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Education + Tech

Education & Tech, was created to build hope that education based on social technologies, can transform the new century, and enable abundance not only spiritually but economically. Milton Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is a teacher, tech blogger, writes on education, and hails this blog from Union, NJ. For further questions, tips or concerns please e-mail him to:miltonramirez [at] educationandtech [dot] com

Teacher + Scholar

If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am a blogger and I'd written a post about education almost everyday since 2003. Education & Tech provides you with education news, expert tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Ecuador: New National Rankings Leaves Only 10 Percent of Its Universities in Category A

Statistics shown by the United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has demonstrated that in Latin America there is still much to do about superior education. In Towards an Education for Everyone's report [es], it is said that only 1 in 10 young people aged 25 to 29 years old have completed five years of higher education in 2010 (a slight increase from 7 per cent in the year 2000).

Ecuador is working hard in this direction to be among the Latin American countries leading in human development [es]. President Correa, a year ago, declared that Ecuador is the one of the Latin American countries with the highest percentage of GDP spending on higher education. In the world, Denmark is the country with highest investment with 2.19 per cent, while Ecuador hits 1.86 per cent.

The National Constitution of 2008 and the Higher Education Law of 2010 have changed the way Ecuador’s universities are funded, administered, and accredited. As part of a constitutional mandate, which establishes higher education needs to be re-evaluated every 5 years. This week the Board of Assessment, Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Higher Education (CEAACES by its abbreviation in Spanish) presented the second report of the state of Ecuadorian universities [es]. The first report was completed by defunct CONEA when 71 higher education institutions where evaluated.

The Education in Ecuador from Mónica Urigüen

No more garage universities

As a reference to the first report, officials in Ecuador declared higher education in crisis and even called its institutions 'garage universities', also reported by The New York Times. Today they have forgotten about it; considering many of the so called garage universities were closed down and the actual report only includes 54 out the 71 that were running back in 2009.

Ecuador’s higher education system is undergoing dramatic changes. Francisco Cadena, head of CEAACES has been cautious to identify the process as downgrading, to the effect that only 3 universities were reclassified as category A. He says it's a revamped new process where 48 indicators were considered, to mention: academia, efficiency, research, organization and infrastructure.

As a result of this new process many universities which were category A were moved to B. The Ecuadorian educational system has improved as a whole, according to Cadena. The numbers: There were 7,899 M.A. professors in the 2008, but 11,307 in the 2012; before they had 460 PhD and now 756 PhDs in the academia. Five year ago, a professor earned an average of USD 1,249, today they are being paid USD 2,239.

Full-time employment for academics also increased from 6,046 to 9,994.

3 Universities classified into category A

Rene Ramirez, is the National Secretary of Higher Education (SENESCYT by its abbreviation in Spanish). He has said that this new classification needs to be understood as relative, taking into account that none of the universities in the country under category A are among the first 1000 best universities in the world. "The objective is to get there", he states.

The total of higher education organizations evaluated in Ecuador is 54. Out of these, 28 are part of the public education, 9 are co-financed, and 17 belong to the private sector. We are not clear of the difference between 'co-financed' and 'private'. The following are the top universities in Ecuador as of now and are not necessarily in that order:

1. Escuela Politécnica Nacional - EPN
2. Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral - ESPOL
3. Universidad San Francisco de Quito - USFQ

Ecuador has risen 20 positions according to the Global Competitiveness Index in quality education system, quality management in the academy, internet access in schools, availability of research, and training. Ecuador is now one of the most advanced countries in higher education of latin America, as reported by Europa Press [es].

Downgraded universities demand reconsideration

The CEAACES has said that demoted universities reflect a change in evaluation criteria and are not an indication of lower institutional standards or performance. However, none of the universities in Cuenca (The third city with the most political power in Ecuador) have qualified to the highest level this time.

Cuenca High Life reports that Fabian Carrasco, University of Cuenca's rector is surprised and upset. He wants more explanation about how the new rankings were reached and Carrasco wants a reconsideration of their status. The University of Cuenca, the largest public university in southern Ecuador, was downgraded from category A to B in the latest rankings.

Carlos Cedeño, rector of University of Guayaquil, rejected CEAACES categorization, which placed his institution in category D. "It was inconsistent with the need to properly balance data and reality", he proclaimed. However, Cedeño declared that in the next 30 days he will submit a plan for improvement, according to online newspaper El Tiempo [es].

The great surprise is that Central University and Catholic University (PUCE), both in the capital Quito were downgraded, standing now in category B.

Manuel Corrales, Catholic University's rector said his university is, "Good, excellent, but not perfect and we are always working to improve." PUCE is the only Ecuadorian higher education institution among the 100 best universities in Latin America, by QS World Ranking 2013. Clímaco Egas Arroyo, the vice chancellor of the Central university, defended his alma mater by saying that those three universities that have grown faster, are individual and smaller. Arroyo said Central University receives a larger population (42,000 students) and covers all areas of knowledge (17 faculties).

Obviously there are institutions that were held in category A and others made gains, thus moving up on the scale. All of them have positive commentaries.

D-rated universities will have to improve or else...

Of the 54 universities re-evaluated by CEAACES: eight fell into D-rated institutions. If improvement is not noted in the 2014 evaluation, Ecuadorian officials have the option to close these universities.

Although Ramirez clarified [es] that in 2014, those in category B will not necessarily receive less resources. The university budget in the upcoming year will be about USD 1.3 million.

Ecuador also expects to have four new universities.

Elizabeth Upper Academy student Bradley Ramirez has also contributed to this report

Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments, subscribe in a reader or send an email to the author at miltonramirez@educationandtech.com . You can share ideas for stories on the Education & Tech.


