Monday, October 30, 2017

HOW TO SELECT THE BEST MOOCs: Six Tips from an Expert

·         This blog is based on an article by Ki Mae Heussner(1)

The Expert
·         The tips are from MOOCs expert, Feynman Liang, a "21-year-old ... pursuing a dual-degree program in engineering and biophysics from Dartmouth and Amherst"
·         He has "also completed 36 massive open online courses (MOOCs) on Coursera, Udacity and edX"
·         He took "10 courses simultaneously   while completing  a summer internship at Google.  When his friends go out for Thursday night parties, he often stayed back to complete Coursera assignments due the next day. On  occasion, he spent 80 hours on a single assignment. But he said the MOOCs have helped him pass  lower-level classes in college and even prepped him for his Google interviews,
·         Liang was one of Coursera’s ‘top 50’ students based on the number of courses he has completed(2)

·          Massive, Open, Online Courses (MOOCs) have attracted all kinds of interest from people inside and outside education.  The major MOOC startups have teamed up with dozens of top-notch schools around the world for classes in a range of disciplines,
·         Despite the buzz, student drop-out rates are still very high.  Some estimates say that as many as 90 percent of online students never finish the classes they enroll in.


1. It’s not just about the certificates
·         You don’t need a certificate or official recognition for what you take away from the class to be useful to you in other areas of your life,
·         Liang took a class on algorithms and data structures with a top Princeton professor that did not offer certificates of any kind. However, when he walked into his technical interviews for a summer internships, he realized that “being in that class gave him the answers to the questions being asked in the interview.”

2. Don’t judge a course by its videos
·         Excellent online courses may offer highly produced videos with graphics,  animations and artfully shot sequences or they may just have a professor in front of a camera,
·         But don’t dismiss a whole course just because the videos don’t seem up to par. An electrical engineering course Liang took on Coursera didn’t have great videos, but it was one of the best classes he’s taken online,
·         To evaluate a class early on, test it out for a couple of weeks to get a sense of the professor’s personality and commitment level.  Assignments and quizzes that just ask you to recall material covered in the video might indicate the professor is just doing the online course because of a university initiative, not a real personal interest.  More thought-provoking questions and problem sets could show the teacher's investment.

3. Be prepared to complain about peer grading
·         Liang isn’t excited about Coursera's peer review process. In a class of 30,000 the students depend on peer grading to get feedback on papers and assignments that don’t lend themselves to automatic computer grading. Students train using a grading rubric and then they are asked to evaluate a certain number of their peers’ work,
·         The problem is the huge variables in the feedback. Some students may be Ph.Ds in the topic of the course, while others may be high-school students or non-native English speakers with  limited vocabularies,
·         The upside is you get a chance to interact with people from all kinds of backgrounds.

4. Don’t play it safe when you pick classes
·         In a competitive college environment, where every final grade ends up on a transcript, students may be reluctant to branch out beyond the courses they know they’ll do well in,
·         However, on Coursera, students are free to delve into social psychology, behavioral economics, climate science and other topics, without worrying about the outcome. The student can indulge in their curiosity. The student can learn topics ranging from the history of humankind to the history of rock, all from the comfort of your their home. Also, if the student would like, they can ask unintelligent questions or test out half-baked theories anonymously.

5. Don’t assume there’s consistency between classes
·         As Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng has said, his startup isn’t a university , it’s “a humble hosting platform.” That means the professors and schools design the curriculum, create the content and set the class requirements,
·         Coursera obviously sets the framework and provides support, but its classes run the gamut in terms of quality. Once you’ve registered for a class, pay attention to its assignment policies. Some classes may not ask you to submit anything until the very end of the course.  Others will fail you if you miss more than 30 percent of a week's assignments,
·         Also, a lot of professors are trying out course content for the first time.  Be prepared to feel a bit like a guinea pig as policies shift do to the professors learning what works.

