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StudyBlue announces annual teacher appreciation program “Thank a Teacher a Latte.”

Monday, April 29, 2013





Mobile and social study platform, StudyBlue today announced the launch of its annual teacher appreciation program “Thank a Teacher a Latte.” As the largest digital library of peer-sourced study materials, StudyBlue is inviting students, parents and industry leaders nationwide to join in building a virtual Wall of Thanks to give back to the educators who have made a difference in their lives.

The 2013 Thank a Teacher a Latte program is open to everyone, including students, former students and parents. In addition, any teacher or school staff member may be recognized. With one click, a digital thank-you card is created and displayed as a keepsake. Once submitted, the esteemed educator will receive a digital “badge of honor” they can display with pride on Pinterest and other social media outlets. 300 lucky teachers will receive $5 coffee cards at the end of May when the contest subsides.

2012’s campaign saw thousands of submissions from cities and school districts across the country. Praise came from parents, students and a CEO or two “Educators are busy, and often don’t hear a simple “Thanks. With this platform we wanted to help students easily extend their gratitude to a teacher who is making, or has made, a difference in their educational goals,” said CEO Becky Splitt.

For more information on the program, to see all current Thank You Cards in real-time, visit http:/thankateacher.studyblue.com/ and www.studyblue.com.











Social Media Training - Why It's Important for Survival in Business Right Now

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Would you like to know the newest way to create new business leads and increase customer loyalty in your business?

Would you like to know a way to expose your business thousands of customers locally or millions of people worldwide?

Then it's time you discover one of the fastest growing marketing mediums in recent history...it's known as Social Media.

The fact is if you're not on Facebook it's costing you money. If you're not using Twitter, you're missing out on connecting with customers online. If you haven't got a promotional video of your business on YouTube then you're losing customers to your competitors daily.

Consumers now EXPECT to do business with you online; they want to find you, interact with you, give you feedback, talk about you, tell their friends about you and much much more.

"But I don't know anything about computers or the internet" you say? Will this mindset grow your business?

If you're open-minded about improving yourself and growing your business there is now an opportunity you can't miss out on...

You can now enjoy Social Media Training via several channels such as a webinar, seminar, In-house training or directly from a consultant.

If you wish to invest in training for your business here's what a good course, webinar or seminar should include:

- How to create the ideal Facebook page for your target market

- How to know what your customers want and how to give it to them

- What to write on your Facebook and Twitter status updates so you give customers real value

- How to present your business online in a way that people want to do business with you

- How to deliver valuable information that Helps your customers solve their problems

- How to become an authority in your industry by educating prospects and customers

- How to 'monetize' the traffic coming from your social networking pages to your business's website

- How to build your database online and leverage it to minimize costs and maximize income

- How to fit social media into your workday, work smarter, not harder

You can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars for Social Media Training depending on the length of the training course, the speaker, the company running the course or the follow-up and/or mentoring offered.

If you'd like to expand yourself and your business and discover an untapped source of new business leads then this is definitely for you.

Before you sign up for training for your business it's best that you have a goal or objective in mind.

Do you want to learn how to...?

- Gain more customers for your business

- Learn how to convert leads to sales

- Learn how to turn Facebook 'fans' into paying customers

- Learn what to say and what not to say on Facebook

- Discover how to build online relationships with prospects and customers

- Manage your online Social presence

- Create a strategy that you can apply to your product or service

- Know how to monetize Twitter

- What to create videos about for YouTube

There's no end to what you will learn with this new marketing paradigm. The most important thing to realize is that the Social networking landscape is forever changing. The speed at which Social Networking has penetrated society with such a dramatic impact has never been seen before.

The implications for business are astounding. Various experts are openly saying that if you're not involved in Social Media for your business, in three to five years time you won't have a business.

What we do know for sure is that your customers and potential customers are using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube regularly if not daily. And if you don't have a presence on these websites this means that your competitors are likely communicating with your customers and potential customers. What does this mean for your business? Time will tell.

So what steps can you take moving forward? The first step is certainly to educate yourself and your employees through Social Media Training. Whether you decide to log into a webinar, attend a seminar or have a consultant come into your business to train your team collectively, it's essential that you begin taking steps in this direction immediately if you're to ride the wave of Social Media.

Quick and easy way to add memory to your Chromebook

Friday, April 26, 2013



I've been using a Chromebook since getting a CR-48 from Google a few years ago, and I love it. I am currently using a Samsung Chromebook, and our district is deploying over 5000 of them.

The Chromebooks, and Chrome OS in general, are fast and work great, but every once in a while they can bog down when doing serious multitasking. Many only have 2GB of RAM and do not offer the ability to add more RAM physically. I found out about a great way to increase your memory by using zRam which uses swap space on your hard disk/SSD. Kevin C. Tofel shared this great resource that is very easy to do.

Here are the simple steps:

  1. Open up a terminal tab with the CTRL + ALT + T keys.
  2. Type “swap enable” (without the quotes).
  3. Restart your Chromebook.
It's that easy. I did it and my Chromebook runs much smoother and faster and rarely bogs down, even with 15+ tabs open. 

Disabling it is easy too. Do all of the steps but type "disable" instead of "enable".

Give it a try and see how it improves your Chromebook's performance. 


Related:




Google Keep, Google's Note Taking App, get's some improvements and new features.



Google’s Keep, Google's easy to use note taking app, has some new features, improved features and bug fixes. Here is the list of new features from the Google Play Store.

• Create notes, lists, and audio notes
• Add photos to any note
• Hide and show checkboxes to turn notes into checkable lists
• View and create notes from homescreen and lockscreen widgets (lockscreen widgets require Android 4.2+)
• Selectable color for notes
• Safely sync notes to Google Drive and other devices
• Notes can also be used from http://drive.google.com/keep


I use Evernote for most things, but also use Keep for quick notes on the go, along with voice notes, and then I can share the notes to other apps, or just access them as needed.




Understanding the Education System to Study in New Zealand

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Primary School Education

Schooling is available to children from age 5 and is compulsory from ages 6 to 16.

Primary education starts at Year 1 and continues until Year 8, with Years 7 and 8 mostly offered at either a primary or a separate intermediate school. Most schools teach in English medium, but some schools teach in the Maori medium.

Some schools in New Zealand are Kura Kaupapa Maori in which the principal language of instruction is Maori and education is based on Maori culture and values. Most Kura Kaupapa Maori caters for students from Years 1 to 8, and a few (Wharekura) cater for students up to Year 13.

Secondary School Education

Secondary education system in New Zealand covers Years 9 to 13, (during which students are generally aged 13 to 17). Most secondary students in New Zealand attend Government-funded schools, which are known variously as secondary schools, high schools, colleges or area schools.

The National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) is the national senior secondary school qualification to study in New Zealand. Students are able to achieve the NCEA at three levels via a wide range of courses and subjects, both within and beyond the traditional school. The three levels of the NCEA correspond to the final three years of secondary schooling (Years 11-13). The student must achieve 80 credits on the National Qualifications Framework, 60 at the level of the certificate and 20 others to gain an NCEA.

Tertiary Education

The tertiary education to study in New Zealand is used to describe all aspects of post-school education and training. There are 36 public tertiary education institutions, including eight universities, twenty-one institutes of technology and polytechnics, four colleges of education, three wananga (Maori tertiary education institutions). There are also 46 industry training organizations, and approximately 895 private training establishments, which include private English language schools, registered by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Tertiary education in New Zealand offer courses at widely different levels, from transition programmes to postgraduate study and research.

