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Educational Problem Solving

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Abstract

This article introduces the educational solutions module of the world's most recent personal and professional problem solving site, describing competitive offerings, the customer profile, problem-oriented solutions, target markets, product offerings, and usability features. It concludes that the module is a major contribution to the information superhighway.

Introduction

The aim of this article is to introduce to the world the educational solutions module of the world's most recent personal and professional problem solving site. The article is addressed to those readers who may have an educational problem bogging them and who may therefore be looking for a way out of their predicament. The reader may be a parent, child, or student.

It is a common fact of life that we all have problems and that we are often frustrated or we tend to lash out because of our inability to find accessible and reliable information about our problems. This specialist site fills this need - as our pragmatic friend for solving our educational problems.

To be of the greatest use to people a problem solving site must combine pragmatic discussions of their personal or professional problem with merchant products that provide more detailed information. Typically, the web site will provide free information in the form of news, articles, and advice, which direct the visitor on what to do to solve her problems. Complementing this, the web site will also provide merchant products which discuss in detail how the visitor can go about resolving her problem. This means that the most effective, visitor-oriented problem-solving site will be an information-packed commercial site - and so is the world's most recent personal and professional problem solving site and its specialist sites.

The approach that we have adopted below is to describe competitive offerings, the customer profile, problem-oriented solutions, target markets, product offerings, and usability features.

Competitive Offerings

The following are the top educational sites on the Internet, along with their offerings.

US Department of Education. It defines the US education policy and provides information on financial aid, educational research and statistics, grants and contracts, and teaching and learning resources.

Educational Testing Service. It provides a range of test resources.

FunBrain.com. It provides educational games for K-8 kids.

PrimaryGames.com. It provides fun learning tools and games for kids.

GEM. It provides educational resources such as lesson plans and other teaching and learning resources.

Education World. It provides advice on lesson plans, professional development, and technology integration.

NASA Education Enterprise. It provides educational materials and information relating to space exploration.

Spartacus Educational. It is a British online encyclopedia that focuses on historical topics.

Department for Education and Skills. It is a UK government department site that offers information and advice on various educational and skills topics.

Times Educational Supplement. It offers teaching news, teaching & educational resources, and active forums to help UK teachers.
All these sites are useful in the domains that they cover. Their main limitations are as follows:

1. They tend to cover only a very narrow segment of the educational market.
2. They do not take as their starting point the daily educational needs of the typical family.
3. They lack a problem focus; i.e., they do not formulate the typical learning and educational problems that pupils, students, and parents face on a daily basis.
4. As a result of the preceding point, the solutions offered are not as incisive (i.e. as problem-centred) as they could be.
5. They do not offer merchant products that deepen the visitor's understanding of her problem and of the consequent solutions.

The educational solutions module of the world's most recent personal and professional problem solving site addresses these problems by targeting a multiplicity of market segments, adopting a customer profile that fits the typical education-pursuing family, considering the specific needs or problems that this family may face, offering incisive (problem-centred) solutions to the various problems, and offering a range of merchant products that deepen the visitor's appreciation of her problems and of the solutions that are applicable to them.

Customer Profile

The customer profile or target visitor characteristics of the educational solutions module is the same as for all specialist sites of the world's most recent personal and professional problem solving site. The site has been designed to meet the needs of visitors who have an educational problem bogging them. It is designed for both males and females, even though it is often convenient to refer to just one sex when writing.

This visitor uses search engines to research information about her personal or professional problem, with the intention of finding solutions to it. The visitor is serious about solving her problem and is therefore willing to buy products that help her to achieve her mission, provided that she can find reliable and honest information about relevant products so that she can make an informed decision about which ones to acquire. This information will help her to apply her finances economically, and hence avoid wasting money.

The visitor will want a money-back guarantee so that if a product does not live up to expectations or if she were misled into buying a product she can get a refund. Such a guarantee absolves her of purchase risks.

The visitor is intelligent (without necessarily being a genius), educated (without necessarily being a PhD), computer literate (without necessarily being a computer guru), and money-minded (without necessarily being a freebie hunter or an unemployed person). This of course does not mean that freebie hunters or unemployed persons cannot gain a thing from the site. To the contrary, there is a great deal of free information on the site. Just that it is hard to see how anyone can gain the full benefits of the site without buying products.

The visitor wants high quality information products (usually in digital form) and wants to pay the cheapest price for these (without paying so much emphasis on price that she compromises quality). The visitor also wants free bonus offers that are attached to the purchased goods.

The visitor is self-reliant and can cope on her own by reading, digesting, and applying advice about her problem until she solves it or discovers that she needs help from a professional, at which point her acquired knowledge will help her to reduce her consulting fees. As a result of the knowledge gained, the visitor will be able to assess consultants in order to avoid incompetent or fraudulent ones.

Problem-Centred Solutions

Our free solutions are organised in the form of pragmatic articles that are written by top experts. Each article addresses a specific daily problem, but does not go into detail. It explains the problem and tells the visitor what she must do to solve her problem. However, it does not tell the visitor how she must solve it - this is too much for an article. To find out about the how, the visitor must buy a product (usually an e-book or e-book set) that goes into greater depth.

The set of educational articles that we have chosen, to provide initial solution to a visitor's problem are as follows:

Signs of a Gifted Child - Informs parents on how to identify whether or not their children are gifted.

Essential Parenting Lessons for Enriching Your Child's Education - Teaches parents how to enhance their child's education.

Using Positive Affirmations to Be a Better Student - Teaches students how to use positive affirmations to improve their performance.

They Are Just Afraid of Writing - Teaches writing skills to students

How Can Parents Encourage Their Children to Read? - Shows parents how they can improve their children's reading skills.

Test Preparation Tutoring - Discusses the topic of tutoring students to prepare for tests or exams.

Test Taking Strategies - Discusses various strategies for taking and passing tests or exams

Playing and Winning the Scholarship Game - Describes how to win scholarships.

How to Get a Scholarship to a UK University - Describes how to win scholarships to a UK university.

Saving Money for College - Instructs students on how they can save money in preparation for college.

Student Loans: When Your Educational Dreams Can't Compete with the Cost - Explains to students the benefits of a student loan.

Education Loans Can Fund a Higher Degree to Boost Your Career - Also explains to students the benefits of a student loan.

The Secret to US Department of Education Loans - Teaches students how to get a US DoE loan to finance their higher education.

Student Loan Consolidation - Save Money, Pay Less, Spend More - Explains to graduates how to make use of loan consolidation to reduce their student loan repayments.

Higher Education: Finding the Right College for You - Explains to students how to find the right college or university for their higher education studies.

Mobile Learning - An Alternative Worth Considering - Explains the concept of mobile learning and its place in education.

Online Degrees - Is Online Education Right for You? - Analyses the merits of online learning as compared to traditional learning.

An Online College Education Overview - Reviews the whole concept of online learning.

Finding the Right Quotation for Your Paper or Speech Online - Shows writers and speakers how to find the right quotation to use in their writings or speeches.

Collaboration: An Important Leadership Development Skill - Explores the useful concept of collaboration and its role in leadership development.

At the end of each article is a list of merchant products that supplement the article's content. A link is also included for accessing the educational product catalogue.

Target Markets and Product Offerings

Now let us turn to the target markets and their associated product offerings. We have positioned the segments to address the various needs of a visitor over a period of time, and at any given time a customer may belong to one or more of the market segments. There are three general classes of products offered: ClickBank products, Google products, and eBay products. Google and eBay products are presented on each page of the site. ClickBank products are grouped into product categories that match the target markets. These categories and their markets are as follows.

Children and Parenting. This consists of visitors who want parenting solutions for improving their children's upbringing. Their needs are met through the Children and Parenting section of the educational product catalogue.

Difficult Admissions. This consists of visitors who want to learn how to get admission into top universities. Their needs are met through the Difficult Admissions section of the educational product catalogue.

Esoteric Needs. This consists of visitors with unusual needs. Their needs are met through the Esoteric Needs section of the educational product catalogue.

Financial Aid. This consists of visitors looking for scholarships, grants, or loans. Their needs are met through the Financial Aid section of the educational product catalogue.

Leadership Skills. This consists of visitors looking to develop their leadership skills. Their needs are met through the Leadership Skills section of the educational product catalogue.

Learning. This consists of visitors who want to improve their learning ability. Their needs are met through the Learning section of the educational product catalogue.

