Friday, March 30, 2012

How Higher Education Helps the Economy

How Higher Education Helps the Economy


The Importance of Our Favorite Teacher

By Sean Scarpiello

Everyone has that one teacher that they remember from high school, college, or even elementary school who they remember as their favorite teacher. People remember these teachers because they did not just teach, but they inspired. Many teachers these days simply teach the material in the curriculum, which is fine. However, the teacher everyone remembers was the one that pushed their students harder, went above and beyond their duty as a teacher, or had faith in their students when everyone else had lost it.

Teachers at all different levels, from kindergarten to graduate school, should aspire to be this one teacher that is remembered. Being a teacher is not an easy job and teachers’ roles in students’ lives are often downplayed by society. For many students as in poorer areas of the country, teachers can replace the role of a parent. School is sometimes the only place in some students’ daily life where there is structure. For this reason, teachers are on the forefront of fixing many of the problems in the poorer intercity schools. Students who have a teacher that truly inspires that a young, will be more likely to enjoy school, and not see learning as boring.

When everyone thinks back to their schooling, their favorite teacher did not usually teach their easiest class. Actually, it is quite the opposite. The teachers that inspire students make the work challenging by keeping students on their toes. One professor that I heard of during college showed up to class on the first day and said that his class will probably be the hardest class that his students will ever take. He tells the class that few, if any students, will get A’s, but he also tells the class to prove him wrong. A couple lazy students drop the class, but the majority of the class is driven by the professor’s attitude. In attempt to prove the professor wrong, students work harder and longer to do well. Ultimately, most of the class ends up with a good final grade. On the last day of classes, the professor tells his students not to give away his secret to success. To this day the professor continues this tactic and keeps finding that it motivates his students.

In all, everyone has the teacher that they remember. Teachers’ jobs are juggling acts between parents, the curriculum, administration, and students, so it is often easy to forget ways to inspire students. Every now and then, we should take time to remember our favorite teachers and what made us go above and beyond to achieve success in the classroom, because more often than not, teachers’ inspiration can help us succeed in the real world too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Websites that offer free and engaging educational content

Online education is a complex subject. Usually when people think about online education, they think about online college programs that offer accredited courses and ultimately a degree in a subject. Under this common perception, the web is merely a new space for a collegiate atmosphere, a place where someone can just as legitimately earn a meaningful degree as they could on a university campus. Although when you think about it, the web educates us in countless ways outside of the formal online college classroom setting. Sites exist solely for the purpose of educating any willing reader about a host of topics, from horticultural blogs to niche news sites. It’s just a matter of looking properly for someone who wants to get a substantial (and free) education on the web.

I’d like to offer you two sources that feature free educational content, material that can be quite valuable to anyone hungry to learn new information. The first source is untraditional in the way it relays information, while the second one conforms more to the typical online education archetype. Enjoy!

TED talks

TED talks are among the most revolutionary outlets for the free exchange of profound ideas on the internet. The premise of the TED initiative is simple: professionals in various industries including science, design, and business give informative lectures for no longer than 18 minutes on any topic that they feel they should share with the public. The TED group selects the best of these lectures to post on their website, where anyone can view or share them. The subjects are many and profound, among them are candid and detailed discussions of the environment, the human brain, behavioral sciences, and career advice.

Some may argue that the short running time of TED talks don’t leave enough room to discuss matters in depth or with enough substance, but those people miss the entire point of TED talks. They are meant to inspire viewers, to get them to alter their traditional mode of thinking in an effort to elicit meaningful change in the world. If you have the time to spare, definitely check out this site. It’ll be worth the effort.

Open Yale Courses

For people who are looking for a more material that follows a more traditional and collegiate track, I can’t recommend any site more highly than Open Yale Courses. This is an official listing of courses from Yale University (yes, that Yale) offered entirely for free. The site offers streaming lectures and downloadable course materials in dozens of disciplines, including biology, architecture, music, and sociology among others. Most of the offered open courses allow you to watch real Yale professors discussing material as if you were their own student, giving the whole process an authenticity found lacking in other online course materials.

Though there are many classes offered through Yale’s program, the list is by no means comprehensive. Luckily Yale changes out some open courses from time to time, so if you might have luck finding an appealing course later on if nothing initially strikes your interest. Either way, there is several years’ worth of material to be sifted through on this site; all of it is highly valuable.


