Category: Blogs


Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Drunk

Kathie Kelley
Kathleen Kelley MSN, RN, CNRN

As a nurse and mom of four kids, I was thrilled to see that several departments at Caldwell University are sponsoring an upcoming CPR class. Knowing how to save a life in an emergency is priceless. When I learned that the class included awareness on toxic drinking, I was even more pleased. It got me thinking– do people really know what toxic or ‘binge’ drinking really means? Is it really dangerous to mix those energy drinks and alcohol? How would you determine fact versus fiction? For anyone wondering about this, I thought I would share some information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), as I weigh in on this very prominent epidemic affecting young people today.

Fact or Fiction? “If I don’t pass out, it is not binge drinking.”

FICTION! As per the NIAAA, binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks and when women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours.

Fact or Fiction? “You don’t have to be an alcoholic to binge drink.”

FACT! Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent. Binge drinking is most common among young adults 18 to 34 years of age.

Fact or Fiction? “The prevalence of binge drinking is the same for men and women.”

FICTION! The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.

Fact or Fiction? “So what’s the big deal? My roommate will let me sleep it off and I’ll be fine.”

FICTION! Binge drinking is associated with many injuries and health problems including falls, burns, drowning, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, sexually transmitted diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, brain damage, diabetes, and liver disease.

Fact or Fiction?- “Okay, so binge drinking is bad. I’ll just have a Red Bull and Vodka. One or two will be okay.”

Fiction!!!! When alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks the caffeine in these drinks can mask the depressive effect of the alcohol. This means you may not feel as drunk. Yet, at the same time, the effects on your body are the same to your liver, your BAC and your risk of injury from the alcohol. Young adults who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are about twice as likely to report being taken advantage of sexually or taking advantage of someone else sexually.

So now that you know the facts, what are you going to do about it? Be smart with your body and watch out for your friends. Friends don’t let friends get drunk. Find out more on:

Kelley teaches in the Department of Nursing at Caldwell University.

(The Caldwell University Counseling Office, Student Activities, Human Resources and Athletics Departments are sponsoring the CPR class on March 6.)

Visit the official Caldwell University Faculty Blog


Tragedy in Newtown: A Chance for Us All to Play a Role in Prevention

Sister Catherine Waters, Ph.D., O.P. professor of counseling at Caldwell University

By Sister Catherine Waters, Ph.D., O.P. professor of counseling at Caldwell University and a New Jersey licensed psychologist.

The tragedy in Newtown can make us more aware of our role in prevention.

I recently saw an interview on “CBS This Morning” with Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical School, in which he describes the characteristics of people most likely to be at risk for committing the kind of violence that occurred in Newtown.

Dr. Lieberman suggested that aside from those suffering from a deranged psychosis, who may be delusional and feel that they “have to” do it, there are others with a limited range of emotionality who experience uncontrollable rage in circumstances that most people, even if angry or upset, would find ways to deal with. In either case, they tend to be persons without the resources for restraint.

Mental health professionals know that generally, long before the moment of tragedy, these individuals will have given signs of their limitations. Previous (smaller) acts of violence, violent or threatening communication, either in writing or verbally, sometimes coupled with drug or alcohol use, a fascination with violence, or a pattern suggesting an inability to restrain themselves in stressful situations, are signs that all is not well.

When we become aware of these patterns—experts call this pathway behavior—any of us can alert someone who can help. That might be a responsible person in a school or workplace, a family member, or if urgent, a police agency. We don’t need to, nor are we able to, judge the risk absolutely, but we can care enough to take the opportunity to perhaps prevent a dangerous situation.

On a broader scale, all of us can consider advocating for better and more predictable mental health services for our friends, neighbors and relatives who may be struggling with emotional challenges. All of them are somebody’s children. Advocacy on behalf of a whole range of issues related to mental illness includes poverty prevention, housing rights for the homeless, and patients’ rights. They are actions on behalf of all of us. This can be accomplished by garnering media attention to such concerns, communication with elected officials or through the legal system.  In this season of blessings, this could be our gift to the world, or at least our little corner of it.

Who of us wouldn’t like to have had the chance to prevent the events of last Friday—if only we had known?


Professor Shares Sights and Sounds from Chartes, France Pilgrimage – Part 3

By: Agnes Berki, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Natural and Physical Sciences

Dr. Berki writes the following to her friend Rose Marie, who is disabled and not able to make the trek from Paris to Chartes.

