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Jul-23rd-2016

Making Online Education Attractive

6-advantages-of-online-tutoringAll over the world, the numbers of people in school at the different levels takes pyramidal shape. There are huge numbers at the elementary, but as they progress, the numbers decrease, leaving just a few in higher education. In the United States, some 65 million students were expected to enroll from K to K12 in the fall of 2015. In the same period, it was expected that 20.2 million would be attending Colleges and Universities. It is estimated that 25% of fresh high school students in the U.S.A are not able to graduate. For fresh students who enter colleges or universities 1 out of 3 are likely not make it to second year. This dropout out rate hinders national development, because many people do not receive the full training they need to be functional in society. National development would be hugely fostered, if more adults receive education, in order that they become functional in society.

I am not saying that all adults who were not fully educated are not playing important roles in society. There are very prominent individuals in society who dropped out of school at some level. Bill Gate, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, for example, at some point dropped out of school. Though this list is not exhaustive, the number of people who dropped out of school or decided not to gain higher education and yet became successful are relatively few. For the majority who dropped out or discontinued education, and could not become successful in their careers, it was because they lacked the knowledge they needed to develop their potential. If you check the history of those who in spite of dropping out or discontinuing schooling have become successful, you would find that appeared to have found their life’s purpose and so pursued those goals and, more importantly, they received some kind of education later.

Education as we all know is a life-long activity. At any point in time, whether you dropped out of school or got honors at your graduation, you would need education. The school dropout who has found himself a vocation or gained employment needs education so he/she can be more productive, the dropout who has realized the need to school but has ‘grown past school going age’ and desires to school obviously needs education, managers as well as employees need further education in order to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing world and gain increased wages and status respectively. Somehow, the traditional education dependent society we have created for ourselves and considers the ‘best’, limits our quest for continuing education. For many people, formal education ended the day they dropped out or graduated from High School, College or University, even though, technology makes it possible for us to sit in our houses and still get quality education.

When technology – computers and internet connectivity – replaced physical classrooms and made it possible to study by distance in real time, it appeared the issue of continuous education for everyone, including the dropout and the working class have been solved. It appeared, and still does, that now the teacher need not leave his students, apply for study-leave or leave of absence to pursue further education. It appeared the fifty-year-old woman who dropped out of school several years ago could now school from home and it appeared the father could learn what his daughter is learning at College using the same device he uses to call her. That is what it appeared. Those who dropped out of school due to issues of finance and have not since had a breakthrough would not benefit, and those who have the money would not want to put their money into a certificate employers and academicians alike would frown upon. So little appear to have changed for these two groups of people, though online Colleges and Universities abound.

Two prime issues are to blame. First, online education is too expensive for the target group of learners and second, there is the perception that online Colleges and Universities do not provide holistic education like the traditional Colleges and Universities. As indicated by Ed Vosganian – founder and CEO of College Funding 123, the cost of on-campus University for undergraduate is estimated at 42,000 dollars while for the same group it cost around 21,000 dollars for online universities. By comparison we would say that it cost far less to study via online. But we need not lose sight of those who mostly enroll in online University. It is those in the middle and lower classes who opt for online universities. They include; the employee who has sacrificed pleasure for higher qualification in return for better wages, the unemployed who wants to gain employable skills, the dropout who wants to get back to school in the hope that there will be a brighter future, and the people living in the remote part of the world, especially in the developing world, who don’t even have the money to pay fees and so would have to learn and work simultaneously. To these 21,000 dollars is money so huge, it is very difficult to raise. There are people of the higher income class who enroll in online universities, but online learning is not popular among these due to low prestige and the myths associated with online education. The online institutions will tell you, they would not put anything on your certificate to show that you received a non-traditional education. This kind of advert speaks of how society values online education. Online education is considered a cheap way of getting ‘watered down’ education. Online Colleges and Universities were until recently considered diploma mills. This perception still exists, though empirical evidence tells us there is no disparity in quality of students from traditional Colleges and Universities on one hand and online Colleges and Universities on the other. The online Universities and Colleges are doing their best to make online learning prestigious and bring down study cost, but they cannot do it alone. With government intervention online learning can become prestigious and lower and middle class friendly.