Mental Speed. This consists of visitors who want to explode their mental speed. Their needs are met through the Mental Speed section of the educational product catalogue.

Positive Affirmations. This consists of visitors who want to transform their negative dispositions into a positive mindset in order to improve their performance. Their needs are met through the Positive Affirmations section of the educational product catalogue.

Speaking. This consists of visitors looking to improve their speaking skills. Their needs are met through the Speaking section of the educational product catalogue.

Tests and Exams. This consists of visitors looking to master exam technique. Their needs are met through the Tests and Exams section of the educational product catalogue.

Writing. This consists of visitors looking to improve their writing skills. Their needs are met through the Writing section of the educational product catalogue.

Usability Considerations

Usability has been enhanced to make it easy for the visitor to find solutions to her problem, by following these steps:

1. The first thing the visitor sees are a set of articles whose titles represent the specific problem area they address. The articles are accessed from the Educational Problem Solving menu of the navigation bar to the left of the screen or from the Educational Problem Solving main page. By scanning these articles the visitor can identify whether or not her problem is covered. If not the visitor can check the educational product catalogue through the Product Catalogues menu of the same navigation bar, to see whether a product exists that answers her query. If she finds nothing she knows that her problem is not addressed. She can proceed to the Related Sites pages, which are accessible from the left navigation bar.

2. If the visitor finds an article that addresses her problem then she can begin to explore that; at the end of the article she will find products that discuss her problem more deeply. She can also access the educational product catalogue through an article page.

Conclusion

This article has introduced the educational solutions module of the world's most recent personal and professional problem solving site. The article has examined competitive offerings, the target customer profile, problem-oriented solutions, target markets, product offerings, and usability considerations. It concludes that the module is a major contribution to the information superhighway.

Online Training Options For Education (Teacher Education) Careers

Friday, September 26, 2014

A broad range of careers and training options are available to students that pursue a degree in teacher education. Depending on career goals students can enter numerous online schools that offer education training. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available based on what age group students want to teach.

The concept of formal education has been utilized to help students obtain detailed knowledge on various subjects. Online training serves in this capacity not only for students to learn but to help them educate others upon graduation. Education careers can be sought out by training to be a general, adult, secondary, special, and elementary educator. Online education at the undergraduate level prepares students in several ways.

*Associate's Degree

The online aspect of training allows students to complete courses from anywhere while preparing them for a full-time career after graduation. While the standard educational requirement for teaching is a bachelor's degree students that want to work in the education system can complete an associate's degree. Concentrations can be taken in areas like secondary, elementary, and special education. Areas studied may include child development, social science, special needs children, and much more. Becoming a paraprofessional or teacher's assistant are some main career paths students can take.

*Bachelor's Degree

Students can pursue a teaching degree online at several schools that offer training to become a teacher. Training prepares students to gain their licensure for teaching, which is required in all 50 states. Students can complete specific programs to teach students at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels. This is typically referred to as kindergarten through sixth grade, sixth through eighth grade, or ninth through twelfth grade. Inside schooling, students also choose their major by age group and subject. For example, students wanting to teach elementary English would pursue their degree in that concentration.

Further education at the graduate degree level is for students that want to broaden their knowledge for the job they have or move into higher education. Students complete a training program where they apply their knowledge to the collegiate level of teaching.

*Master's Degree

Teaching courses give students advanced knowledge that is applied to their chosen subject like English or mathematics. The different methods and assessment procedures are examined to prepare students to become more advanced educators. Curriculum theory, educational technology, and sociology are some program topics explored in a master's degree program.

*Doctorate Degree

Most students pursuing a doctorate degree do so to become professors at universities and colleges. Other students may want to transition into careers as school administrators or policy creators. When working towards becoming a professor, education dives deep into the theories and sources of a subject. When becoming a school administrator students study education policy and ethics.

Students that dedicate the needed amount of time to complete an accredited online degree can earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. Choosing an age group and subject to teach will narrow down the possible training options allowing students to begin their education. Gaining the best quality education can be done by enrolling in a teaching program that is accredited by agencies like the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education ( http://www.ncate.org ). These agencies are approved to fully accredit online schools that offer the best education possible.

Facebook Or Homework? Parameters for Limiting Social Media During School

Websites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter have revolutionized the ways we socialize, allowing us to contact friends and family, both close and distant, from anywhere and at any time. Upon opening up the sites, we are pulled into the seemingly endless whirlpool of pictures, events, and news taking place in the lives of everyone we've ever known.

However, summer is ending and school is starting back up for the fall. Every hour spent on a social media website is one more hour spent not doing homework, which can be few and far between in the first place. Here are some guidelines for how to balance potentially addicting websites alongside homework and other academic obligations:

1. Keep your "friend" count low.

The more friends you have updating you on the minutia of their lives, the more time you are going to spend reading about minor details that most likely have no impact on your day. Think about how many of your online friends you actually want or need to keep in touch with, and you may find that a certain few old friends are taking up time you could spend doing other, more important activities. Furthermore, "de-friending" someone doesn't mean permanently cutting off ties; you can always search for them later on if you want to reconnect.

2. Disable the chat feature when you have more important things to do.

Arguably, the chat feature is the most addicting aspect of social media sites, and the most dangerous when you have an important homework assignment to finish. Since chatting can become an activity that never ends, it is safer to simply disable the feature in the first place. Better yet, use it as an incentive: finish your assignment first, then re-enable the chat later.

3. Steer clear of extra games and applications that might pull you even further into the site.

Social media sites are addicting enough as it is; the last thing you need to add to your page is another distracting game! Not to mention, many Facebook applications are notorious for gathering and using your information in a way that you might feel violates your privacy. Use the site to keep in touch with people, but don't let it become a video game too!

4. Try doing your homework in a place where you won't be tempted to check social media sites.

Experiment with studying the old-fashioned way: grab your books, your notes, some pens, and your music player if you must, and head to the library. Or if you'd rather have a change of scenery, head to a local cafe or a study lounge where it's quiet. If you think you'll be tempted to look at your Facebook page, disable your internet. You'll be amazed at how much more quickly you'll work without the temptation!

Millennium Education Development - Ways To Achieve

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dr. Tooley: His conclusions on Private Education and Entrepreneurship

Professor James Tooley criticized the United Nations' proposals to eliminate all fees in state primary schools globally to meet its goal of universal education by 2015. Dr. Tooley says the UN, which is placing particular emphasis on those regions doing worse at moving towards 'education for all' namely sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, is "backing the wrong horse".1

On his extensive research in the world poorest countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, India, and China, Dr. Tooley found that private unaided schools in the slum areas outperform their public counterparts. A significant number of a large majority of school children came from unrecognized schools and children from such schools outperform similar students in government schools in key school subjects.2 Private schools for the poor are counterparts for private schools for the elite. While elite private schools cater the needs of the privilege classes, there come the non-elite private schools which, as the entrepreneurs claimed, were set up in a mixture of philanthropy and commerce, from scarce resources. These private sector aims to serve the poor by offering the best quality they could while charging affordable fees.3

Thus, Dr. Tooley concluded that private education can be made available for all. He suggested that the quality of private education especially the private unaided schools can be raised through the help of International Aid. If the World Bank and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) could find ways to invest in private schools, then genuine education could result. 4 Offering loans to help schools improve their infrastructure or worthwhile teacher training, or creating partial vouchers to help even more of the poor to gain access to private schools are other strategies to be considered. Dr. Tooley holds that since many poor parents use private and not state schools, then "Education for All is going to be much easier to achieve than is currently believed".

Hurdles in Achieving the MED

Teachers are the key factor in the learning phenomenon. They must now become the centerpiece of national efforts to achieve the dream that every child can have an education of good quality by 2015. Yet 18 million more teachers are needed if every child is to receive a quality education. 100 million children are still denied the opportunity of going to school. Millions are sitting in over-crowded classrooms for only a few hours a day.5 Too many excellent teachers who make learning exciting will change professions for higher paid opportunities while less productive teachers will retire on the job and coast toward their pension.6 How can we provide millions of more teachers?

Discrimination in girls access to education persists in many areas, owing to customary attitudes, early marriages and pregnancies, inadequate and gender-biased teaching and educational materials, sexual harassment and lack of adequate and physically and other wise accessible schooling facilities. 7

Child labor is common among the third world countries. Too many children undertake heavy domestic works at early age and are expected to manage heavy responsibilities. Numerous children rarely enjoy proper nutrition and are forced to do laborious toils.