Have a good pilgrimage, Rose Marie!

On the last day, we had 16 miles remaining to Chartres. Most of the walk was in the countryside again. In the morning I missed the hustle and bustle of the camp: waking up at the crack of dawn to blasting classical music; getting out from the warm sleeping bag into the cold and wet air, forcing my tired limbs to pack quickly and to walk for hot chocolate and rolls, our breakfast.

The Breakfast table.

From the organizers’ picture gallery: “le pélé en un millier de photos”

Somehow we were short a sleeping bag and had to sleep indoors in Versailles. By the time we got back to the campsite that morning, my chapter, now walking with the Versailles group, had already left. They were about an hour into their walk. I asked for what is not usually allowed: to walk on my own until I  could catch up to my chapter. Miracles do happen, especially during a pilgrimage. My request was granted. I could walk alone. I had to walk at a slightly faster pace than the chapters. It was hard to walk at that pace and get past the groups, but the fresh morning air invigorated me. The sky was clear and it meant that the day would be hot again. Dehydration is the number one enemy of a pilgrim. It is almost impossible to notice it until it is too late. The first signs of dehydration are feeling cold and chilly even  if the air is warm. Skin discoloration follows and finally fever and trembling chills. At that point, the pilgrim has to be taken to the emergency room. When we walked with our chapter, we looked out for signs of dehydration in our fellow pilgrims and we encouraged each other to drink often. I had to be mindful of that on my own. So I grabbed a large water bottle and forced myself to drink often.


From the organizers’ picture gallery: “le pélé en un millier de photos”:

I was passing the various chapters, praying alone and encouraging myself to walk faster, drink often and eat frequently. When I was passing by a chapter, I sang with them and prayed with them if I knew the prayer or the hymn. Sometimes I felt lonely, though. But when I was getting truly lonely, God arranged that I would catch up to a chapter with friends. First I caught up with and said hello to the children of my friend Beatrice. Then I passed the Australian chapter we had walked with the day before. Later I found my friend Guillemettewalking with her children. I also caught up to the American chapter, the Our Lady of Guadalupe brigade, led by Michael Matt. I had walked my very first Chartres pilgrimage with them years ago. I said hello and briefly talked with Father Von Der Putten. He is the funniest person I have ever met. Just to illustrate, he  sang Elvis Presley’s“Love Me Tender” during one of his sermons—mind you during a Latin low Mass!In a low Mass, there is no music or singing. This time he was not in a joking mood. His legs were killing him because he was walking in cowboy boots and each foot was one big blister. He did not complain, but I saw the suffering in his eyes and I could imagine the sharp pain he felt at every step!

Passing various chapters to catch up with mine.

From the organizers’ picture gallery: “le pélé en un millier de photos”:

I caught up with my chapter at lunchtime. I thought that I would not find them, asmany of the chapters had stopped and sat down in a large clearing. The banners were downand that reduced my chances of finding them to almost zero percent. I saw in front of me about a thousand pilgrims, sitting and eating. How would I find my chapter? I was tired and lonely. I really wanted to find them. I prayed with all my heart, and suddenly Father Guichard appeared right in front of me. He pointed me to our chapter. I was glad to be with them! I sat down and we shared our lunch. The noon sun was very hot by then.

The walk was easy after lunch although all of us were thirsty and tired. Our Versailles chapter members asked us to teach them English hymns. It was good of them to accommodate us and sing in English. We sang in English, Latin and French. Chartres Cathedral disappeared and reappeared as we walked toward it in the fields. Every time the steeples reappeared, they grew taller. And finally we reached Chartres. The chapters sang with more fervor, louder and louder as we were nearing the cathedral. A strange awe lifted my heart. Joy bubbled up from deep within, washing away my tiredness. A quite gratitude melted my soul. We had arrived! Against all the odds, with God’s grace! The third and probably the last time I would walk the Chartres pilgrimage.

Pilgrims entering Chartres Cathedral.

From the organizers’ picture gallery: “le pélé en un millier de photos”:

Our chapter had the privilege to be inside the cathedral for the closing Mass. We could not sit on chairs, for there were not enough of them, but we did not care about chairs. We were inside and that was what mattered. The Very Rev. John Berg, superior general of the Fraternity of Saint Peter, celebrated the Mass. Father Guichard had to leave us because he had to process in with the other priests and religious who walked the pilgrimage. We sat on the floor inside with many of the pilgrims, while the rest of them were outside and listened to the Mass through loud speakers. We were tired, but happy. The pilgrimshad come from all over the world—Poland, England, Ireland, Germany, Spain and the United States. There were also Eastern Christians and refugees from Iraq and Syria. The Mass was beautiful. With the end of the Mass, the pilgrimage was over: IteMissa est. Deogratias.

