Friday, September 30, 2011

A Boost in Online Education

By Sean Scarpiello

Recently in the field of higher education Carnegie Learning, a company that designs cutting edge online math tutorials, was bought by the company that owns the highly popular online college, University of Phoenix. Therefore, we can expect an increase in the amount of online educational programs in the future. This will bring education to more people in more places at a very low price. This will also change the current infrastructure of higher education as we know today.

How will this effect higher education in the long run?

First, increased availability of online learning means that it will be extremely cheap to educate millions of people. This will be great for individuals because everyone will have the opportunity to learn. It is also great that Carnegie Learning is creating this ground breaking program because it will definitely be a success. This company has scientists whom have studied the ways humans think and learn; therefore, the programs that they make are very personalized and designed to be successful for each individual student. Since these programs are so personalized, students will learn quickly and efficiently and thus at a lower price.

These new programs will also affect the typical four year college greatly. Colleges need a campus, dorms, professors, labs, dining halls, libraries and much more. Online education requires only a computer and an internet connection. Therefore, online education institutions do not need to worry about funding for all the other aspects of college. They deal with the class being taught which allows students to avoid spending a small fortune on a college education. This will pose a problem for many colleges and universities that have not yet kept up with the rising popularity of online education. These programs will literally steal students from campus due to their lower prices.

One may argue that online education is a joke and that students will not flock to these programs because there is a lack of prestige associated with these programs. Some large universities have already invested in these new technologies and they will be the ones to survive this new change. When it comes to this shift from the campus to the online classroom, I feel as if it will be gradual at first and pick up a lot more support in the following years. We cannot expect a change overnight, but within the next four years, expect a different norm for higher education. This also does not mean that students will never step foot in a classroom again, but students will definitely spend less time in class and more time learning on their own with these programs.

The Carnegie Learning programs will change the way that students are graded in school. This will definitely have an effect on the jobs and futures of students after they graduate. For example, someone with a B+ in an MIT calculus class will be looked on more favorably then someone with the same B+ who goes to a less prestigious school. With these cutting edge programs, someone who took a class on economics in California will have taken the same exact class as students in New York. This also means they took the same tests and completed the same assignments and can be graded equally when it comes to securing a job.

Overall, the rising popularity of online education has now gotten a large boost and we can expect to see a general shift towards online classes in the future. Not only are they cheaper, but they bring a higher standard of education to more people worldwide.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cheap Alternatives for Textbooks

By Sean Scarpiello

Each semester, the typical college student spends anywhere from $500 to $800 on textbooks and other books for classes. All of this money adds up after 4 years of college and it is one of the reasons why colleges are viewed as unaffordable. As high as these textbook prices are, there are still different options when it comes to buying books for classes. There are a handful of different companies that are profiting off of the high prices that school bookstores charge. These companies end up helping the student by providing cheaper options when it comes to purchasing textbooks.

When most college students go to buy books they go to their school’s bookstore. They are guaranteed to have all the required texts because professors give the bookstore a list of books that they will be using in their classes. If a student must buy their books from the bookstore, an easy way to save money is buy used textbooks rather than new ones. Students may save anywhere from 25% to 50% off. It may seem like the savings are not that great, but when you add up the savings, students will have a few extra $20 bills in their pockets. Also, many school bookstores offer a buy back deal. At the end of the semester, students can sell their books back to the bookstore. The school bookstore obviously rips students off, but it is still a way to save money. Often times, students can expect 30% of the money sped on textbooks back, and about 10% of the money spent on novels back. It’s not great, but something to definitely check into at the college bookstore. Every student could use some spending money at the end of the semester, so it is worth a shot.

Another option that more college students need to take advantage of is companies that sell books at cheaper rates. These are companies like that have a lot of books for sale, new and used, and will sell them at cheaper prices than the school bookstore. There are other companies that sell books at cheaper prices as well. Students will definitely need to do their homework to save the most money. This means researching prices of books and buying them as cheap as students can find. This may mean students need to order their textbooks off of four or five different websites, but it is worth it. By the beginning of classes, students can save more than 50% on textbooks, as opposed to buying them from the bookstore.

One other option that has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years is renting textbooks. This is a great option for students that are taking a variety of classes. Renting books is extremely easy and cost effective. Websites that rent books will mail your books to the student and at the end of the semester students simply mail the books back. This is a great way to save money and is probably the most cost effective than the other options. However, students cannot always rent all the books that they need during their college career. Some majors require students to have an assortment of textbooks on hand. Biology, for example, is a major where even in the upper level biology classes, students will still need to reference their introductory textbooks. There are a lot of other situations where this is the case also. In general, renting textbooks is the most cost effective option and something all students should look into. There are so many ways to save money on textbooks in college, all it takes is some time designated to go out and look for these great deals.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Collaborative Learning

By Sean Scarpiello

During college, most students find different methods of studying. It is not that old study habits are no longer effective, but that students are learning how to better manage their time. College students have to absorb more information in their classes, as opposed to classes in high school, so they continue to come up with clever ways to learn. One such type is collaborative learning. Learning collaboratively in a group has many advantages and could be implemented in schools other than colleges.

Many students in college participate in study groups. If students have a group of friends in class with them, they often schedule daily study sessions where they can go over material and work. This is a very good idea because college students already do not spend much time in class or with their professors. Therefore, this method of study can really benefit those who struggle with college classes. Some students will even split up the work and study different chapters of text. Then they present the key facts to the rest of the group during the study session or as notes. This method can be very beneficial; however, often times other students may do a poor job taking notes or have incorrect notes. These kinds of situations can be easily avoided if the study groups are focused on just reviewing the material instead of taking notes.

Collaborative learning methods are also great for college and high school students that participate in class debates. Teachers all across the country have started to have class debates in social studies, political science, psychology and other courses. Teachers know that collaborative learning works and that debates allow students to learn from other classmates’ ethnic backgrounds, differences, and experiences. Creating study groups for debates also allow students to get others’ perspectives on topics so that a student’s argument can examine each side of a subject. This method also works when students are writing persuasive essays where they are arguing one side of a subject over another. Students can make sure that they have every side of their argument covered because of their peers’ criticisms and critiques.

Learning collaboratively can easily be implemented in schools for students of all ages. One example of this is when reviewing homework in a math class. Most teachers ask which problems students had trouble with when they check homework. If students formed small groups in the beginning of class, then they can review which questions were right and wrong and how to do them correctly. This also allows students to learn different methods to complete problems, especially in math. In class, math teachers typically teach one method of completing a problem. Study groups allow students to teach each other easier ways of doing problems. Each student can bring new ideas to the table and it is a shame if students cannot learn from their classmates’ mistakes, accomplishments, and knowledge.