Peace and economic struggles are other things to consider. The Bhutan country for example, has to take hurdles of high population growth (3%), vast mountainous areas with low population density, a limited resources base and unemployment. Sri Lanka reported an impressive record, yet, civil war is affecting its ability to mobilize funds since spending on defense eats up a quarter of the national budget.8

Putting children into school may not be enough. Bangladesh's Education minister, A. S. H. Sadique, announced a 65% literacy rate, 3% increase since Dakar and a 30% rise since 1990. While basic education and literacy had improved in his country, he said that quality had been sacrificed in the pursuit of number.9 According to Nigel Fisher of UNICEF Kathmandu, "fewer children in his country survive to Grade 5 than in any region of the world. Repetition was a gross wastage of resources".

Furthermore, other challenges in meeting the goal include: (1) How to reach out with education to HIV/AIDS orphans in regions such as Africa when the pandemic is wreaking havoc. (2) How to offer education to ever-increasing number of refugees and displaced people. (3) How to help teachers acquire a new understanding of their role and how to harness the new technologies to benefit the poor. And (4), in a world with 700 million people living in a forty-two highly indebted countries - how to help education overcome poverty and give millions of children a chance to realize their full potential.10

Education for All: How?

The goal is simple: Get the 100 million kids missing an education into school.
The question: How?

The first most essential problem in education is the lack of teachers and it has to be addressed first. Teacher corps should be improved through better recruitment strategies, mentoring and enhancing training academies. 11 Assistant teachers could be trained. Through mentoring, assistant teachers will develop the skills to become good teachers. In order to build a higher quality teacher workforce; selective hiring, a lengthy apprenticeship with comprehensive evaluation, follow ups with regular and rigorous personnel evaluations with pay-for-performance rewards, should be considered.12 Remuneration of teaching staff will motivate good teachers to stay and the unfruitful ones to do better.

Problems regarding sex discrimination and child labor should be eliminated. The Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), for example, addressed the problem of gender inequality. BPFA calls on governments and relevant sectors to create an education and social environment, in which women and men, girls and boys, are treated equally, and to provide access for and retention of girls and women at all levels of education.13 The Global Task Force on Child Labor and Education and its proposed role for advocacy, coordination and research, were endorsed by the participants in Beijing. The UN added that incentives should be provided to the poorest families to support their children's education.14

Highly indebted countries complain on lack of resources. Most of these countries spend on education and health as much as debt repayments. If these countries are with pro-poor programs that have a strong bias for basic education, will debt cancellation help them? Should these regions be a lobby for debt relief?

Partly explains the lack of progress, the rich countries, by paying themselves a piece dividend at the end of the Cold War, had reduced their international development assistance. In 2000, the real value of aid flows stood at only about 80% of their 1990 levels. Furthermore, the share of the aid going to education fell by 30% between 1990 and 2000 represented 7% of bilateral aid by that time. 15 Given this case, what is the chance of the United Nations' call to the donors to double the billion of dollars of aid? According to John Daniel, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO (2001-04), at present, 97% of the resources devoted to education in the developing countries come from the countries themselves and only 3% from the international resources. The key principle is that the primary responsibility for achieving 'education for all' lies with the national governments. International and bilateral agencies can help, but the drive has to come from the country itself. These countries are advised to chart a sustainable strategy for achieving education for all. This could mean reallocation of resources to education from other expenditures. It will often mean reallocation of resources within the education budget to basic education and away from other levels. 16

A Closer Look: Private and Public Schools

Some of the most disadvantage people on this planet vote with their feet: exit the public schools and move their children in private schools. Why are private schools better than state schools?
Teachers in the private schools are more accountable. There are more classroom activities and levels of teachers' dedication. The teachers are accountable to the manager who can fire them whenever they are seen with incompetence. The manager as well is accountable to the parents who can withdraw their children.17 Thus; basically, the private schools are driven with negative reinforcements. These drives, however, bear positive results. Private schools are able to carry quality education better than state schools. The new research found that private schools for the poor exist in the slum areas aiming to help the very disadvantage have access to quality education. The poor subsidized the poorest.

Such accountability is not present in the government schools. Teachers in the public schools cannot be fired mainly because of incompetence. Principals/head teachers are not accountable to the parents if their children are not given adequate education. Researchers noted of irresponsible teachers 'keeping a school closed ... for months at a time, many cases of drunk teachers, and head teachers who asked children to do domestic chores including baby sitting. These actions are 'plainly negligence'.

Are there any means to battle the system of negligence that pulls the state schools into failing? Should international aids be invested solely to private schools that are performing better and leave the state schools in total collapse? If private education seems to be the hope in achieving education for all, why not privatize all low performing state schools? Should the public schools be developed through a systematic change, will the competition between the public and the private schools result to much better outcomes? What is the chance that all educational entrepreneurs of the world will adapt the spirit of dedication and social works - offering free places for the poorest students and catering their needs?

Public schools can be made better. They can be made great schools if the resources are there, the community is included and teachers and other school workers get the support and respect they need. The government has to be hands on in improving the quality of education of state schools. In New York City for example, ACORN formed a collaborative with other community groups and the teachers union to improve 10 low-performing district 9 schools. The collaborative won $1.6 million in funding for most of its comprehensive plan to hire more effective principals, support the development of a highly teaching force and build strong family-school partnerships. 18

Standardized tests are also vital in improving schools and student achievements. It provides comparable information about schools and identifies schools that are doing fine, schools that are doing badly and some that are barely functioning. The data on student achievement provided by the standardized tests are essential diagnostic tool to improve performance. 19

The privatization of public schools is not the answer at all. Take for instance the idea of charter schools. As an alternative to failed public schools and government bureaucracy, local communities in America used public funds to start their own schools. And what started in a handful of states became a nationwide phenomenon. But according to a new national comparison of test
scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools, most charter schools aren't measuring up. The Education Department's findings showed that in almost every racial, economic and geographic category, fourth graders in traditional public schools outperform fourth graders in charter schools. 20

If the government can harness the quality of state schools, and if the World Bank and the Bilateral Agencies could find ways to invest on both the private and the public schools - instead of putting money only on the private schools where only a small fraction of students will have access to quality education while the majority are left behind - then 'genuine education' could result.

Conclusion

Education for all apparently is a simple goal, yet, is taking a long time for the world to achieve. Several of destructive forces are blocking its way to meet the goal and the fear of failure is strong. Numerous solutions are available to fix the failed system of public schools but the best solution is still unknown. Several challenges are faced by the private schools to meet their accountabilities, but the resources are scarce. Every country is committed to develop its education to bring every child into school but most are still struggling with mountainous debts.
'Primary education for all by 2015' will not be easy. However, everyone must be assured that the millennium development goal is possible and attainable. Since the Dakar meeting, several countries reported their progress in education. In Africa, for example, thirteen countries have, or should have attained Universal Primary Education (UPE) by the target date of 2015. 23 It challenges other countries, those that are lagging behind in achieving universal education to base their policies on programs that have proved effective in other African nations. Many more are working for the goal, each progressing in different paces. One thing is clear; the World is committed to meet its goal. The challenge is not to make that commitment falter, because a well-educated world will be a world that can better cope with conflicts and difficulties: thus, a better place to live.

How to Be a Conduit of Information (Social Media)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Becoming a conduit of information on the social media services is very important. In fact, as a noted Internet marketer once said, it does not matter if you are the creator of the content it only matters that you share it. People who share relevant content and information to their network are often associated with the creator of that content. This is to say that the share of the information is given as much credit as the person who created the content. This is a weird phenomenon in social media that can work to your advantage. Therefore, one of the best things to do in social media is to find the content that your readers would be interested in and deliver it to them as quickly as possible.

This aggregation of information will build a social media profile quickly. This means that a business or individual will not have to develop as much content as and SCEO campaign would require them to do. All the content that the social media user needs already exists on the Internet user only has to go out, find it, and share it with their down line of clients and prospects. This will educate their down line that they are a good source of information about that particular niche. In general, this will educate their audience that they are a trustable brand that is interested in helping them get what they want in the future.

