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

Teacher + Scholar

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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Education & Tech: News for Educators

The rest of my favorite links are here.

How Is Technology Impacting College Education?

All people seems to live in a rush nowadays, specially if they live in the metropolitan areas. In schools, students are interested in saving time.

As the work by shows, the 90% of a group of surveyed students in the 2012 said that technological devices, including eBooks, eReaders, mobile devices and tablets, help them to crunch time when it is needed to study.

Students wish technology moves beyond mobile infrestructure to become a greater resource in their learning. For this, they are ready to pay in the double digits on the year to come.

Higher-Tech in Higher Education - Infographic

Higher-Tech in Higher Ed

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Milton Ramirez

Education & Tech: News for Educators 12/03/2012

The rest of my favorite links are here.

Education & Tech: News for Educators 12/02/2012

The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Best Education News in 2012 by @LarryFerlazzo

Larry Ferlazzo is one of the most prolific writers about education. Mr. Ferlazzo has published his own books and has a column on the The Answer Sheet which appears regularly on the Washington Post. In his blog he writes about technology and resources for ELL teachers and all the educators community.

Ferlazzo had the wisdom to write this week,  the  best and worst news education on this year. An article worth reading in its entirety. We are republishing only the positive of 2012.

- The courage and success of the Chicago Teachers Union in their seven-day strike. As union President Karen Lewis said, "The key is that we are trying to have people understand that when people come together to deal with problems of education, the people that are actually working in the schools need to be heard. And I think that this has been an opportunity for people across the nation to have their voices heard. And I think we're moving in the right direction."

- Many of the November election results. Idaho voters overturned several measures harmful to students and teachers, the pro-voucher "school reformer" Indiana superintendent of schools was defeated by a teacher, and San Antonio voters approved a tax increase to support an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs. A California Proposition was approved to increase taxes to support schools, and Democrats there gained a "supermajority" in the state legislature. They are already discussing plans to make it easier for local communities themselves to approve taxes for school programs. And, of course, President Obama was reelected. Despite concerns many of us teachers have about his education policies, he was a far better choice than Mitt Romney with his plan for school privatization.

- The State of California released far-reaching recommendations on educator preparation, professional development and evaluation. The California Educator Excellence Task Force Report, called Greatness by Design: Supporting Outstanding Teaching to Sustain a Golden State, provides progressive guidelines for many of the major challenges facing schools today and in the future. It was co-chaired by Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond (Disclosure: I was a member of the Task Force's teacher evaluation subcommittee).

- Diane Ravitch starts a blog. Ravitch, the most well-known critic of the so-called "school reform" agenda, documents key developments in education several times a day, and her blog has already received nearly two million visits this year.

- The Mystery Teacher Theater 2000 competition which opened-up a vibrant discussion of the role of Khan Academy in education. Teachers throughout the United States created videos that offered a "critical eye" to Khan's work, and the contest provided an opportunity for widespread and respectful dialogue about the use of Khan videos in schools.

- Major school districts withdrew from federal program to fund merit pay for teachers. Despite the very strong evidence that "pay for performance" is ineffective, the federal government has continued spending money encouraging Districts to initiate this type of compensation plan. Three school districts -- New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee -- had to return their grants because they couldn't reach agreement with the teachers on implementing the program. Umm, you think District officials might want to consult with teachers beforehand?

- Research finds that bribing people can motivate them, but not in the way you think it might. Plenty of research finds that extrinsic motivation generally is not effective over the long-term and for tasks requiring higher-thinking skills. Prof. Armin Falk, however, has now found that if people feel they are not treated fairly, they do get motivated -- to do worse. With luck, educators and education policy-makers will keep this in mind in the classroom and in bureaucratic offices.

- New research finds big problems with use of Value Added Measurement in secondary schools. Two studies find that VAM, a growing tool used to evaluated teacher performance despite much evidence about its inaccuracies, is especially inaccurate in evaluating secondary school teachers.

- The millions of students who had great learning experiences in their schools this year.

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Milton Ramirez

35 Ed Blogs You May Not Know About (But Should)

If you are an teacher, student, parent, or administrator, you should be following education blogs. Why? Simply because blogs are an ever-increasing way to spark ideas, creativity, and innovation. The following list is a compilation of blogs for those interested in education. Written by parents, administrators, businessmen, teachers, and administrators, these blogs stand out with their unique style and excellent content.

While this list isn't comprenhensive --we have left out on pourpose well established names such as Downes, Byrne, Warlick, McLeod, Mayers, Fryer, Davis, Dunn or Jarche -- we are sharing the links that according to our experience are not well known yet.  Here are the selected ones. What are your favorites that are not popular and we've omitted? Share them in the comments section of this story.

Photo courtesy: Learnist

Traditional Elementary Education

1. Teaching Blog Addict

A blog dedicated to educators who want a one-stop shop for all the best education blogs and resources on the Web. They arrange posts by categories, so teachers looking for ideas in a certain subject can find content quickly and easily.

2. The Curricullum Corner

This blog is run by two teachers, and gives instructional tips for teaching lessons that meet the common core standards.

3. The Organized Classroom Blog

The Organized Classroom is a blog primarily for teachers who need help making their classroom functional and efficient. The website offers free resources, tips, and ideas from local teachers.

4. Polka Dotted Teacher

A fun and whimsical education site for teachers who need to add some color and creativity into their classroom. This site is in the style of Dr. Seuss.

5. Educational Advancement

This blog is part of a larger website that is dedicated to helping gifted youth. It focuses on news, information, and other resources for parents and teachers of talented children.