6. If you take just one class, make it this one
·         Potential Courserians obviously have a huge range of interests and motivations, and there’s never going to be  just one course that fits everyone's interests,
·         But, of the more than 50 classes Liang has taken, the course he would most  recommend to a MOOC newcomer  is“A beginner’s guide to irrational behavior.”  This class (taught by a professor of behavioral economics and psychology from Duke), touches on all kinds of lessons regarding human nature. “It’s one of the more accessible and rock-your-world classes.”


To start selecting your first (or next) MOOC, please click here.




Posted by Dr. Nat Tuivavalagi 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Forms 'Woz U' to Reprogram Tech Education, Address Skills Gap

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--()--The man who revolutionized personal computing now wants to help revamp higher education for the tech industry. Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak today announced the formation of Woz U, a world-class digital institute to help fill the employment gap for high-paying technology jobs across the U.S.
Apple Co-Founder @stevewoz Forms ‘Woz U’ to Reprogram Tech Education #WelcometoWozU
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Woz U is designed to get people into the workforce quickly and affordably, creating long-term financial stability for a new generation of tech workers while providing prepared hires and training solutions for businesses. Arizona-based Woz U launched today with programs online, and plans to add ground campuses in more than 30 cities across the country and around the world.
“Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt,” said Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer and invented the Apple II computer that launched the personal computing revolution. “People often are afraid to choose a technology-based career because they think they can’t do it. I know they can, and I want to show them how.”
To help, Woz U has created a mobile app to help match people with the technology-based career best suited for them. Current programs will train computer support specialists and software developers; data science, mobile applications and cybersecurity programs are coming soon.
All Woz U programs incorporate the latest technologies and skills in high demand by tech employers, and programs include comprehensive career services.
Woz U will include multiple platforms to teach and train. One will work with tech companies to recruit and train, or even retrain, a workforce through subscription-based curriculum or on-site customized programs. Another will provide school districts with K-12 STEAM programs, exposing digital engineering concepts to students at a younger age to nudge them toward a possible tech-based career. There soon will be an accelerator program to identify and develop elite tech talent.
“My entire life I have worked to build, develop and create a better world through technology and I have always respected education,” Wozniak said. “Now is the time for Woz U, and we are only getting started.”
Learn more at
About Woz U
Woz U launched in October 2017 online and with planned ground campuses in more than 30 cities across the country and around the world. With a corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, Woz U is named after Apple Computer co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak. Woz U is “education reprogrammed,” a new approach to higher education for the tech industry. Woz U offers online curriculum to educate computer support specialists and software developers, with data science, mobile applications and cybersecurity programs coming soon. Woz U has customized curriculum programs for companies, K-12 STEAM programs, and accelerator programs for elite tech talent, among other offerings. Woz U is part of Southern Careers Institute (SCI). Learn more at


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Megan Conner, 480-229-1427
Credit goes to Business Wire.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What is Hybrid Tutoring and How does it work?

Assuming you want to learn something, or you want your child to learn something, you have many choices to do so. For instance, attend a physical school (which is probably the most frequently chosen route), or learn by observation and practice, such as in an apprenticeship, or learn through reading books, or (nowadays easily available) go online.

Online, of course, has many advantages, such as doing your studies on your time, from your location, without having to get dressed for the occasion, nor prepared in any other way or form.  Not to mention online education can be low cost or even no cost at all to a student. Yet it is provided by the world’s best teachers with the most up to date resources.

So, assuming you want to do your learning online, but the whole approach and discipline being applied are strange and foreign to you, this maybe something to learn in itself and get used to. If so, maybe start by using a tutor. Yes, an extremely knowledgeable and helpful flesh-and-blood tutor, someone who may not necessarily be someone you are familiar with or who lives next door to you. He/she can easily be available to you online. The best and probably most effective, way to start is via “Hybrid Tutoring.”

The simplest definition of "Hybrid Tutoring" is merely:
in-person tutoring mixed with online tutoring sessions.