Therefore, a person must develop a unified message that they can use on the social media programs. It does not make sense to develop a social media program only to have an un-unified message to a market place. This will turn off the people who would possibly do business with the company or individual because they do not want to hear about dog and pony shows when they are interested in Internet marketing. It is smart to have different profiles for each niche that the business or individual is inside of at that moment. Each of these particular niches is needs their own persona that delivers the information to them and delivers only the information to them that they would find interesting and/or useful for their particular moment in life.

Whatever the case maybe, delivering the information into a usable fashion with relevant content will develop a social media profile that delivers consistent results as far as generating new leads every day. The only thing that a business owner or individual needs to do is find the content that would be interesting to their target market and deliver it to them in the social media profile of their choosing.

In conclusion, the best thing to do for a business or individual who wants to get involved in social media is to develop a niche and develop a strong marketing message for that niche. What they need to do after developing a strong marketing message is to find content that would be useful to the people in that niche and stay relevant to that content topic to help generate the leads that they want and need to stay in business that year.

CK-12 announces online Physics Interactive Simulations (free)



CK-12, a great resource for free e-textbook and curricular resources, has just announced the launch of it's Physics Interactive Simulations. The simulations are all online and free.

There are currently 66 simulations available, with a lot more coming soon. Some of them may look familiar as some look like some I used on PhET, another source of great online labs and simulations.

These simulations are great ways for students to learn about physics concepts and can be used as part of labs, projects, or on their own. PhET has same/similar ones with lots of educator resources.

You have to sign in to use them, but you can sign in with a Google account so students will have access.

The really nice thing - they work on Chromebooks!!

Here are some of the simulations they have:



Related:

CK-12 - free e-textbooks and more

PhET - excellent, free, virtual labs and simulations for science 






How To Use A Blog As An Educational Tool

While blogging originally had the purpose of easily allowing people to post their personal thoughts online, blogs today are used for a number of different reasons. Now some of the most interesting and useful blogs are used for educational purposes, where the focus is to educate an audience about a specific topic. When using a blog for this purpose however, there are a few additional steps that you must consider before you create your blog and customize it to your website. Most of these steps are rather straightforward, but should still be taken into consideration.

Determine the Target Market for Your Blog

Choosing your target market is a standard step for any online or offline business endeavor you choose to go into. This is especially true for an educational blog, because in addition to determining your target market and the specific niche, you also have to decide what knowledge level your desired target audience has of your subject material. The knowledge level will also have an impact on the content contained in your educational blog.

Are you educating people who have almost no knowledge of your topic, or are you educating people who have a basic knowledge of the subject and are enhancing what they know? Both audiences will require very different kinds of information, even if it is the same subject or niche.

Determine How You Want to Educate Your Users

In order to know how you want to educate your users, you will need to decide what it is your blog is going to accomplish. Will it be to provide a place to post comprehensive details about specific products you offer, a place to post class homework and lessons, or perhaps a way to share answers to the most frequently asked questions you get in your business? Once you have determined the specific type of educational purpose your blog will serve, you will need to set up the blog to allow it to support your specified goals.

Determine the Format for Your Blog

Once you have determined how you want to educate your users, or target market, you will need to determine the format for your blog, or how you will present the information.

If your purpose is to answer frequently asked questions, you should set up your blog to have many categories, which are listed on the side. This will give visitors easy access to your questions. You would also want to have links to the latest FAQ entries in your sidebar. The title of your FAQ entry, should be the question, and body of the blog post should contain your answer. If you have the ability to put a link in your blog entry, you should link to another part of your site that gives even more detailed information about the related question if available.

If your purpose is to provide instruction sheets about specific products and services, you should set up your blog to have enough categories to define the largest grouping of products. The title of your blog should be the product name and the phrase 'feature set', or 'instructions'. The post body should be the instructions or feature set, or it could be a brief description with a link to a downloadable pdf file of the feature set or instructions.

If your blog's purpose is to post lessons for students who are taking an online course, then you would typically only need categories if you are teaching more than one course through your blog, and in this case, each category would be named after the course. Each specific blog posting would have the title of the lesson being taught, plus the lesson number (I.E. the category would be Computer Science 101, the title would be Lesson 10: Functions and Procedures). The actual post body could be the entire lesson, or a brief description of the lesson and a link to a downloadable pdf file that the student can print out and use, or both (posting lesson in the blog with a link to a downloadable version of the lesson.

Allow Users to Comment on Your Postings

Allowing users to leave comments on your blog will enable them to ask questions about lessons, or other educational content. Using comments is a great way to get feedback that you can use to fill in any missing pieces that you may have overlooked. Comments from your users will also provide additional perspectives to the subject matter, and will allow other blog readers to answer questions if appropriate.

Allow Users to Download Files From Your Blog

If you use your blog for educational purposes, you will probably have additional resources that you will want to make available to your users such as white papers, lessons, product information sheets, or a syllabus. Depending upon the nature of your educational based blog, some of the information you may want to convey is best done as a pdf file instead of a blog entry. Most of the good blogging software today will allow you to upload files to your site that you can make available to your readers/students. This will give you more flexibility in the way you can educate and communicate with your readers.

An educational blog can be a powerful means of communicating with and teaching your audience about the specific information you wish to share. The power of using a blog is that educating your audience can be done in a number of different ways. Once you have the content in your blog, it can be a great resource and tool for your visitors for years to come, and is very easy to maintain and update as new material becomes available. Your next step should be to learn how to incorporate other features into your educational blog that will allow you to earn revenue so your blog can pay for the maintenance costs required to operate it.

Burnout and Educators

Thursday, September 18, 2014

As globalization and technology continue to change the way in which businesses function, the need for highly skilled workers possessing the ability to synthesize, analyze and communicate will be the litmus test separating successful from unsuccessful economies. Where does the US fall in light of this? Can the US produce sufficient highly skilled workers to meet the demands of an ever evolving society? If the 2010 results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is any indication then the US was found wanting.

The test results showed US students lagging behind many of their peers from other countries in core subject areas. This realization has once more invigorated the consistent intermittent debate surrounding quality education in US schools. In the aftermath of the report, the brainstorming sessions that follows will once more seek to unearth the impediments to the creation of a better education system. What will be discovered? An examination of prior measures unveiled to address the shortfalls of quality education to date, seems to focus consistently on educators as a causative element.

The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) (2002), as well as research which hints that a high quality teacher is the single most important factor that influences students academic performance give credence to the prior statement. These avenues which seek to focus on ways to increase academic achievement seem to hint that educators are the most critical element impacting the ability of students to perform academically. This conclusion has led to extreme pressures on educators to increase academic performances. These pressures while not new, for as Popham stated they existed prior to NCLB (2004) will increase in magnitude as the world continues to change. Can this continuous insistent pressure result in adverse effects for educators? What are the implications for the teaching and learning environment and invariably society?

Relentless pressure to perform in environments that are highly volatile is often conducive to burnout. This burnout is a nemesis to the creation of an education system that is capable of producing students equipped to deal with 21st century workplace challenges; skills which are critical to any country hoping to maintain or achieve a competitive advantage. Drucker makes this point when he coined the term "knowledge workers' and highlighted their importance for the success of 21st century businesses. This paper examines the principles of rest and highlights the value of rest to educators operating in contemporary educational environments.

The paper pinpoints the challenges facing contemporary American education system which may inhibit rest and brings clarity to the dangers of burnout - a condition created by lack of rest. Leaders in education as well as stakeholders are provided with clear guidelines which may be used to prevent burnout and promote rest. The paper ends with a plea for education leaders to adhere to the necessity to rest in order to construct learning environments capable of creating students with the analytical, synthesizing and communication skills that are critical to ensuring the demands of contemporary and future organizations.

The day started with an Individualized Education Plan for one of my students. Once the meeting was finished I analyzed the results from the summative assessment for forty students from the previous day. I realized that fifteen of my students did not grasp some of the key concepts from the lesson and so I commenced planning intervention strategies. Two strategies had to be different to accommodate two of my students who needed modified assignments. This activity took almost fifty minutes and so I had just enough time to adjust my lesson plans for the day. It was now five minutes before the start of class and as I checked my calendar I realized that I had a meeting at the end of the day with teachers from my department. I made a note to myself, just before I leave for the meeting I must remember to call the parents of three of my students as they were not completing homework and had started acting up in class. As I jotted the note, I glanced at the other meetings and forms that needed attention by the end of the week. As the bell rang one teacher passed my door and as I smiled politely and asked "how are you;" she looked at me and stated "I am overwhelmed, there seems to be so much to do and with all these meetings I am quite frankly exhausted."