Technical and Vocational Education

Technical and Vocational Education to study in New Zealand is mainly offered at institutes of technology, polytechnics, private training establishments. Some programmes are also available in secondary schools, wananga, government training establishments, one college of education and several universities.

Higher, or Degree-level Education

Universities usually offer higher, degree-level education, but institutes of technology, polytechnics, wananga and colleges of education, and at some private training establishments also offer higher degree programmes.

Summary: School Education in New Zealand is divided into Primary and secondary education. Post school education is covered by tertiary education. Technical and Vocational Education is offered by institutes of technology, polytechnics, private training establishments. Higher education to study in New Zealand is provided by Universities and other institutes.

Beware of "Secrets of Success" - Insist on the Best Internet Marketing Education the Industry Offers

Monday, April 22, 2013

Like any new trend that creates a sensation, an increase in high quality Internet marketing education for home business owners is also bringing about an increase in the amount of junk being offered: that is, low-quality, unsupported, and money-grabbing "SECRETS" masquerading as the real thing. What then, should the savvy home business entrepreneur look for to be sure an investment of time and money will pay off? What can be trusted?

Here are some tips for vetting any offers you may come across, so that you can be as savvy as possible in your own search for excellence in Internet marketing education:

1) Individuals and companies that offer true excellence in their products and services are not afraid to let you look behind the curtain at who they are and what they stand for. In fact, they will invite you in to look around and ask questions. Don't make a decision until you have done due diligence, asked hard questions, and received answers that you can trust.

2) Make sure there is an "opt-out" available, and/or a refund for any fees that simply provide access to the kind of information you need to make an informed decision. In other words, if you need to pay an "admission" or "application" fee, in order to gain access to more complete information about the offer, then make sure (before you pay) that you know exactly how, and by when, you can get your money back if you decide that the offer isn't the right one for you.

3) There are many ways to market online. These may include paid advertising on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and/or MSN; using online classified ads, banner advertising, social networking and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), article and press release marketing, video marketing-just to name a few. Search for an educational platform that will teach you ALL of them-not just one or two.

4) Some educational systems will also offer to set you up with a product line on which to practice your new skills and "earn while you learn." You will need to decide (but not necessarily right away), whether you are interested in marketing the product line of the sponsoring company, or whether you simply want to acquire the knowledge that you need to market your own business. The choice should be yours. If you decide to market the company's product, you will also be expected to buy the product-this is fair and reasonable, so not to worry.

5) Finally, the very best educational platforms will deliver their training in a variety of formats and media, to fit the learning styles, schedules, and interests of diverse learners and entrepreneurs. In the best cases, these will include a full array of written, video, audio, one-on-one, group, and in-person events. In other words, they should be as multi-media, high tech, and "high-touch"-very personal and supportive-as the best of the Internet Age has to offer.

Anyone looking to position their business for optimal success in the age of the Internet, will definitely benefit from "going back to school." Regardless of age or prior business success.

Wishing you all the best as you learn all that you need to know to create excellence and prosperity in your life!

Top East Coast Education Schools

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Over the last few years, the education scenario has changed significantly. It won't be wrong to say that it has become different from what it used to be 20 years back. Education has turned into a vast field, which generally encompasses a wide range of subjects. These days, teachers and tutors working in schools or universities are held in high esteem. Today teaching is considered as one of the most respectful occupations. In fact, talking in terms of present context there is no better investment you can make than making a career in education. In recent times, the demand for qualified educators has been rise and this trend is more likely to increase in the near future. It doesn't mater, whether you are more inclined in working as an elementary school teacher, special education instructor, professor, lecturer or corporate trainer, in education industry you can find a career that can be extremely rewarding.

Today if we look at the current scenario then we can easily find that there has been a considerable increase in the number of educational institutions in the United States, but in recent years the East Coast of the United States has turned out to be the major hub of education schools that has pulled many students from all across the nation. While the physical East Coast of the United States ranges from Maine down to Florida, but the term 'East Coast' primarily refers to the Northeastern and mid Atlantic states. In fact, nowadays this East Coast region of the United States is considered as an abode to many top-ranked and admired education colleges and universities. Most of the schools are known for academics and are widely recognized names among U.S. top education schools. So in case you are looking forward to earning an education degree in any of the specialized field then here are few schools or universities that you can apply for:

Keller Graduate School of Management, New York: This school is known for offering exceptional learning environment and offer degree programs in Educational Management. It even delivers the credibility you expect and the flexibility you basically required to gain your professional edge.

Five Towns College, New York: Situated at the geographic center of Long Island, Five Towns College is majorly known preparing students for work in the education industry for many years. Dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and scholarship, the college offers the music education program. It offers the Bachelor of Music (MusB) in music education (K-12).

McCann School of Business & Technology, Pennsylvania: Committed to excel in the post-secondary education, this school offer diploma program in early childhood education. Besides this, the school has a rich record for helping its students succeed and features one of the best administration dedicated to the highest standards of instruction.

Montreat College School, North Carolina: Founded in the year 1916, this college offers programs at the associate's and master's degree levels in general education and elementary education respectively.

Strayer University, Virginia: Located at different campus in Virginia, this university offers quality education programs in Educational Management and Technology in Education that is affordable, supportive and convenient.

Today certainly education is one of the booming industries and growing with additional jobs each day. The profession has its many rewards, but in order to gain the benefits it is very important to earn a degree from a good school or university. These names mentioned above are some of the oldest and best know institutions of earning degree in education learning in East Coast region of the United States.

The Difference Between Being Smart, Educated, and Intelligent

Friday, April 19, 2013

I've always been intrigued by the subject of intelligence. As a child my mother would refer to me as "smart," but I quickly noticed that all parents refer to their children as smart. In time I would discover that all children are not smart, just as all babies are not cute. If that were the case, we'd have a world full of beautiful, smart people - which we don't.

Some of us are smart; but not as smart as we think, and others are smarter than they seem, which makes me wonder, how do we define smart? What makes one person smarter than another? When do "street smarts" matter more than "book smarts"? Can you be both smart and stupid? Is being smart more of a direct influence of genetics, or one's environment?

Then there are the issues of education, intelligence and wisdom.

What does it mean to be highly educated? What's the difference between being highly educated and highly intelligent? Does being highly educated automatically make you highly intelligent? Can one be highly intelligent without being highly educated? Do IQs really mean anything? What makes a person wise? Why is wisdom typically associated with old age?

My desire to seek answers to these questions inspired many hours of intense research which included the reading of 6 books, hundreds of research documents, and countless hours on the Internet; which pales in comparison to the lifetime of studies and research that pioneers in the fields of intelligence and education like Howard Gardner, Richard Sternberg, Linda S. Gottfredson, Thomas Sowell, Alfie Kohn, and Diane F. Halpern whose work is cited in this article.

My goal was simple: Amass, synthesize, and present data on what it means to be smart, educated and intelligent so that it can be understood and used by anyone for their benefit.

PRENATAL CARE

With this in mind, there was not a better (or more appropriate) place to start than at the very beginning of our existence: as a fetus in the womb.

There is mounting evidence that the consumption of food that's high in iron both before and during pregnancy is critical to building the prenatal brain. Researchers have found a strong association between low iron levels during pregnancy and diminished IQ. Foods rich in iron include lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, seafoods, nuts, dried fruits, oatmeal, and fortified cereals.

Children with low iron status in utero (in the uterus) scored lower on every test and had significantly lower language ability, fine-motor skills, and tractability than children with higher prenatal iron levels. In essence, proper prenatal care is critical to the development of cognitive skills.