Traditional College

6. Omniac Education

The Omniac blog is for high school students who are planning to go to college. The site gives tips for taking college entrance exams, as well as ideas for maximizing the success rate of college applications.

7. Study Hacks

A computer scientist and published author writes this blog about what makes students successful. He chronicles some of his controversial thoughts on why pursuing your passion is a bad idea and gives tips and hints found in his numerous books.

8. Parents Countdown To College Coach

This blog is mainly for parents who might need some extra help in getting their child off to school. Expect to find advice on how to help your child succeed in college, tips about transitioning to a dorm room, as well as financial aid and application resources.

9. ProfHacker

A blog dedicated to helping educators with their productivity, technology integration, as well as teaching. The latest post is an interesting entry about professionalism on social media, an increasing problem that has only been introduced since the explosion of sites like Facebook and Twitter.

10. Thesis Whisperer

The Thesis Whisperer is a collaboration of writers and students who talk about the process of writing a dissertation. Everything from planning your writing process, tips, presentation ideas, and dealing with your supervisor, is covered in this group-authored blog.

11. Teen College Education

A blog written by both students and educators! Topics include admissions to college, high school tips for maximizing college potential, and how to score well on college entrance exams. It even gives practical advice about how to survive on a student budget and what to do after graduation.

12. University of Venus

The Inside Higher Ed blog is a large site written by numerous authors. It covers everything from technology, to education philosophy, strategies for admissions, and career advice.

13. NextStepU

This blog is associated with the NextStepU magazine. It offers advice about various colleges and degrees, and offers giveaways from time to time. It also has tools like scholarship search and college match.

14. Chegg

This blog is attached to the Chegg website; a student services site for planning and study help. The blog gives advice about finding inexpensive textbooks, study habits, and scholarships.

15. The Ivy Coach

The author of this blog is Bev Taylor, a well-known counselor who is frequently seen on media sites, giving tips about getting into Ivy League schools. Her blog centers on helping students gain entrance into the school of their dream. She also offers herself for hire!

16. Stratedgy

The Stratedgy blog is meant for educators who want to discuss ways to compete in an ever-expanding world of education options.

E-Learning and Edtech

17. Tic Tac Interactive

Tic Tac interactive is Scandinavia’s “leader in digital education” – and their blog features some pretty interesting conversations about education.

18. The Daily Riff

 As provocateur, muse, catalyst and game changer, The Daily Riff will “sniff and sift” through our edu-culture, “curating” news and opinion in quick, digest-sized take-aways for you to use and share. I think that says it all.

19. Beth Knittle

Beth Knittle is a technology integration specialist for a K-12 district and blogs about her learning experiences. She has presented at several major education conferences like MassCUE and EduCon. She has an attached Wiki and a scrupulously organized archive page.

20. Edcomp Blog

A lecturer in Scotland at the University of Strathclyde authors this blog. Check out his blog post on creating memorable passwords for middle school students, or his review of text online adventure games. He writes in short post form, making it an easy blog to read when you are short on time.

21. The Tech Savvy Educator

This blog is a practical guide to technology integration. There are posts about using the iPad in the classroom, how to make an inexpensive green screen, as well as starting up an online book club. The owner and author is Ben Rimes, a K-12 technology specialist in Michigan.

22. The Online Learning Update

The Online Learning Update is a blog about online education news and research. The editor is Ray Schroeder, a University of Illinois professor, and he gathers headlines about university open courseware.

23. E-Learning Queen

Stop at the E-Learning Queen blog and meet the Queen’s assistant, Susan Smith Nash. She humorously names her reader the “queen” of e-learning, since you are reading her site. She focuses on distance learning, e-course design, and social/psychological issues surrounding the online education process.

24. Funny Monkey

Funny Monkey blog is highlights all the news and information related to Funny Monkey, a business dedicated to making educational materials free. In addition to news, the blog also covers major educational issues, technology, and classroom solutions.

25. Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions

Cammy Bean’s Learning Visions blog is about e-learning design. She hosts webinars about the best ways to effectively design e-courses, tools to use, and how to get started.

Education Policies

26. Best of Education Blog

This Best of Education Blog, hosted by the National Education Policy Center, pulls recent posts from various education bloggers. It covers all education issues including teacher unions, curriculum, technology, policy, and even teacher evaluations.

27.  Eduwonk

Sponsored by Bethwether Education Partners, this blog is about education policy and politics. The primary author, Andrew J. Rotherham, served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton, and currently writes the weekly School of Thought column for Time magazine.

28. Thoughts On Education Policy

This blog primarily focuses on urban poverty as it relates to educational policy. The author Corey Bower became frustrated with the education system after trying to teach in an inner city New York school for two years.

29. Edwize

Edwize is a blog for education news and opinion. It focuses on New York schools, teachers, and issues. Be sure to check out the section called New Teacher Diaries- real life stories from New York’s new public school teachers.

30. Education Experts Blog

This blog’s tagline is, "Debating the future of American education." Expect to read posts about politics, testing problems, and other issues plaguing the current educational system.

31. Edspresso

Edspresso’s clever name highlights the focus of this blog- a daily morning shot of the latest education news and reform. It covers headlines and politics as it relates to education and is updated frequently.

32. Successful Schools

Scott Taylor is an assistant superintendent and professor at the University level. His blog is listed on Edudemic’s website as one of the top education blogs that you should follow. His casual conversational style is easy to read and still packs a powerful and profound punch.

33. Campaign K-12

A blog focusing on education and politics. Current posts center around the campaign trail leading up to the US election in November, and how it relates to education policy.

34. Stories From School

Stories from School was labeled as one of the best educational blogs of 2010. It focuses on real life examples and stories of teachers and how they are impacted by the latest educational policy changes.

