their sexual fantasies by exposing themselves anonymously on chatroulette, while Internet scammers often create a false profile online to commit Internet fraud. Sometimes they pretend to be a

lonely man looking for love on a dating site and once they win the trust of the users, they try to blackmail them for money with a shady photo or other undesirable material. Some people even spread false rumours online, as news travels at the speed of light on the Internet and there is no way to confirm the validity of the information once it has been spread online.

Since the Internet plays an important role in our lives, it is important to be aware of the dangers in order to avoid falling into the traps. While anonymity can protect our privacy, it can also easily be abused by people for personal reasons.


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Monday, July 30th, 2012 | Author:

Whether you are networking at a large, mixer-type event or sitting down in a one-on-one coffee meeting, one of the most important things you can do is ask the right questions. Good questions are questions that bring you closer to building a beneficial relationship with the other person. The “wrong” questions are those that push people away or repel them – not what you want to do with your networking efforts.

What are good questions for you to be asking? That depends on where you are, what you're doing, who you are, who they are…there are too many factors to be able to give you a list of exactly the best questions that are right for you. Instead, here are some of the qualities of the right questions, along with some examples to get you started thinking up your own good questions.

They are positive. Instead of “Don't you hate this weather?” Try asking, “What do you like about this time of year?”

They are open-ended, meaning that the answer needs to be more than a “yes” or “no.” Open-ended questions tend to start with “what” or “why” or “how” and tend to be about opinions instead of facts.

They allow other people to shine. They are about them, not about you.

They keep the conversation going. We've all be subject to one of those conversation-stoppers. Make sure you give them something they can comfortably answer.

They show the other person that you are listening. Asking for clarification or more details is a good way.

They include everyone in the conversation if there's more than one person involved.


hey don't contain the answer you want. Questions like, “You like this, right?” are telling them to agree with what you just said.

They don't put other people on the spot. Save the penetrating or personal questions for much later in the relationship, if at all. Plus, don't make them look bad. “Why are you late for the meeting” is not a helpful question.

They let other people finish their answer. Don't be so worried about your next question that you step on their answer to the last one.

Questions are the lifeblood of a good conversation. Conversations are a way to share information, which is a step toward building a mutually beneficial networking relationship. Practice asking questions and learn which of them help other people get to know, like and trust you.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention as the original source).


Sunday, July 15th, 2012 | Author:

As a brand new financial planner or life insurance agent, you might be surprised when you start networking (the company will insist). You’ll meet people, they’ll smile, you ask what they do, they’ll ask what you do, and then you tell them. They’ll stop smiling. They’ll drop your hand and they might even take a step or two back.

See, they’ve met a lot of financial planners who haven’t taken the time to read or learn anything about networking. Those other guys think that business networking events are a place to meet prospects, hand out their card and get appointments to “get to know each other” which really means that they want to start filling in the blanks in the prospect form that the company provides.

No one likes this. And since networking is actually a process that is not selling, but instead a way to get to know, like and trust other people who you might do business with someday, their blunders are working against you.

How do you start networking with people who are way ahead of you, who have met plenty of your colleagues who have almost ruined the process for you? Surprise them – in a good way. Don’t try to find out what life insurance they have, or if they have a 401k or even if they have money at all (well, hopefully they have a little bit but don’t ask!).

Here’s an idea that will really blow their mind and will possibly make you a friend for life. Tell them that you promise to not ask them for their business for a year. Write it down on your card: I promise to not promote anything that I sell until X date. You can tell them that you will provide them with ideas and suggestions but onlyif they ask you first!

This will help them feel incredibly safe. And they’ll be open to a real relationship. Make it a joke. Laugh about it, then suddenly get all serious and tell them, “No really, it is vitally important to me to build relationships first. If you decide at some point that you very much want to do business with me, I would be honored. But until then, I pledge to never bring it up.”

P.S. This requires that you have other means of bringing in business, such as advertising, seminars, articles and other marketing strategies so that you don’t starve in the meantime.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention as the original source).

Sunday, July 08th, 2012 | Author:

Business networking can often help you further your goals. Meeting new people can generate new client or job leads or provide other benefits. However, networking can be challenging but there are ways to improve your skills and your networking outcomes. One way is to recognize and understand networking gestures as shown in the following graphic from <a href="http://www.saffer” target=”_blank”>


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Wednesday, July 04th, 2012 | Author:

Frauds have always existed, but have clearly gained a foothold on the Internet.   In the past, we could attempt to gauge a person's reliability and trustworthiness during face-to-face meetings.  This is often difficult or impossible in online transactions since many remain anonymous or can use fake identities or affiliations. There are a wide variety of online scams we hear and read about. This erodes trust online causing

some to avoid certain online transactions. Here is a list of the most frequent frauds committed online from


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