Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Montgomery Faculty Categories "Filled" With MCPS Students World Health Organization Would Like Remedial Mathematics

With very little regard for whether or not or not they're prepared, MCPS students square measure being nearly universally pushed into pure pre-algebra online tests on eduboard.com, and a Montgomery faculty mathematics prof reports that excessive acceleration is backfiring.

From today's Gazette:
"Our goal is to induce … eighty p.c of our students to be college-ready by 2014," colleges Superintendent Krauthead D. Weast aforementioned at the time. "It's associate degree formidable, however terribly accessible, goal as long as our students grasp the pathway that it'll go for get there."

But the pace may well be too quick, aforementioned Dina Yagodich, associate degree adjunct mathematics prof at Montgomery College's Germantown field with 3 kids in county colleges. whereas she isn't against acceleration, some students cannot handle the advanced pace, she said.

Her pre-algebra categories at the faculty square measure "filled" with students World Health Organization graduated from the varsity system, she noted.


"I am involved for the push to induce eighty p.c of scholars a full grade level ahead once twenty six.8 p.c of them are not even at the eighth-grade level," Yagodich aforementioned. "The push for acceleration has involved Pine Tree State, and though it's smart for several students, I worry that several students square measure pushed on the far side their skills and square measure ne'er able to catch copy."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

New Conflicting Trends in Education

There was a time when the basic needs of human beings were only food, clothing and shelter. With the rise of the industrial age, education was added as one of their basic needs. And now education is one of the major industries of the world, producing graduates to manage and run the economy, politics, and the transmission of culture. But with the information age gaining more and more ground in our society, we are seeing conflicting trends in the educational system.
The first conflicting trend is in the area of cost. While the cost of formal education in colleges and universities is rising, the cost of education through the Internet is getting lower and lower. In many countries the observation of educational managers is that educational cost is rising higher than the inflation rate of a country. And yet getting information which is the raw data of education is becoming cheaper and cheaper through the Internet. Students can connect cheaply to the Internet through Internet cafes and access information that before would cost them much. They can now download ebooks, many of which are free.
In the Website Personal Money Store an article is written about Academic Earth. It says that while Academic Earth is not an organization that can provide a learner with college credit, it can give him or her nearly all the same material he or she could receive in a traditional college classroom, at a time when he or she wants it, without the hassle of transportation and dress expenses. There is an advertisement in this Website of "Great College Lectures, for FREE."
The second conflicting trend I see is in the area of methodology. With more information to digest and more books to read students are getting more and more burdened with reading, memorizing and comprehending the content of the books and lectures of professors. And yet on the other hand there are so many individuals and groups trying to make learning fun and enjoyable, not a burdensome experience.
In the Website DNA Read the World there is an article entitled "New trends in teaching that make learning fun." In this article we read, "To make students enjoy and understand at the same time is the key principle on which education institutions should work on." There are also online experiments with mnemonics to make memorization fun.
The third conflicting trend is in the area of results. Almost everywhere in countries with Western kind of education the complaint has been that the educational system produces unemployed or underemployed graduates. There is no assurance that upon graduation employment is there. And yet jobs are being generated through the Internet. Some get jobs by writing reviews of books, of programs, by creating websites, by programming, etc., not to mention the many scams online.
The Website Engines for Education is trying "to raise consciousness about the changes needed in our educational system." Hopefully these changes will also solve the problem of unemployment or underemployment of our college graduates.
What do these conflicting trends tell us? It seems that the following trends are possible.
As the cost of formal education goes higher and higher and the cost of non-formal education through the Web goes lower and lower, only the wealthy will be able to access formal education while the not so wealthy will be content with non-formal education through the Web.
As the process of education becomes more and more burdensome to students more and more educational games will be put on the web where the students will be spending more and more of their time. There are already indications that students cut their classes in order to spend their time playing games in Internet cafes.
As more and more unemployed and underemployed are produced by our formal system of education, more and more jobs will be created through the Web.
The changes in the educational area are not so clear at the present time but it seems clear that there are indications of substantial changes in the near future.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Critical and Creative Thinking in a Global Education Setting

I just finished reading A Critical Thinker's Guide to Educational Fads, which was published by The Foundation for Critical Thinking. In it the authors discuss the essential idea of various educational 'fads', proper educational uses and likely misuses of each. The fads range from school choice and Socratic questioning to integrated curriculum. Three of these fads stood out for me as important ideas that should be considered in more depth... and together as an educational strategy.
Critical Thinking
I believe critical thinking is the most important fad discussed, as it involves metacognition (thinking about thinking). When we think critically we reason, evaluate, judge and problem solve so that we produce the best thinking we can. When we think critically, we speak and listen with empathy, consider all viewpoints, think with an open mind, observe more carefully, persevere through a thought to an intelligent conclusion. Schools should teach critical thinking because this skill just might get us through any situation in life we might face.
I was not taught how to think critically in school... were you? We use critical thinking all throughout school (conducting science experiments, writing papers), but most of us are never specifically taught how and why it is important to think critically. We need to teach students this skill along with how to master test taking, how to develop good study habits and more. Most students muddle their way through and develop these skills and abilities on their own. Think of how much more successful they'd be if we'd just give them the right tools.
Educational Fads suggests the idea of teaching history as historical thinking, biology as biological thinking. Instead of memorizing our presidents, students should analyze presidencies in an historical context. Imagine the number of students who might be intrigued with science if it were taught this way. Our schools tend to teach in such a fragmented way that broad concepts are isolated instead of integrated into a larger perspective.
Citizens in today's global world need to know how to think critically in order to effectively communicate with and work alongside others from various walks of life. We must learn how to communicate with people who live in vastly different cultures where perspectives are different and backgrounds diverse.
Creative Thinking
Genuine creativity builds on critical thought, and as the authors of Educational Fads state, something is not creative simply because it is different. Creativity involves thinking 'outside the box' in order to solve a problem, create something new, do something differently than it's been done before. Simply thinking creatively will only get us so far. Creative thinking must be combined with critical thinking to truly produce distinctive results.
Creativity sparks the imagination to think in unique ways to do things, to solve problems - even in interactions with others in non-conforming ways. Creativity and imagination allow us to fathom the concept of putting a man on the moon, connecting mankind through this thing called the internet, inventing silly shoes called Crocs.
Folk lore states that FedEx founder Fred Smith received a C on a term paper in which he outlined the basis for his idea for FedEx. Smith describes his thoughts not as a eureka moment, but as a simple observation. He described his thought process in a 2007 interview:
"As society automated, as people began to put computers in banks to cancel checks - rather than clerks - or people began to put sophisticated electronics in airplanes - society and the manufacturers of that automated society were going to need a completely different logistics system." (From the May 6, 2007 blog posting: Interview with FedEx Founder Fred Smith - Yale University)
Was Fred Smith taught how to think creatively and critically? If he wasn't, he was certainly doing it on his own. His idea began creatively, but was followed up with critical thinking in order to bring the idea to reality in a credible and viable way and it was thought out within a global perspective, and if it had not, FedEx might not be the company that it is today - or even exist at all. This is the kind of creative thinking which is combined with critical thinking that our schools must teach our students how to do. Instead of giving them a problem to solve that may have an obvious solution, we must challenge them to combine critical and creative thinking to seek new pathways to a solution or to a solution itself that would not have been reached otherwise, as Mr. Smith did - as so many innovators do.
Global Education
Educational Fads describes global education as curriculum designed through a global perspective. In our increasingly diverse culture which resides in an increasingly open global community, global education is crucial for this and every future generation to participate in - in an age of nuclear capability, growing terrorism and an ever-increasing pool of diverse perspectives that have a voice in the global community.
Our schools serve as a microcosm of the larger world, and educators must prepare our children beginning at an early age to not only accept but embrace everyone's differences - their differences in appearance, in thought, religion, ethnicity, background, and more. We must teach students to think beyond their classroom, beyond their community, instilling in them a global perspective from which to learn new concepts and ideas, new perspectives, new ways of considering the various aspects of the world.
We in the United States live at a physical disadvantage to most of the world, as we are separated by many miles and have developed preconceived notions about the world which in many cases are incorrect or flawed, due in part to our lack of critical thinking and to large degree due to our physical, emotional and intellectual separation from the rest of the world's population. As the world grows closer because of technological advances that allow us to video conference with people globally with the touch of a button, purchase products from the remotest corners of the world with the click of a mouse, everyone must check their egos at the door; fairly address viewpoints with which we disagree; and empathize with others' insights, perspectives and knowledge.
If educators worldwide embraced the idea of teaching critical and creative thinking in a global education setting, future generations would learn the importance of diversity, empathy and fair-mindedness - allowing us as educated citizens of the world to think about our world, those who are in it, and the problems we face as a shared civilization.
Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Cynthia Stephenson brings 20 years of sales and marketing experience to her writing which has included corporate marketing materials, websites, blogs and more. Stephenson received her BA in Journalism in 1989 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and began her career as a graphic designer and editorial assistant for Northwestern University the following year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