Learning Techniques

35. Thank You Brain

This blog focuses on ways to improve your ability to memorize. Dr. Bill Klemm is a neuroscientist, education consultant, and professor who chronicles some of his research on this personal blog.

This list first appeared on Open Colleges and we have edited it accordingly.

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Milton Ramirez

Is the 'Unfollow' a New Norm on Twitter?

There are fundamentals to be discussed about Twitter. Not as a social media tool but as a research-based tool among educators.

I am on Twitter since 2009, the Year of the Tweet, if you still remember. During al this time it has taken me great deal of time to build the stream I try to read almost daily. That's why I find hard to unfollow all people on my Twitter account.

Everyone at this point has gained some experience using the social network, based on tools or learning on the way while following others so called 'celebrities'. You still can find some social media snobs, too.

But as Dan Shareski states: "There is no recipe, no rule, no formula for doing it right [on Twitter]. Each approach has affordances, advantages and disadvantages. Be thoughtful, intentional, make mistakes, try stuff, change stuff but ultimately own the space and time and way you use the tool. Then stop apologizing."

This was a comment on a post subcribed by Tony Baldasaro where he explains his own reasons to unfollow all his twitter stream, and then refollow only those who really deserve to "pay any attention to".

I share links most than anything on my Twitter feed. I have two ways to reweet: one is automatically and the other is editing the tweet. I also share very little personal info and engage a few times in conversations out of nothing. I don't go on lengthy conversations, 3-5 replies top my replies. And I do follow anyone who advertise as a teacher, and have at least a tweet which I think is worth reading.

As of now I have 8K followers. And haven't performed the respective clean up which consists of unfollowing all users inactive more than 90 days and over. I do not follow educators exclusively. I have other interests, as well.

I concur to Scott McLeod when he writes: "Social networks are like gardens. They require some nurturing and, yes, some pruning now and then. Sometimes they may even be like prairies, requiring a full burn to nurture new, positive growth." In his article Scott explains how he manages two groups on Twitter.

Even though we haven't answered yet whether Twitter is a communications service for friends and groups, a means of expressing yourself freely, or simply a marketing tool, there are some research showing that Twitter will revolutionize academic research and teaching in the short run.

Do not unfollow the people you've decided to follow in the first place. It has to be a good reason to push the unfollow button. Twitter is strong because it covers the selfishness in each one of us (showing the number of followers, and is a place to know and begin great conversations with individual that it'll be impossible in other ways.

Keep it simple. Use Twitter the way if feels right for you, credited to be said by Chris Lehmann.

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Milton Ramirez

4 TED Talks for Teaching with Tech

By Melanie Foster *

Conrad Wolfram discusses the need to equip students with the knowledge necessary to respond to a more mathematical and quantitative world. But standing in the way of this knowledge is a chasm between need and opportunity. Wolfram explains that many children fail to grasp the larger concepts of mathematics because they spend a majority of their education learning to calculate these numbers by hand.

Responding to a series of frequent arguments against his claim that computers should be used for calculating in the classroom, Conrad develops his own argument for letting the computers do the work so children can learn to apply critical and logical thinking to the real world problems that involve math.

The inquisitive and innovative Sugata Mitra discusses the challenges of educating the children in underprivileged communities of India. Mitra argues that for many schools, technology does not offer enough of an increase in skill to be considered a viable tool. The children at the top, Mitra argues, do not have as far to grow. Instead, Mitra says, technology should be used to serve the most underprivileged of children first, to support learning or even serve as an alternative to primary education that is subpar or non-existent.

In further experiments, Mitra finds that when left alone, children are capable of teaching themselves and their peers, without supervision of guidance. This demonstration of group power wielded by young minds is extremely fascinating. Based on his findings, Mitra presents an overview of what educational technology should achieve.

Salman Khan shares the origins of the now-famous Khan Academy. He discusses the advantages of video lectures and how this tool fits within the flipped classroom model. The lecture explains how the flipped classroom creates a more socialized learning environment in which peers and teachers work together to achieve a higher level of group understanding.

In addition, Khan introduces personalized data that allows educators to track the progress of students over a number of years, supplying a continuity and level of detail that has never before been possible. Khan proposes that traditional classrooms leave behind the one-size-fits-all learning approach to move toward a more personalized method. He also touches upon the potential of global education that is offered through these free videos.

Daphne Koller, former MIT professor and co-founder of Coursera discusses the shortage of global education and how open courses can change the world of learning. One of the leaders in the Mass Open Online Course, or MOOC,  Koller discusses how educational content in the courses was designed specifically for online learning, again breaking away from the one-size fits all curriculum.

She admits that students don't learn from passively watching a video, and demonstrates different methods of interaction, including a peer-grading pipeline methodology and organic developments of learning communities. For teachers, MOOCs are the experimental playgrounds that should be watched for new ideas and methods for incorporating technology.

(*) Melanie Foster is a passionate supporter of global education and a writer for In her free time, Melanie enjoys hiking and reading. You can contact Melanie by adding a comment.

Exploring World Markets with Translation Developments

By John Brad *

Bridging the Gap
It becomes very simple to eliminate trading barriers between different companies belonging to various countries of the world with the help of a translation service agency. Many businesses find that language poses a great barrier in dealing with other countries. This results in missed opportunities, as they are not able to promote their business in other countries, due to the lack of the knowledge of the local language. So they have to consider some language translation agency help in order to overcome the lack of the knowledge.

The ultimate aim of language translation is to convey the correct and accurate meaning of a document or text. The services such as document and text translations as well as website translation have been offered by many professional translation agencies these days. Those companies also offer interpreting services, as, at times, interpretation might be simultaneously required along with translation, whereas some organizations might have need for special interpreting services. Translation relates to the translation of the written word, in web content or in documents, whereas interpretation involves dealing with the language orally. With both the services, it is possible to bridge the communication gap between countries.