Find Music Lessons In Your Neighborhood With This Incredible Web Resources

Finding the perfect music instructor in your neighborhood is no easy feat, because not everyone lives near a recognized school or a music academy.

Online resources have removed some of the geographical barriers associated with learning, but there are still a lot of factors that come into play; experience, educational qualifications, background, style of teaching, etc.

Insider Higher Ed, a Washington D.C publication, reported that online learning has advantages over the conventional face-to-face environment when it comes to student learning. The result of the study found that online learning had a better outcome than face to face learning on average.

And according to District of Columbia Public Schools, online education is enhanced by technology. It can be lessons involving the sole use of technology, or a blend of technology and face-to-face lessons, like live video conferencing.

This indicates that technology and online platforms have assisted the process, along with opening up resources for students to find the perfect lesson in their respective localities.

Recording by Alpstedt, on Flickr
Some resources that aid the search process are:

1. Facebook Graph Search
It’s unlikely that you would be using Graph Search to search for music lessons; and you’re missing out on all the new search features and data Facebook has introduced in recent times. Now it is possible to make search queries in the search bar at the top of profile page based on a particular location.

For example, typing in music teachers who live in Washington DC, will present a listing of all the individuals who teach music in the search locations, along with their employment position and other profile data. You can browse the listing and contact the individual who looks suitable.

2. Online platforms
In the same way that online education efforts in our nation's capitol are enhanced by technology, so too are its resources multiplied by Internet tools. A lot of companies have launched their own online search engines (some have even combined them with social networks) to help students search for appropriate music teachers and courses from the comfort of their laptops or computers. Students can easily find piano lessons, guitar lessons and a variety of other courses, and some platform offerings even allow them to enter a zip code to search instructors nearby.

Mooctivity is an example of a company that recently launched such a platform, combining a social network with an advanced search engine to help students browse through above 500 courses based on key course features, reviews of instructors, choice of friends, recommendation of teachers, etc.

3. Search engines
Google recently released their latest hummingbird algorithm, which makes it easier for search engine users to search for long tail keywords. It essentially implies that users are going to get better search results whenever they enter a long, even scattered search query, compared to the results that were presented before this introduction.

Now long-tail search queries are going to return better results. Such search queries will return teacher listings while taking into account all the factors discussed at the start.

4. Forums and answer sites
Forums are the place where you will get to read honest reviews about particular lessons and instructors, because students are likely to share unbiased reviews and experiences in such places. Answer sites, on the other hand, can be used to directly ask if there are any lessons near your location.

You’ll have to create an account before you can participate in forums, and the same principle applies for answer sites. You can even include your requirements (teaching experience, gender) in both the platforms. Community members usually reply very quickly, depending on how much members are active at any given moment.

Feel free to use one or a combination of these tools to search for lessons that fit in your needs.

Thanks to our supporting contributor, Katherine, for this featured post.

5 Technologies That Changed Education

By Regina Brown*

Would you still want to adhere to that old classroom system in education? I guess, in the age of i-phones, i-pads, and technology transforming learning and teaching altogether, you would not. Would you? The developments took place in communication technologies in recent time prompted educators to think anew. And, the emergence of hi-tech gadgets towards the improved style of delivering education really turns our minds to a tech-based learning, which is easy, effective and enjoyable.

Students nowadays are not so shy and kind of introvert as previously they used to be. Rather, they now prefer more participation. They are the active audience, ready to take on new assignments in their favourite mode of learning.

OpenClass

The scene of a poster board in a classroom is absolutely extinct now. The place has been swiftly acquired by OpenClass, obliterating every boundary of time and distance. It is a cloud-based system that enables students to always be connected to their study materials, assignments and teachers. To a step further, mobile and tablet apps associated with OpenClass give enormous power to the students, where they can access their course content, follow and participate in announcements and discussions.

Next, do you still find anyone carrying his or her bulky three-ring binder anymore? How can you when tablets, textbooks are smart ways available to keep every records and folders intact safely. More to this, one now has in hand web 2.0 tool, LiveBinders that users can use to create their binder online.

eBooks

Textbooks are even not in their old shapes and styles. They have altogether changed their appearance to make it as web-based sites, animations, additional materials, videos, assessments and other materials to conduct this new generation style of learning. This is the era of eBooks in the profuse strain atmosphere of e-learning. So, say goodbye to backpacks and heavy textbooks in the ready availability of easy-way education.

LMS

The most updated development in e-learning, LMS or Learning Management System are web-based access to learning contents and administration. This system provides learning and teaching to a larger population.

Virtual Classrooms

One has the advantages of web-conferencing to bring very distant talents and knowledgeable minds at your hand's stretch. Web-conferencing is the basic way of conducting virtual classrooms. And, with virtual classrooms, students take recourse to webinars for personal and professional development. The time is for this kind of blended learning engaging technology in its best for versatile academic enterprises.

Online Library

With this kind of developments brought forward in education strategy, would you consider to stand on a queue for your new issuance of a book? Definitely not! I know. This is because, Open Text Library Management Systems, another fully web-based infrastructure, is there right for your use to manage digital content, multimedia printings and every other internet resource integrated library systems for automatic library operations.

Mobile phones are even also not limited to mere conversational end anymore; rather they are designed to devise new age learning. Smart phones and i-phones are designed to always stay connected with the learning contents and tutors’ supervision. Technology has changed the definition of education – at least in the way they are taught and learnt.

(*) is an educationist and a regular blogger on education. She recommends today’s new age learners to opt for online distance learning so that they can pursue quality education and achieve a balanced lifestyle as well as a successful career.
 
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