21st Century Workplace Education

I have been in the corporate environment for many years and always wondered why do we have a training department? I always thought it should be the Education department. Education is not only in academia. In this century, it is no longer learning in school first and then goes to work, it is a life-long learning. Education goes together with work. There is a continuous evolution of changes taking place and employees at all levels need to be current with what's going on in the industry and in their line of work. Only then they can come up with creative ideas, think differently, share and make positive contribution. In which case, Education & Development department makes much more sense to me.
With mechanization, modernization and technological developments, businesses need fewer people who are trained to do things a specific way and more people who are educated to find new ways of doing things. All people should be able to think and come up with different ways of doing things and offer their thoughts because everyone is an intelligent human being, not just the so called executives. Thinking organizations are constantly alert for new ideas and new methods, keeping in mind the cultural diversity. People across the globe think differently. It is an added advantage to the organization to have diversity from as many angles as possible - experience, education, age, culture, ethnicity and gender leading to a wide variety of different perspectives for better customer focused results.
"You don't train people; you train dogs, snakes, elephants and fish; you educate people."- Stanley Marcus
What's the difference? The word education comes from the Latin 'educo', which means to change from within. Training provides an external skill. Education changes the inner person. Training deals only with the doing level. Education teaches people how to think. 1-12 month infants are trained and after a year they too learn to think. This is critical even in schools, to teach the kids to think critically, analytically, logically, conclusively and inferentially.
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". - Chinese proverb. When you give him a fish you train him and when you teach him to fish you're educating him.
Let me give you an example: I received a letter from a company that said they do not have my current address. Well, but I received the letter at the current address. When I called and talked to this young woman she had been trained to act. She had been conditioned to recite her memorized lines. She has rehearsed it to perfection. But she had not been educated in customer interaction.
She said, 'Please fill in the form and send us your correct address'. I said, "if you don't have the correct address how did I get this letter from you to the correct address?' She has not been taught to listen to the customer, to think about what the customer is expressing. She is a robot. Often times we try to standardize everything including interactions!! I have seen in corporate environment where people are given scripts to greet, answer the questions and solve problems. What is happening in corporate world? Getting brainless robots? How can they provide service to customers? Can they have a decent conversation on customer needs? The last question she asked me was 'Is there anything else I can do for you?" I am sure many of you who read this article have heard this question.
Education deals with the feeling level, the way we respond to stimuli. First we think about it, then we begin to feel it, then we choose our behavior and act based on that feeling.
Training attempts to add on the qualities needed for success. Education builds them in. Training is required to teach a specific skill or to learn a specific procedure. But it is ridiculous to develop a process for human interaction... Corporations believe in a myth to develop a process for everything including smiling, greeting and thanking. You're in a sealed box and they keep saying 'think outside the box'. It's vital and crucial for corporations to invest in ways that let people grow by knowing to think for themselves.
* Training focuses on teaching people yesterday's skills.
* Education focuses on teaching them to develop tomorrow's skills.
"You can't have a better tomorrow if you're thinking about yesterday." - Charles Kettering
We continue to spend our time in the past, teaching people what to do instead of focusing on how they think, feel and behave; far too much time is spent on getting a job done and conforming instead of producing outstanding results and being creative. We have the powerful creative, highly imaginative brain that we hardly use.
In my corporate experience for several years, I have seen even high level executives who are short sighted and focus on saving their jobs. It is rare to find people who think of "What kind of company do we want to be in 20 years and what kind of employees will it take to get us there? What can we do to educate them?" People seem to be self centered than being loyal even though their resume says so. Only when people start thinking those questions, we can plan educational development programs to develop competent employees for 21st century.
To bring about such changes corporations need behavioral agents, not trainers who are plentiful, easy to find and not particularly expensive. Behavioral facilitators who nurture lasting qualities that won't become obsolete that quickly are not commonly available. Even if the qualities they taught did become obsolete, people are now educated to think and they will be able to adapt to change. And come up with ways to deal with the changes.
If yours is a thinking organization, you should be able to:
  1. Talk directly to people in other departments and divisions, to customers and suppliers.
  2. Form teams across departmental lines and employees at all levels, to execute new projects or to solve common problems.
  3. Ask front line employees for their opinions and rewarded for ideas that work on a regular basis.
  4. Treat mistakes and failures as learning experiences and not as black marks against people who then get fired.
  5. Thinking organizations are made up of people who are educated in such skills as goal-setting, problem-solving and decision-making, communication and conflict management, negotiation, total quality management (TQM), time management and teamwork.
Awesome Power is an organization committed to to encourage, motivate, inspire, coach and support individuals to reach their fullest potential.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Maori Education - The Path to Our Future

Figures recently released by the Ministry of Education show that there has been a steady growth in Maori tertiary enrollments. However, although there has been growth in enrollment figures, this growth has been attributed primarily to growth in attendance at Wananga and educational institutes that empower Maori to embrace not only the learning of their history and culture, but teach mainstream educational courses in a manner that appeals to the style and formality of the Maori culture itself.
However, the figures also indicate that Maori are less likely to enroll in tertiary education facilities during the core tertiary ages of 18 to 24. According to the University of Waikato, a number of factors have been identified as affecting the successful participation of Maori students in tertiary education. These include the transition and adaption to unfamiliar environments and learning procedures, inappropriate support systems, financial barriers and a lack of social and academic support. A number of studies have highlighted the high number of students who are first generation participants in tertiary education, for whom adjusting to the practices and rules of a new environment without the support of whanau (family) is difficult.
Nonetheless, the emerging signs and trends of increasing Maori participation in tertiary education institutes are encouraging. Further research into the role of Maori education has highlighted the need to tailor the learning style, experience and environment to suit the aspirations of the Maori culture and the value of the whanau.
According to a review of Maori education conducted by MAI in 2007, the further education of the individuals, both young and old, is essential for the continued development and future prosperity of Maori and the culture. With a better educated population base, the review proposes that Maori will be better able to determine their own futures and prosper, both economically and socially. Marginal educational records and enrollments affect the future prospects of the individual and the whanau. However, several initiatives are proving very successful in respect to enrollment and completion rate of Maori students. These include empowering Maori in the community to take on leading roles in education institutions, developing role models that young Maori aspire to replicate.
Leading tertiary providers in New Zealand have realised these facts and have created tertiary environments that not only cater for the general public, but provide specific learning styles, teachings and learning environments that are conducive to the continued promotion of Maori education. Those who are serious about Maori education have gone so far as to provide customary Maori buildings, such as the marae, which is not only the focus of the whanau, but learning and education. Plus some institutions provide a "Manaakitanga" programme designed to support students' success in their studies.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Top Universities in New Zealand - The Newfangled Source of World-Class Education