COGNITIVE SKILLS

Cognitive skills are the basic mental abilities we use to think, study, and learn. They include a wide variety of mental processes used to analyze sounds and images, recall information from memory, make associations between different pieces of information, and maintain concentration on particular tasks. They can be individually identified and measured. Cognitive skill strength and efficiency correlates directly with students' ease of learning.

DRINKING, PREGNANCY, AND ITS INTELLECTUAL IMPACT

Drinking while pregnant is not smart. In fact, it's downright stupid.

A study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found that even light to moderate drinking - especially during the second trimester - is associated with lower IQs in offspring at 10 years of age. This result was especially pronounced among African-American rather than Caucasian offspring.

"IQ is a measure of the child's ability to learn and to survive in his or her environment. It predicts the potential for success in school and in everyday life. Although a small but significant percentage of children are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year, many more children are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy who do not meet criteria for FAS yet experience deficits in growth and cognitive function," said Jennifer A. Willford, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Paul D. Connor, clinical director of the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington has this to say about the subject:

"There are a number of domains of cognitive functioning that can be impaired even in the face of a relatively normal IQ, including academic achievement (especially arithmetic), adaptive functioning, and executive functions (the ability to problem solve and learn from experiences). Deficits in intellectual, achievement, adaptive, and executive functioning could make it difficult to appropriately manage finances, function independently without assistance, and understand the consequences of - or react appropriately to - mistakes."

This is a key finding which speaks directly to the (psychological) definition of intelligence which is addressed later in this article.

ULTRA SOUNDS

Studies have shown that the frequent exposure of the human fetus to ultrasound waves is associated with a decrease in newborn body weight, an increase in the frequency of left-handedness, and delayed speech.

Because ultrasound energy is a high-frequency mechanical vibration, researchers hypothesized that it might influence the migration of neurons in a developing fetus. Neurons in mammals multiply early in fetal development and then migrate to their final destinations. Any interference or disruption in the process could result in abnormal brain function.

Commercial companies (which do ultrasounds for "keepsake" purposes) are now creating more powerful ultrasound machines capable of providing popular 3D and 4D images. The procedure, however, lasts longer as they try to make 30-minute videos of the fetus in the uterus.

The main stream magazine New Scientist reported the following: Ultrasound scans can stop cells from dividing and make them commit suicide. Routine scans, which have let doctors peek at fetuses and internal organs for the past 40 years, affect the normal cell cycle.

On the FDA website this information is posted about ultrasounds:

While ultrasound has been around for many years, expectant women and their families need to know that the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known. In light of all that remains unknown, having a prenatal ultrasound for non-medical reasons is not a good idea.

NATURE VERSUS NURTURE...THE DEBATE CONTINUES

Now that you are aware of some of the known factors which determine, improve, and impact the intellectual development of a fetus, it's time for conception. Once that baby is born, which will be more crucial in the development of its intellect: nature (genetics) or nurture (the environment)?

Apparently for centuries, scientists and psychologists have gone back and forth on this. I read many comprehensive studies and reports on this subject during the research phase of this article, and I believe that it's time to put this debate to rest. Both nature and nurture are equally as important and must be fully observed in the intellectual development of all children. This shouldn't be an either/or proposition.

A recent study shows that early intervention in the home and in the classroom can make a big difference for a child born into extreme poverty, according to Eric Turkheimer, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The study concludes that while genetic makeup explains most of the differences in IQ for children in wealthier families, environment - and not genes - makes a bigger difference for minority children in low-income homes.

Specifically, what researchers call "heritability"- the degree to which genes influence IQ - was significantly lower for poor families. "Once you're put into an adequate environment, your genes start to take over," Mr. Turkheimer said, "but in poor environments genes don't have that ability."

But there are reports that contradict these findings...sort of.

Linda S. Gottfredson, a professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware, wrote in her article, The General Intelligence Factor that environments shared by siblings have little to do with IQ. Many people still mistakenly believe that social, psychological and economic differences among families create lasting and marked differences in IQ.

She found that behavioral geneticists refer to such environmental effects as "shared" because they are common to siblings who grow up together. Her reports states that the heritability of IQ rises with age; that is to say, the extent to which genetics accounts for differences in IQ among individuals increases as people get older.

In her article she also refers to studies comparing identical and fraternal twins, published in the past decade by a group led by Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., of the University of Minnesota and other scholars, show that about 40 percent of IQ differences among preschoolers stems from genetic differences, but that heritability rises to 60 percent by adolescence and to 80 percent by late adulthood.

And this is perhaps the most interesting bit of information, and relevant to this section of my article:

With age, differences among individuals in their developed intelligence come to mirror more closely their genetic differences. It appears that the effects of environment on intelligence fade rather than grow with time.

Bouchard concludes that young children have the circumstances of their lives imposed on them by parents, schools and other agents of society, but as people get older they become more independent and tend to seek out the life niches that are most congenial to their genetic proclivities.

BREAST-FEEDING INCREASES INTELLIGENCE

Researchers from Christchurch School of Medicine in New Zealand studied over 1,000 children born between April and August 1977. During the period from birth to one year, they gathered information on how these children were fed.

The infants were then followed to age 18. Over the years, the researchers collected a range of cognitive and academic information on the children, including IQ, teacher ratings of school performance in reading and math, and results of standardized tests of reading comprehension, mathematics, and scholastic ability. The researchers also looked at the number of passing grades achieved in national School Certificate examinations taken at the end of the third year of high school.

The results indicated that the longer children had been breast-fed, the higher they scored on such tests.

TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Thomas Sowell, author of Race, IQ, Black Crime, and facts Liberals Ignore uncovered some fascinating information that every parent should take note of. He writes:

There is a strong case that black Americans suffer from a series of disadvantageous environments. Studies show time and again that before they go to school, black children are on average exposed to a smaller vocabulary than white children, in part due to socioeconomic factors.

While children from professional households typically exposed to a total of 2,150 different words each day, children from working class households are exposed to 1,250, and children from households on welfare a mere 620.

Yes, smart sounding children tend to come from educated, professional, two-parent environments where they pick-up valuable language skills and vocabulary from its smart sounding inhabitants.

Mr. Sowell continues: Black children are obviously not to blame for their poor socioeconomic status, but something beyond economic status is at work in black homes. Black people have not signed up for the "great mission" of the white middle class - the constant quest to stimulate intellectual growth and get their child into Harvard or Oxbridge.

Elsie Moore of Arizona State University, Phoenix, studied black children adopted by either black or white parents, all of whom were middle-class professionals. By the age of 7.5 years, those in black homes were 13 IQ points behind those being raised in the white homes.

ACCUMULATED ADVANTAGES

At this juncture in my research it dawned on me, and should be fairly obvious to you, that many children are predisposed to being smart, educated, and intelligent, simply by their exposure to the influential factors which determine them long before they start school.

An informed mother, proper prenatal care, educated, communicative parents, and a nurturing environment in which to live, all add up to accumulated advantages that formulate intellectual abilities. As you can see, some children have unfair advantages from the very beginning.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of top-selling book Outliers, wrote that "accumulated advantages" are made possible by arbitrary rules...and such unfair advantages are everywhere. "It is those who are successful who are most likely to be given the kinds of social opportunities that lead to further success," he writes. "It's the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It's the best students who get the best teaching and most attention."

With that in mind, we turn our attention to education and intelligence.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WELL EDUCATED?

Alfie Kohn, author of the book What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated? poses the question, does the phrase well educated refer to a quality of schooling you received, or something about you? Does it denote what you were taught? Or what you remember?