Significance of the service
There are many countries in the world which are the center of political and economic activities. These cities house various people from different countries of the world, all having their own languages. With the help of a translating service, different businesses can communicate even if they are not familiar with each other’s language. Businessmen who are trying to either sell or buy products or even a service in a foreign nation will surely realize the significance of such a service.

Why free software may not work
Many people are under the false impression that this being the age of computers and hi tech software, it is quite easy to get their professional documents or text translated into the foreign language of their choice. However, the important point here is that the translation is to be done very accurately; otherwise it could present your organization in a bad light. Though there is a lot of free software available on the internet for translation, it may not provide you with an accurate result. If you will go for paid software even it is not exactly possible for you to generate proper results in translation.

For instance, if you wish to translate a medical or a legal document or you want to design your website in different languages in order to promote your product or service in foreign territories, the literal translation of a language into another may not quite bring about the right meaning, and most often, it turns out to be quite confusing to the reader. It is, therefore, important to find and make use of a professional agency for translating your content in order to ensure that the work is read and understood as it was originally intended to be. To effectively explore your business in the world market, it is important to hire professional services, so that the actual sense and the meaning of the original document is not twisted or misrepresented in any way.

Field specific translation
The translation service offers services in various fields, such as legal, medical, business brochures and so on. Some of the agencies also undertake translations for articles and technical content along with their interpretation services. With the latter service, you will be able to successfully communicate with any clients, no matter what country they belong to. They completely go through the document and edit and proof read it, so that there is no margin for error. Native speakers with professional experience are employed for interpretation and translation work. They are also well qualified in the particular field and have specific industry knowledge. Apart from this, a translation service also uses the state-of-the-art software and hardware with other memory tools in order to record 100% accuracy and to get better results.

(*) John Brad is a guest blogger writing educational content for Blitranslations, a division of The Boston Language Institute, offers a full range of services from foreign professional language translation service and interpreting services to multilingual website and desktop publishing.

The Challenging Effect of Social Media on Education

Can technology-driven social media impact our education system? Yes, is the answer offered by Praveen K Panjiar.

Photo by mark rahejaon Flickr

With help of platforms and social media tools, students nowadays are collaborating on world-challenging projects, and educators are bringing expert lecturers to their classrooms via social media. Edtech teachers are creating lessons and developing new instructional strategies every day through social media platforms.

However, even when the rise of social networking(the most pervasive use of social media) has made it easier for people to stay connected, still some worry that the need for up-to-the-minute updates is negatively impacting a younger generation’s ability to mature socially and could be stunting academic growth.

This pervasive use of social media is being debunked by Daniel Clark. Moving beyond the pros and cons of the impact of social media in education, Clark assess visionary Douglas Adams on the sinister impact of the Internet over society:

"Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it --- Anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really. (Adams, 1999)"

Adams, writes Clark, claimed this could be applied to any innovation, from the wheel onwards.

This conception has a tremendous impact on the way we live on the Internet today. For anyone under 30, online communication, sharing content, self-publishing and collaboration are not state of the art technology, they are processes seen simply as normal.

After explaining what is to be understood as social media and social media in education, Clark says we need to start adapting to this new learning environment on three phases: Support for educators (blogging, Edublogawards, TeacherTube, Twitter), delivery of content (MIT's OpenCourseWare, iTunesU, Khan Academy), and social learning (Facebook, Google+, blogs, LinkedIn, and YouTube).

Two of the most important conclusions to which Daniel Clark has arrived are:

Despite increasing use of social media by educators, the approach of most educational institutions still seems very “industrial media”, with timetabled classes, an emphasis on learning delivery in person and by printed books, transmission from educator to students and much assessment being by written exams. No doubt this will take time to change, but we can begin with small steps and small-scale experiments.

As with all new technologies, it is impossible to predict what those implications will be in any detail. However, they are likely to include greater transparency, more involvement from students, including opportunities for live collaboration and learning in small, on-demand pieces rather than in a logical, sequential structure.
Should we expect to have a different school system in the future due to social media?

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Milton Ramirez

How MOOCs Benefit Higher Education

By Kate Wilson *

MIT spends around $10,000 to add a new course to its popular OpenCourseWare site, a site which already contains 2,000 courses. Likewise, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Texas, and Berkeley have all invested a significant amount of money and resources into offering MOOCs  (Massive Open Online Courses) offered by top schools have the potential to revolutionize the way people learn and make a world-class education available to everyone. However, these universities aren't necessarily just offering their courses to the world out of the sheer kindness of their hearts. There are quite a few ways getting involved in MOOCs benefits universities.

Photo by bbcamericangirl on Flickr.

First and foremost, providing courses to the public for free is an excellent way for universities to market themselves. The more people who take courses from MIT online, the better it is for MIT's reputation. If people in Manila and Moscow are taking engineering or IT courses from MIT, and those courses are truly benefiting them, MIT will easily establish itself as an international leader in online education. Universities that are already considered prestigious can become even more prestigious if they offer exceptional courses to online users.

Another important benefit of getting involved in the MOOC movement is that it allows universities to be at the forefront of an educational revolution that will inevitably come. The internet and technology are making the classroom seem a lot less important, as educational leaders continue to create online resources that bring us closer to a world in which an affordable, high quality online college education exists.

There's no telling whether or not college classrooms will become obsolete, but it's doubtful that technology won't continue to alter the way higher education functions. Universities that are getting involved in MOOCs and other online educational endeavors now are going to stay ahead of the curve when the revolution comes.