The potentiality of New Zealand for world-class education has recently been discovered as the education system of this English-speaking nation revolves around the British system. So, students from other English-speaking countries will find the curriculum of the top universities in New Zealand easy to cope with. Renowned for its fascinating outdoor locations, and imposing landscapes, the country of buzzing cafes, clubs and restaurants has made its mark in the field of education also. As stated by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand, the major cities that draw the attention of global students include Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.
Pupils who are eager to study in New Zealand can opt for institutions like Victoria University of Wellington, University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University and Massey University. Though there are other institutions available for pupils, the aforesaid names are some of the top universities in New Zealand.
Established in the year 1897, the Victoria University of Wellington got its name after Queen Victoria. This very old university comprises 8 faculty divisions, namely education, science, law, architecture and designs, graduate research, commerce and administration, engineering, humanities and social sciences. Among them, the architecture and designs has established its uniqueness by becoming the foremost center in New Zealand. Situated in the capital city of Wellington, the university facilitates the prevalence of a vivacious atmosphere both inside and outside the campus. It also makes sure that students not only grasp a profound knowledge of their subjects, but they also apply their knowledge in their given fields.
Located in Christchurch, the biggest city of New Zealand's South Island, the University of Canterbury was founded in 1873. Originally called the Canterbury College, the institute is rated among top universities in New Zealand due to its advanced research centers, and a large pool of motivational faculties. The university offers education to over 2,000 foreign students and 20,000 domestic students. The six colleges that are affiliated to the University of Canterbury provide teaching in education, law, engineering, science, arts, and business and economics.
If you want to study in New Zealand, you must certainly consider the University of Auckland, the biggest university at present with more than 38,000 students enrolled. The university boasts one main campus in the heart of Auckland or four specialization campuses in the region for enrolled pupils. There are more than 4,000 international students from over 90 nations pursing various courses in the university. You can choose one from a variety of programs offered on education, arts, science, engineering, bioengineering, business administration, theology, and medical and health sciences. The University of Auckland has occupied a top position in the list of best universities of the world, prepared by a popular rating agency.
A study in New Zealand can be fruitful in terms of a number of student scholarships too. However, you have to apply for these scholarships much earlier due to their limited places. International students can avail a maximum of 28 scholarships every year. The most prominent scholarship schemes include Livestock Emissions & Abatement Research Network (LEARN) Fellowships and New Zealand International Doctoral Research Scholarships (NZIDRS).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recession and Online Education

During times of economic recession when employment opportunities are minimal and layoffs are abundant, adults naturally seek opportunities to make themselves more marketable to employers. Whether individuals need to acquire new skills to enter an entirely different career field, or they simply want to fine tune skills that they already possess to keep their existing jobs, education is often the solution. However, unemployed or working adults with families and busy lives may have difficulties fitting college courses into their hectic schedules. Recession May Drive More Adults Students to Take Online Classes by Steve Kolowich is an article that discusses the reasons many adult students will choose online learning in the current economy. In this article, I will summarize Kolowich's article. I will also provide an analysis of what I think has created this enrollment trend: cost, convenience, and completion.
Article Summary
Adults often choose times of economic hardship to go to school. Currently, more adults are selecting two-year colleges and private for-profit colleges than traditional four-year universities for their educational needs. Many of these students will take online courses. The 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning anticipated that all types of colleges would experience increases in enrollments, but non-traditional schools could see the greatest jumps in enrollments. Elaine Allen, one of the report's authors, attributes this to the fact that non-traditional schools offer online classes.
Online classes offer many conveniences that traditional college courses do not. Students can take online classes at times that work for them. They do not have to leave their homes to go to school. They are still able to care for the needs of their families. Individuals can save on gas by not having to drive to campuses.
Online enrollment has been steadily increasing since 2003. More than a fifth of all students enrolled in higher education were taking at least one online course in 2007. Over half of the colleges surveyed in 2007 thought that it was critical to offer online courses to students. In addition, 70% of the colleges noticed an increase of student interest in online learning. Students are beginning to choose colleges specifically for their online programs.
Because of the recession, jobs are scarce. Tough economic times put "more people in the pipeline, looking, and hoping for opportunities" (Stevenson, 2008). Taking classes or earning a degree gives individuals an edge over the competition in the job market. "The majority of continuing education students today are most concerned with first getting into the academic pipeline" (Stevenson, 2008). Adults enroll in programs that offer classes to complete degrees they did not finish in the past. "A lot of people want to increase their skill levels or get that degree they didn't have. The threat of losing their jobs can be as big a motivator as the actuality" (Kolowich, 2009). The cost of losing a job or not obtaining a new job is greater than the cost of education. In addition, non-traditional colleges offering online courses often cost about the same of even less than traditional universities.
Unemployment benefits often pay educational costs during the first year of unemployment. Unemployed individuals can use these benefits to take classes. Some companies give educational benefits to employees that they had to layoff. Former employees can use these benefits to learn new skills. Individuals are able to enroll in classes without worrying about how to pay for them.
Many adults who would like to go to traditional universities to earn degrees are unable due to busy schedules. They have to work or search for new jobs. They have children to care for and households to run. "They may prefer to go into the classroom but they need to work or stay at home and they don't have the time. An online education may be their only chance to get a degree" (Johnson, 2006).
Online courses offer much more flexibility than traditional classroom classes. Students can participate on days that are convenient for them. If they have to do their schoolwork early in the morning before going to work or late at night after the children are asleep, they can. Online courses still have participation requirements and assignments with due dates, but if students know that they will be busy on days assignments are due, they can simply do these ahead of time.
Many online programs allow students to take only one or two courses at a time to be "full-time." This allows busy adults to focus on a minimal amount of subjects. Their other responsibilities would make it difficult to take four to five classes at one time as is necessary to be full-time at traditional universities.
Students do not have to leave their homes or jobs to attend online classes. They can participate in class from anywhere that has a computer with internet access. Time is not wasted driving to campuses, finding parking, and walking to classes. Parents do not have to worry about finding childcare for their children during class times. Students do not have to rush from work to school to home feeling as if they are constantly on the go. Online classes offer conveniences like these that traditional courses cannot.
According to Stevenson (2008), "today's non-traditional student is interested in one thing: completion, completion, completion." Adult students want to earn or complete their degrees as quickly as possible. "Students earning a bachelor's degree from University of Phoenix take one class at a time for five weeks per course" (Johnson, 2006). This means that students can complete up to 10 - three credit courses in a year or 30 semester credits. Accelerated online degree programs like this are a big attraction to individuals who desire to complete degrees quickly.
Because of our country's current economic recession, more often adults are enrolling in degree programs. Some hope to find new jobs, while others aspire to keep the jobs they have. Education is an effective way increase employment opportunities. Many of these individuals choose to attend non-traditional colleges. Non-traditional schools offer several advantages to benefit the busy adult. These advantages include cost, convenience, and completion. Non-traditional institutions "tend to offer programs that have traditionally been tailored to serve working adults" (Kolowich, 2009). Online courses offered by many of these schools are the ideal educational alternative for busy adults.
Johnson, F. (2003, August 21). Online Education Helps Fight Enrollment Dip. Enterprise/Salt Lake City, 36(7), 9. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from Regional Business News database.
Kolowich, S. (2009, January 16). Recession May Drive More Adult Students to Take Online Classes. Chronicle of Higher Education, 55(19), A11-A11. Retrieved August 1, 2009, from Academic Search Complete database.
Stevenson, J. (2008, September 15). Streamline the Pipeline. Business West, 25(9), 38. Retrieved August, 1, 2009, from Regional Business News database.
My name is Andrea L. Rodriguez. I am an educator. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies with an Emphasis in Spanish, a California Teaching Credential for kindergarten through eighth grade, and a Washington State residency Teaching Certificate for kindergarten through eight grade. I taught elementary education for nine years in both public and private schools in California and Washington. I also taught kindergarten through sixth grade outdoor, hands-on summer science camp for four years. Currently, I am a university enrollment advisor. I help adults choose degree programs to fit their goals, assist them in the enrollment and financial aid processes, and prepare them for success in online or campus college courses. I am pursuing a Master of Arts in Education/Adult Education and Training to better serve the adult students that I enroll. I also hope to one day become an employee trainer for a corporation or an instructor of adult college courses.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Educating Professionals For Success - A Lifelong Process