I contend that to be well educated is all in the application; the application and use of information. Information has to be used in order to become knowledge, and as we all have heard, knowledge is power.

Most people are aware of the floundering state of education in this country on some level. We tell our children that nothing is more important than getting a "good" education, and every year, due to government budget shortfalls, teachers are laid off, classes are condensed, schools are closed, and many educational programs - especially those which help the underprivileged - are cut.

The reality is, we don't really value education. We value it as a business, an industry, political ammunition, and as an accepted form of discrimination, but not for what it was intended: a means of enriching one's character and life through learning.

What we value as a society, are athletes and the entertainment they offer. The fact that a professional athlete makes more money in one season, than most teachers in any region will make in their careers, is abominable. There's always money to build new sports stadiums, but not enough to give teachers a decent (and well-deserved) raise.

Ironically, the best teachers don't go into the profession for money. They teach because it's a calling. Most of them were influenced by a really good teacher as a student. With the mass exodus of teachers, many students are not able to cultivate the mentoring relationships that they once were able to because so many are leaving the profession - voluntarily and involuntarily - within an average of three years.

At the high school level, where I got my start, the emphasis is not on how to educate the students to prepare them for life, or even college (all high schools should be college-prep schools, right?), it was about preparing them to excel on their standardized tests. Then the controversial "exit" exams were implemented and literally, many high schools were transformed into testing centers. Learning has almost become secondary.

This mentality carries over into college, which of course there's a test one must take in order to enroll (the SAT or ACT). This explains why so many college students are more concerned with completing a course, than learning from it. They are focused on getting "A's" and degrees, instead of becoming degreed thinkers. The latter of which are in greater demand by employers and comprise the bulk of the self-employed. The "get-the-good-grade" mindset is directly attributable to the relentless and often unnecessary testing that our students are subjected to in schools.

Alfie Kohn advocates the "exhibition" of learning, in which students reveal their understanding by means of in-depth projects, portfolios of assignments, and other demonstrations.

He cites a model pioneered by Ted Sizer and Deborah Meier. Meier has emphasized the importance of students having five "habits of mind," which are: the value of raising questions about evidence ("How do we know what we know?"), point of view, ("Whose perspective does this represent?"), connections ("How is this related to that?"), supposition ("How might things have been otherwise?"), and relevance ("Why is this important?").

Kohn writes: It's only the ability to raise and answer those questions that matters, though, but also the disposition to do so. For that matter, any set of intellectual objectives, any description of what it means to think deeply and critically, should be accompanied by a reference to one's interest or intrinsic motivation to do such thinking...to be well-educated then, is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends...

HISTORY AND PURPOSE OF IQ

We've always wanted to measure intelligence. Ironically, when you look at some the first methods used to evaluate it in the 1800s, they were not, well, very intelligent. Tactics such as subjecting people to various forms of torture to see what their threshold for pain was (the longer you could withstand wincing, the more intelligent you were believed to be), or testing your ability to detect a high pitch sound that others could not hear.

Things have changed...or have they?

No discussion of intelligence or IQ can be complete without mention of Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who was responsible for laying the groundwork for IQ testing in 1904. His original intention was to devise a test that would diagnose learning disabilities of students in France. The test results were then used to prepare special programs to help students overcome their educational difficulties.

It was never intended to be used as an absolute measure of one's intellectual capabilities.

According to Binet, intelligence could not be described as a single score. He said that the use of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as a definite statement of a child's intellectual capability would be a serious mistake. In addition, Binet feared that IQ measurement would be used to condemn a child to a permanent "condition" of stupidity, thereby negatively affecting his or her education and livelihood.

The original interest was in the assessment of 'mental age' -- the average level of intelligence for a person of a given age. His creation, the Binet-Simon test (originally called a "scale"), formed the archetype for future tests of intelligence.

H. H. Goddard, director of research at Vineland Training School in New Jersey, translated Binet's work into English and advocated a more general application of the Simon-Binet test. Unlike Binet, Goddard considered intelligence a solitary, fixed and inborn entity that could be measured. With help of Lewis Terman of Stanford University, his final product, published in 1916 as the Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale of Intelligence (also known as the Stanford-Binet), became the standard intelligence test in the United States.

It's important to note that the fallacy about IQ is that it is fixed and can not be changed. The fact is that IQ scores are known to fluctuate - both up and down during the course of one's lifetime. It does not mean that you become more, or less intelligent, it merely means that you tested better on one day than another.

One more thing to know about IQ tests: They have been used for racist purposes since their importation into the U.S. Many of those who were involved in the importation and refinement of these tests believed that IQ was hereditary and are responsible for feeding the fallacy that it is a "fixed" trait.

Many immigrants were tested in the 1920s and failed these IQ tests miserably. As a result, many of them were denied entry into the U.S., or were forced to undergo sterilization for fear of populating America with "dumb" and "inferior" babies. If you recall, the tests were designed for white, middle class Americans. Who do you think would have the most difficulty passing them?

Lewis Terman developed the original notion of IQ and proposed this scale for classifying IQ scores:

000 - 070: Definite feeble-mindedness
070 - 079: Borderline deficiency
080 - 089: Dullness
090 - 109: Normal or average intelligence
110 - 119: Superior intelligence
115 - 124: Above average (e.g., university students)
125 - 134: Gifted (e.g., post-graduate students)
135 - 144: Highly gifted (e.g., intellectuals)
145 - 154: Genius (e.g., professors)
155 - 164: Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners)
165 - 179: High genius
180 - 200: Highest genius
200 - higher ?: Immeasurable genius

*Genius IQ is generally considered to begin around 140 to 145, representing only 25% of the population (1 in 400).
*Einstein was considered to "only" have an IQ of about 160.

DEFINING INTELLIGENCE

Diane F. Halpern, a psychologist and past-president of the American Psychological Association (APA), wrote in her essay contribution to Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid that in general, we recognize people as intelligent if they have some combination of these achievements (1) good grades in school; (2) a high level of education; (3) a responsible, complex job; (4) some other recognition of being intelligent, such as winning prestigious awards or earning a large salary; (5) the ability to read complex text with good comprehension; (6) solve difficult and novel problems.

Throughout my research and in the early phases of this article, I came across many definitions of the word intelligence. Some were long, some were short. Some I couldn't even understand. The definition that is most prevalent is the one created by the APA which is: the ability to adapt to one's environment, and learn from one's mistakes.

How about that? There's the word environment again. We just can't seem to escape it. This adds deeper meaning to the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." It means recognizing what's going on in your environment, and having the intelligence adapt to it - and the people who occupy it - in order to survive and succeed within it.

There are also many different forms of intelligence. Most notably those created by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.

Dr. Gardner believes (and I agree) that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live.

He felt that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on IQ testing, was far too limited and created the Theories Of Multiple Intelligences in 1983 to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.

These intelligences are:

Linguistic intelligence ("word smart")
Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
Musical intelligence ("music smart")
Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")

Not associated with Dr. Gardner, but equally respected are:

FLUID & CRYSTALLIZED INTELLIGENCE

According to About.com, Psychologist Raymond Cattell first proposed the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence and further developed the theory with John Horn. The Cattell-Horn theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence suggests that intelligence is composed of a number of different abilities that interact and work together to produce overall individual intelligence.

Cattell defined fluid intelligence as "...the ability to perceive relationships independent of previous specific practice or instruction concerning those relationships." Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason abstractly and solve problems. This ability is considered independent of learning, experience, and education. Examples of the use of fluid intelligence include solving puzzles and coming up with problem solving strategies.