Rest -the principle
"After God created Heaven and earth on the seventh day He rested (Genesis 2:2)." According to Botterweck, Ringgren & Fabry, this day, often recognized as the Sabbath stems from the word Sabat, symbolizing cessation from work (2004). Genesis 2 therefore set the precedence for mankind to take a break from work. As one journeys further into scriptures Hosea 10:12 "...fallow your ground..." when examined through Robbins Social Approach to understanding text represented a call for mankind to desist from their activity. While the verse may have held cultural implications for the Jews as they were farmers, the ramifications for mankind in contemporary society are no different. The principle demands that mankind be removed from the confines of work; that time be taken away from the everyday tasks.

The value of rest
The necessity for educators to rest is vital to the creation of effective teaching and learning environments. Outcalt (2005) believes that rest allows one to regain strength through the renewing of the mind. Rest is akin to the lubricant between two joints; it provides the conditions necessary for smooth operation without complications which may inhibit action. Rest is the indispensable ingredient that fosters motivation and drives creativity, without this ingredient motivation is stifled and the death of creativity fast-forwarded.

The value of rest and renewal to educators is critical to the creation of an effective and sustainable education system. As the world continues to evolve and the momentum of change accelerates, the pressure on educators to produce students who are academically proficient to manage the demands of the 21st century will continue to increase. This increased demand will force leaders and stakeholders to demand more from educators; a move which has the potential to drain educators physically, emotionally and spiritually as they work overtime to increase students' performance. Maslach and Leither (1997) convincingly made similar points when they stated that the speed and rate at which organizations are bombarded with changes may result in leaders and followers becoming physically and emotionally exhausted. In a bid to meet these demands the possibility that workers will lose rest is likely and unfortunate. Without rest creativity is stifled, motivation becomes a fantasy, competence is sacrificed and mediocrity flourishes. These outcomes erode creativity, innovation, collegial relations and productivity, the end result is that rest is sacrificed and inefficiency is given room to grow.

In a society where change is a constant and stability is a pipe dream the need to be constantly moving to be in sync with societal changes has the propensity to hinder rest. Managers and employees are often driven to work harder and longer to avoid mergers, downsizing, acquisitions and restructurings. The same holds true for educators; as standardized tests show many students not meeting the proficiency bar; as drop-out rates climbs; as more students exercise their first amendment right to explain how entertainers make big bucks with little education and therefore education is not important; and as law makers continue to increase the pressure on educators to produce better quality students, the necessity for rest often becomes blurred. For many educators when the pace and workload become too hectic depression, anxiety and stress are only a few outcomes. Muller made similar arguments when he stated that in today's world, with its unrelenting emphasis on achievement and efficiency it is possible to lose the essential rhythm of life and how best to create an equilibrium between work and rest (Muller, 2000).

In a world driven by competition, where only the best shapes an organizations competitive advantage, it is easy to overlook educators as people and not machines and it becomes easy to under-value the job they do. It is also very easy to target education systems as the place to make adjustments in order to address societal ills and its inability to produce only the best.

The onus placed on educators in the US to produce first class students in a constantly changing environment, creates an environment of high demands. These demands often unrealistic in nature (as education is by no means the sole responsibility of teachers) often result in stress and lethargy in the affected. Maslach and others (1997) succinctly made similar points when they stated that the burden placed on workers to increase productivity creates conditions that are conducive to burnout. Burnout takes away an individual's vigor, promotes lethargy, and reduces motivation and efficacy. Such end results negatively affects individuals ability to perform and thereby subtracts from any efforts to maintain or promote long term sustainable achievements.

The foundation of burnout

Burnout according to Maslach et.al (1997) is a symbol of foremost failure of the organization to function normally, which is associated more to the state of mind of the organization rather than its followers. It may manifest itself in detachment, disinterest, hopelessness and de-motivation. According to Maslach et.al (1997) these expressions are damaging to the individual on a personal as well as on a professional level. On a personal level, stress, health issues and anxiety are some of the end results. These personal afflictions spill over into the professional life and slowly drain the individual's ability to function at their fullest potential.

Burnout incapacitates the ability to think; to be innovative in coming up with new ideas; it limits creativity. It increases workers attrition which may show itself in increased absenteeism, distractions, loss of vigor. Follower's dedication diminishes and efficiency may ultimately suffer.

Eradicating Burnout
To prevent burnout Halgesen (2001) calls for both leaders and followers to create an environment of partnership where parties recognize the value of each other. Maslach, et.al (1997) support this hypothesis when they call for organizations to ensure that they develop values clarification which they define as the expression of personal values and shared values resulting in the endorsed values by the organization (p. 133).

According to Maslach and Leiter building engagement with work is the solution to burnout. To this extent they noted some factors which if addressed will help to minimize or eliminate burnout.

• Sustainable workload: As 2011 budget debates begin, the need to cut budget for education is once more on the table. The teaching staff and support staff for many schools will once more be targeted. Leaders need to recognize that by removing well needed staff especially in failing schools, they are creating additional pressures on teachers. Evans (2001) posited that the continuous involvement of teachers in their work can lead to burnout; too much work has the ability to compound the situation. While teachers are afforded a long summer break, is it possible to shorten the summer break and distribute "rest days" evenly throughout the semester?

• Feelings of choice and control: Policy makers need to ensure that any policy created to promote academic achievement should give educators the impression that their voice counts and that they have control over aspects of the teaching and learning environment that counts.

• Recognition and reward: High quality education is a definitive factor that favors countries with a competitive advantage. This quality education if often accessed through educators, yet education is arguably one of the lowest paying professions. What can be done to change this?

• Fairness, respect and justice: As the debates continue to find the qualities to define quality teachers, the impetus to align pay with performance may be a
tempting morsel. This morsel should be discarded on two accounts. The first is that research against extrinsic motivation hints at the negative effects of this manner of getting results. Secondly, in an era when Learning communities are expected to be sharing medium where teachers utilize best practice from these sessions; how many teachers will be willing to share their best practices?

Conclusion
While the necessity to increase student's performance continue to reign as a topic worthy of discussion, budget cuts in areas of education seems to put the debate to rest. This has resulted in fewer educators, with heavier workloads and longer hours. This new trend goes against the demands of an era where students with analytical, synthesizing and communication skills are necessary to fulfill its demands. These decisions have the propensity to undervalue educators and may result in burnout; a condition which fosters inefficiency and mediocrity- traits which are not conducive to the creation of effective teaching and learning environments. To avoid this pit fall, leaders must be willing to examine techniques to prevent burnout, if any serious attempts are to be made to produce students with the skills necessary to function in 21st century environments.

References:

Botterweck J., H. Ringgren & J. Fabry (2004) Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament
Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing Company Grand Rapids. Michigan.

Halgesen. S. (200) Thriving in 24/7: Six Strategies for taming the new world of work
Published by Free Press. New York. New York.

Maslach C. and Leiter M. (1997). The truth about burnout
Published by Josey-Bass. San Francisco. Calfornia.

Outcalt. T. (2005) The best things in life are free.
Published by Faith Communications. Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Popham. J. W. (2004) America's Failing Schools
Published by Routledge Falmer. New York. New York.

Educational Software Companies

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Educational software companies were among the first software developers in the early days of desktop computing. They recognized the potential of using computers for learning purposes, and were quick to develop products that helped make this happen. But because of market changes and fast-changing technology, these educational software companies have to face unique challenges now more than ever.

Problems facing educational software companies

The costs of education are running high, and this its toll on educational software companies. Schools are now hesitant to install additional infrastructures such as networks that are needed to run school-wide educational software.

The peripheral expenses involved in implementing educational software are getting higher, and schools usually can't afford to squeeze them into their already tight budgets. And even when administrators do request for budget realignment or additional funding from the state boards, their requests are denied more often than not. This is because state boards usually have budgets strictly set well ahead of time, and is almost never any room for deviation.

External financing is the obvious solution, but it may take years for schools to find this kind of money, if at all. Meanwhile, educational software companies suffer the losses and scramble to find viable financial means to subsist while schools that have already signed up to buy their educational software systems find ways to raise the funds to pay them.