What is the difference between education and training?
Education develops the faculties and powers of (a person) by teaching, instruction, or schooling; to qualify by instruction or training for a particular calling, practice, etc. It focuses on the individual and his or her ability to make a contribution.*
Training gives the discipline and instruction, drill, practice, etc., designed to impart proficiency or efficiency. It focuses on a specific, finite task.*
Let's take a closer look at how education builds from one level to the next:
Pre-school: provides a good foundation in personal, social and emotional development, knowledge and creativity that enables individuals to become more confident and able and ready to learn much more as the years go by.
Elementary School: achieves the best possible intellectual, moral, social, and physical development of the individual while developing the potential of each person and to preparing them for the responsibilities and fulfillment of adulthood.
Middle School: introduces a broader range of exploratory courses and activities in order to assist young adolescents to discover and develop their interests and abilities through teacher-adviser programs, extracurricular activities, and core curriculum.
High School: prepares students for a meaningful life; to be a good citizen, economically self-sufficient and respectful of themselves and others; to ensure that all students leave ready for college, jobs and/or civic involvement.
College/University: takes middle school and high school imparted knowledge to the next level, prepares individuals to specialize in a particular field and empowers the student with life skills that enable him to contribute positively to society.
Post-graduate Study: provides advanced learning in specialized disciplines, an in-depth understanding such that the student becomes something of an expert in the topic of study; prepares students for today's diverse careers in the public and private sector, or for continued study.
Education should never stop, yet, in the automotive industry the focus has shifted to training, and minimal training at best. New hires are typically given collateral, a video, an office tour and introductions, shown their desk, phone and order pad, and expected to jump in.
To augment this, sales trainers are continually advocating new techniques, workshops and seminars, all designed to provide quick fixes that will jump start sales. At APB we call that "flash in the pan" training. In reality, these fixes simply offer a brief burst in sales that dies out just as fast. In fact, when analyzed over a two month period these bursts only move business from the following month and into the current month; the two-month average stays the same. It seems like everyone is always looking for something new without having mastered the basics. Until 100% of the customers coming in get a demo no one will have earned the right to "try something new."
The bottom line is that retail teams in automotive dealerships don't need training to succeed; they need education, an ongoing process of growth that builds on previous lessons and provides structure, but that never ends.
Professional education is a lifelong process that should be facilitated by every dealer and embraced by every employee, from manager to greeter. Every day something new emerges that requires learning and has applications for our business. Today we have YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, eBay, an "app for that" and on and on. People can get virtually anything, anytime, anywhere. When individuals stop learning they stop growing and in our business, if they stop growing they quickly will be left behind.
In today's market, ongoing education is an investment not an expense. No longer can a dealer capture a good share of the market simply by having a quality product. Dealers need to find ways to separate their operations from their competition. Good service and properly trained people certainly are on the top of anybody's list of ways to get that done.
At the "pre-school" level, professionals are generally new to the industry and require training in the basics including:
  • Introduction - hours of operation, technology and tools available, PDA, CRM, etc.
  • Sales orientation (product / service training)
  • Sales administration - resources at your disposal
  • Dealership culture and guiding principles
  • Job description - not selling, but helping customers select the exact car that fits their needs
  • The processes unique to the dealership including the methods used to greet and capture important data from every customer
  • How to ensure that each customer understands that the dealership is the single destination for all their transportation needs
As employees advance, their progress should be monitored against clearly established and communicated goals. If challenges arise, they should be viewed as indications of the need for additional education in that particular area that can complement ongoing education. More advanced programs allow individuals to hone their skills or concentrate on specific areas. These may include:
  • Key Account Management
  • Customer Service Excellence Training
  • Sales Training
  • Telephone Sales Training
  • Sales Management Training
  • Prospecting
  • Customer Relationship Management Training
  • Negotiation Skills Training
As a manager, it's important to quickly gain an understanding of what level each employee is at, from "elementary to post-graduate," and to provide educational opportunities that build on each employee's existing knowledge.
APB takes a customer centered approach, realizing that it is the customer's perception that must rank high in any successful and enduring Sales and Service approach. Just as important is the collection of meaningful data that provides the basis for analysis and interpretation for any improvement plan.
The "Red Carpet Treatment" or treating the customer right must always be the basis for the Sales and Service process. When sales and customer satisfaction go down, it is often because the dealership tried something new and forgot the basics. A consistent process helps dealerships keep to the fundamentals and establishes measurements to identify ways to improve.
Education is also essential for the leaders of a dealership, those that have learned the importance of providing the resources needed to get the job done; those who choose to concentrate on becoming all that they can be - not on trying to beat their competition. They must become personally involved and demonstrate the value in ways that their people can understand. Managers must demonstrate by example the lessons taught to every employee and set the tone that everyone can follow. When they do, they are supported by an army of well-educated staff that executes on the lessons they've learned.
Ongoing education represents an opportunity to grow people, profit and performance. A dealership's investment shouldn't be in the brick and mortar, but in its people. Buildings don't sell cars, people do and until that is realized they will always be a step behind. Dealers today aren't money broke, they are people broke.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Using Continuing Education Loans to Help Reach Your Career Goals

If you feel like you're stuck in a dead-end job, continuing education may be the answer. The high costs associated with advanced training and education, however, prevent many people from seeking the additional education they might need in order to improve their earning power or move into a more desirable field. But with the help of continuing education loans, many working individuals find that they are able to pursue the advanced training or degrees they need to finally achieve their career goals.
Adults seek to further their educations for a variety of reasons. Some are simply finishing their degree programs. Others are looking to enrich their lives with continued learning. Still others are interested in mapping out an entirely new career path. There are even benefits to pursuing continued education if you're already working in your chosen field. An advanced degree or additional training may put you in a better position for advancement within your own company or may provide you with more leverage when negotiating for a raise.
Opportunities for adults to pursue continued education are everywhere. From night classes to correspondence courses to online degree programs, a variety of options are available to working individuals. Unfortunately, however, pursuing an advanced degree or vocational training in a new area can be an expensive proposition. Online degree programs may help you reduce your costs by eliminating the need for textbooks and transportation, but the credit hours themselves may be just as expensive as they would be at a regular 4-year college. Most people can help to make their costs manageable, however, with the help of continuing education loans.
Available from a variety of sources, continuing education loans exist to help adults manage the costs associated with the pursuit of continued education. Many private lenders offer continuing education loans; and, assuming that you have a good credit history, approval rates for these loans are generally high.
When you apply for a continuing education loan, your lender will let you know how much money you will be able to borrow. This amount may cover a portion of your school fees or you may qualify for the entire cost of your degree program (including books, equipment and other requirements). Some lenders will also allow you to choose whether to begin payments while you're still in school or to defer your payments until you've completed your program. By choosing to defer your payments until you're finished with school, you may be able to reduce the amount of time you're currently working, helping you to finish your degree more quickly.
As your new degree begins to open new career doors, it is hoped that the costs associated with a continuing education loan will be far outweighed by your improved earning potential. By helping you to manage the costs associated with furthering your education, continuing education loans may ultimately mean the difference between staying in your current job and finally pursuing the career path you've always dreamed about.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Raising the Bar on Excellence Through Education

"I will continue to strive towards greater challenges."
Education can be seen as a great challenge, but what it provides you is even more rewarding in the long haul. Education will help give you the fundamentals needed to have all the success you can possibly dream of in life.
The ability to understand, comprehend, problem solve, and research anything on your own stands for a self sufficiency that empowers you to always "know that you know". This is the correct answer to any challenge life may present. Education in its simplest form means you never have to take someone else's word on anything.
The subject of education can be looked at in many positive ways. You have probably thought of many of these situations yourself. However, there is one view of education which some people do not think about. It can make all of the difference in the world in your life.
When you put a little careful thought into it, it is easy to see the significance of education. When you see how strongly education relates to excellence, it will be enough motivation to do your very best.
Whatever you learn, there is always more to learn. The key which makes learning one of the most positive aspects of your life is that education will not only enable you with a good foundation, it will also help you to build on it.
For every door which opens from learning, another open door is not very far ahead. The more education you seek, the closer you will be to a new door. Each new door symbolizes new and greater opportunities, dreams, goals, and success.
There is no reason for you to make-do on the least amount of education that is required of you. You have a far greater potential than you may realize, and education is the way for you to reach your highest potential. All you really need to do is to believe that you can achieve. When you focus on education, you will step closer and closer to your goals. When you focus on education, you will not stop until you have attained them.
When education is an important part of your life, you will see many new goals unfolding in front of you; even if you may not have been able to see them before. Education will show you new doors and become the primary key to opening them. You do not need to settle for less than the very best when you realize that learning will show you potential that you did not even know you had.
If excellence seems like a faraway dream, you now have the answer to making it come true. You can strive for the very best, and education will get you there.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Best Education For Managers