Crystallized intelligence is learning from past experiences and learning. Situations that require crystallized intelligence include reading comprehension and vocabulary exams. This type of intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences. This type of intelligence becomes stronger as we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding.

Both types of intelligence increase throughout childhood and adolescence. Fluid intelligence peaks in adolescence and begins to decline progressively beginning around age 30 or 40. Crystallized intelligence continues to grow throughout adulthood.

SUCCESSFUL INTELLIGENCE

Then there's Successful Intelligence, which is authored by intelligence psychologist and Yale professor, Robert J. Sternberg, who believes that the whole concept of relating IQ to life achievement is misguided, because he believes that IQ is a pretty miserable predictor of life achievement.

His Successful Intelligence theory focuses on 3 types of intelligence which are combined to contribute to one's overall success: Analytical Intelligence; mental steps or components used to solve problems; Creative Intelligence: the use of experience in ways that foster insight (creativity/divergent thinking); and Practical Intelligence: the ability to read and adapt to the contexts of everyday life.

With regard to environment, Mr. Sternberg writes in his book Successful Intelligence: Successfully intelligent people realize that the environment in which they find themselves may or may not be able to make the most of their talents. They actively seek an environment where they can not only do successful work, but make a difference. They create opportunities rather than let opportunities be limited by circumstances in which they happen to find themselves.

As an educator, I subscribe to Mr. Sternberg's Successful Intelligence approach to teaching. It has proven to be a highly effective tool and mindset for my college students. Using Successful Intelligence as the backbone of my context-driven curriculum really inspires students to see how education makes their life goals more attainable, and motivates them to further develop their expertise. Mr. Sternberg believes that the major factor in achieving expertise is purposeful engagement.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

In his best-selling 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reported that research shows that conventional measures of intelligence - IQ - only account for 20% of a person's success in life. For example, research on IQ and education shows that high IQ predicts 10 to 25% of grades in college. The percentage will vary depending on how we define success. Nonetheless, Goleman's assertion begs the question: What accounts for the other 80%?

You guessed it...Emotional Intelligence. What exactly is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence (also called EQ or EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Many corporations now have mandatory EQ training for their managers in an effort to improve employee
relations and increase productivity.

TACIT KNOWLEDGE aka "STREET SMARTS"

You've heard the phrase, "Experience is the greatest teacher..."

In psychology circles knowledge gained from everyday experience is called tacit knowledge. The colloquial term is "street smarts," which implies that formal, classroom instruction (aka "book smarts") has nothing to do with it. The individual is not directly instructed as to what he or she should learn, but rather must extract the important lesson from the experience even when learning is not the primary objective.

Tacit knowledge is closely related to common sense, which is sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. As you know, common sense is not all that common.

Tacit knowledge, or the lessons obtained from it, seems to "stick" both faster and better when the lessons have direct relevance to the individual's goals. Knowledge that is based on one's own practical experience will likely be more instrumental to achieving one's goals than will be knowledge that is based on someone else's experience, or that is overly generic and abstract.

BEING BOTH SMART AND STUPID

Yes, it's possible to be both smart and stupid. I'm sure someone you know comes to mind at this precise moment. But the goal here is not to ridicule, but to understand how some seemingly highly intelligent, or highly educated individuals can be so smart in one way, and incredibly stupid in others.

The woman who is a respected, well paid, dynamic executive who consistently chooses men who don't appear to be worthy of her, or the man who appears to be a pillar of the community, with a loving wife and happy kids, ends up being arrested on rape charges.

It happens, but why? I found the answer in Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid. Essentially, intellect is domain specific. In other words, being smart (knowledgeable) in one area of your life, and stupid (ignorant) in another is natural. Turning off one's brain is quite common especially when it comes to what we desire. A shared characteristic among those who are smart and stupid, is the difficulty in delaying gratification.

Olem Ayduk & Walter Mischel who wrote the chapter summarized: Sometimes stupid behavior in smart people may arise from faulty expectations, erroneous beliefs, or merely a lack of motivation to enact control strategies even when one has them. But sometimes it is an inability to regulate one's affective states and the behavioral tendencies associated with them that leads to stupid and self-defeating behavior.

The central character in this book who many of these lessons regarding being smart and stupid revolve around is Bill Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinksky.

WISDOM & CONCLUSION

My great grandmother, Leola Cecil, maybe had an 8th grade education at the most. By no stretch of the imagination was she highly educated, but she had what seemed like infinite wisdom. She was very observant and could "read" people with startling accuracy. Till the very end of her life she shared her "crystallized intelligence" with whomever was receptive to it.

She died at the age of 94. I often use many of her sayings as a public speaker, but most importantly, I use her philosophies to make sure that I'm being guided spiritually and not just intellectually. Many of us who are lucky enough to have a great grandparent can testify that there is something special about their knowledge. They seem to have life figured out, and a knack for helping those of us who are smart, educated and intelligent see things more clearly when we are too busy thinking.

What they have is what we should all aspire to end up with if we are lucky: wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to look through a person, when others can only look at them. Wisdom slows down the thinking process and makes it more organic; synchronizing it with intuition. Wisdom helps you make better judgments regarding decisions, and makes you less judgmental. Wisdom is understanding without knowing, and accepting without understanding. Wisdom is recognizing what's important to other people, and knowing that other people are of the utmost importance to you. Wisdom is both a starting point, and a final conclusion.

The Media: Does The Media Distract People?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When it comes to understanding what is taking place in the area where one lives and the world at large, it is clear that some kind of assistance is required. This is something that usually takes place through the media. Here, one is informed about national and international events and occurrences.

So no matter where one is or what one is doing, they can be kept up to date on what is going on. The coverage can range from what could be classed as somewhat important to extremely important. This means that one will typically become exposed to all kinds of news stories and won't be limited to just one area or topic.

And this can only be a good thing; especially as there is so much taking place in the world. From the most horrific situations that can make people question humanity, to situations that show how magnificent they can be.

It is then natural that one's attention is going to be drawn towards what is taking place. Perhaps this is also due to one being personally affected by what is taking place or maybe they feel drawn to what is being covered and what to help in some way. There are clearly numerous reasons as to why one can feel drawn in by what the media is covering.

In Recent Years

However, what is classed as news has gradually changed in recent years. No longer is this something that is limited to violence, natural disasters, sports or the economy for instance, it has gone onto include other things.

And a big part of this news is what 'celebrities' are or are not doing. These are people that are famous for achieving something and also famous for achieving very little. Their personal lives and the highs and lows that they experience are given constant exposure.

So even though the other kinds of events that have been covered for years are still very much a part of the mainstream Medias coverage, this has been supplemented by what could be called trivial occurrences. And in some cases, these types of stories have completely taken over.

Mainly as a result of them being extremely popular amongst people and as interest is gained, money is made. This means that it is unlikely to stop any time soon.

Two Types of News

The first type of news, depending what the source is, can keep one up to date on what is taking place in the world. And while ones attention is taken for a certain period of time each day, if is being used in a way that can be educational and mind expanding. Once it is over, one can go about their normal day to day business. The news is an addition to the life they have, but in most cases it doesn't totally consume their life.

When it comes to the other type of news however, in most cases one is not being educated and neither is their mind expanding. It is also not necessarily something that one engages in now and then; it can become an obsession and even an escape. So it is not an addition to one's life, it can becomes one's life. How one sees themselves and their identity can then be caught up in this type of news. This is not to say that the mainstream news is always beneficial either.

One Perspective

It could be said that when the media gives attention to what celebrities are or are not doing for instance, that they are simply distracting people from what really matters in the world and in their personal lives. And even though it is popular and leads to money being made, they have a moral standing to uphold; as a result of being in the position they are in and the influence they have over so many people. They have a massive responsibility and one that shouldn't be abused by filling people minds with insignificant events.