Fr. Benoit Guichard, FSSP, and other clergy process in for the closing Mass at Chartres Cathedral

From the organizers’ picture gallery: “le pélé en un millier de photos”:

Father John Berg, FSSP, Delivering the sermon during the closing Mass in Chartres Cathedral.

From the organizers’ picture gallery: “le pélé en un millier de photos”:

I have much to be thankful for. For the opportunity to go on the pilgrimage, thanks goes to Father Guichard, the members of my chapter and my friends in the parish. For the opportunity to share this story, thanks  to my colleagues and to you, dear reader. And for being able to walk the pilgrimage, Deogratias!

My group from Our Lady of Fatima Chapel after the pilgrimage. I took this picture.

Why did I want to share this with you? To tell you that this pilgrimage made me understand better the parallel between a pilgrimage and life. Our life here on earth is a pilgrimage. We are here to walk the walk of life toward a goal. And that goal is heaven. As the members of a chapter, we are placed here to help one another toward that goal. May I do my share in helping you. Let us walk this walk together, my fellow pilgrim. And come what may, have a good pilgrimage, Rose Marie!

Another perspective from a friend from the American Chapter, Dr. John Rao.

Dr. John Rao talks about his pilgrimage to Chartres in 2009


Professor Shares Sights and Sounds from Chartes, France Pilgrimage – Part 2

By: Agnes Berki, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Natural and Physical Sciences

Dr. Berki writes the following to her friend Rose Marie, who is disabled and not able to make the trek from Paris to Chartes.

Part II

The second day I was especially grateful for two events. We again walked over 20 miles. It was harder on the second day to walk that many miles since I was tired from the day before. Eight hours’ sleep in a tent in a sleeping bag does not allow much recovery for the body. But the weather was beautiful during the whole time. Members of my chapter members and their families prayed much for good weather. I heard about years with pouring rains. They say it brings more graces to walk in the rain, since it is very hard to walk in the mud for twenty miles and then sleep in a wet tent and wet sleeping bag! Well, I was grateful for the good weather. But what I was especially grateful for was that we walked this day with the Australian chapter. I have to back up a bit. Our American group was put together with a French chapter from Versailles on the first day. The Versailles chapter was our “family”:  40 of us altogether. We prayed and sang much in French. Well, it was a French chapter; it was a French pilgrimage. By the end of the day, we who were not French were kind of “Frenched out” especially those of us who did not speak French. How happy we were when we found out that we could walk with the Australians. We could sing and pray in English and understand the meditations! When we joined them, they asked, “Do you want us to pray in French?” Oh no, please no; English or Latin preferably? So it was. We prayed and sang in English intermingled with some Latin. And I loved their accents. I know that I have an accent, so it is probably amusing for you to hear that I appreciated theirs. Well, I did.


The Australian Chapter led by Father Bede Rowe.

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We were very much blessed, though, for with the Australian chapter walked two groups of religious orders of men. One was a traditional order of Redemptorist priests, the Transalpine Redemptorists (2). They led the meditations for us. I am sorry I did not tell you what meditation is. First, the schedule of the three days included meditations. Each day we listened to one or more talks on a topic while we walked and then silently reflected on it. This is called meditation. Each chapter performed meditation on its own. The pilgrimage booklet contains some meditation texts, but additional meditations can be used as well. This year the theme of the pilgrimage was the family: “Family, Cradle of Christendom” (1).The topics of the mediations were the importance of the family for our salvation, what the word “family” means according to the Scriptures, and the blessed family as the example of a holy family life. The Redemptorist Fathers were true to their reputation as preachers. We liked their well-prepared meditations. The other order was a Franciscan order of men. I thought that the dedication of all those men, their sacrifice, their habits, and their joy were a wonderful witness to the love of God for the young people in my group. I was grateful and felt privileged that I met these remarkable men (3).