Crisis in management education
There is no consistency today in the way we educate managers. Larger organizations tend to have more comprehensive programs. If we look at the business results of the past year it will show that these programs have not been very successful. In the US over 99.9% of all organizations have less than 500 workers. Many of these organizations have little to non-existent management education. There is a great opportunity now to improve. Most of the big companies use the traditional approach. Their managers are given a combination of classroom education, role plays, and outside experts with their theories. In many cases there is little follow up and measurement around the results of the education.
What does the BEST management education look like?
The BEST management education consists of a combination of classroom discussions and real life practice. While some background theory is important, it is better to have discussions around management practices and different approaches. The problem with traditional management education is that it is standardized and designed to fit all employees at once. For example, a new manager is having attendance issues with an employee. The traditional advice is to warn the employee that his behavior will lead to punishment if not corrected. Then managers are given exercises in class to try their skills at giving tough messages to make believe employees. Managers learn the right way and the wrong way and the training is complete. Unfortunately correcting human behavior is more complex.
Management is both an art and a science
Socrates had it right when he said asking questions was the best strategy to lead people to where you wanted them to go. Management education should be focused around discussing many possible solutions and strategies that might be different for each situation. Most HR policies tend to use the same rules for all people but people are different and have many different issues and managers must learn how to approach each person in a unique way. I had an employee once who was always late.
My peer manager suggested this person was lazy and I should punish him. I took a different approach. I sat down with this person and showed empathy. After asking many questions, I discovered this person was caring for ailing parents at home and his life was just overwhelming. We worked out a new schedule which allowed this person to come to work a little later in the morning. This gave him time to take care of his parents until a nurse arrived. As a result, his productivity soared and he was never absent again. Under a strict set of policies this person would never have been given a second chance.
Invest the time to educate mission, values AND behaviors
Did you ever notice families with well behaved children who just seemed to know what to do at all time? They were very independent and almost seemed too mature for their age? This was a result of good parenting which I suspect was a combination of paying a lot of attention to the goals of the family, values, and what was expected. At work adults are just like children but with bigger bodies. All adults require care, opportunities to thrive, and strong and open communications.
Empty organizational mission
Many organizations invest the time to place charts around the building describing what the organization stands for. Missing are the charts reflecting organizational values and expected behaviors. Best manager education invests time getting people to do more than just memorize the organizational mission. Best manager educational programs discuss why the organizational mission is important and what the organizations' values are. For example, if the organization says serving the customer is the most important value, there are countless definitions and examples of what this means. Finally, people are clearly given examples of what behaviors are expected to support the mission and values. In the above example, people are told that they are expected to make decisions at the lowest possible level using creativity when solving customer problems. This BEST manager education makes work come alive for people.
Measure for development not for rewards and silly contests
The best way to destroy management education is to surround the activities with rewards and silly games. For example, I can remember one program which gave tests and the managers who scored the highest were given dinner coupons. I can remember another program which gave out candy and movie tickets in class for participation. The BEST management education activities are open to all employees and have follow up opportunities after class to manage!
Everyone can benefit from management education
Many organizations only offer their management education activities to their star performers, emerging leaders, and other equally silly and useless categories. First, the BEST system gives opportunities to all people to go through management education. The BEST management education figures out a way and then process to enable all people to manage right after the education. In some cases, people will directly lead others. In other cases, people will lead projects. For the majority of people they will be allowed to manage their own work free from micro-management, limited decision making ability, and free from the threat of punishment AND the promise of reward.
The BEST management education is a creative and inspiring process not an event. Just one look at the collapse of the US economy in 2009 is alarming enough to know that the past management practices at a global level have led us down a path of destruction and reduced quality of life. Now is the time for new management models and practices. It starts with new ways of education and what it means to be a BEST manager!
Craig Nathanson

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Demise of Public Education

From time to time during my tenure in public education, I would receive emails or documents on theories or notions about what might be wrong with American education. Each new idea usually was accompanied with the perfect solution for our educational crisis. Each few years seems to hatch a new and bullet-proof plan to fix public education. Most notably, for example, has been the Federal Government's "No Child Left Behind" Project.
Most recently, in response to "No Child Left Behind", I received an email from a good teacher and friend of mine, who shared the "Blueberry Story". Essentially this metaphorical account, unlike industry and businesses akin to ice cream manufacturing plants, stresses that educational institutions cannot send back a bad batch of blueberries. The schools have to take all the kids along with all their limitations, disabilities and dysfunctional family situations. And they have to meet the harsh standards of "No Child Left Behind" with that "batch" of kids. No sending them back.
I responded that I liked the story, but I felt the problems in public education were much worse than just having to work with a diverse group of students with all their problems and distractions. I offered to share my views on American public education if she cared to listen. She emailed back that she would like to hear my take on that. So, the following rant is my spin on what is wrong with our schools today.
The demise of public education has been carefully and systematically orchestrated since WWII by a small group of extremely powerful men who control our government. These individuals are not necessarily those who make our laws, but rather those who, loyal to their own globalist agendas, lurk behind the scenes to bribe, coerce, lobby, and or even threaten our governmental officials in the Senate or House of Representatives. They are backed by trillions of dollars of money, much of it scammed from the American taxpayers through the Federal Reserve Banking System. Their power is enormous and their presence is ubiquitous. Presidents Andrew Jackson, Lincoln, Garfield, T. Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Kennedy all tried to warn us of their ominous and dark presence. In fact, in 1963, President Kennedy announced that he was aware of a secret plot by the world elite to enslave every man, woman, and child in America. And he vowed to expose this plan. He was assassinated a week later in Dallas.
If we have awakened from the stupor of TV, video games and sports, we can clearly see from alternative news outlets, that we are moving steadily towards a world government, the treasonous dream of corrupt elite like David Rockefeller, and cabals like The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, and The Bilderberg Group, which incidentally is meeting in secret, with police protection and under media blackout, this week, (June, 09), in Athens Greece to plan the next phase toward world domination. The swine flu hoax, monetary manipulation of the stock market, forced inoculations, control of the food supply, and other "conspiracies" designed to scare the hell out of the public, cripple the U.S. economy, and render us into third world status are all pieces of their masterful mosaic of world control. Historically, however, the paramount nemesis blocking their globalist plot to enslave mankind has been a Constitutional Republic called the United States of America, the last stronghold of democratic ideals, free speech, and the best educational system in the world. Our nation has served as the beacon for liberty around the planet and a thorn in the side for the forces of tyranny.
Key to the demise of the United States has been a plan to destroy true education of our youth. The "globalist" thugs, originally acting through David Rockefeller and the Department of Education have purposefully attempted to undermine, water down, compromise, and render our educational system second rate though a gradual dumbing down of kids and expectations for once high standards. As a result, kids now learn to work for the "collective whole" instead of individualism. Academic achievement among kids is not valued nearly as much as athletic prowess. In fact, high achievers are now nerds and snobs in the eyes of many of the more accepted mediocre students. Children are taught to get along, be cool, and not question authority. Competition has been reduced to working in groups where the best kid often does the project and all the kids get the same grade. Grading has been gelded for the rising numbers of students with "special needs" who get special treatment and easier tests. Often "special needs" mean they have an attitude or emotional problem, or they are among the increasing numbers of Asperger's children. Many students are on medication, which usually means they have special needs. This adds a tremendous burden on classroom teachers, who must adhere to each student's IEP or 504 Plan, with depleting help from classroom aides due to Federal cuts to education. Discipline has weakened in public schools due to threats of legal suits from parents. The teacher is guilty until proven innocent is now the status quo. This trend, however, has been evolving for 40 years. It is no accident that we are on overload with kids with ADHD, kids with Asperger's Syndrome, Oppositional-Defiant children, or a cadre of other childhood DSM-IV diagnoses, mainly because of the drug companies push for more vaccines, misuse of prescription medication, and the government's effort to fluoridate our water supply. As a result of the dissolving home life, kids turn to gangs, and families become dysfunctional families. Add single parent and broken homes, disenchanted youth who are turned off to education but turned on the 100 channel TV, video games, cell phones, rap music, drugs, and sex, and you have a dream fulfilled for those who seek world domination in the wake of a fallen educational system.
Yet, there is a glimmer of hope from a few who stand against this scheme to undermine education. On November 14, 2008 Ron Paul said in a New York Times interview: "First, the Constitution does not authorize the Department of Education, and the founders never envisioned the federal government dictating those education policies. Second, it is a huge bureaucracy that squanders our money. We send billions of dollars to Washington and get back less than we sent. The money would be much better off left in states and local communities rather than being squandered in Washington. Finally, I think that the smallest level of government possible best performs education. Teachers, parents, and local community leaders should be making decisions about exactly how our children should be taught, not Washington bureaucrats. The Department of Education has given us No Child Left Behind, massive unfunded mandates, indoctrination, and in some cases, forced medication of our children with psychotropic drugs. We should get rid of all of that and get those choices back in the hands of the people." This is a tall order for a country that has been slipping into ignorance for a long time. But, there is always hope in our future if we can awaken our youth to rise up and demand to know the truth about their country.
Yes, the "Blueberry Story" says a lot. We can't ship them back. We have to somehow address the problem, but we first must fight a few more enemies such as denial, ignorance, and apathy - rampant and pervasive. Our world ranking in education certainly is evidence of that. We certainly have a long row to hoe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New York Works Hard to Keep to Keep Education Funded