The above is one point of view, but there is also another way of looking at this. As I said above, it is popular and makes money so they are ultimately giving some people what they want. And that these people are happy to be distracted or should I say want to be distracted.

So the media is then not providing anything that is not already being asked for. For if one is already in an escape the media has to do very little. This person doesn't need to be enticed; they will do it of their own accord.

Escapism

The media is providing a way for people to avoid their own lives. And while on the odd occasion this is unlikely to lead to dysfunctional consequences, in the long run it can. But in the modern day world, the need to avoid oneself and get lost in others peoples dramas and the world's dramas has generally become the norm.

And the media is just one example of an escape. One can also engage in: alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, eating, gambling and many others. While there are many distractions provided, what is rarely looked at is what is going on at a deeper level.

Emotional Pain

So these escapes enable one to regulate the emotional pain that they are experiencing. And as emotions are often rejected and not dealt with in today's world; it is not much of a surprise that they have built up.

In the short term these distractions will allow one to avoid their inner pain. However, in the long run it can only lead to one being estranged from themselves and having no self control. But, if one is experiencing emotional pain and hasn't found a functional way to deal with it; this may be a price worth paying.

Conclusion

As one has no inner control, it is then natural that one will end up being controlled by external sources. And that the external influences will only get stronger if one is giving their power away.

In an ideal world, emotional intelligence would be seen as important as learning to read or write. If this was the case, so much of what defines today's world would no longer exist and that is simply because people wouldn't be running away from themselves. Inner peace would be a real experience, as opposed to what is often nothing more than a good idea.

Awareness

So while the media will always be there in some shape or form and emotional intelligence is not suddenly going to be seen as essential, what one can do is become emotionally aware themselves. This process can be supported with the assistance of a therapist, healer or a coach for example.

And some kind of self inquiry can also be a way of gaining a better understanding of one's emotions. The kind of assistance one will need can depend on how much of a challenge they are.

New Policy On Distance Learning In Higher Education Sector

Saturday, April 13, 2013

In pursuance to the announcement of 100 days agenda of HRD of ministry by Hon'ble Human Resources development Minister, a New Policy on Distance Learning In Higher Education Sector was drafted.

BACKGROUND

1. In terms of Entry 66 of List 1 of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, Parliament is competent to make laws for the coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education for research, and scientific and technical institutions. Parliament has enacted laws for discharging this responsibility through: the University Grants Commission (UGC) for general Higher Education, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for Technical Education; and other Statutory bodies for other disciplines. As regards higher education, through the distance mode, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Act, 1985 was enacted with the following two prime objectives, among others: (a) To provide opportunities for higher education to a large segment of population, especially disadvantaged groups living in remote and rural areas, adults, housewives and working people; and (b) to encourage Open University and Distance Education Systems in the educational pattern of the country and to coordinate and determine the standards in such systems.

2. The history of distance learning or education through distance mode in India, goes way back when the universities started offering education through distance mode in the name of Correspondence Courses through their Directorate/School of Correspondence Education. In those days, the courses in humanities and/or in commerce were offered through correspondence and taken by those, who, owing to various reasons, including limited number of seats in regular courses, employability, problems of access to the institutions of higher learning etc., could not get themselves enrolled in the conventional `face-to-face' mode `in-class' programmes.

3. In the recent past, the demand for higher education has increased enormously throughout the country because of awareness about the significance of higher education, whereas the system of higher education could not accommodate this ever increasing demand.

4. Under the circumstances, a number of institutions including deemed universities, private universities, public (Government) universities and even other institutions, which are not empowered to award degrees, have started cashing on the situation by offering distance education programmes in a large number of disciplines, ranging from humanities to engineering and management etc., and at different levels (certificate to under-graduate and post-graduate degrees). There is always a danger that some of these institutions may become `degree mills' offering sub- standard/poor quality education, consequently eroding the credibility of degrees and other qualifications awarded through the distance mode. This calls for a far higher degree of coordination among the concerned statutory authorities, primarily, UGC, AICTE and IGNOU and its authority - the Distance Education Council (DEC).

5. Government of India had clarified its position in respect of recognition of degrees, earned through the distance mode, for employment under it vide Gazette Notification No. 44 dated 1.3.1995.

6. Despite the risks referred to in para 4 above, the significance of distance education in providing quality education and training cannot be ignored. Distance Mode of education has an important role for:

(i)providing opportunity of learning to those, who do not have direct access to face to face teaching, working persons, house-wives etc.
(ii)providing opportunity to working professionals to update their knowledge, enabling them to switchover to new disciplines and professions and enhancing their qualifications for career advancement.
(iii)exploiting the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the teaching and learning process; and
(iv)achieving the target of 15% of GER by the end of 11th Plan and 20% by the end of 12th five year Plan.

7. In order to discharge the Constitutional responsibility of determination and maintenance of the standards in Higher Education, by ensuring coordination among various statutory regulatory authorities as also to ensure the promotion of open and distance education system in the country to meet the aspirations of all cross-sections of people for higher education, the following policy in respect of distance learning is laid down:

(a) In order to ensure proper coordination in regulation of standards of higher education in different disciplines through various modes [i.e. face to face and distance] as also to ensure credibility of degrees/diploma and certificates awarded by Indian Universities and other Education Institutes, an apex body, namely, National Commission for Higher Education and Research shall be established in line with the recommendations of Prof. Yash Pal Committee/National Knowledge Commission. A Standing Committee on Open and Distance

Education of the said Commission, shall undertake the job of coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of education through the distance mode. Pending establishment of this body:

(i) Only those programmes, which do not involve extensive practical course work, shall be permissible through the distance mode.

(ii) Universities / institutions shall frame ordinances / regulations / rules, as the case may be, spelling out the outline of the programmes to be offered through the distance mode indicating the number of required credits, list of courses with assigned credits, reading references in addition to self learning material, hours of study, contact classes at study centres, assignments, examination and evaluation process, grading etc.

(iii) DEC of IGNOU shall only assess the competence of university/institute in respect of conducting distance education programmes by a team of experts, whose report shall be placed before the Council of DEC for consideration.

(iv) The approval shall be given only after consideration by Council of DEC and not by Chairperson, DEC. For the purpose, minimum number of mandatory meetings of DEC may be prescribed.

(v) AICTE would be directed under section 20 (1) of AICTE Act 1987 to ensure accreditation of the programmes in Computer Sciences, Information Technology and Management purposed to be offered by an institute/university through the distance mode, by National Board of Accreditation (NBA).

(vi) UGC and AICTE would be directed under section 20 (1) of their respective Acts to frame detailed regulations prescribing standards for various programmes/courses, offered through the distance mode under their mandate,

(vii) No university/institute, except the universities established by or under an Act of Parliament/State Legislature before 1985, shall offer any programme through the distance mode, henceforth, without approval from DEC and accreditation by NBA. However, the universities/institutions already offering programmes in Humanities, Commerce/Business/Social Sciences/Computer Sciences and Information Technology and Management, may be allowed to continue, subject to the condition to obtain fresh approval from DEC and accreditation from NBA within one year, failing which they shall have to discontinue the programme and the entire onus with respect to the academic career and financial losses of the students enrolled with them, shall be on such institutions/universities.

(viii) In light of observation of Apex Court, ex-post-facto approval granted by any authority for distance education shall not be honoured and granted henceforth. However, the universities established by or under an Act of education programmes in the streams of Humanities/Commerce/Social Sciences before the year 1991 shall be excluded from this policy.