Hybrid Tutoring can be an effective tool in the hands of experienced tutors, tutors who know:
which elements of a student's learning process should be carefully guided in-person and which parts can be overseen online
which elements of a subject should be carefully taught in-person and which parts can be taught online
Thus expertly used, the tool can increase both efficiency and effectiveness:
the student can learn more deeply without investing more time
the tutoring can be less expensive without sacrificing the student's learning

In Math & Science, expert use of Hybrid Tutoring is as follows:
Scheduled weekly in-person tutoring sessions are supplemented by unscheduled online mini-sessions. The online mini-sessions are almost immediately (ie, w/i hours) available during the intervening week between sessions.
These online mini-sessions provide the student real-time help as needed while he or she is studying.

SAT/ACT Prep expert use of Hybrid Tutoring is as follows:
Scheduled in-person tutoring sessions for Reading & Science, and scheduled online tutoring sessions for Multiple Choice Writing & Essay Writing.
For Math, whether sessions would be in-person or online, or a mix of the two, depends on the student's proficiency.

There are some online platforms offering free assistance. For example, Khan Academy is providing free assistance to those preparing for the SATs. However, to make best use of free online resources, a qualified and experienced tutor will still be required. Such a tutor could help navigate students through the various online resources, and can advise students of a mistake in an online resource. Such mistakes are rare, but they do occur and can be a cause of great frustration to students and their families. Tutors can also lead students to other platforms if one platform has a weakness. Students may not have any way of knowing there is a weakness. e.g., a platform that has excellent coverage of numerous sections of the curriculum but does not make good coverage of the other sections.

Lastly, the in-person tutor needn't be the same person as the online tutor. They need only to coordinate as a team. Thus, only the in-person tutor must be limited by location.

By Daniel Jetter

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A GLOBAL EDUCATIONAL CRISIS: Students in school but learning nothing

·         Previously, a huge issue was how so many children were not attending school. For this reason one of the eight Millennium Development Goals was to achieve universal primary education over the 2000-2015 timeframe.
·         Much was achieved during the 15-year period. The number of  children not in primary schools fell from 100 million (in 2000) to 57 million (in 2015).
·         However, a new issue is emerging: the high number of children that are attendingschool but not learning anything. 2,3

·         60% of children and teenagers in the world are failing to reach basic levels of proficiency in learning
·         In sub-Sahara Africa: 88% of children and adolescents will enter adulthood without a basic proficiency in reading
·         In central and southern Asia, 81% are not reaching an adequate level in literacy
·         In North America and Europe, only 14% of young people are not reaching an adequate level of literacy
·         Pupils in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Nicaragua spent years in school but are still unable to equate simple mathematical problems or read simple sentences
·         Only 7% of pupils in Mali reach a basic level of proficiency in primary school, while in Japan, the corresponding figure was 99%
·         In Africa’s nearly 128 million school-aged children3
o   17 million will never attend school, and
o   37 million learn so little while in school, they are no different than those children who never attend school
·         In sub-Saharan Africa2, half of the total primary school population ,61 million children will reach adolescence without the basic skills needed to lead successful and productive lives

Three inter-related causes have been identified1
·         First is poverty. In the poorest countries, many pupils arrive to school in no condition to learn
·         Second is malnutrition and ill-health resulting in physical and mental underdevelopment
·         Third is low quality teaching, as too many teachers are not well educated themselves

In poor communities where students are in school but not learning, charity groups and others could:
·         Address nutritional needs such as providing free lunch, and
·         Address teaching quality issues by providing computers and WiFi. This will enable teachers and students to access MOOCs and other free, online, educational resources (e.g., Khan Academy ) .  Apart from teachers, parents, older siblings, and others should be encouraged to help facilitate the learning process.   This strategy was mentioned by Mr. Win Straube in his bestselling book, “QCE=A: Quality Generic Education is the Key.”


Posted by: Dr. Nat Tuivavalagi