Though states across the nation have been suffering from budget cuts and loss of funding, New York is doing its best to keep its school art programs alive. In 2009, New York City schools surpassed previous years in arts classes available, and more students enrolled in these classes, according to the Department of Education.
Despite the number of art classes currently offered in New York City schools, the district has dedicated a smaller portion of their budget to art education, reducing the expenditure on the necessary supplies by 63%. The ability to maintain a lively arts program regardless of the budget cuts becomes more necessary every year, as New York can expect almost $200 million dollar cuts in the future, as reported by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in the annual study of arts education.
New York has fostered pride in their schools by assigning grades to schools in the district that meet expectations, earn positive reviews from students and parents and assign budgets wisely. Grades are based on testimonials from students, parents and teachers and a variety of other elements. The grades are posted on the school's website, and principals are judged according to the success of their school and the efficiency of their work. Mayor Bloomberg approved the controversial rating system, arguing that the ratings maintain credibility.
Despite the growth of the arts programs, more than half of New York principals are claiming budget cuts as an impediment to a more vibrant arts program. Less than half of middle schools meet state standards for arts education and only 8% of elementary schools are reaching expectations. However, this still represents an improvement, as the previous percentage for elementary schools was only 4%.
Budget cuts are growing by the year. There will be a two and a half percent cut his year, and twice as much the next year. Educators and administrators need to fight to keep their programs strong. Some economists have suggested putting aside money for the arts in particular, as the current policy of allowing principals to choose the levels of funding has failed. Many schools ignore their arts program in favor of tested subjects, like English and math.
Reaching across the map, in the last year, more than half of American states have announced that they will be slashing budget allowances for education. Maine has reduced funding per student by approximately $140, as has Florida. Maryland, Massachusetts and Nevada are limiting their gifted and talented student programs, which will stop music education. These states are also expanding their budget cuts this year with even further proposals. Colorado and Idaho are reducing overall funds to public schools, meaning that districts will be cutting funding to arts education.
California, like New York, is looking at huge education cuts in the upcoming year. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed over four billion dollars in educational cuts to a state that has already been limiting funding to its schools. Administrators are expecting the limits on class sizes to be done away with, block scheduling forbidden, and sweeping job losses. Arts programs in Californian schools are as good as forgotten.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Few Words on Educators in Career Transition

Educators are people with Intestinal Fortitude
. They are people with courage and perseverance to stand up in front of a group and speak to them with authority; not everyone can do that. Persistence, too, is a quality that is characteristic of Educators. They learn early in their profession that it is important not give up on people, but instead set clear goals and make every ounce of their energy available to others in order to help them reach those goals. Educators are also extraordinarily perceptive, trained to listen, to be sensitive to the reactions of others, and to gain feedback as to whether or not their message gets through. If the cliché is true that 90% of the problems of most businesses could be solved by better communication, then people with those skills would be in demand ... and they are! You can find them leading programs within businesses and as public relations specialists and "change agents".
Here are some other perspectives on Educators:
Educators are disciplined organizers who must learn early on in their careers to manage their time and that of others, wisely. Although their classroom hours may be structured for them, all that they do in the preparation and creation of new approaches and the monitoring, et al is performed in an unsupervised environment. This means that they have to set the structure themselves, on their own time, and maintain the discipline required to keep at it. Have you ever known an Educator who does not have strong scheduling, planning, time management and administrative skills? Just to be minimally effective requires careful planning as to course content, materials to be used, pace of learning, plus the optimum mix of role playing, testing, lecturing, drill, and more - very similar to project managers in business and industry.
Educators ARE project managers - and good ones too! They HAVE to be in order to get through the day, week and year. They are normally assigned duties beyond the classroom: Parent and teacher meetings; conferences; professional development workshops; associations meetings; coursework; and presiding over one or more student activities. It is left up to them to provide the organizational structure, goals, milestones for progress, and they are the final authority on matters that might be in dispute. At the same time, they have to understand group dynamics, build consensus, and enlist/enroll others to contribute so that they get the most out of the raw enthusiasm and talent that their students can bring to an activity. Too, it is they who see that things get done and the objectives are met, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and minute-by-minute.
If an Educator fails to function well as an expert project manager and leader, the evidence is glaring and staring them in the face. A poor newspaper article, a yearbook that doesn't come out on time, a junior prom that flops, an art show with unfinished projects, an archaeology club with no field trips... lack of results has immediate and harsh consequences. When you think about it, time after time and year after year, Educators as a group do turn in outstanding performances in these many roles they are asked to fill.
Educators are also creative professionals. They continually find new and refreshing ways to present material and make it interesting. They are adept at thinking on their feet, solving problems, taking on new challenges and managing "surprises" such as the audience that looks for inconsistencies in an attempt to trip them up if can - it makes news.
Educators are Public Relations, Communications and Community Affairs professionals as they are regularly involved with group and individual sessions with parents/providers/administrators/unions/board members... Often different aspects of the community are touched by Educators' activities, thus tactful and carefully thought-out communications is a must. This has become especially critical in recent years as schools have been asked to take over more and more of the roles formerly filled by families and the community. For those who are creative and/or thrive on new challenges, it's a jolt of adrenalin every day.
Educators are Counselors and Consultants. They are expected to provide the psychological and emotional support that many of their students AND families require. They also counsel and consult with each other. This requires the qualities of a good listener, advanced communications skills, a person who gets beyond the symptoms to the causes, a perceptive person who is supportive, compassionate and bold ... all these come to the foreground in the Educators who function as counselor and consultant. And finally...
Educators are trainers, motivators and coaches too. They take bodies of information and then design and implement procedures to make sure that audiences (clients, classes, teams) absorb that information. But they do more: They teach people to think for themselves and to develop the skills they need to learn on their own. This creative group of leaders, public relations professionals, program managers and trainers instill a desire in their listeners to take an interest in the subject matter and to work hard at mastering it. When you consider that they do not always have a willing audience, and that the subject matter is not always of the greatest interest to the audience, their motivating feats can be appreciated more fully! They are what's more, the ideal trainer.
Many formal Educators are General Managers who have started and run small businesses during the summer. It makes little difference whether it is a concession stand at the shore, a landscaping or house painting company, part ownership in a local restaurant; a summer camp, a basketball clinic or running tours for students. In any of these businesses, they learn what it means to meet a payroll and what cash flow and generating revenue are all about; and they learn to deal with the pressures involved in making a profit. They understand the importance of systems to control operations, costs and quality, and tat of good customer service ... and "selling" too. They oversee operations, plan direction, serve as spokespersons, train and organize, recruit and motivate, and more. They know how to "act in the moment" and make adjustments when things aren't going as planned. These Educators also understand logistics and supply chain and many other aspects fundamental to running a business. In general, they can do almost anything good managers of successful small to mid-size businesses can do, and accordingly, for all the Educators who have run or helped others run businesses, there are tens of thousands of potential employers, and that include just about every small and medium-sized business in the U.S.
There you have it ... just a few words on Educators! Hopes this helps someone.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Real Effect of Federal Bailout Money on Education