The future of educational software companies

Companies that develop educational software are on shaky ground. They are very easily disturbed by downturns not only in the software and web industries, but in the educational system as well. The overall sales of both school-wide educational software systems and individual CD ROM-based systems has significantly decreased because of major changes in all these three stimulant industries around the year 2000. This is why many software companies have either closed or downsized.

The Business of Education in America

Sunday, September 14, 2014

For over two hundred years the American education system has been based on the right of all its citizens to an education. Through this guiding principle America has led the world to expanded education opportunity for women, oppressed minorities, and populations generally. As the world has come to embrace the American philosophy, America is abandoning this core belief and dividing education into the wealthy, who can afford education, and the rest of the country that will not be able to afford it.

For several decades, American education was in retreat in the technical areas of science and engineering. To address these deficiencies, technical schools in secondary education and for profit colleges came into existence. They encouraged students not inclined to pursue additional education to enter technical fields and pursue higher education. Students that would not become engaged in a process of learning were suddenly involved. Students who could not make passing grades were suddenly making the A's and B's in vocational technical courses and for profit technical institutions.

Today, these two areas of education constitute a growing number of successful students actively involved in higher education. Vocational schools and for profit colleges are designed to encourage students to become involved in technical careers, and are often structured without much of the liberal arts training that accompany traditional degrees. There's been a longstanding disagreement as to whether students should be funneled into specific and very narrow technical educational streams, or weather all students should be forced to obtain a more generalized education designed to move them toward undergraduate degrees and eventually to graduate degrees.

Although this disagreement has ragged for several generations, the effect of vocational training and for profit technical institutions cannot be denied. They have successfully moved a large segment of the population into technical careers very successfully. However, in recent months the department of education has begun to take issue with the success of the schools because they cannot guarantee that their graduates will be able to meet income guidelines created to show the success of American education of dollars that are being spent for these programs. Vocational schools and secondary education are being cut across the nation in response to the economic downturn our society is currently facing, and this policy of the department of education. Rather than address the more complex issue of how we can meld traditional, and technical areas of education into a single educational system, federal funding to provide vocational training and technical education is being slashed by the Federal government.

At a time when the administration and the business community l recognize the need for a stronger commitment to technical education throughout the country, we are reducing the ability of students to obtain the education loans necessary to pay for their education because we have a fundamental disagreement as to whether there should be more general education in English, literature and the arts, and less a single minded focus on a narrow technical field. This seems to be an argument without merit since both have the single purpose of trying to educate the American public to be competitive in the marketplace of tomorrow. This is occurring at the same time that a recent study has demonstrated that the effect of a college education benefits all students whether it is in their field, general education, or in a narrow technical area. Rather than building on that premise to encourage students across the country to pursue higher education, our focus has turned to the ability of students to repay the loans to banks as the single determining factor as to whether the education was useful. The standard being put forward by the department of education does just that.

It focuses their efforts on seeing that students can make enough money to repay the loans, rather than focusing on why education costs are rising so dramatically. Their focus is on making sure that students repay banks. With businesses making arguments that they need to import more foreign workers to meet the growing technical demand of high tech industry, we're forcing American students out of the educational system as we argue their ability to pay back a bank is the single determining factor as to the quality of their education. This would not be so absurd if it were not for another of movement that is taking place in grade schools around the country today.

For people who have money, there is a growing need for private preschools that are for profit in nature to prepare their children for the prestigious schools that select only a handful of American students each year. This for profit model for primary and secondary schools is becoming as popular in United States as it is abroad in countries such as Europe and Asia. Parents of wealth are quick to hand over as much as $40,000 a year to have their children placed in preparatory schools that will prepare them for prestigious colleges. Currently, a number of private investors are putting up as much as $200,000,000 to fund these types of for profit institutions. It is a growth industry that will find a burgeoning market place with in this country and abroad as the division between haves and have-nots in education continues to broaden.

These parents have little faith in the public education system in this country. They are putting their money, and their children in the hands of for profit institutions that they believe will make them better able to compete in the highly technical world of tomorrow. As Madison Avenue at the American banking system find a new profitable market, they will exploit it as fully and as completely as they have the traditional American education system, to the detriment of the larger society. Education in this country is becoming a tool of banks and the wealthy and not what was envisioned by the founding fathers or the many men and women who helped create this country over many generations. It is no longer serving the public need and only looks to the needs of the wealthy, and the financial institutions whose profit motive is the single driving force for their existence.

While the rest of the world is adopting the American model of an educational system that is the envy of the world, we are abandoning that system to move toward one that cannot serve the nation or the society. If we continue down this road our nation will be forever looking to the educational systems of other countries to provide the technological expertise, and the innovative thinking that will move the world and the society forward. In one breath the department of education for our nation is telling us that for profit institutions do not work and we must regarded with suspicion graduates at any college level from these institutions, while at the same time this same model is being instituted at grade schools and in elementary schools across the nation because there is a growing need for a better education system to meet the standards of tomorrow. However this growing need excludes much of American Society. If we follow this path it will only the wealthy will receive an education in this country.

Social Media Is a Boon to Seniors and Shut-Ins

My grandmother was born in 1898 and passed away in 1979 - at the age of 82 - long before the Internet became the cultural phenomena it is, today.

One of my fondest memories of Grandma Pearl was watching her amazement as Neil Armstrong took "one small step" on the surface of the moon back in the summer of '69. More than forty years later, I realize that the "giant leap" he took, when he first set foot onto the lunar surface - late that summer evening - was actually a bridge between my grandmother's generation and my own.

Grandma and her contemporaries were born to the sound of rushing horses and buggies at the turn of the last century. Due to some great strides in medicine during the twentieth century, she and many others were fortunate to live long enough to witness the live television broadcast of the Space Shuttle Enterprise's inaugural test flight on August 12, 1977. Simply amazing for them and - perhaps - much more culturally stimulating than anything my generation will have ever experienced in our complete lifetimes.

"Grandma" in the Twenty-first Century

What would Grandma think about the Internet? Well, her daughter - my mother - is now 87. The world was a little bit more "modern" when she came into it in 1923. Her pre-teen years were filled with radio broadcasts, cars and early airplane travel. So, there has been much less cultural and technology shock in her life as compared to her parents. In fact, mom adapted early and quickly to using ATMs, cell phone and, yes, digital casino slot machines. She is quite aware of the Internet and many of its capabilities. While she doesn't own her own computer and probably never will, she is - at least - aware of what can be done on the Web and can do some basic things on community equipment or that of family and friends.

According to comScore, a digital measurement company, 27.4 million people age 55 and over engaged in social networking in July of 2010, up from 16 million one year prior. These numbers continue to grow as more and more senior citizens learn to embrace the Net. There are so many new seniors signing on to Social Media that there will be a definite need for devices with bigger buttons, bigger screens and bigger keys, just like cell phones and digital clock radios already offer.

"Oldies" are Becoming "Goodies" on the Web.

What is mostly driving senior citizens online is their ability to communicate with others at greater distances more frequently and often in real-time. They are easily able to share photos, videos, links, contacts and status updates with grandchildren and other family members living apart. Social Media has the impressive ability to strengthen family ties across generation and eliminates some of the loneliness that many senior citizens and shut-ins very often experience.

According to American Association for Retired People the top four Social Media sites for people over 60 are Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube. A quarter of the organization's members are using Facebook, and the number is rapidly growing. Twitter use has also grown. Ten per cent of Internet users over 50 are using Twitter or other status update services like TweetDeck and Hootsuite, according to Pew.

Among the more popular niche social media sites for seniors is Eons.com. This site offers senior-relevant information and allows for sharing with others.. Other popular senior-oriented sites include ELDR.com, which features articles, interviews, photos, blogs and suggested links to other helpful websites. Growingbolder.com focuses on the 50+ Boomer market and features videos, videocasts, podcasts, sharing forums and expert blogs. All of these senior-oriented niche sites seem to understand what this 50+ market is looking for and continually strives to maintain their interest. Retailers and their advertisers are well aware of all this and that senior citizens represent: a large market share of retail dollars and are a constant resource. All the more reason that all seniors, going online, must be properly educated in the safe use of Social Media.

