Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Connecting the Dots

Many schools are interested in having technology in the classroom, but only some  have actually committed to using it. In 2012 the education director of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)  noticed that  96% of 15-year-old students in OECD countries said  they had access to a computer at home. However 72% reported that they use a desktop, laptop, or tablet  at school. Some countries even had fewer than 1 in 2 students report they had access to a computer or some sort of electronic device at school. Students who have access to computers at school  tended to have better educational outcomes than schools that did not. Many schools try not to enforce the use of  computers because it takes away from the relationships between student and teacher or student to student. Using the computers did not help the students in the subjects of math and science. Some teachers taught the students how to use the Internet in a positive way, teaching lessons on plagiarism, viruses, fraud, violation of privacy, and how much internet time in appropriate. This helped teach students a quick lesson on real life issues and not only typical school topics. Using the Internet also introduces access to the latest information. Old textbooks are becoming more and more outdated, whereas the Internet is always being updated.

The goal for many teachers is to get their students to be "smarter than a smartphone," so one would think by always using the computer this would help. This is a  true statement as technology can help assist in great teaching, but it cannot cover up poor teaching skills. Teachers need to be able to take advantage of the  full potential a computer can provide and  they must have a great understanding of how to work the computer in order to be able to guide the students through the process. Teachers should also try to get more involved in designing educational programs. This will help students with their studies because teachers know first hand what techniques may or may not be successful in education.

Connecting the dots of technology to classrooms, students to computers, and teachers to enhancing teaching techniques through computers can benefit the classroom in many positives ways. It has already started to show positive results, schools just need to start committing to technology so they can begin to see the benefits  in their students.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Udacity Courses

Online colleges are becoming more and more popular. They are popping up all the time and each school has it's own pricing. Some schools are no cost to the student, some may cost a few thousand dollars, and some may cost tens of thousands of dollars  in tuition fees to complete their education online.

Udacity is a four-year old teaching setup. After years of trial and error they feel as if they have finally worked out a way to properly train people and teach millions of people technical skills.  A specialist in artificial intelligence named Sebastian Thrun founded Udacity. Thrun once ran Google X and claims that the “nanodegree” program the firm created last year will result in much lower education costs with a wider accessibility. Early data suggests the program is efficient and results in new jobs.  Students who take classes through Udacity receive the nanodegree. This is a credential degree that Udacity worked with Google and other companies to turn into a form of workplace certification. Udacity is trying to help people gain skills in the world of technology because nowadays  technology is used in the workplace. Thrun even states that it is unrealistic to think a college degree will get you through your lifetime nowadays, since everything is becoming more and more technology based. Taking courses to receive a nanodegree is a good idea to assist in  finding a job easier.

When Udacity was first launched, it  had many students taking part in the program. However, the students became laxed  with their work and failed the courses. In 2013, Thrun changed the  program  into a more practical vocational school that offered highly structured lessons. Thrun believes that having  highly vocational lessons will help people find jobs in this technology driven economy. So far, Udacity’s new model has been much more successful. The cost per month is very low and the student can take as little or much time to complete the classes.  When the class has been completed the student receives  half of their tuition back. The company believes that an average student completes the classes for a nanodegree in about 5 months. The cost is usually around $500, for a five month period, which is very inexpensive compared to the tuition cost of a  normal university. Many students who have completed the courses and earned their nanodegree have found jobs and are making a good living.

Udacity may be an independent school, however, they have the capacity to  hire professionals who are able to be personal graders and to give feedback to those taking the classes. This service provides a view from a  real person instead of just outsourcing the services to the Internet. The instructors for the classes are real educators as well.  There is an Android course that is staffed by instructors from Google, who created the mobile operating system.

Udacity is a profit based service, but all of those profits go right back into developing new coursework for students to take. It has also raised $35 million from investors. Udacity will use this money  to develop more courses and hopefully more students will take advantage of this program.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Internet Essentials

The Internet has become a much larger part of the education world today and many of us take it for granted. There are still students  in the world that wish they could have the same opportunities. These students may have Internet access in the classroom, but having access to the Internet at home is not an option. If they did have access they could get help completing assignments, especially if the teacher is using the  online websites to give the assignments.  A large company named  Comcast, has come up with a plan to try to help these students get Internet at home.

Comcast has started a program called "Internet Essentials." This program entails getting high speed Internet for a low rate, an affordable desktop or laptop computer,  it offers free online or classroom classes that are offered in the area.There are also online tutorials to help people maximize their Internet use.  So not only is this program giving students access to the Internet with the main goal of educating students, but allowing them to get a computer at an affordable rate. This ensures they have at least one working computer at home to be able to access the Internet. The program also offers a schedule of free classes that you can attend in your area. This includes online classes and  classroom classes.  The education companies that sponsor this program and partner up with the programs also  offer the classes. These companies  have the students' best interest in getting a quality education at no cost to them. The free online tutorials are also very helpful because they focus on the most important knowledge for students to know. They have three sections of tutorials: how to use the new internet (such as how to search the web and create an email account), online security (how to keep your information safe online), and jobs and school help (such as how to use the Internet to help with homework and resumes).

Internet Essentials is a great tool for those who wish to better themselves and their children's education with  help from the Internet.  Allowing access to the Internet at a low rate will open a window of opportunities for students all across the nation.