The federal bailout allocated $150 billion for education - a 2-year commitment that should have doubled the current funding for local schools. While it would certainly be too early to notice significant gains in education, as new hirings and new investments would likely occur this summer, one might expect to see, at the very least, a static picture in light of the recent funding boost. But we see the opposite: schools are in a frenzy to keep their doors open, teachers are losing their jobs, and special projects are being eliminated.
So why, then, does the education system seem anything but static if there is so much money being graciously pumped into the system by the federal government? Why have California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Arizona announced profound decreases in education spending, despite receiving education funding relief from the bailout? Many states are following suit. In the midst of the boldest federal commitment to education since World War II, educators are running for the hills instead of celebrating.
The answer is as clear as it is upsetting: local funding for education is gone. The economic crisis has decimated state finances, rendering state budgets for education closer and closer to zero. The result is that the bailout money is unable to bolster education funding, and must be used instead to temporarily stop the bleeding. Pennsylvania's newest budget proposals are the most extreme, calling to replace all local education funding with federal bailout funding. Sadly, however, such proposals should not come as a surprise: local governments have more immediate needs, and any money available will be used to fill those needs. The old education funding is being reallocated to many other state programs that are not getting bailout assistance, including infrastructure initiatives, justice departments, and a myriad of specialty programs.
It's hard to be too upset about this seemingly unjust usage of education bailout money in light of these 'more pressing' needs. The real problem is what is happening to the power structure in American education: as local funding is replaced by federal funding, state governments are conceding control of their education policies to the federal government, a power shift that could strip local schools of their control of curriculum, mapping, and resource allocation. Whether or not such a power shift is desirable is a debate open to talking heads and casual readers alike, but its implications should not be ignored. Are we ready for a more centralized education system? Are we prepared for the federal government to dictate more education policy? Should we be alright with a more far-reaching national bureaucracy involved in our schools? Fire away.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Changing Face of Education

Opportunities in education today would have been impossible even a few decades back. With the popularity of the Internet, easy accessibility to computers and the World Wide Web, higher education has been transformed into a new dynamic entity. With technology progressing at a rapid pace and demands changing almost daily, our lives are only becoming busier. The world around us is left with no option but to change and move along with the times to accommodate to our new schedules and requirements. This is more than apparent in the field of education. As times change, fewer and fewer students rely on the traditional method of attending classes at a college campus. The 'brick and mortar' type of education still exists but now side by side with the option of graduating from an online degree program as well.
As the number of people who look for ways to complete their education or improve their skills becomes too large, it is inevitable that a large number of colleges and universities take the necessary steps towards filling that need. But jobs, childcare and other family obligations limit the amount of time people can devote to their education, and thus, alternative arrangements are created. Online education has started gaining popularity and has now completely changed the way we approach education today.
Online degrees are now widely accepted and recognized as authentic educational qualifications. As long as the institution offering the degree is accredited by an accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, there should be no problem in the degree being accepted and acknowledged anywhere. Fully accredited online degree programs are now available in nearly every field. From management to medicine, law to accounting, there is a wide variety of choices on offer. Even obscure subjects and fields of study have found their place on the Internet. With degrees such as healthcare, students are even given the option of combining the practical aspect of their training at local hospitals or clinics along with virtual classes and studying online.
The flexibility of online education has opened up the doors of education to people from all walks of life. Stay at home moms and dads can now study from their own houses and employees can complete their assignments around their work schedules. There is 24 hour accessibility to the study material allowing for all night study sessions as well as the possibility of returning to subject matter again and again if necessary. And as universities continue to expand their options, the flexibility of online education will only increase. Students will be offered more options with the possibility of a custom created curriculum that suits their individual requirements and interests.
Distance learning also allows people hundreds of miles away to graduate with degrees from the college of their choice. Without spending a penny on gas or transport, students can make the most of a world class education with resources and faculty from all over the world. Through pre-recorded lectures, worksheets, assignments, e-classes, online forums, and tests, students can view, interact, and study from the comfort of their own space.
With a more flexible attendance policy, students can choose to tackle their workload as quickly or as slowly as they need to (all within a larger pre-determined schedule, of program). While this freedom may prove to be a little daunting to a new student, after completing a few programs, it becomes easier to get used to this new way of studying. To be successful in an online program, a large amount of self discipline and motivation is imperative. Without which it is all too easy to take advantage of the flexibility of the program and not achieve much. And while online education is definitely less expensive than a traditional degree program, to spend time, money and effort on something that is not taken seriously will not accomplish anything in the long run.
Online education in short offers every individual the right information in the right format at the right time for the best chances of success. Once upon a time online schools were considered the next wave of education and that future is finally here - ready to change the way we look at education way beyond the boundaries of any classroom.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ten REALLY Bold Ways to Transform US Education