Seeking Greater Knowledge, Understanding and Online Entertainment

Outside of family and friends, seniors use Social Media tools to learn more about topics that interest them. Senior can watch old television shows and movies on YouTube and Hulu and see videos from "their time." There is much to offer them through the availability of free or low cost E-books, expert articles and interesting blog posts. They can also play games, either by themselves or with family and friends. According to a recent study of social gaming sponsored by PopCap, 22 per cent of social game players are ages 50 through 59 - the largest age bracket - and 16 percent are ages 60 and older. Educationally, many seniors are now taking online courses to keep their minds active and even to establish online businesses to help defray the higher cost of living in retirement.

A Pew Institute study determined that people suffering with a chronic disease are more likely to reach out for support online. So, the Web is also playing an increasingly important role in helping seniors manage their health issues. Many actually Blog and regularly contribute to online health forums or online support groups that are popular with people coping with major illnesses such as Cancer, Diabetes and Alzheimer's/Dementia. There are also special groups for bereavement and elder companionship.

Despite the rise in social networking activities, Pew Institute research found that seniors over 65 are among those least likely to have high-speed Internet access at home. In fact, less than one-third of them have broadband. This is probably due to the recurring cost of yet another service and their lack of technical understanding. This is rather unfortunate as many in the senior population are less likely to see the lack of broadband as a real disadvantage - and it is. Fortunately, there are a growing number of social community websites focusing on the specific needs and online concerns of senior citizens.

Project GOAL (the Project to Get Older Adults Online) works with aging organizations like American Association for Retired People to communicate the importance of getting our older community online - safely and productively. Celery is a New York based company that is dedicated to helping those who don't use computers, including seniors, remain up-to-date on sites like Twitter and also by E-mail.

Grandma Would Have Had a Brand New Bag

My grandmother would have been amazed by all of this and her world would have been brought much closer to her in terms of staying in touch with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren! Reconnecting with old friends still living in New York and those that move to warmer climates would have been great therapy for an older woman with mobility issues and greatly reduced income. It sure would have been better than the alternatives available in 1979 - watching soaps, game shows and cheesy commercials for things she couldn't get to the store to buy, anyway. Imagine what E-commerce would have meant to her; though she would have welcomed it with extreme caution.

Thankfully, some things never change. Wisdom is a universally desirable trait that senior citizens have been respected for possessing for centuries. In the twenty-first century it is a pre-requisite for going on-line, first and foremost. Yes, Grandma Pearl would have done fine in the Internet Age. She probably could have taught some youngsters a thing or two about cautionary practices.

Google Announces Android Apps for Chromebooks - Very Nice!!

Friday, September 12, 2014




Yesterday, Google Announced the first 4 Android Apps that are available for Chromebooks. This is really nice.

What got me excited was that Evernote was one of the first 4. Evernote is my main work and home tool so this was pretty cool to hear. I installed it on my Chromebook (Acer C720) and loved it - looks and works like the Android app. And the best part: OFFLINE SYNC! That's right, you can sync notebooks offline (premium users - well worth the $45 a year) just like in Android. This has now made my Chromebook the perfect device. Offline Google Apps (Gmail and Docs) and now Offline Evernote. I have no need for a windows laptop, even when I'm out of range of WiFi or 4G. I love it!

And, Google said more and more are coming. This is a great thing that shows that Google just keeps advancing their stuff



Here is the official announcement:  

First set of Android apps coming to a Chromebook near you
Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chromebooks were designed to keep up with you on the go—they’re thin and light, have long battery lives, resume instantly, and are easy to use. Today, we're making Chromebooks even more mobile by bringing the first set of Android apps to Chrome OS:

Duolingo - a fun and free way to learn a new language before your next trip
Evernote - write, collect and find what matters to you, with a full-size keyboard and touchscreen
Sight Words - a delightful way for you to help improve your child's reading skills
Vine - create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way

These first apps are the result of a project called the App Runtime for Chrome (Beta), which we announced earlier this summer at Google I/O. Over the coming months, we’ll be working with a select group of Android developers to add more of your favorite apps so you’ll have a more seamless experience across your Android phone and Chromebook.

In the meantime, please tell us which of your favorite Android apps you’d like to see on your Chromebook.

Posted by Ken Mixter, Software Engineer & Josh Woodward, Product Manager (Android Dreamers)







The Importance of Continuing Education

While these 23 million individuals represent the very core of an emerging society that is more inclined to studying and learning, the remaining individuals are excluded from these learning experiences due to reasons of time, cost, or even personal issues.

Over the last few years, the number of adults who are continuing with their education has increased tremendously. This term "continuing education" describes the opportunity and process of learning new skills and acquiring knowledge that is far superior to what we are taught during our formal schooling years.

Most people opt for continued education to further their knowledge base and even their employability.

Continuing Education vs. Traditional

Usually, what we learn in all of those long, arduous years of our formal schooling are just basic skills that are good enough to help us start working, but not good enough to take us further in our careers, especially with the rapid changes and advancements in technology that demands for a more sophisticated and educated workforce.

Students who participate in continuing their education are generally working professionals who seek to further advance and promote their intellectual capabilities while still working. Since their time is divided between studies and full-time work, they have to be extremely motivated in order to succeed. One of the biggest characteristics that distinguish students who are participating in continuing education is their tendency to relate the lessons that they learn in class to their work experience.

Instructors must have the proper and appropriate practical experience and knowledge in order to address the issues and concerns of these special students. Students involved in continuing education can be very selective when it comes to choosing their courses. The courses that they choose have to be in some way relevant to their work and should be able to benefit them. If the right course is chosen, it can benefit you a great deal both educationally and professionally.

More and more adults are now engaged in continuing education that leads to formal qualifications that provide them with the adequate knowledge pertaining to a certain area of study. Furthermore, continuing education also provides us with a certain pride of accomplishment as we take our courses.

Offering an affordable, faster, and definitely more focused means of acquiring career or personal objectives, continuing education credentials can be put on resumes and presented anywhere as evidence of the individual's professional studies.

The Importance of 'Continuing Education' in the Workplace

A skilled workforce will always result in increased economic productivity. Here is how continuing education benefits the working force:

o A more skilled workforce is always more productive - These days, skills and education are seen as the most important elements of the employability and income potential of a candidate. Since the economy has shifted to one that values an educated workforce more than an uneducated workforce, employers are now seeking both educated and skilled workers. The demand for continuing education has thus increased twofold.

o Continuing education helps employers retain better employees while remaining as competitive as ever - A more educated employee will always be more productive, so companies have now started hiring employees who are continuing with their education. Continuing education can be seen as a way to retain the better, more educated employees.

With the rapid advancement of the information technology sector, continuing education will not be confined to only physical space. Distance learning through interactive media will form a major part of continuing education. The internet will also play a huge role in delivering the course materials to the students.

A virtual course that is aimed at extending an individual's knowledge beyond those formal years of education has now become reality. With respect to all of this development in the field of continuing education, we have only one question to ask: how much further can continuing education go?

Degree in Secondary Education - A Right Career Move

Monday, September 8, 2014

The field of education these days has grown in significant proportions. If we compare the present education scenario, it is very different than 20 years ago. The number of educational institutes and colleges are riding a new wave. With the change in living standards, in this modern scenario the need for an expert teacher is also on the increase. Factors like reduced class sizes and an increase in the number of students are also forcing many schools to acquire teachers who have skills to handle every student effectively. The present education environment is looking for teachers who have the ability to motivate, guide and monitor the activities of a child. Ultimately, it requires special skills that have to be nurtured through intensive training. Addressing to meet this demand, secondary education degrees has started gaining its popularity in recent years.

Secondary education degrees prepare tutors to work in high schools and middle schools or junior high schools. Meant for teachers, administrators or other education specialists, this degree helps them getting specialized in one subject area and further educate students more about the subject effectively. Secondary education degrees can be earned at the bachelor's degree level, although several advanced degrees in the field are also available. Besides this, most secondary education programs facilitate individuals earn a teaching certificate, which many schools ask teachers to hold these days.

The major advantage of attaining a degree in secondary education is it provides the training and the teaching credential that an individual must need to get for his or her first teaching job. In addition, for those who are already in teaching profession, this course provides guidance on how to effectively teach students the intended curriculum in communities of learning. It primarily focuses on the methods of instruction, educational psychology in the field of education, social and cultural issues related to school, etc. This type of training in turn can help teacher in playing their role more efficiently and educating children properly. Apart from all this, it can also help an individual or tutor move into school administration, education policy, or related fields like education consulting. Moreover, in most schools even if an individual working as a teacher continue teaching the same classes, holding a secondary education degree can help him increase his salary.

