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7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

Progressions in technology and global inter-connectivity have made writing more desirable today than ever before. Personal virtual notebooks, massive audiences and the increasing ease in which they can be reached – a few strokes of the keyboard and our opinions can traverse the world, gathering momentum and unifying voices from all corners of the globe.

However, while it may be more convenient to get started on your next piece (blogs and websites are revolutionizing the game), it has become more difficult to experience the essence of the activity itself. As much as we’re currently writing to influence others – to give advice or express opinion – we risk losing sight of the serenity that can accompany the activity. All in all, if you truly want to start writing, follow the tips listed below .

1. Write for Yourself

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” –Robert A. Heinlein

Figure out what it is that you want to gain out of writing. Do you want to shoot for the stars and make a career out of it? Or do you want to formulate a hobby around writing, embark on personal poetic endeavors and journal your way through life? If you’re interested in the latter, keep reading, otherwise skip to the next point if you’re looking to profit off of your pieces. Learn to rely on writing as a tool at your disposal. Journal your thoughts and ambitions, record your to-do’s and achievements. Not only does it help you to organize yourself and your thoughts, but it prompts you to actually sit down for several moments a day and have your time with the keyboard or pen.

2. Don’t Expect to Make a Living

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” – Robert Benchley

If you happen to decide that you want to begin a career as an author, find out first how you can live without paying any bills for several years. Unless you have the means at your disposal and some phenomenal luck, don’t expect to profit off of writing at the snap of a finger. Thankfully, the world in which we live today is so connected that there are a number of paid gigs available for freelance writers. However, even these require a reputable portfolio blooming with published articles. It’s not impossible, nor is it even that difficult – it just requires a ton of effort and even more time. If you don’t want to set yourself up for failure, treat it as a hobby at first and then see where it may take you.

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3. Write, Write, Write

Writing is its own reward” – Henry Miller

If all you do is write, then you’re never doing it wrong. If you’re truly passionate about writing, let it infect your mind to the point that you always find your fingers typing away at something. Essays, blogs, short stories – there are so many ways in which you can let yourself become addicted. The number one piece of advice that is circulating from mouth to ear all over the world is that you have to start with a blog. Everyone’s doing it. Start one for yourself and commit to it. One of the hardest things to do is to find time. If you work full-time and run a family, it’s very difficult to seclude yourself and fire off a few paragraphs or pages. Many authors convey the notion of waking up two hours before starting their day jobs just to write. If you don’t have the time, make the time; writing is a costly investment that can offer ample rewards – mostly intangible in nature.

4. Learn to Share Your Work and Absorb Opinion

Beware of advice—even this.” – Carl Sandburg

It may be one of the most terrifying things you can ever do: to show someone a piece of writing that you’ve poured your efforts into. Aside from the A+ essay you bring home to mom or the proposal you’ve stitched together at work, it can take a lot of courage to put yourself out there and expose yourself to potentially critical feedback, which leads to the next point of adequately absorbing opinion. If you can’t take the criticism, don’t play the game of writing before the public eye. Writing is an immensely subjective activity – be prepared for objective perspectives that can shatter your confidence. In contrast, don’t become over-reliant on praise either. Take all positive feedback with a grain of salt, especially if the source is from a friend or someone who just wants to be supportive. On the other hand, don’t be devastated from negative opinion – it can be a necessary voice that you ought to hear, a vessel through which progress can be made.

5. Finish Your Work

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth

Any writer will agree that it’s an extremely difficult thing to do – to wrap up certain pieces. You’re probably not a born writer if you have a closet (or desktop folder) filled with story after uncompleted story. This more so applies to those who dare to delve into the imaginative world of fiction writing. Deadlines can help you wrap things up and keep an end in sight, as it’s easy to get carried away. Find a way to stay inspired and committed to whatever it is you’re writing. At any rate, ensure that once you commit to something, you never let the flame dim and die – fiction or non.

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6. Let Your Pen/Keyboard Guide You

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way” – E. L. Doctorow

Don’t expect to plan every chapter of your next book, or every topic of your next string of blogs. You discover so much more than you’d ever be able to brainstorm halfway through writing any given piece. In reference to the aforesaid point, this is one reason why a piece may remain unfinished; it can certainly be overwhelming. The magic that sprouts from writing is in its ability to captivate not only the readers reading but the writers themselves.

7. Connect

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thanks to the increasing inter-connectivity of the world, it’s so easy to write before a world-wide audience, to gain experience and the know-how’s to be great author – you’re doing it right now. Take it a step further and reach out to a published author, someone who’s been there and done it (and even made it), and ask them for their number one piece of advice. I did, several years ago, and in response I was told to write and never stop writing, prompting me to convey it as the third point listed in this article. Beyond the actual tip, it sticks in your mind every time you think about writing, fuels the fire that serves to inspire you.

Subsequently, if you want to start writing with the intention of turning it into a profitable talent, expect to be on the road towards success for quite a while. The best you can do is to immerse yourself in the experience, let it better your day-to-day life and see where it ultimately takes you. 

More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on November 5, 2019

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

1. Canvas Network

Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

2. Google Classroom

This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

4. Absorb

This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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5. Watershed Collaborative

Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

Honorable Mentions

There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

  1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
  2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
  3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
  4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
  5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

Conclusion

There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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