Offering MOOCs also provides another advantage to universities. Recently, there have been a few articles highlighting how high schools are using the MOOCs offered by top universities to give advanced students an edge before they head off to college. If high school students are able to use MOOCs to learn the basics of computer programming or engineering before they leave for college, higher education institutions will end up with more skilled, knowledgeable students on their campuses whose potential for innovation is limitless.

MOOCs are definitely a good thing–both for online users and higher education. It'll definitely be interesting to see what top universities do over the next few years to increase access to MOOCs and improve their overall quality. The future of MOOCs is uncertain, but it seems pretty bright. It just makes sense for universities to get on board.

(*) Kate Willson is a professional writer and blogger. Well-versed in all topics pertaining to e-learning, Kate frequently contributes to top online education sites. Please leave your comments and questions for Kate below!

Most Profitable Career Habits You Should Start in Higher Ed

At its best, college can often feel like a Never Never Land of fun, friends, and “the life of the mind.” Though we hesitate to burst that glorious sheltered bubble, it is unfortunately true that the transition out of college and into adult life can be a rocky one. Those students who begin to develop mature, self-directed working habits (above and beyond what’s required for a decent GPA) before they graduate are the ones who stand the best chance of easing their way into the working world without difficulty. Here are 15 lessons that are better learned the easy way, while still in the ivory tower, rather than as crash courses in the School of Hard Knocks.

  1. Keep a planner and calendar.

    Your calendar provides the backbone of your life. When you’re a teenager or young adult, there are periods when it might seem like you have few enough obligations that you can keep them in your head and still not miss appointments. All that means is, it’s the best possible time to begin off-loading those commitments onto a calendar. Get in the habit of using it consistently, and your unscheduled time will be even more care-free.
  2. Divide your time into blocks.

    This is the true secret to getting work finished instead of procrastinating (while you simultaneously freak out about how much you have left to do). Slow and steady wins the race. The Pomodoro Technique is one way, but longer chunks of an hour or two might work better for you. Work long enough to accomplish something, but not so long you burn out. Then reward yourself by doing something else (also for a set amount of time).
  3. Know when to “just say no.”

    We’re not referring here to drug or alcohol addictions, which you should address without shame or hesitation as soon as you suspect you might have one. Even healthy partiers can be tempted to overdo it in college. Nor is peer pressure always sinister; your friends can be well-meaning and still talk you into bad decisions, like playing Wii games all night when you have a paper due. Enjoy your social life but draw the line when you must.
  4. Don’t rely on all-nighters.

    Some people take pride in the fact that they can knock out an assignment in a single night’s work fueled by pressure and adrenaline. But it helps instill bad habits that don’t transfer well at all to the working world — and operating without sleep doesn’t get any easier on your body as you age.
  5. Set a regular bedtime, at least on weekdays.

    Recent research suggests that keeping a steady bedtime is an important factor for your health. Work with your regular circadian rhythms, not against them.
  6. Eat the most important meal of the day.

    That’s right, this important career habit is part of this balanced breakfast! Even if you’re more the type to roll out of bed and walk to class in pajamas, make the effort to hit the cafeteria first. Eating breakfast improves cognitive performance and gives you more energy for your day.
  7. Get a real apartment.

    Living in the dorms is great, but for at least one out of four years you ought to try getting your own place with a roommate or two. It will teach you all kinds of life lessons (often the hard way, of course) so you’ll be that much more ahead when you depart academia entirely.
  8. Learn how to shop for groceries.

    This is one reason to get your own pad. Learning to cook gives you a skill that will pay off for life, both financially and health-wise. The goal should be to shift your consumption as much as possible from takeout and packaged foods to ingredients you buy and prepare yourself, and the key to that is to have as wide as possible a repertoire of recipes with which you’re comfortable.
  9. Try taking on a side job.

    Many people have no choice in the matter and must work steadily to pay for school. Others are luckier and have support from parents, scholarships, or loans. But it’s still good to have beer money, and even if you don’t need the paychecks, it’s good to get comfortable with the idea of having a part-time gig for extra savings (or to pay off debt).
  10. Stay (or get) in shape; it will never be this easy again.

    Seriously, it won’t. Chances are you have access to a well-equipped and convenient gym, as well as intramural sports and other physical pastimes. Take advantage of it, and of your metabolism in its prime.
  11. Start regular check-ups while you’re still young and healthy.

    As with diet and exercise, annual physicals and biannual dental cleanings are lifelong preventive habits that will keep you in prime fighting condition to focus on your other ambitions. The days of young people going without health insurance are over. We all need to take responsibility for our own wellness, both for our own sake and each others’.
  12. Don’t count on extensions or incompletes.

    At most colleges, you can get away with a lot of unprofessional shenanigans that would never fly in the real world. Don’t take advantage of that unless you absolutely have to, because otherwise you’ll be depriving yourself of good habits that you’ll need later, when the authority figures in your life will be less indulgent.
  13. Maintain contacts and never burn bridges.

    Speaking of staying on your professors’ good sides, begin building relationships that can help you achieve your dreams. Within reason, do your best never to leave anyone with a bad taste in their mouths, whether exes or ex-bosses. For better or worse, interpersonal karma has its ways of playing itself out.
  14. Keep an organized file cabinet.

    Paper may seem outmoded, and you can always scan everything and back it up, but you’ll feel more comfortable keeping hard copies of anything you think you might want to have handy later. Buy a cabinet you won’t hate to use, and sort through it regularly, dividing everything into intuitive categories and tossing out what’s outdated or not needed.
  15. Do chores like clockwork.