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On this day we walked much out in the countryside. The French countryside is beautiful: rolling hills, flowery meadows, and wheat fields. I saw it many times, but every time I see the deep green fields I am deeply moved by the sight. Imagine graceful wheat heads, already strong and full of life, waving in the wind. There is a peaceful beauty about them. That is where life begins, with bread: life here on earth and the life after; how simple and how beautiful.  Above the waving wheat heads there are the waving banners of the pilgrims on the trail for miles ahead and miles behind. There are no words to describe the feelings that sight stirs up within. Imagine that you are tired, every step hurts, the thoughts that keep you going are “one more step,” “one step at a time,” “keep it up,” “keep breathing,” “longer steps” … and you look up and see people in front of you for miles and behind you for miles who suffer the same way or even more than you do. They all walk, keep walking, keep singing, keep praying or talking, but not giving up. That sight lifts you up. It makes the burden of pain roll down from your shoulders, and you do not feel the suffering as intensely as before. That sight gives you “wings.” I wish you could feel what I felt. I wish I could describe the feelings that I had walking those fields with the pilgrims. In those feelings are admiration for what they all do, for humility, sweetness, and a gentle acceptance of being a part of God’s work along with each and every one of them. I love the French countryside and I always will.

The French countryside with pilgrims in 2010.

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The French countryside with pilgrims in 2012.

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The French countryside with pilgrims again in 2012.

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I was the last on that day to reach the camp. We caught a glimpse of the steeples of the Charter Cathedral toward the end of the second day. It was in the distance  20 to 25 miles away. We followed an old tradition, which is to kneel down and pray at that spot.  It felt right to do so. We gave thanks to God for His help in bringing us this far and asked Him to strengthen us for the rest of our journey. Toward the evening, I slowed down and separated from my chapter partly because I was tired and partly because I saw a boy who was alone and not well. I thought that he was dehydrated, so I stopped and asked him. Fortunately, he spoke English and told me that he had a heart problem. He had cold sweats and was out of breath. I suggested that he get on the shuttle, which would take him to the camp, but he did not want to do that. He insisted on walking every step of the pilgrimage for his relative who was ill. So I offered to walk with him. There we were, walking slowly, stopping after every 20 yards. Other pilgrims’ chapters passed us and cheered us on: “The camp is very close. Just keep at it!” My pastor got worried about me, since my brigade had reached the camp a long time ago without me. Not knowing what happened, he asked the security officers. One of them with a motorcycle took Father with him on his bike to find me. They found us walking. We explained what happened. My little friend had no choice at that point; he had to go with the security officer on his bike. I felt sorry for him, for he could not walk the very last mile, but I was glad he was safe. His parents were in the camp as helpers. Then my pastor and I walked to the camp. I arrived in the camp that night as the very last pilgrim of over 5,000. Being last is not something to boast about, yet I was grateful that I was the last one. When I walked into the camp, the other pilgrims cheered and clapped for me as if I was the first at an event in the Olympics. They did not know why I was the last. It was moving. I thought that it is like reaching heaven. It does not matter when we get there. Even if we are the least of God’s children, the joy of all the saints, our loved ones, our Blessed Mother, and God will be indescribable.

Notre Dame of Chartres Cathedral from a distance.

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Professor Shares Sights and Sounds from Chartes, France Pilgrimage – Part 1

By: Agnes Berki, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Natural and Physical Sciences

Dr. Berki writes the following to her friend Rose Marie, who is disabled and not able to make the trek from Paris to Chartes.

Have a good pilgrimage, Rose Marie!

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man,” said Heraclitus. This Pentecost, for the third time, I walked the Chartres Pilgrimage in France, a 60-mile (100-km) trek from Paris to Chartres,
in three days. You would think if it is done once it is done forever, yet it is different every time I go. It is different, for I am different as the years pass. I would hope that I get wiser with age, but I definitely get older and feel that way: in my knee and in my lungs. When I went the first time in 2006, I was healthy and bold. It was very difficult to walk it, though. In 2010, I was not that healthy anymore, for I had bursitis of the knee. It was a miracle that I was able to walk it, but I did; I made the pilgrimage with a brace on my knee. This summer I walked the pilgrimage with asthma. Oh, and I shall not forget the knee, although I did not need braces this time.

Why go back again and again to walk the same pilgrimage? The answer is simple. I did it for the same reason everybody else walks a pilgrimage: to offer my prayers and physical sufferings for a particular end. My intentions changed as the years passed, as you can imagine. In 2006, the walk was offered for my vocation in life; the second time for my family and friends. Since recently I have more responsibilities, my intentions this time included my benefactors and people under my care. “For to whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). I feel the weight of that statement very much.