Government should provide a national framework for online education, subsidize accreditation, and grant scholarships and student loans for students in online Colleges and Universities. A national framework to guide the operations of all online colleges and universities should be instituted by the state, through the Department of Education or the relevant government agency. This framework, which would be descriptive and not prescriptive in nature would describe, for example, the minimum courses to be taken at a given level, and the general mode of operation of online universities and colleges without prescribing specific courses or mode of operation. Accreditation is not just laborious for online Colleges and Universities; it is also expensive. This cost is passed to students, souring up program fees. If the government decides to absorb half the cost of accreditation, though there is no guarantee the program fees will be halved, the program fee would be reduced somehow. Lastly, most of the students who opt for online colleges and universities do not receive scholarships and student loans from the state. Those who receive something do not get huge scholarships and student loans like their counterparts in traditional Colleges and Universities. Government should make scholarships and students loans available to students of online Colleges and Universities just as it does for students in traditional Colleges and Universities.

The ramifications of these interventions would definitely be awesome. Providing a national framework for online education would take away the false negative perception people have about online learning. Many think online learning is easy and also the number of credits taken are far less than those taken in traditional learning settings. This thinking exists because there are some poorly designed online courses in which certificate are awarded after just a couple of assignments have been submitted. Such practices can be stopped, when a national framework is developed and operationalized. A national framework will give credibility to online learning, because a national standard for online would have to be adhered to and so no online college or university can just sell certificate. Subsidizing Accreditation will yield three results. The most obvious is that, it would reduce program fees because amount to pass to the students would be less. Subsidizing accreditation fees would encourage online Colleges and Universities to seek accreditation from accrediting bodies recognize by the Department of Education or the appropriate state agency. Even though accreditation is not compulsory in some parts of the world, like the united states, some occupation that require state licensing would not accept degree from non-accredited Colleges and University. Prospective online learners are, usually, worried about whether the can easily work with their certificates. Government intervention would remove this worry and remove the negative perception people have about online education as well. Government interventions in the form of scholarship and loans would ease the financial burden and make it possible for those who hitherto would not be able to school to do so. In sum, government intervention would go a long way to produce an enlightened society by permitting many people to receive higher education.

There are many people wanting to get higher education through online Colleges and Universities so they gain knowledge and skills, or enhance their knowledge and skills but cannot do because of either the cost or the uncertainty of the acceptability of the certificate. Government intervention in the form of national framework for online universities and colleges, subsidizing accreditation cost and providing scholarships and student loans would open the door for those who want to study from home. Government intervention can give the assurance that online learning is as good as traditional college or university learning, and that their certificate would be accepted jobs that require state licensing. It would ease the pressure on facilities in traditional Colleges and Universities, produce the well-educated citizenry needed for national development and convert the current pyramidal shape into a ‘near’ cylinder.

Jun-7th-2016

10 Tips To Ensure Staff Observations Improve Teaching, Learning and Assessment

leaflanguages2I have been considering the decision of Ofsted to stop grading individual lessons during inspections. The reason is understandable – they did not want to give the impression that the impact of teaching, learning and assessment can be condensed into a snapshot of one lesson. This has triggered many providers to evaluate their procedures for judging the quality of their provision with some implementing non graded observations. But is this ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’?

Many words have been written on the effectiveness as well as the detrimental effects on staff of carrying out graded observations. But what must not be forgotten is that, when the approach and focus is right, observations themselves are an integral part of a staff member’s continuous professional development.

How to make sure observations really do contribute to improving teaching, learning and assessment? You must ensure the following apply:

1. All staff know the purpose of observing/being observed – a tool for informing CPD, an opportunity to share good practice.

2. Observers are well trained to observe, record and deliver feedback.

3. The observation judgement criteria focuses on learning.

4. There is an equal ‘power’ balance between the observer and observe; they regard each other as supportive professionals. The types of observations carried out include peer-support observations.

5. Observees actively contribute to the feedback.

6. Observations are only one of a number of sources of information used to assess the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. Others include learners’ progress, the standard of their work and their feedback etc., over time.