The basic admission requirements for entering into the degree program in secondary education courses may vary from institution to institution. Some institutions insist on a qualifying written test. However, in most of the institutes, successful completion of a high school diploma or some preliminary courses in education is essential to satisfy the eligibility criteria for admission.

Today there is definitely big requirement for teachers and administrators throughout the secondary education field. Perhaps this is an appropriate time to follow a degree in secondary education, as the education industry is keenly seeking and expected to seek for more qualified professionals in coming years.

Online Education - Today's Buzzword

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Students world over are whole-heartedly accepting online education. The advantages of online education have made it the popular mode of education among the students of all age groups in all parts of the world. This growing popularity of online education has led to the emergence of a large number of educational institutions offering online education for a wide range of subjects. The growth of educational institutions offering relearning facilities has been significantly high in the US, Europe and the developed nations of the world.

Online Education- Changing Perception

In the past people perceived online education as an unserious and unscrupulous way of laying hands of a fast degree and getting good grades without much effort and hard work. People also had doubts about the reputation of education institutes offering online education. However, the times have changes significantly and today the majority of educational institutions offering online education are well established. Most of the world's leading education institutions have commenced online programs, which vindicate the validity of online education. Most of the online courses offer in-depth learning to the students in their respective educational modules.

Factors Contributing To The Growth of Online Education

Online education is becoming popular because most of the educational institutions offering online courses ensure qualitative learning. Talented professors and subject matter experts are at the helm of affairs at almost all accredited universities and colleges offering online courses and online degree programs. The students can be assured of good results in such courses.

Here are some factors that have contributed to the fast paced growth of online education:

· Flexible schedule

The biggest advantage of online education is that the students can do effective utilization of their time, which is the most precious resource. People participating in online education have the freedom of maintaining a flexible schedule, which helps them tremendously and it has come as a boon for the people who are working and want to continue their education.

· Student-Centered Learning

The students in online education have an advantage because they are in charge of their learning experience. The students can prioritize their schedule and complete the assignments as per their comfort levels and convenience. This is possible because the teachers in online mode of education are not teaching you all the time. As an online student, you have the liberty to select the mode of learning.

· Fair Playing Field

Online education is growing in popularity because it offers a level playing field to all the students. When you are learning online, your performance is the only criterion that affects the decision-making and your gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and other considerations do not cloud the decision making process. This is one of the major factors contributing to the growth of online education.

All these advantages of online education may prompt you to join e learning. However, before you take the plunge and enroll in an online course, please make sure that you are familiar with the methodology of online education.

Sales Prospecting With Social Media: Achieve Your Revenue Goals Today

Friday, September 5, 2014

Are you thinking about using social media to achieve your sales goals? A July 2012 study by the Aberdeen Group, states that sales intelligence can enable sales reps to be 79 percent more likely to attain their quota, while organizations that leverage social intelligence programs are 21 percent more likely to achieve revenue growth.

There are companies making some early, advanced strides, and many that are still in the experimentation stages. Regardless of where you think you are at the moment, below are some ideas for effectively using those Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and LinkedIn Groups to help meet your quota.

Why you should mine social media sites to identify prospects

Often referral sales are much easier to get than cold calls. Most seasoned executives will look to a referral long before they ever talk to a new vendor. Today though, those referrals and references come in many forms, from LinkedIn endorsements to live chat.


"As a prospecting tool, I've gotten business from LinkedIn by honing my profile, which I wrote specifically to attract prospects," said Maura Schreier-Fleming, President of BestatSelling.com. "More and more of my customers that are online expect me to not only be there, but be engaged. As a speaker, trainer and author, my audience can vary as to how they get their information. For that reason, I use multiple tools to reach my audience, ranging from blogs and Linkedin, to Twitter and YouTube."

And why wouldn't you want to be there? Its great that there are no gatekeepers. Direct contact details are organized in the way you want to prospect or research them (by region, industry, role, etc). As a sales person you have an opportunity to hear the customer's voice, directly from their own mouths--good or bad.

The negative of all this is that searching through social media sites for data points can be a more complex method than using other search tools. However, these tools can provide a distinct cost and time advantage once mastered.

Focus on one platform where your customers interact

I suggest one of two places to start: either with what you are most comfortable using or what your customers use.

Other than asking directly what your customers use. There are free tools, like Socialmention, or paid ones like Radian6 or Act-on to determine top keywords, sentiment, influencers, and sources. Narrow your sources down to a few manageable ones that are easy to follow and have the most influence on your target market.

You can also go with the standard Top 3:

  • LinkedIn in the US has become the standard for business-to-business (B2B) engagement. Personal and company profiles allow for networking with people at larger companies that might be interested in your product or service.
  • Facebook is the place to be for business to consumer (B2C) sales engagement. This is because the largest group of the population is already there checking their profiles, participating with their connections and engaging with their communities. It's not that Facebook is bad for business, but just that it is a different type of person checking their profile daily than engaging in B2B discussions.
  • Twitter, on the other hand, is what I would call a hybrid platform. It is for listening, not broadcasting. A recent article by Forbes writer Jaquelyn Smith states "Use what you hear as leverage to pick up the phone and call. Listen for problems that can be solved." I agree with this philosophy and it is also the easiest platform to follow due to the number of tools out there that support Twitter (ie Hootsuite or one of my new favorites SocialBro).

Don't limit yourself to the big three. Blogs, video sites, forums, and comment sections on websites are also great places to generate opportunities. Don't forget the new generation of up and comers too, like Google+. First find out where they are, join that community, then dive in.

I would also suggest that once you narrow down your platform, focus on mastering it before moving on to the next.

What do you mean by dive in?

You have picked your platform. It's now time to get acquainted with your community by setting up your profile. This is one of the most important steps so don't take it lightly. Complete it 100%, with your photo, job history and descriptions. Use descriptive terms and keywords that your customers use to find people like yourself. Don't sell and don't lie, but do focus on customer value statements, not self-serving descriptors. The purpose of your profile is not to show off, but to find that next customer or job based on your value to them based on your past experiences.

After your profile, it's time to get engaged with your community. There are many ways to do this:

  • Join groups (in LinkedIn) or lists (on Twitter) based on companies you target or organizations your customers belong to
  • Search for key influencers who talk about things your customers talk about
  • Follow companies that you are targeting or who are currently your customers (all three platforms offer this)

Then read and listen.

Finding your tone

Every tool has their own method of engagement and its own tone, so look for the people who have a strong following, and mimic that tone/technique. For most:

  • Be natural, helpful and honest
  • Ask questions before making statements.
  • Add value to their network.
  • Don't sell before you have establish a relationship.

Who you are on-line is an influence on what people think of you in person and whether they want to do business with you.

Use content marketing to drive content for improved social engagement

Educating your customer is one of the best ways to drive engagement. David Steel, the Chief Viral Officer at Sneeze.It says


"Great social prospecting requires thought-provoking content every step of the way," Steel says. "Which is why social salespeople and marketers need to work together so closely. With the right piece of content sent to a prospect for direction, your foot is in the door every time."

Look to your marketing team to support the sales process. Many times educational material such as videos, blogs, webcasts, and white papers can touch on the topics most important to customers. There are also many outside agencies who can produce content for you at a reasonable cost.

A few tips on selling through a social platform:

Just as you might use D&B, Salesforce or web sites to research prospects, get to know them by reading their profiles and find something in common (a person, an activity, a conversation) and then dive into your traditional sales techniques. Think of social media as a way to build your reputation in terms of branding and impressions, rather than closing.

  • Don't broadcast your request for an appointment to an entire group or list, send private emails or private posts.
  • Use your knowledge of them to request a connection and to set a pre-scheduled call.
  • Work on your relationship, not your revenue. That means ask questions, listen, sympathize and provide value before you suggest a solution.
  • I am going to repeat this because it is really that important. Listen to what they are saying before commenting. This will open doors and start a conversation without having to make a cold call.

The best thing to do now is just dive in. You will make mistakes and you will get frustrated, but don't let that stop you. Social selling takes time and effort, but with the right content and engagement, it can reveal prospects that can pay dividends. That's what will happen when social media prospects become customers down the road.

*You can contact Maura Schreier-Fleming, President of BestatSelling.com

 

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