I'm not a reformer. It's not that things don't need to change-it's that they need to change in such massive ways that "reform" doesn't even begin to touch it. I'm not a policy wonk or researcher either, but I do admire those who focus on the stats and the details of what is working (and what isn't) and who write about what might be done to improve schools based on the evidence. I appreciate that we need to know some facts in order to make informed decisions.
So, I guess I'm approaching the education issue from a more practical and intuitive position. For years, I've been teaching people how to pay attention, and I follow my own advice about cultivating awareness and watching what's going on in the world around me.
Simply paying attention is what led my husband and me to sell everything a few years ago (at the top of the market), yank our kids out of their suburban US high school and give them a truly global education. (And trust me, we are not the slightest bit rabid about politics, economics or education-we just saw that there were some changes coming and we wanted to give our kids and ourselves an advantage.)
My four kids who have attended a total of ten public schools in the US, not to mention numerous colleges-both state and private, American and international. I've lived in several states and countries and witnessed other approaches to education, and while writing my book, I interviewed a lot of experts about their ideas for implementing change. And as the CEO of Education Design Partners and founder of the Education Design Institute, I'm committed to helping people think about education in new and innovative ways and I recognize our need to focus on a micro one-student-at-a-time model rather than propose sweeping changes that have no chance of being implemented anytime soon.
Still, sweeping changes are fun to think about. Now, I know that for each suggestion I offer, there are probably ten reasons why it can't be done. We all have knee-jerk reactions to new ideas, so I invite you to pay attention to your own response and see if you might be missing a little nugget of hope buried in each suggestion. None of these ideas are mentioned in my book, by the way, and I wouldn't even say they are my most key ideas. But they happen to be the ones I'm thinking about this week as we look ahead to a new year and a new administration.
If you're really hungry for change, here are a few things to chew on....
1) Make kindergarten, first and second grades completely devoted to arts education.
This doesn't mean finger-painting all day-it means following an established and effective curriculum for arts education that incorporates all aspects of art in the teaching of traditional subjects. From five to seven years of age, kids are sponges just waiting to soak up ideas, and this is a perfect time to immerse them in a stimulating creative environment that encourages innovation and celebrates the natural artist within each of us. That may sound woo-woo, but it's not-arts education is a perfect foundation for higher level thinking, and rather than parcel it out an hour here and an hour there throughout elementary school, we need to give kids a chance to dive in when they are ripe to reap the benefits. Test (and present a portfolio) at the end of the second grade.
Note: the details matter. Have them wear artist smocks over their regular clothes. Creating the mindset of being an artist and approaching all subjects through the lens of art and creativity will provide a powerful mechanism for problem solving later in life.
2) Make third, fourth and fifth grades completely devoted to technology.
Again, this doesn't mean they are typing on a computer keyboard all day and mastering programming. It means that all subjects taught-math, language arts, science, social studies-incorporate technology, including laptops, Ipods, cell phones, digital cameras and more. Get them so comfortable with integrating tech tools into their studies that they see absolutely no barriers to the ways in which they can absorb, create and distribute their work. Teach them how to mix sedentary time with activity-these are the years to build good habits about health and exercise so they don't end up glued to a screen and neglecting their bodies. Test (and present a portfolio of multi-media work) at the end of the fifth grade.
NOTE: Have them wear uniforms that are essentially nice sweats. This helps them remember the need for movement and allows them to see themselves as individuals who can be active despite spending a lot of time using tech tools.
3) Where feasible, offer two-way language immersion programs in elementary schools.
We've got an increasing number of students who don't speak English as a native language, and we're packing them into ESL classes. Meanwhile, we recognize the need for more kids to learn a foreign language. Why are we separating the two? There are excellent models for two-way immersion-classrooms that include both a regular teacher and an ESL teacher and a mix of kids. When done right, two-way immersion gives ALL kids a chance to improve their language skills and results in both fluency and a deeper respect for different cultures and languages. Obviously, this would work best in districts/classrooms in which one foreign language is dominant-Spanish, for example. Why are we not giving our kids a chance to teach each other? The early years of elementary are the perfect time to start.
4) Make sixth, seventh and eighth grades completely devoted to science and math.
Other subjects will be incorporated, but the main focus should be on developing competency and fluidity in manipulating the most basic elements of math, biology, chemistry and physics. Since the kids have already learned how to ask questions from an artistic perspective and are very familiar with incorporating technology tools in their learning process, they're primed to leap into math and science and really develop a solid grasp of these subjects and how they enhance understanding in other areas. Test (and present research) at the end of the eighth grade.
NOTE: Make them wear white lab coats. (Yes, teachers, too.) This is done in numerous countries and it sets the tone and creates the mindset that science is studied, research is conducted, numbers are understood-and that every student has the ability to view the world through the lens of logic and data. Oh, and since these lab coats must be closed (buttoned or zipped) and go to the knees, those bare midriff/inappropriate t-shirt/designer logo issues disappear completely just when they're starting to cause problems. Whew!
5) Make ninth and tenth grades completely devoted to literature/writing and social sciences.
Students at this age should focus on the fundamentals of reading, critical thinking, and developing an understanding of the social, political and economic forces at work in the world. This should be a hard-core period of high expectations (not necessarily rigorous testing!) for each student and an emphasis on maximizing each student's ability to write clearly and express ideas. Their previous focus on science will serve them well as they will be familiar with presenting a hypothesis, testing a theory and sharing conclusions. Test (and present an in-depth report) at the end of the tenth grade.
NOTE: Make them wear school uniforms-typical preppy stuff. This is their time to see how they do in a very academic setting emphasizing liberal arts. Whether they are college-bound or not, it's very important that they see themselves as students who can understand the world and speak and write about it coherently.
6) Make 11th grade completely devoted to teaching students how to learn outside the classroom.
Get them OUT. Send them abroad (much more in my book about why this is the very best time to do this) on an exchange. Get them working or volunteering. Connect them with mentors in the community. Give them unpaid internships. Make them take several writing classes online (in which they are analyzing what they are experiencing and learning) and come to the high school two days a week (if they're in the area) for class discussions and group work. The goal here is to challenge them in ways that ensure they will develop confidence in their ability to learn wherever they are and the responsibility to balance freedom with high expectations. This is outstanding training for the global workplace.
7) Make them take community college classes during what would be their senior year of high school.
High school is too long. Students are being kept in a juvenile setting that stunts their growth and limits their thinking. At 17, they need to be learning in a more adult environment (that is, a mix of students their age plus adults) and they should be focusing on an area that interests them based on their experiences the previous year. By 18, they should have at least a year's worth of college credits (two if they've been motivated to take additional classes on their own) and can transfer to a four-year university as a sophomore or junior or continue a little longer to earn an associate's degree or study in their area of interest.
One of the biggest reasons we have such a low college graduation rate is that it takes too long. Universities encourage the four-or-five-year plan when it would be better for most students to finish in three years. Students who are encouraged to dive into higher ed at a younger age (from 16) can see the end in sight and are more likely to complete a degree than those who spend their junior and senior years of high school prepping for college and still have four more years to go. This leads to the next idea....
8) Eliminate the long summer vacation at all levels.
Seriously, it's time to get rid of this archaic idea of taking ten or twelve weeks off in the summer. It breaks up learning, eliminates gains, and results in an extended education period that is clearly defeating students from elementary school through college. If we no longer have summer breaks and shift to a set of three or four two-week vacations per year, and if we focus on presenting clear learning blocks (arts, technology, science, language arts/social sciences, experiential learning/mentoring), we can get kids immersed, keep them engaged and allow them to finish up by the age of 16. After that, they move into higher level learning in their areas of interest and get a head start on courses that allow them to develop the skills they need.
9) Eliminate high school sports and activities.
Hoo-boy, I can hear the crowd already! But we've got to get rid of this outdated model and stop viewing high school as a Disney musical or teen movie. Get them learning like crazy in ninth and tenth grades and excited to blast out into the world! Which leads to....
10) Turn high schools into community centers.
We'll have the space if the juniors and seniors are spending more time on experiential learning, internships, online courses and college-level classes. Use the fields for mixed-age intramural-type sports and other activities. Use the classrooms for adult education (community college partnerships could work beautifully here) in academic and vocational courses as well as recreational non-credit classes.
With more boomers and retirees shifting to second (or third or fourth) careers in social entrepreneurship, these new community centers could become laboratories for creative collaboration as well as providing students with great opportunities for internships in a range of organizations. Bring them all together in the school and give kids an opportunity to find mentors at an age when they need to forge relationships with adults who can inspire them. Keeping sixteen-year-olds surrounded by sixteen-year-olds in a juvenile setting is a recipe for arrested development, and it's being played out in the form of 25-year-olds who just can't quite get it together. They need opportunities to spend time with adults and get a sense of their possibilities early on, and our efforts to shove them into the college-prep system is resulting in boredom and burn out just when they should be on fire about their future!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why is the Shift Toward Online Education Happening?

This paper deals with the question: Why is the shift toward online education happening? This is a complex issue that involves questions of educational access, paradigms for teaching and learning, competition and globalization among universities, the development of new and better online technologies, and the financial pressures facing higher education. A huge transition is underway.
The same networking and computing technology that has revolutionized global commerce, and many other facets of modern life, is now being targeted at education. Partnering the Internet with modern course management systems makes it possible for universities to offer online coursework on a global basis. The critical task that lies ahead is to create and disseminate curricula of high quality that students can embrace and educators can sustain. For more details visit to [http://www.guardadsense.com]. The overall objective of José's Online Education Forum is to examine the realities of college and university online teaching, and the processes of education using today's information technologies. Collectively, the authors of this paper have taught over a hundred different university-level courses online, both graduate and undergraduate, mostly using the Internet. The issues and insights discussed in this Forum will provide educators with important tools and the understanding needed to effectively embrace the world of online education.
1.1 The Sloan Consortium
In a Sloan-C survey of 1170 Provosts and Academic VPs, more than half indicated a belief that online education would be 'critical for the long-term' in higher education. Surprisingly perhaps, the same percentage said that they believe success in achieving learning outcomes is already equivalent between online and traditional teaching methods. And there was also a consensus of opinion among these respondents that the quality of online courses would continue to improve, with a third of them believing that online teaching quality will soon surpass the quality typical of conventional teaching. These opinions may be surprising for many of us in the teaching profession, coming as they do from such high level and influential administrators. They signal a fundamental change in perceptions about the potential of online education in the immediate future.
1.2 Overview
The objective in this paper is to investigate and assess why this shift to online education is happening. Several factors can be cited beginning with improvements in access to educational services using online technologies and changing paradigms for teaching and learning that integrate well with these technologies. Other factors include heightened educational competition and globalization, the ongoing and often dramatic improvements in online systems capabilities, and the underlying economics of providing online education versus conventional means. The following sections of this paper explore each of these factors individually.
2.1 Access for the Masses
The ability to use information technologies effectively is one aspect of achieving success in today's society, both for individuals and for organizations as a whole. The current job market requires educated workers who are capable of changing and adapting as business and cultural realities shift and evolve in today's fast-paced, global economy (Kantar, 2001). Information technology is enabling the development of this kind of economic world structure. For more information logon to [http://www.instant-adsense-dollars.com]. It is also making possible the education of the workforce that this new economy requires by providing new capabilities for teaching and learning online.
Online education offers the promise of increased access to high quality education for the masses. Exactly how this is going to occur is not clear yet, but there is no doubt that online education is rapidly becoming an established modality. The development of the modern world economy demands an educated workforce. Places like the three It's (India, Indonesia, and Ireland) and more recently China, are finding that the need for an educated workforce is overwhelming the capabilities of their traditional educational systems. In America and Western Europe, the same economic and political pressures associated with 'equality of opportunity' contribute to demands for equal access to a quality education for all who seek it.