OCW OpenCourseWare: Givers gain

Making their courses available on the web does not discourage enrollment in participating universities… and anyone has access to content from world-class institutions.

Think of the goodwill this generates. An illustration of givers gain.

It sounds like a Utopian vision – a high-quality, free education for everyone – but that’s precisely what MIT and other prestigious universities are doing by participating in the The OpenCourseWare movement, a movement that puts all coursework online for anyone to peruse (…).

OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a type of intellectual philanthropy. Students don’t have to register for classes but only need to log on to more than 1,800 potential courses at 12 universities who provide the course materials such as syllabi, video or audio lectures, notes, homework assignments, illustrations. Contrary to what one might think, giving away their content has not discouraged enrollment to the universities.

The OpenCourseWare movement begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002 and has now spread to some 120 other universities worldwide. (ZDNet Education via Christian Science Monitor)

Links: Open Courseware Consortium, Wikipedia entry on OpenCourseWare

Excellent guide to prepare your elevator speech

An elevator speech is as essential as a business card. You need to be able to say who you are, what you do, what you are interested in doing and how you can be a resource to your listeners. If you donʹt have an elevator speech, people wonʹt know what you really do.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE- Before writing any part of your elevator speech, research your audience. You will be much more likely to succeed if your elevator speech is clearly targeted at the individuals you are speaking to. Having a ʹgenericʹ elevator pitch is almost certain to fail.

KNOW YOURSELF – Before you can convince anyone of your proposition you need to know exactly what it is. You need to define precisely what you are offering, what problems you can solve and what benefits you bring to a prospective contact or employers.

Answer the following questions:
1. What are your key strengths?
2. What adjectives come to mind to describe you?
3. What is it you are trying to ʹsellʹ or let others know about you?
4. Why are you interested in the company or industry the person represents?

OUTLINE YOUR TALK – start an outline of your material using bullet points. You donʹt need to add any detail at this stage; simply write a few notes to help remind you of what you really want to say. They don’t need to be complete sentences.

You can use the following questions to start your outline:
1. Who am I?
2. What do I offer?
3. What problem is solved?
4. What are the main contributions I can make?
5. What should the listener do as a result of hearing this?

FINALIZE YOUR SPEECH – Now that you have your outline of your material, you can finalize the speech. The key to doing this is to expand on the notes you made by writing out each section in full.

To help you do this, follow these guidelines:
1. Take each note you made and write a sentence about it.
2. Take each of the sentences and connect them together with additional phrases to make them flow.
3. Go through what you have written and change any long words or jargon into everyday language.
4. Go back through the re-written material and cut out unnecessary words.
5. Finalize your speech by making sure it is no more than 90 words long.

(source is a pdf file)


Cover letters from hell

Along with every résumé we get comes a cover letter. Composing one seems to have a Difficulty Rating of 11, since that’s where we find the most tortured prose ever set to paper. For example: “I expect the position to pay commissary to that of its value, as well as to the performance completed.”

Or, decode this:

“It is my desire to develop and generate the revolving scheme to filter to the consuming public in.”

Yes, there is more where that came from.

Small Business Video Seminar

Starting a small business can certainly be a risky proposition, but with a little assistance from those who have embarked on such an entrepreneurial venture in the past, the whole process can be made a bit smoother. The New York Public Library has teamed up with the Partnership for New York City to create this collection of “how-to” seminars and podcasts. While the sessions relate to doing business in New York specifically, much of the material and suggestions could apply to persons interested in starting a business just about anywhere in the United States. Currently there are eleven broadcasts available, and they include such presentations as “How to Start a Fashion Line in Today’s Market”, “Legal Strategies for Small Businesses” and “A Quick Guide to Building a Successful Export Business”. (thanks)



With endorsements from such respectable institutions as the New York Times and the BBC, NationMaster presents a formidable amount of data for the general public in a way that is both accessible and at times, downright addictive. The website brings together data from such sources as the CIA World Factbook, the United Nations, as well as other such organizations.

On the left-hand side of the page, visitors can peruse areas such as “Top Stats”, “What’s New” and “Stats in the News”. The “Top Stats” presents information on the countries with the greatest life expectancy, the highest median income, and so on. Journalists may find the “Stats in the News” area particularly helpful as it presents data on topical areas of interest such as statistics on bird flu infection rates and oil consumption. Additionally, users can offer comments on some of the data sets, and at any given time, there tends to be a great deal of commentary on almost all of the items featured on the site. (thanks)

One of the best aggregation of information on matters international!