Education & Tech

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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 L. Ramirez, Ed.D. - @tonnet is the founder & editor. He is an instructor with UoPeople, is a 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

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If you are a regular to Blog Education & Tech, you shall remember that I am blogging and I'd written articles about education and technology almost every day since 2003. In the gazillion of notes, Education & Tech provides you with education news, tech advice, classroom management ideas, and social media tools for educators, administrators, parents and k-12 students.

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Weighing the True Value of an Online Education: How Recent Studies Have Debunked Popular Opinions

Guest post written by Jesse Langley.

Photo by Flickr user courosa

The initial hesitance to embrace online education as a valid alternative to traditional institutions has recently made a noteworthy shift, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. The study revealed that while just 29 percent of American adults believe that an online course is just as valuable as a traditional classroom course, a substantially higher 51 percent of college presidents believe that both methods have equal value. While these results may not be classified as a substantial majority, they can certainly be deemed as progress at the very least.

Although this change could partially be attributed to the growing popularity of the programs, it may also be based on the consistently improving efficacy of the programs as well. In terms of popularity, the Pew study revealed that more than 75 percent of the nation's top colleges and universities now offer alternative online classes, essentially granting them a nod of approval. New studies that analyze the effectiveness of online courses also add merit to the value of the programs, which may help influence the generally negative opinions of the public.

Based on the same study, one in four college graduates reported to have taken a course online. Of the adults who had taken an online course, 39 percent reported a positive experience, while only 27 percent of students who hadn't taken an online course reported a positive review of the concept. Although the shift in opinion appears to be gradual, it is no doubt trending towards online options.

According to another study conducted by the SRI International of the Department of Education, there is no evidence-based reason to believe that an online course would be any less effective than a traditional college course. In fact, the study reveals that the potential for better student performance is actually in the online course's favor. The report examined and compared student performance in both online and traditional classroom environments between 1996 and 2008. Students from a variety of age groups and settings were examined, including K-12 programs, colleges, adult continuing education programs, medical training and military education.

After extensive research and observation, the study concluded that, on average, students in online courses actually performed better than those who received face-to-face instruction. Although this doesn't mean that there isn't still some value to traditional classroom learning environments, it lends credibility to the often misunderstood value and advantage of online programs as a benefit to student learning. Moreover, these studies unveil positive opportunities for busy adults who seek a quality degree program that accommodates their hectic schedules. With more and more of these studies surfacing, we can expect that the stigma once associated with online courses will shift to a more positive perception.

Jesse Langley lives near Chicago with his family where he is a writer, former educator, and social media enthusiast. He writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University.


Pew Research Center Publications. (2011, August 28). The Digital Revolution and Higher Education. Retrieved December 11, 2011, from courses-students-colleges-universities-technology-laptops-tablets.

New York Times Blog. (2009, August 19). Study Finds That Online Education Beats the Classroom. Retrieved December 11, 2011, from study-finds-that-online-education-beats-the-classroom/.

Could Chewing Gum Really Boost Students Grades?

Photo by user Swamibu on Flickr

Break out the gum. It's finals time!

A new study suggests that popping a stick of your favorite sticky stuff five minutes before taking a test could actually help improve your score.

St Lawrence University Assistant Professor of Psychology Serge Onyper, the lead researcher, found that among the 80 undergrad who participated in the study, the gum-chewers did better on their tests than their counterparts.

Those with the gum experienced "mastication-induced arousal", leading to a boost in performance, but it only lasted for about 20 minutes of test-taking.

Other studies had already probed that physical activity can boost the performance of students in the classroom. In this study the researchers had found that even mild activity, like gum chewing, can have a positive effect on the brain.

Remember we have said that only works for 20 minutes. So, make sure your students spit out before they take a test. The study also found that chewing gum could actually detract away from performance due to "a sharing of resources by cognitive and mastication processes.

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The SAT: Is There a Better Way?

Beginning its reign over college applications in 1972, recent challenges to the efficacy of the SAT have caused many institutions to grant optional score submissions to applying students. Although most colleges aren't showing signs of eliminating the SAT all together, a significant portion of top schools are foregoing the requirement of the scores in applications. There are almost 900 schools that currently stand by the idea that students are more than just numbers. The trend of foregoing SAT score submissions appears to be here to stay. However, with one large portion of the application missing, how are admissions officials expected to make proper decisions on accepting and rejecting students?

In some instances, colleges ask for additional writing samples as alternatives to an SAT score submission. But for colleges that don't offer this option, an application submitted without standardized test scores can seem incomplete. Perhaps if schools allowed more alternatives to submitting SAT scores, rather than just leaving them out, it would be easier for more institutions to transition to SAT-optional submissions.

These days, modern technology has allowed us to connect with one another in ways that we have never been able to before no matter the distance. With such advances, students can be evaluated on a more personalized basis. Some universities invite applicants to send in self-made YouTube videos explaining why they should be accepted into the university. Those invites are met with an outpouring of responses, with hundreds of students submitting everything from card tricks to musical performances and "math dances."

By utilizing videos, college admission officials would be able to meet the person behind the number and get a better idea of the contributions they could make to an academic environment. In addition to the popular video submission option, students could also submit online projects, such as completed website designs, app development, digital animation projects and so on. College admissions officials could conduct more face to face interviews with students through mediums like Skype to better determine eligibility for the institution.

Not only are traditional colleges expanding their definitions of an academically capable student, but online degree programs are also giving students the opportunity to approach their education in an unconventional manner. Unlike traditional colleges, online institutions give students with busy professional and personal lives the opportunity to earn their degree while still being attentive to other responsibilities. Students can work at a more flexible pace according to their own schedules to earn their degrees.

Taking a non-traditional approach to higher learning is one of the best ways to make education accessible to a wider range of bright and hard-working students. By de-emphasizing the importance of SAT scores, colleges are giving students the opportunity to sell their best attributes and address how these contribute to a stimulating academic environment. With these new opportunities, students no longer have to be defined as just a number.

This guest post was written by Jesse M. Langley, he is a contributor for EdTech Digest and Technected. Feedback to:
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