    Every boy’s dorm room (some girls of course, but especially the guys) tends to boast the same topographical feature: a heaping, dirty mountain of laundry. Chores aren’t so bad if you have a routine you stick to; schedule an odd few hours to do laundry when you don’t have class (preferably a weekday afternoon when you won’t be competing with many others). The same goes for other chores, especially if you’re off campus; you can also prevent a lot of roommate fights and resentment if you have a clear and workable system.
Despite all this sage advice, college is a great time to goof around, and you don’t want to forget to have fun; in fact you should consider that a major priority at this stage of your life. But do your best to exercise some conscious control over your own growth and development now, so you can avoid a rude awakening later. Put this virtuous self-programming into effect before life forces you to, and your 20s will be a piece of cake!.

This is a cross-post from

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Milton Ramirez

Game Change: How game-based learning helps Common Core

By Nigel Nisbet*

One of the exciting things that leaps out to me when reading the new Common Core standards for Mathematics is that the spirit of inquiry and curiosity is back, hardwired into a document that will likely form the basis for mathematics teaching and learning for a long time. My attention is drawn for example to the Standards for Mathematical practice where it emphasizes that students need to become persistent problem solvers, plan solution pathways, and ask themselves, “does this make mathematical sense?” Even the grade-level specific content standards themselves are full of phrases like “Students will understand...” and “use visual models to explain...” So in order to build true conceptual understanding during the learning process, students will need considerable practice at being challenged to make sense of mathematics for themselves.

Existing instructional materials do not meet this need, and reordering chapters and adding an “Now Aligned to Common Core” label doesn’t solve the fundamental problem: most materials are designed for use with direct instruction where we tell students how to solve a problem, and then have them practice by doing more of the same type of questions. By design there is no need to for them to think critically about solution strategies and there is little attempt to engage their curiosity: either they remember and correctly apply the procedures, or they don’t. And while technology does have incredible potential for education, most attempts to capitalize on it thus far, like the much-vaunted “flipped” classroom, are really little more than a “technologized” version of direct instruction and as such will have little impact on Common Core success. A more fundamental change in instructional design is needed.

Game-based learning is one way to change the educational paradigm. A game is inherently about challenge (think Angry Birds), and a game can engage children in persistently trying to overcome challenges (think Guitar Hero), and games often require the use of strategic thinking for success (think Chess or even Monopoly). However, all of these games are designed to entertain. To design a game for education is very different: The challenge, the engagement, and the strategic thinking used in the game must all have a specific learning target. Let’s take an objective, right from the Common Core, “Students understand a fraction as a number on the number line” and see what this looks like when built up into a successful game, currently played by over half-a-million students.

The penguin, JiJi, needs to get from the platform on the left to the basket under the balloons. Students, using tablets or mouse-based devices, need to drag the basket and balloons to where they think JiJi’s platform will roll to, and press go. The fractional pieces of the circle under JiJi’s platform roll out along the number line. In this case there are two one-third pieces, and if the basket is correctly placed, JiJi is lifted up and away, and they move on to the next puzzle. Otherwise the basket lifts up but without JiJi on board, and the students must try again. The puzzles get progressively harder, with different sized fractions, positive and negative pieces, and fractions given as symbols (like ¼). The game is even played in reverse, where students have to determine how many fractional pieces are needed under JiJi’s platform to get to a basket, already set in position on the number line.

The challenge of the game is simple and easily understood with no written or verbal instructions, even by third-graders - figure out how to get JiJi to the basket. The engagement is unbelievably high, and the strategic thinking is all focused on translating between visual fraction models, symbols, and the number line. This type of game design works at the Elementary level but also is very successful for Middle and High school mathematics, as evidence by an upcoming game dealing with parabolas in Algebra. Points on a quadratic graph are represented by balloons that need to be burst by positioning a rocket, using either a manipulative tool, or a symbolic equation depending on the level.

By activating students’ critical thinking skills in these game-based learning experiences, we can help them build deep conceptual understanding of the mathematics. And because all 800 games in the program are built around mathematically accurate and appropriate schema, or visual models, which the students internalize, mathematics now has a context in which to make sense. For the first time, technology is being used to create a new type of learning experience, arming students with the thinking skills they need for success with the Common Core and the 21st century skills they will need for success later in life.

(*) Nigel Nisbet is the Director of Content Creation with the MIND Research Institute; a non-profit education technology  company based in Orange County, CA, and a former High School Teacher and Math Expert with the Los Angeles Unified School District.

U.S.: The Myth of Our Failing #Schools

The  leaders of the education reform (Michelle Rhees, the Bill Gateses, the Walton family, among others) movement have been pushing hard to make education fuction not like an academy but more like a business, profit motive and all, as Jeff Fecke writes on Care to Make a Difference.

Education, after all is a big business. Do I have to go over such a simple explanation?

"There are a few things standing in the way of business and all this money, however. Chief among them are the teachers, women and men who chose a career that is not especially lucrative, and indeed is constantly disparaged. The vast majority of teachers decided on their career not because they wanted to get rich, but because they truly want to help children learn. They understand that providing education to every American free of charge is the precise opposite of running education like a business, and thank goodness  --because business would spend less time educating the “unprofitable” kids.
We can, and should, continue to strive to improve our education system. We should not be satisfied with an education system that gets diplomas into the hands of only 88 percent of adults. But neither should we pretend that this system is badly broken, or in decline.
Improving educational outcomes does not depend on breaking the unions, or converting our public schools to charter schools. Rather, it depends on our ability to address problems outside of school --poverty, access to health care and child care, access to early childhood education. These are not problems our school system can fix. Indeed, as long as we continue to cut social services, these are problems that will only get worse.
Our schools have done a great job of improving outcomes over the past 70 years, despite a general lack of support. Our schools are not failing. Despite the demands of high-stakes testing, the attacks on educators as a group, the continuing sneering as schools in general, our education system just keeps doing what it’s always done -- educating children, as best they can with what little we give them. They don’t deserve a free pass, but neither do they deserve the opprobrium heaped on them. Our education system is better now than it has ever been. For that, educators deserve nothing but respect."