I’ll let you read the description of the pilgrimage from the organizers’ Web site: “The Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage is a three-day walk from Notre-Dame de Paris to Notre-Dame de Chartres, approximately 60 miles. Pilgrims are organized into groups of 20-60 people who are referred to as ‘chapters.’ The ‘walk’ is through the streets of Paris, and then into the countryside. It can be muddy, rocky, and demanding, but the rewards of such a penitential exercise are eternal. Good sturdy shoes are a must. Each chapter is accompanied by at least one chaplain, who hears confession and gives spiritual direction to each pilgrim who avails himself of the priest’s presence. This pilgrimage originated in the 12th century with interruptions for the various wars our European brethren seem to find themselves in from time to time. Pilgrims will meet in front of Notre-Dame de Paris at 6 a.m. on 26th May 2012, and the journey of faith and foot begins.” (1).

Here is a nine-minute recording of the walk with singing. They sing my favorite song.

What is a chapter? Five adults, including me, and 13 teenagers, young adults, traveled from my parish, Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in New Jersey, to walk the pilgrimage. I was one of the chaperons. The adults included my pastor, Father Benoit Guichard, who is French, a couple and a seminarian. It was an experienced group. Many of us walked this and other short pilgrimages previously. We were to join a small group from Versailles to form one chapter of about 40 people.  The chapter, or brigade, is the unit where one walks as a pilgrim. In a chapter, we walk together, sing together, pray together and look out for one another. It is like a family that takes care of its members and helps each member to reach the goal. In this case, the goal is to walk the 60 miles and reach the Chartres Cathedral. That is a chapter, the family of a pilgrim.

Our Lady of Chartres. Picture from:

The first day I was very grateful for having the Mass of the day in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. As you just read, we had to meet there at 6 a.m. During the walk, there is a Mass scheduled for every day, usually in the middle of the day. This year the time of the Mass on the first day was changed to the beginning of the day, so it was in the cathedral. The Mass was beautiful and included a greeting to all the pilgrims in their own languages. They had it in English, but of course not in Hungarian. They did not know that any Hungarian was there; I was walking under the American flag, so to speak, so no hard feelings from me. Then 5,000 pilgrims started from Paris toward Chartres, led by the statue of Our Lady of Chartres, with banners and crosses lifted high by the many chapters, marching to hymns such as my favorite, “Charter sonne, Chartres t’apelle, Gliore, honneour au Christ-Roi.” Why was I grateful for the change of Mass to the morning? You may wonder. First, it is quite fitting to start with a Mass at Notre Dame of Paris, since the walk is, after all, called the Paris-Chartres Pilgrimage. But most important for me, it allowed the walk through Paris to be the slowest I have experienced so far. Having asthma, I dreaded the thought of walking out of Paris, for the pilgrimage was always pretty much “running” out of the city. Perhaps a big city such as Paris could not afford to have so many streets blocked for a very long time early on a Saturday morning. Starting with an early Mass allowed more time for us to leave Paris. It meant a slower, more even pace. I had no problem breathing and keeping up with my chapter! We walked over 20 miles that day.

Our Lady of Chartres leads the way.

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Leaving Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral after the Mass on the first day.

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Cloud Computing: What’s in it for you? What’s in it for your business?

By:  Arnold Toffler, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Caldwell University

Most information technology professionals believe that cloud computing represents a massive change in direction for the industry. Cloud computing will likely alter the way businesses and individuals manage their information and e-commerce needs. It has the potential to revolutionize the industry. So what is it?

Simply, it is computing on computers that are not on your desk or probably not even at your location, but somewhere on the Internet where geographical location is irrelevant.  The computing is done on machines that may be owned and operated by your organization, but more likely on machines that are “rented” for a decade, a year, a day or even an hour. You can rent a computer or group of computers or 1,000 computers that function in whatever way you choose. You can put whatever you want on these computers. If an organization wants to set up an active Web site but does not want the expense of buying equipment, setting it up and maintaining it, a cloud service is the best way. Using a cloud service would save this organization a significant amount of money in both the initial investment and continuing maintenance, including the need for permanent IT employees.

When you use a cloud service, the content of material is your responsibility, but everything else is the responsibility of the cloud service vendor. This not only includes the cost and maintenance of the equipment and high-speed Internet connections, but also more data protection and backup operations than any firm could afford. Most of the larger vendors offer continual, off-site backups so that even if there is a fire or an earthquake at a site, you would likely lose only a few minutes of recent data.