(ix) The students who have been awarded degrees through distance mode by the universities without taking prior approval of DEC and other statutory bodies, shall be given one chance, provided they fulfil the requirement of minimum standards as prescribed by the UGC, AICTE or any other relevant Statutory Authority through Regulation, to appear in examinations in such papers as decided by the university designated to conduct the examination. If these students qualify in this examination, the university concerned shall issue a certificate. The degree along with the said qualifying certificate may be recognised for the purpose of employment/promotion under Central Government.

(x) A clarification shall be issued with reference to Gazette Notification No. 44 dated 1.3.1995 that it shall not be applicable on to the degrees/diplomas awarded by the universities established by or under an Act of Parliament or State Legislature before 1985, in the streams of Humanities/Commerce and Social Sciences.

(xi) The policy initiatives spelt out in succeeding paragraphs shall be equally applicable to institutions offering distance education/intending to offer distance education.

(b) All universities and institutions offering programmes through the distance mode shall need to have prior recognition/approval for offering such programmes and accreditation from designated competent authority, mandatorily in respect of the programmes offered by them. The violators of this shall be liable for appropriate penalty as prescribed by law. The universities/institutions offering education through distance mode and found involved in cheating of students/people by giving wrong/false information or wilfully suppressing the information shall also be dealt with strictly under the penal provisions of law.

(c) The universities / institutes shall have their own study centres for face to face counselling and removal of difficulties as also to seek other academic and administrative assistance. Franchising of distance education by any university, institutions whether public or private shall not be allowed.

(d ) The universities /institutions shall only offer such programmes through distance mode which are on offer on their campuses through conventional mode. In case of open universities, they shall necessarily have the required departments and faculties prior to offering relevant programmes through distance mode.

(e) It would be mandatory for all universities and education institutions offering distance education to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in delivery of their programmes, management of the student and university affairs through a web portal or any other such platform. The said platform shall invariably, display in public domain, the information about the statutory and other approvals along with other necessary information about the programmes on offer through distance mode, their accreditation and students enrolled, year- wise, etc. This may be linked to a national database, as and when created, to facilitate the stakeholders to take a view on the recognition of the degrees for the purpose of academic pursuit or employment with/under them.

(f) All universities/education institutions shall make optimal use of e-learning contents for delivery/offering their programmes through distance mode. They shall also be encouraged/required to adopt e-surveillance technology for conduct of clean, fair and transparent examinations.

(g) The focus of distance education shall be to provide opportunity of education to people at educationally disadvantaged situations such as living in remote and rural areas, adults with no or limited access to education of their choice etc.

(h) In order to promote flexible and need based learning, choice-based credit system shall be promoted and all ODE institutions shall be encouraged to adopt this system and evolve a mechanism for acceptance and transfer of credits of the courses successfully completed by students in face-to-face or distance mode. For the purpose, establishment of a credit bank may be considered. Similarly, conventional universities, offering face to face mode programmes shall be encouraged to accept the credits earned by the students through distance mode. A switch over from annual to semester system shall be essential.

(i) Convergence of the face-to-face mode teaching departments of conventional universities with their distance education directorates/correspondence course wings as also with open universities/institutions offering distance education, shall be impressed upon to bridge the gap in distance and conventional face-to-face mode of education.

(j) Reputed Foreign education providers well established, recognized and accredited by competent authority in their country and willing to offer their education programmes in India shall be allowed, subject to the fulfillment of the legal requirement of the country.

(k) A National Information and Communication Technology infrastructure for networking of ODE institutions shall be created under National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology.

(l) Efforts would be made to create favourable environment for research in Open and Distance Education (ODE) system by setting up infrastructure like e- libraries, digital data-base, online journals, holding regular workshops, seminars etc.

(m) Training and orientation programmes for educators and administrators in ODE system with focus on use of ICT and self-learning practice, shall be encouraged.

(n) ODE institutions shall be encouraged to take care the educational needs of learners with disabilities and senior citizens.

(o) An official notification clarifying the issue of recognition of academic qualification, earned through distance mode, for the purpose of employment, shall be issued.

(p) A mechanism shall be set up for evaluation of degrees of foreign universities for the purpose of academic pursuit as well as for employment under the Central Government. This may include the assessment of the credentials of the university concerned as also to test the competence of the degree holder, if needed.

Creating an Ethical Culture in the Media Industry

Monday, April 8, 2013

The primary accountability and thus focus of the media executive is to the needs of shareholders, who ultimately require return on equity. 'Success', is not typically defined at annual general meetings on the quality, accuracy and ethical stance of it's reporting or associated public trust.

Today, future executives are typically drawn from a few select universities and the same implied, and educated social class. In turn, once in roles of influence, they select others typically like them.

  • they are the most 'talented'
  • conditioned to strive for powerful, highly paid positions
  • praised and rewarded (promoted) for the behavior which most correlates with driving commercial (profit) success for the corporation
  • the most highly regarded educational institutions, business school in the world breed this behavior as desirable

Given this, there is a lack of diversity of perspective within the executives of global corporations. Most are given incentives and rewarded financially according to their ability to create revenue. The way to attained position is by demonstrating behavior that includes loyalty to the company, and aligns with the prevailing organizational focus, profit.

At basic levels, behavior is learnt. The environment and associated behavior is then perfected through selection systems and succession planning. Unless measures specifically require a diverse perspective, the corporate environment eschews anyone who does not have similar personal and professional goals.

The rewards for the executives are not just financial, but define social status, access and benefits in wider society. The corporate system creates and rewards individuals who pursue power. This is not within itself a 'bad' or malicious thing. Our societal structures require that corporations are effective and flourish through the growth driven by this behavior.

If unfettered, the market can teach corporate executives to focus on the maximization of profit limited by boundaries placed by wider society. An example of society intervening once shocked into action, would be the introduction of the concept of Health & Safety in the workplace. Previous to this, survival and quality of life following serious workplace injury depended on the beneficence of the family who owned the enterprise. At some point legislation required that profit be tempered by avoiding death or injury to worker. Failure to adhere to standards results in a loss of license to operate.

Failure to consider the issue of strong ethics led guidance to the media, could require future societies to place trust in the benevolence of the executive boardrooms of the world; a relatively homogenous, unrepresentative and certainly un-elected group, to do what's best for the rest of society. Can today's society, not faced with physical injury to our workers, but with harmful impact to the public interest, rely on the morals of executives? Media corporations can take actions independently to define their purpose outside of wealth creation and inculcate ethics driven cultures that mitigate unethical behavior.

Some Thoughts on Education

Friday, April 5, 2013

Amid all the partisan bickering and rhetoric that characterizes most any subject of national interest, there exist several broad reaching education goals that bridge the ideological divides, for both lawmakers and parents. We all want better, more effective teachers. We all desire our public schools to graduate high school students with some competency in the basics - reading, writing and mathematics. We all want and expect some accountability on the part of teachers and school districts to actually deliver on education. We all want our higher education institutions to prepare their students to compete on the world stage, and more basically to be prepared to succeed in their chosen field of work. And, importantly, we want to instill the values of good citizenship and understanding of our history and culture.

With each of these common goals, though, differences in how to achieve them - as well as how they are defined - varies from minor to very major. Most notable, I think, are the differences concerning our history, culture and what defines a good citizen - and the role education plays in these areas.

In 1693, John Locke wrote a piece entitled "Some Thoughts Concerning Education", where he defined the goals in educating the 'upper class boys' of producing moral, rationally-thinking and reflective young gentlemen. In 1697, he wrote about educating the masses in "Working Schools", promoting the importance of developing a work ethic. A bifurcated approach to education was common for much of the following century as well.