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Tips for Forming a Successful Online Study Group

By Kay Winders *

Some students who take courses online can begin to feel isolated from their fellow students if they don’t take proactive measures to actively participate in online discussions or to reach out to classmates. Some may just not know where to start – after all, you can’t just hang out after class and casually ask a passerby about this week’s assignment.

Forming an online study group is a great way to get to know online classmates better, as well as learning the material better and getting more support for your studies. However, you will need to make some special considerations when forming an online study group in order to ensure it’s a success. Here are a few

Select Members Carefully

The success of any study group – whether online or off – depends in large part on its members. Each person should be committed to the success of the group and should be able to meet regularly and contribute fully.

Start by reaching out to classmates who seem active in classroom discussions. Or ask a classmate whose work you admire in the class. These students are more likely to be valuable and dependable members of your group, which will bolster its success.

Choose the Right Medium

There are a number of ways for you to hold a virtual meeting online: Video conferencing through Skype or Google chat, discussions through online forums or e-mail, or special programs such as ThinkBinder.

Determine what the best outlet will be to ensure that all members can attend and that you can do the work you need to do. For example, if you choose video conferencing, do all members have a web cam to participate? If you choose a software provider, do all members have the technical capacity to download it?
Make sure you are all on the same page before you make these decisions.

Set a Schedule

Keep your study group focused and make sure you’re prepared for big upcoming tests and projects by setting a schedule. Not only can you ensure that everyone is available when it’s time to study by working out the scheduling conflicts ahead of time, but you can also make sure that everyone is adequately prepared to
make a meaningful contribution to your study session.

Also be sure to set an agenda – or mini schedule – for your individual study sessions. This will keep your discussion on track and help ensure that you meet your goals for the session.

Pre-Load Study Materials

Once you have your schedule set, make sure that members know to pre-load their notes and other materials before the study session begins. That way all members will have access to the same materials so that discussions are facilitated more smoothly. After all, you can’t have a productive conversation when you’re referencing materials that not everyone has.

Create a space online where group members can share this information. There are several possibilities, including Drop Box, Google docs, and similar services. Make sure that everyone has usage rights or the login credentials to access the materials.

Choose a Group Moderator

Finally, make sure that your study sessions stay focused and on schedule by appointing one member to be a group moderator. This person can oversee the agenda you have set for the meeting and ensure that discussions stay on topic and that you meet your goals.

You may consider appointing rotating group moderators to distribute the responsibility so that one person doesn’t feel pressured to do more work. A rotating moderator can also give you the opportunity to figure out which member can do the best job of leading the group.

Forming an online study group is a great way to build relationships with classmates while also strengthening your understanding of the material. When you form your online study group, follow these tips to make sure it’s successful.

Have you formed an online study group? Share your tips for success in the comments!

(*) Kay Winders is presently the resident writer for http://www.badcreditloans.orgwhere she researches the best way for people to pay off their debts without damaging their credit. In her spare time, she enjoys freelance writing, the beach and gardening.

Taking Action Against Bullying in the 2012

Most students are coming back to school again this year and it's just time to remember that we all have a right to live our own lives, but in peace, and it's also a right to go to school without being hassled.

Bullying means disrespect. Showing respect for other people means accepting their differences and treating them the way you'd like to be treated. Unfortunately, bullying is the exact opposite.

In the process appears four subjects: The bully, the target, the bystanders, and the ally. When you're getting picked on all the time, it's hard to feel good about yourself. Bullying can affect a teen in middle and high school, in all kinds of ways. Some symptoms may include: Aches on their head and stomach, absence of concentration in class,can't sleep, low self-esteem, depression, skipping school and the most dangerous of all, thinking about hurting themselves or others.

Last year, the media covered a variety of cases where young students lost their lives as a consequence of bullying. One thing is teasing (a playful thing you do with friends) and another is taunting (which is meant to hurt someone's feelings). Both terms mean making fun of someone, but under this situation they're quite different.

Fortunately, two media specialists from Maine had published a book which aims to help parents, students and teachers this year to combat what Kay Stephens and Vinitha Nair called Cyber Slammed. That's precisely the name of their book: Cyberslammed: Understand, Prevent, Combat And Transform The Most Common Cyberbullying Tactics.

Authors focused on six different tactics and ways parents and educators can be informed, and armed to protect their children. The two main references used in the book were,, and, along with Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard (Hinduya, S & Patchin, J.) Of course they used other techniques and surveys.

Some of the bullying activities are very subtle, which is why teachers and other adults often don't notice that it's happening at all. There are four common kinds of bullying: Physical Bullying, Verbal Bullying, Social Bullying, and Cyber Bullying. The aforementioned book talks about cyberbullying, understood as a bad use of technology to threaten, harass, or hurt someone, spread rumors or pass on someone's private information.

Since most teens who are bullied often don't want to tell adults what's going on, Stephens & Nair propose free workshops(In Maine only) on a series of internet safety. They also have created a digital learning network. Writers suggest these six tactics of self-defense are what is missing from today's cyberbulying curricula:

Using the Internet

1. Digital Pile On. Ganging up on someone on chat forums or Instant Messaging.

2. Rating Website. Using Internet polls to get bystanders to vote for their "ugliest," "fattest," "dumbest" peers.

3. Imposter Profile. Creating a website or social networking profile to deceive others to assume it is genuinely owned and maintained by the target.