You can buy several kinds of cloud service, depending on what your organization wants to do. You can rent a totally “blank” computer that has been set up on a high-speed network. All of the software is your responsibility. This is called “Infrastructure as a Service” (IaaS). This service is similar to renting an empty house where you supply all of the furniture and household items (dishes, towels, etc.). You can also rent a computer for which the operating system software (e.g., Windows) is set up. The applications you use and how you store your information (database) are your responsibility. This is called “Platform as a Service” (PaaS). This is similar to renting a furnished house. The last kind of cloud service is “Software as a Service” (SaaS), where you are using a fully configured, operating application on aWeb server on the Internet. The learning management system we use (Moodle by MoodleRooms) isSaaS. So is Google.  This is similar to renting a “ready to move in” house to which you bring nothing.

In addition, you add or reduce your consumption of any of these servers in a matter of minutes. So an e-commerce business expecting a spike in traffic due to new advertising or a promotion can easily expand its cloud service 10 minutes before the deluge of traffic. When the promotion is over, the company can quickly reduce its use and cost. Amazon’s EC2 service (PaaS) charges as low as eight cents an hour for a simple Web server.

As you can imagine, the cost savings to businesses are enormous. Almost every business has a peak load or activity problem. Many businesses have hyper-inflated costs in computing and networking equipment to accommodate peak periods during the year, week or day. Many new businesses or projects are never started because of large, up-front investments in equipment and personnel. Cloud services change the game. Now any technically challenged, cash-starved dreamer can start hisor her own online taco sauce company.

So what’s in this for you? You can get cloud service for free. The easiest one to use is probably Microsoft’s Sky Drive. You can get it by going to Use your e-mail address as the username and any password you want.  You can set up folders and create access restrictions to individual folders or your whole sky drive, just as you do on your PC. I use mine to exchange files that are too large to send by e-mail with students, other faculty members, committee members or friends. I also have put assignments, reference materials, supplemental readings and presentations on the sky drive. I don’t need to worry that I have all the materials I need for my classes on my flash drive. In some classes, I allow students to submit assignments on my sky drive.

One other feature of the Microsoft service is that you can open any file that uses a Microsoft Office application (e.g., Word, PowerPoint) by using the online version on your sky drive. You don’t need to have that application on your computer, iPad or smartphone. Yes, this is aSaaS cloud service.



Teaching Time and Task Management in the Social Media Milieu


We all need time to stop and reflect, but that luxury can be hard to come by in our busy lives.  As a college professor, I find that one of the best things about having time between semesters to review and revise syllabi for my upcoming courses is that it compels me to think about what I want to accomplish in the coming months and academic year.
Right now I’m noticing an interesting phenomenon as I prepare for the coming semester:  I’m adding a time and task management component to every section of every class.  It makes perfect sense for my business communications course, which addresses many aspects of professionalism besides the writing and speaking components that students expect.  Who would think we would need this skill in other substantive business courses?

As it turns out, we need it in all of our business classes, everywhere.  Our students are inundated from all kinds of information sources: Twitter, Facebook, text messages, and even old-fashioned phone calls.  We are reminded by text message and e-mail to check in to see new posts from our online contacts.  Add to that streaming video, blogs, RSS feeds, and video games, and it’s easy to see where the time goes.  Once in this media universe, it’s tough to get out quickly.  As much as these social media provide opportunities to stay in contact with news and family or friends worldwide, they also provide fantastic opportunities to be distracted from daily events.  Students badly need to learn how to prioritize tasks and then schedule the time it takes to complete what they want to do.

I need to find the time and space in my courses to help students learn these skills.  If our education provides the foundation of good business practices, then we must teach our students how to use social media to their business advantage rather than letting it eat away at their time and productivity.

What else might students need to learn about the workplace before graduation?  I tell them it’s simply professionalism.  They must speak well, write clearly and concisely, dress appropriately, and exhibit the etiquette expected in the professional world.  They must know how to enter a room appropriately, shake hands and greet someone new, carry on a polite conversation, and listen well.  It’s fun to practice this in a classroom setting when we already know each other.  They must learn to be respectful of others’ time and attention, which means they must arrive punctually, with tasks completed, ready and willing to take on new challenges, but able to avoid over-committing.  To add to the Woody Allen line that “90 percent of life is just showing up,” I recommend “on time and ready to go, with promises kept.”  We’ll fit that in the syllabus somehow.