Today, the public schools educate the vast majority of us and the k-12 curriculum varies little from Maine to New Mexico. Perhaps our modern day counterpart to John Locke's dual system would be a technical or other career school education versus a university liberal arts program. Though, for the most part, at every level of education, you would find absent much in the way of moral teachings or a focus on the importance of a work ethic.

Through the late eighteen hundreds to pre-World War II times, teaching was one of just a few career paths for women, and one of very few professional pursuits available to women. As a result, it attracted mostly the best, due to competition for those posts. When I went to college in the early seventies, those students who couldn't quite make it in any other major shifted to a major in education, as it was the easiest and had the least difficult required coursework.

As I was going through elementary school, my mom was a major support to my education. My assignments would be reviewed, my papers checked before and after submission, and tests were often prepared for together. While I know my mom was exceptional in the degree of her involvement, my friends mom's were also interested and involved. They monitored our progress, and they monitored the schools through the P.T.A. Our classes were large, multimedia meant different colors of chalk, and our school facilities were basic - yet we learned.

Growing up in those days meant near universal church attendance and very significant participation in the likes of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the YMCA, or 4-H or FFA, all contributing to our moral and civic education to some degree or another.

Today, in most intact two parent households, both parents work. And an alarmingly large percentage of kids grow up with only one parent. Both situations usually result in less parent involvement in education. And involvement in the above-named groups has also suffered, competing with television, Facebook and video games.

Taken as a whole, our societal changes have effectively elevated the importance of our public schools in the development of our children. The impact of the hours our students spend in these schools has grown. Unfortunately, in many families and for many students, school represents the central and fundamental building block in their development as future working (or non-working) adults and citizens. Thus our focus on, and understanding of what our schools are teaching, is critically important.

In 1916, John Dewey (yeah, the decimal guy) penned a piece entitled "Democracy and Education", which served as a catalyst for advancing the ideas of the progressive movement, which was being amply championed by Woodrow Wilson and friends. Through his writing, he was seeking to make schools more effective agents of 'democracy'. It was from this point forward that we witness the academics rewriting our history, our schools painting our values of self-reliance and self-government as ill conceived, and forwarding concepts such as economic and social justice - to right the wrongs of America and the evils of capitalism.

The past several decades our schools have expanded on these themes, and have interlaced and often twisted issues such as civil rights, the environment, cultural diversity and global warming to fit their prevailing world view - of America as oppressor and exploiter, equal outcomes over equal opportunity, secularism over Judeo Christian values, and rights of the collective subservient to the rights of the individual. Class, gender, sexual preference, and racial or cultural differences have been emphasized and elevated in education - resulting in hyphenated and divided groups, and replacing the history of America as a melting pot - a people united by shared values and American ideals.

In short, our public schools today don't teach or value the traditional American way. And since the exposure of our children to other positive formative experiences and influences are often missing or lacking, we are in a world of hurt.

But, the moral and cultural aspects of education aren't the only casualties of our public schools. Basic education is as well. Since the 1960s, we have seen most key measures of competence declining. Math, reading, writing, history, social studies and geography have all suffered. Of the 74.9% (2007-08 data) of those who do graduate from high school, many can't make change, can't read at an eighth grade level, and couldn't name the three branches of government, let alone understand the meaning and beauty of our Constitution.

Are we asking too much of our schools? Probably, but the gap between the ask and the result is of Grand Canyon scale.

Is it because we're not spending enough? I don't believe so. In 1961-62 we were spending $2,769 dollars per student and in 2006-07 we spent $10,041 per student (in constant dollars - unadjusted dollars were $393 in '61-62 and $9,683 in '06-07). And those numbers, at least in the latter year, exclude state education administrative expenses.

Is our problem the teachers? Certainly this is where the rubber meets the road, and a critical factor. Here I'm sure many would fault teacher compensation. Realistically, I think its very safe to say that some teachers are underpaid, but I would bet that a large percentage are overpaid based on their effectiveness. None of us want underpaid teachers and I think most of us would be willing to pay really good teachers whatever they deserve, their true worth. Of course, the hard part is separating the good from the marginal and the bad, ridding ourselves of the bad and working our way up from marginal to exceptional. Here, the key roadblock is the teachers unions and their rules.

Among the teachers unions, the NEA is the behemoth organization, and is, in fact, the largest professional organization and largest labor union in the U.S., with over 3.2 million members. It has a staff of over 550 and a budget of some $307 million (2006-07). Besides what I think are the known criticisms of this group regarding stances on merit pay, charter schools, home schooling opposition, school vouchers, tenure and impediments to dismissing under-performing teachers, lies another equally problematic issue, that being their ideological and political leanings and advocacy.

It is this latter area that speaks to the curriculum taught in our schools, which in turn defines the output - simply what and how our kids think as they exit the system.

If you look to the organizations the NEA aligns itself with, and supports financially and otherwise, the following entities are high on their giving and influence list: The Center for American Progress, Media Matters, ACORN (before their demise), the National Council of LaRaza, The Tides Foundation and Amnesty International. You may note a common interest among several of these groups and George Soros. None of these organizations, nor Mr. Soros, hold America in much esteem. Their values are actually near polar opposites to those espoused by the Founders. And what our public schools teach reflects their views and outlook. Seems like a recipe for disaster for the Republic so many of us hold dear.

I wish I could offer up some silver bullets to change the course of public education in America, I can't. How to unravel some of these unholy alliances, I don't know. Fixing the textbooks and what is taught is a huge challenge, and again no easy answers. Retaining great teachers and firing the inept - that should be easy, but its not.

I believe it was in 1959 that Wisconsin (an historic stronghold of progressives) became the first state to allow collective bargaining and unions for public sector workers, and so the onslaught began. This was a major turning point for our country. The NEA (and other public sector unions) support the politicians that support them and their agenda, and then the legislators enact laws to strengthen the unions and provide funding to support their causes. The new circle of life in America - and education.

The one thing I do know is that we, as parents and citizens, must be vigilant and involved with our policymakers, our local schools and our children. Or we doom ourselves to having our government schools produce ever more graduates, at whatever level of education, who really don't care much for America - who instead desire to fundamentally transform it. And that is a real shame.

Education Loans In India

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

India is a developing country and is forging ahead to create a definite niche in the global economy. Education is an important factor for the development of any country. India is not far behind in an attempt to provide education to every child by granting education loans to students. All banks in India provide education loans to students for studies in India, as well as abroad. Apart from banks, there are a number of charitable institutions and other private funding associations in India that provide education loans to students.

There are a large number of Indian students who prefer to go abroad for their post-graduation studies. The loans prove to be a boon, mainly to the students whose education and stay abroad would be very costly. Some private banks grant education loans and also cover the expenses of lodging and travel. Most private banks in India offer flexible options related to education loans. Certain private banks offer very low interest rates and give various allied benefits to the borrowers, by opening a savings account for them or providing them with debit cards. Some banks also provide customized education loans, created for specific requirements. They grant secured as well as unsecured loans. Secured loans can be repaid in seven years by holding residential properties or shares as security. The unsecured loans can be repaid in four years. Various banks offer exclusive schemes on educational loans to their customers, of six months or more.

The education loans in India are mostly granted to the parents of the students, unless or until the students are eligible, above 18 years of age. Most nationalized and private banks providing education loans, take the authorization of the college or university into consideration. They do not grant loans to students who are not from approved educational institutions.

 

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