This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes for online universities blog. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Last nite - 3-12-12 on 60 Minutes TV Show, they did a segment on the Khan Academy.
Here is the link

It is something that ALL people - interested in Education should see.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Correcting the Problems of Online Education

By Sean Scarpiello

In the recent article, “Udacity: A New Type of Education,” there was a lot of discussion on both the pros and cons of this new type of online education. Online education is quickly rising in popularity for its low cost. This means more and more education professionals are entering this field... As the head of the Udacity project, Sebastian Thrun, is beginning to enroll more students into more classes, he is addressing the problems of Udacity and finding new and innovative ways to fix them.

The first major problem Thrun is fixing is Udacity’s ability to give credit to students who pass the class. At the moment, students can take this college level class, complete all of the work and assignment, yet not receive any credit for all of their hard work. Since Udacity is not technically an accredited university, at the moment, degrees for classes cannot be given to students. Udacity is fixing this flaw by acting almost like a recruiting agency for companies to help their students get jobs. For example, if a company is in need of an employee with certain credentials, Udacity will give the company a list of students in the area who are qualified in certain fields and have passed Udacity’s classes. This is a great way to solve the accreditation problem because students are taking the Udacity classes to improve their knowledge at the workplace and to get better jobs in general.

One other problem that Udacity is fixing in their future classes is the social aspects of learning. Large class sizes, especially large class sizes online, can lead to the lack of student to student and student to teacher interaction. This needs to be addressed because students can learn a lot by asking other students and the professor questions. Udacity’s plan is to have interactive office hours for students. This acts as a time for students to ask the professor questions about the course and any problem they have had with the course material. Also, discussion forums will be set up online for students to interact with each other Here, students can ask each other questions, share opinions, and decide which topics the class should review with the professor.

Overall, there is a general rise in the popularity in online education. Many different universities and education professionals are beginning to start online education programs. There is a high demand in this field but as online education becomes more and more developed, only the best online programs will survive. Udacity is a pioneer in this field is well on its way to becoming successful. These new improvements to the curriculum are setting Udacity up above the rest of the programs. Ultimately, this rush to online education will lead to an entirely new form of education altogether where more students are being educated at lower costs.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Looking at Liberal Arts Education to Advance the Future of Education

By Sean Scarpiello

As society pushes to bring a better education to more people, certain educational institutions will benefit while others will struggle. One of the providers of education which may struggle in this transition from traditional education to the future of education is liberal arts schools. Liberal arts colleges are often criticized for being expensive and for lacking a wide range of majors. These drawbacks of a liberal arts college education make such colleges inefficient which is why many education professionals feel that there will be less and less of these colleges in the future. Is it smart to scrap the ideals of a liberal art education or can we learn something from them to incorporate into the future of education?

I am personally an advocate of a liberal arts education. They have many more pros than cons, but overall provide a better education than larger universities. First off, liberal art colleges typically have smaller class sizes which are very important. Professors are able to track each individual’s progress and make sure students are coming to class. This cannot be said about massive universities where classes are held in huge lecture halls and the professors rarely learn the names of all their students. Also, smaller class sizes mean that students in class get to interact with each other. This again is a huge benefit not only for the education aspects of college, but also the social aspects of education. Being able to interact well with others in the workplace is vital, especially as the average worker has more and more different jobs. Education cannot always be about memorization of facts, but it should include the application and analysis of this knowledge. Larger universities struggle at making their students communicate the information they are studying.

This lack of communication in the education field leads to an antisocial aspect of society. Already there is a lack of person to person communication due to technology like Facebook, emails, and texts messages. A liberal arts education forces students into an uncomfortable atmosphere and subjects, thus allowing students to work their way through problems together, much like in the workplace. As we enter this new era of education where masses of people are being educated at low costs, it is import to try and incorporate the communication aspects of education. In all colleges, students learn more outside the classroom than inside the classroom. In computer based education, it is often easy to avoid dealing and interacting with people, an aspect of all occupations.

One way to incorporate communication into education for the masses is by having video conferences or debates through the internet. The program could be set up much like a classroom in a liberal arts college where a professor moderates the discussion. Also through this, there will be a flow of ideas around students. Students can learn a lot from listening to others because everyone brings their own perspective to the table. This allows students to begin thinking outside of the box and critically.

Overall, liberal arts colleges may not be the most efficient, but we still need to keep the ideals of a liberal arts education around as we transition into a farther reaching educational system. One such example would include the communication and interpersonal aspects of education, which can easily be overlooked in this digital age.