The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: professional communication

Tips for building relationships with virtual classmates

All learning —even digital learning — is a collaborative experience. Online students have the unique opportunity to connect with peers from all over the country and the world. Thanks to constant advances in instructional design, social networking and UX/UI, students pursuing online graduate degrees have the same opportunities to build meaningful relationships with their classmates as their on-campus counterparts. Read on for our guidelines on how to maximize these virtual relationships.

1) Practice empathetic communication

Empathetic communication, or empathetic listening, refers to the practice of listening with the intent to understand the speaker’s frame of reference for how they experience the world. Thanks to the nature of online learning, you may find yourself in a classroom full of people with different communication styles, norms and cultural values. Common slang that you’re used to may not resonate with a peer from a different country. When it comes to scheduling, be mindful of different time zones. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of needing to complete a group project on a deadline, try being mindful of varying professional or personal commitments your classmates may have outside of school.

2) Choose a program that prioritizes learning experience design and peer engagement.

Not all online programs are created equally. As you evaluate your options for an online master’s degree, make sure you are considering programs that provide an optimal digital learning experience that prioritizes student-to-student interaction. Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies uses the latest best practices in online course design to foster peer engagement, and has offered online courses for more than a decade. Additionally, unlike MOOCs and other online education providers, Brandeis GPS caps courses at 20 students.

3) Make time for social interaction.

Connecting with your classmates on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Slack will allow you to engage on a more informal level. Many people use these tools to share career insights and interesting articles and trends, so you’ll be able to expand your professional network and learn a bit more about your industry. You may even learn about an interesting conference opportunity or a new position to apply to.

In addition to social media, make sure you take advantage of your program’s online learning module. Students at Brandeis GPS use a special social forum to chat about non-course-related events, such as current affairs, sports, or regional networking opportunities.

4) Write with clarity

When it comes to any online interaction, clear and concise writing is critical for optimal communication. But writing with clarity involves more than writing with brevity. Being intentional with the words you choose, how you format your writing, and the tone you mean to convey is essential for fostering strong virtual relationships. Here are some examples of how to write with clarity:

  • Don’t over-complicate things: why use fancy words when simple ones will do? If you do use words that are likely to be unfamiliar to the bulk of your audience, make sure you define them. This relates back to empathetic communication.
  • Keep your paragraphs short in discussion posts or emails – try for one or two sentences per paragraph, if possible.
  • Keep your sentences short.
  • Leverage writing tools like Microsoft Word’s readability stats or the Hemingway App.
  • Avoid passive voice.

5) Take advantage of technology

Today’s technology makes it easy to collaborate. Make your group projects a more seamless experience with tools like:

  • Zoom, which allows for cloud-based video and audio conferencing
  • User-friendly project management apps for virtual teams like Asana or Trello
  • Google Drive, which provides free cloud storage for online documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Drive also has a chat feature, which allows teams to easily collaborate while all working on a document.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps

 

Communication for Effective Leadership

It may go without saying, but communication is a prevalent and critical component of today’s workforce. The skillset is especially essential for professionals seeking to excel in a leadership role. Regardless of industry, professional communications is imperative for leading effective meetings, mitigating crises, and navigating negotiations and conflict resolution.

“Communications is a critical part of doing business, especially in today’s environment. News travels fast. A bad customer experience can become a social media sensation before the CEO is even informed of the problem,” said Mary Caraccioli, Chief Communications Officer for The Central Park Conservancy. “On the flip side, you can use the power of social media to engage directly (and more deeply) with customers, employees and other stakeholders. You can use the power of the communications revolution to work for you by making communications part of your business strategy.”

Mary Caraccioli HeadshotCaraccioli is teaching a master’s-level course in Communication for Effective Leadership, a fully online, 10-week class that will help students build on their critical thinking skills and apply oral and written communication strategies to solve organizational problems and drive organizational change. Throughout the course, students will focus on topics such as negotiation and facilitation, crisis communications and public relations, virtual and global communications, and stakeholder management.

By the end of Communication for Effective Leadership, students should be able to:

  • Develop, execute and measure communication plans to manage stakeholders, solve organizational problems and drive organizational change.
  • Adapt communication strategies and use digital technologies to align with organizational, cultural, virtual, and global needs.
  • Build a portfolio of communication campaigns including crisis response, company positioning, and media statements.