4. Haters Club. Spreading mob mentality on websites or social networking sites to persecute an individual.

Using Cell Phone

5. Sexting. Taking or sending an explicit photo of oneself and forwarding it to friends or potential suitors.

Using a Digital/Video Camera

6. Videojacking. Videotaping a target without his knowledge/approval and uploading the video to a popular video-sharing websites.

The money you spend buying this book is well worth it. Each one of the tactics is accompanied by a guide to conflict resolution for the teacher and 'inmediate steps' to be taken by either adults or students. One of the sections I love most is the Tech Defense which elaborately shows you what do in the event that you need to help and defend a teenger in your school with lawful, and practical strategies.

4 Technological Tools Students Can Use to Stay Informed About the Election

By Aniya Wells *

There's never been an easier time for students of all ages to access information about politics. They can download an app that will give them real-time updates about what's going on with the presidential candidates. They can surf to a plethora of different news websites that provide political information. They can listen to podcasts, radio shows, and watch videos about politics. With so many ways to learn more about the election and so many opinions about the election, it can be difficult for students to figure out which technological tools will give them the best and most reliable information.

Photo by

Here are four trustworthy technological tools/web resources that make learning about the 2012 presidential candidates easy and enjoyable:

1. The New York Times Election 2012 App

The New York Times is one of the most reputable sources of information on the web. Their election app for Android and Apple devices is also one of the most comprehensive when it comes to providing information about what's going on with the presidential campaigns. It provides the latest news, public opinions, videos, and poll results. It also provides users with detailed information about the presidential candidates' viewpoints on crucial issues. This app is perfect for older students who want to learn everything possible about the election and its participants.


This website is a one stop shop for all the political information you could possibly ever need. Like The New York Times election app, this website may be better for older students (high school and college-aged). However, teachers and parents can definitely sit down with younger students to discuss the concepts and news presented on Politico.

3. YouTube Politics

The official YouTube Politics page includes all the video highlights of the campaign trail, from both the web and major news networks. Many of the YouTube videos on this section of YouTube are both funny and informational, and almost all of them make learning about the election more accessible for younger students, who may have difficulty with some of the vocabulary used on sites like Politico. If you're the parent or teacher of young students, just make sure your children don't watch the videos unsupervised. Unfortunately, there are a couple of videos on this site that are intended for more mature audiences. However, these are the
exception, not the rule.


This is a site founded by Sandra Day O'Connor in 2009 to help educate kids about the U.S. government and politics. In addition to boasting a wealth of information about the U.S. constitution, the federal branches, citizenship, and presidential campaigning, this site also offers free interactive activities and games for teachers to use in their classrooms to educate their students about the upcoming presidential election. is a great tool for both young students and teachers.

If you're a student looking to learn more about the presidential election this year or a teacher looking for some tools to use to educate your students about the election, check out the app and websites listed above. It's truly amazing how much more accessible complex information becomes when technology gets thrown into the mix.

(*) Aniya Wells is a guest blogger who primarily writes about education and technological advances in education. She also regularly contributes to numerous education blogs around the web. Please contact Aniya at aniyawells AT gmail DOT com if you'd like to share any comments or questions.

Twitter and the Classroom: How to Social Media Site Can Boost Career Development

By Nadia Jones*

Twitter may have not been originally designed to help teachers enhance their career development, but the micro-blogging social media site has really transformed the way some educators are connecting with students in the classroom today. Not only is it a more interactive approach when giving lessons for example, but it's also time-friendly—which is really important to teachers who spend most of their time preparing lesson plans and grading exams. That said, Twitter can be a really useful tool. To learn a few ways that you can utilize it, continue reading below.

Photo by Flickr user 'magerleagues'

Follow Industry Leaders. Teachers should always keep learning, and one of the easy ways to keep track of news and trends pertaining to your particular field or just education in general is "follow" other industry leaders. You can use the search tool bar and use hashtags (#) with keywords to help you locate desired niches such as #edchat. But to help you get started, here are a few "handles" we suggest you follow to keep you in the loop: Inside Higher Tech, eCampusNews, and Cooperative Catalyst.

Use as a Means for "Review." When outside of the classroom, Twitter can be used to remind students about upcoming exams and assignments. But it can also be a useful way to help students review the day's lesson and get a more thorough understanding of what was discussed. For example, you can tweet an in-depth question (which may or may not be on an upcoming exam) so that students can get a better idea of what important parts you wanted them to obtain from the lesson. You can also tweet links that direct them to sources that can help them answer the question. In turn, students can communicate with you or fellow students and propose their own questions or observations. So that you're not tweeting at 10 p.m. at night, make sure to give a time frame and say: "I will only answer tweets before 7 p.m." or something along those lines.

Incorporate Twitter into Lesson Plans.Last but not least, you can use Twitter directly in your lesson plans. A good friend of mine, who just happens to be a 9th grade English teacher, tries to use Twitter in order to help characters in various books come to life. Each student takes on a novel character and creates a handle, such as @Gatsby124. The student then "tweets" as if he or she is that character. They are required to use hashtags as well. Since students are limited to 140 characters, it also helps improve their writing because they're forced to write more concisely.

Of course these are only a few ways that teachers can use Twitter to their advantage. Does anyone else have some great tips?

(*) Nadia Jones is an education blogger for She enjoys writing on topics of education reform, education news, and online learning platforms. Outside of the blogging world, Nadia volunteers her time at an after school program for a local middle school and plays pitcher for her adult softball team. She welcomes your comments and questions at
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