7. Judgement grading descriptors are less contentious and more supportive. e.g. support needed, good practice seen etc. Giving some criteria judgement make it easy to see improvements after remedial actions.

8. Staff are encouraged to be involved with their own learning by contributing to observation feedback, discussing their future needs and how they do/can contribute to the organisations improvement and by completing their own CPD.

9. The process has credibility and shows clearly staff development needs as identified, actioned, followed up – and the impact they have made.

10. Good practice is identified and readily shared through the organisation and with subcontractors.

Do you agree with the above but lack of time and the weight of the admin burden is preventing you getting the most from your observations? Maybe your present system is built around spreadsheets? In this case I would encourage you to investigate an online software system that allows layered levels of access, according to staff positions in the organization.

May-27th-2016

9 Imperative Benefits of Digital Education Platforms

University students looking at notebookWhat Is A Digital Education Platform?

A digital learning platform is a software ecosystem with tools that gives learners, teachers, parents and administrators access to common communication tools, information, and resources, not only within the school but outside it as well. When used correctly, it can significantly minimize expenditure on IT and administration, reduce teacher workload, and enhance learning and teaching experience.

For years, printed textbooks have been used, but today some companies have made the intensive efforts to shift from print study materials to digital tools in the form of digital educational platforms. With this change, content has become more interactive and engaging, and the advantages are obvious.

It includes tailored learning technologies ingrained around a digital textbook and can be personalized by faculty to fulfill the requirements of the specific class. They can be easily used on any device and usually involve problems, games, and quizzes to keep students interested and engaged in the topic. Not only these platforms are economical for students to get it, but, when compared to lugging around books, they’re extremely convenient to use online.

Digital Education: An Adaptable Approach

One of the biggest benefits of digital learning is its power to bring the classroom to life with ample of features that benefit not only students but also teachers.

Not only do these platforms work well with students in mastering the content, but they also prepare students with the technical knowledge and skills required for future courses and jobs. The innovative technology and personalized learning integrated into these platforms have lots of benefits.

The 9 Imperative Benefits Of Digital Learning Platforms

These platforms are growing continuously across a wide range of educational institutions, from primary wings to universities. Here are 9 benefits which cannot be overlooked-

1. Improved organization of communication and information

It can assist a school to make sure every student, parent, teacher, and administrator gets access to the information they need, and when they need it.

2. More parental involvement

Using it, parents can get better informed about their child’s progress and school news, and eventually, the learner gets more support at home to continue their learning.

3. More opportunities for personal learning

Using these platforms leads to a higher range of learning resources, and so can both support and motivate independent learners.

4. Improving quality and variety of educational resources

Online education platforms let teachers the opportunity to supplement or replace the textbook with a different range of learning and teaching resources, both in the classroom and online.

5. Bigger opportunities for interaction and collaboration

Collaboration between schools and teachers to merge expertise and resources, and better collaboration between learners, are a few of the most remarkable benefits of making use of this platform.

6. Taking advantage of teachers’ time to attain positive results

Digital education platforms provide several benefits for administrators and teachers by automating several tasks that they need to do regularly. Consequently, schools get more time to focus on their core activity- teaching.

7. Smoothing the progress of strategic leadership and teaching management

With the assistance of modern digital learning platforms, the education sector can get benefitted from faster and clearer communication among all the people involved in education.

8. Enhanced management of student attendance and behavior

They have been found to aid schools’ efforts for improving student attendance and encourage positive behavior.

9. Developing the school identity and community

These platforms assist increase school democracy and offer their students a voice, usually leading to a persuasive sense of school community.

E-learning platform technology is ever-developing today: it’s now faster, more secure, and convenient to use, and it easily gets integrated with other third-party systems in order to create a much more comprehensive studying environment students.

Digital Education: An Access to a Modern World

Today, they are more likely to play an increasingly crucial role as more and more schools and teachers want to develop their use of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) in different areas. By providing communication channels, educational course and tools and school management systems, the best education platforms offer students and teachers a single and quick gateway to using technology inside as well as outside the classroom.

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