This course is available for professional development or as part of several GPS graduate programs, including Technology Management, Information Security Leadership, Digital Marketing and Design, Strategic Analytics, and Project and Program Management.

At GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in one of our 12 online master’s degrees. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. If you’re interested in exploring one of our graduate programs, or would like to learn more about effective communication for professional development, submit your information or contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu.

Meet the newest GPS faculty

Faces of GPS | Introduction to New Faculty Members

We’re excited to introduce you to some of the newer faces of GPS. These leaders in their field come with years of experience inside the classroom and beyond. Their industry expertise and connections make them ideal mentors for GPS students. Get to know Dr. Patt Steiner, Erin Meredith Bazzell, and Debra Michalides below!

Dr. Patt Steiner: Organizational Leadership and Decision Making

Dr. Patt Steiner - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS BlogDr. Patt Steiner brings over 20 years of experience to the business community with specializations in leadership, strategic planning, organization and process improvement, and employee advocacy. She has been a guest speaker for many organizations including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), The Small Business Administration, The Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, Boston University, The Society for Software Quality, and Cornell University. Among other accomplishments, Patt holds a degree in Music Performance, and has performed with the Boston Pops, the Florida Symphony, the Oakland (CA) Symphony, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Steiner completed her doctoral work in Leadership at Northeastern University.

Erin Meredith Bazzell: Digital Marketing Strategy

A7070D1BFD1BBCFE268F17651E2EC60970CD928Erin Meredith Bazzell, MBA, is the Global Marketing Communication Leader for Cummins Filtration, a Cummins Inc. business unit. She leads a team in the corporate office in Nashville, TN, as well as teams in seven other countries globally. In her 10+ years in the marketing field, she has honed her skills in the medical, education, retail and manufacturing fields. She is an active member in her local chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and also teaches undergraduate marketing courses at Southern New Hampshire University. Meredith received a BA in Mass Communications & Marketing from Auburn University and her MBA from Bethel University.

Debra Michalides: Prototyping and Evaluation

Debra Michalides - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog

We wish our newest faculty a warm welcome and look forward to the experience and dedication they bring to GPS!

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Helping Your Teams Grow Through Coaching

By: Phil Holberton, Adjunct faculty at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies

Originally from: http://holberton.com/helping-your-teams-grow-through-coaching/

As team leaders, we evaluate our team members and expect them to do the job up to our standards. Sometimes our standards are out of sync with their ability or training. After all, coachingthese individuals have not traveled in the same shoes as we have and may not have the skills or cognitive preparation to achieve what we expect. Therefore coaching becomes an integral part of helping teams grow to the next level.

In my experience, the most effective leaders shine when they are helping others day in and day out. This is where coaching enters the picture. Those team leaders who are really performing up to their capability (in a leadership capacity) are consistently coaching their colleagues (and not trying to micro-manage their activities). Individuals don’t appreciate being managed. But, they are more open to coaching if the coach immediately establishes his or her desire to help the individual meet their established goals.

The first and most important coaching skill is to be in the moment, not distracted by six different things on your mind. Coaching is about How-To-Minimize-Distractionsrespect for each other. There is no more predictable way to show lack of respect as not being “present” or “engaged” during a conversation. I once had a boss whose eyes would become “fish eyes” during our conversations. Do you think I was being heard? Do you think I respected him?

Secondly, a good coach (team leader) will seek to understand by asking open-ended, empowering questions. It is very difficult to understand what is going on in someone else’s head if we ask simple yes/no questions. Questions need to be open-ended so we fully understand the complexity of an individual’s state of mind.

A third critical skill is the need for the coach to suspend judgment and remain reflective and objective. Being contemplative shows that you understand the thoughts or feelings in the conversation. These first three skills will help develop understanding, balance, and respect—all very important ingredients in a successful coaching relationship.

0x600-636x310The fourth critical skill is affirming the conversation. This action brings into focus the individual’s desire to move ahead, whether it’s an improvement in performance or learning new skills and growing as a professional or human being.
These skills, when practiced and used daily, will help you become the most effective leader imaginable.

Help your team grow. Be a coach not a just a team leader or boss.

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