Online Education – Today’s Buzzword

Students world over are whole-heartedly accepting online education. The advantages of online education have made it the popular mode of education among the students of all age groups in all parts of the world. This growing popularity of online education has led to the emergence of a large number of educational institutions offering online education for a wide range of subjects. The growth of educational institutions offering relearning facilities has been significantly high in the US, Europe and the developed nations of the world.

Online Education- Changing Perception

In the past people perceived online education as an unserious and unscrupulous way of laying hands of a fast degree and getting good grades without much effort and hard work. People also had doubts about the reputation of education institutes offering online education. However, the times have changes significantly and today the majority of educational institutions offering online education are well established. Most of the world’s leading education institutions have commenced online programs, which vindicate the validity of online education. Most of the online courses offer in-depth learning to the students in their respective educational modules.

Factors Contributing To The Growth of Online Education

Online education is becoming popular because most of the educational institutions offering online courses ensure qualitative learning. Talented professors and subject matter experts are at the helm of affairs at almost all accredited universities and colleges offering online courses and online degree programs. The students can be assured of good results in such courses.

Here are some factors that have contributed to the fast paced growth of online education:

· Flexible schedule

The biggest advantage of online education is that the students can do effective utilization of their time, which is the most precious resource. People participating in online education have the freedom of maintaining a flexible schedule, which helps them tremendously and it has come as a boon for the people who are working and want to continue their education.

· Student-Centered Learning

The students in online education have an advantage because they are in charge of their learning experience. The students can prioritize their schedule and complete the assignments as per their comfort levels and convenience. This is possible because the teachers in online mode of education are not teaching you all the time. As an online student, you have the liberty to select the mode of learning.

· Fair Playing Field

Online education is growing in popularity because it offers a level playing field to all the students. When you are learning online, your performance is the only criterion that affects the decision-making and your gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, and other considerations do not cloud the decision making process. This is one of the major factors contributing to the growth of online education.

All these advantages of online education may prompt you to join e learning. However, before you take the plunge and enroll in an online course, please make sure that you are familiar with the methodology of online education.

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Guide Distance Learning Online Education

Distance learning opportunities used to exist through what was called correspondence courses, which were conducted over the mail, on the radio or on television. Today, the internet is the primary method of presenting educational materials. Online education affords students who little time or money, or who live in remote areas, to attend classes.

Classes Offered Through Distance Learning Online Education

Almost any curriculum can be pursued online. Students can seek programs that result in certification, advanced technical skills, associates degrees, bachelors degrees, graduate degrees and even doctorates. Even continuing education classes for licensed professionals and high school equivalence courses can be completed through virtual classrooms.

Methods for Distance Learning Online Education

Online education is usually web-based with a specific web site designated for the course. Supplemental materials, such as software, may also be part of certain online courses. Students visit the course web site to complete the posted assignments and take tests. Instructors and students communicate through email and chat rooms. Sometimes virtual lectures and discussions are part of online coursework. Students can attend virtual classrooms to complete their education and some colleges even have virtual graduation ceremonies.

Types of Students Who Pursue Distance Learning Online Education

Many different students from all over the world participate in distance learning online education opportunities. Some students work and attend classes online during their free time. Other students live in remote areas where local colleges do not exist. Still other students choose to combine online courses with traditional classes for what is known as a blended learning experience. Student who pursue distance education do not fit a particular mold, but should possess the following qualities:

self-motivation;

well-organized;

independent learner;

computer literate;

good time management skills; and

excellent communication skills.

Validity of Distance Learning Online Education: Research from the Sloan Consortium states that online learning is comparable to education obtained in a traditional setting, based upon a poll of academic leaders. Academic leader James Sherwood, Ph.D. and dean of University Extension, the continuing education branch of The University of California at Berkley states that, “Coming out of World War II and getting into the 60′s and 70′s there was a kind of stigma associated with distance education. That has certainly changed.” Because of technological advances and online resources, distance education has improved and offers an equivalent opportunity to traditional education.

Faculty Perspective of Distance Learning Online Education. Dr. Michael Otaigbe of Strayer University in Virginia has taught courses both in person and online at the same college. His opinion is that online classes generate an unexpected level of motivation, saying, “Online, I have the freedom to require contributions. Every week, my students have to submit essays and participate in group discussions. I get a better sense of the learning process.” He also finds that online students come from all over the world and have unique contributions that benefit the other students.

Online Education Distance Learning Association in the US. Several distance learning associations exist within the United States that offer additional information about taking classes online for prospective students.

The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA). The USDLA is a non-profit association that promotes the development and application of online distance learning for education and training purposes. The USDLA encourages distance learning for grades K-12, college and higher education, corporate training, continuing education, government training and military training. Further, the USDLA supported the implementation of the Snowe-Rockefeller Amendment to the 1996 Telecommunications Act, as well as other legislation in 1997 that was introduced by Kennedy and Snowe.

The Distance and Education Training Council (DETC). The DETC is a non-profit educational association that is a central hub of information about distance study and the correspondence learning field.

Federal Government Distance Learning Association (FGDLA). The FGDLA is also a non-profit association. The FGDLA was formed to promote development and application of distance learning programs. The Association also acts to foster understanding and collaboration among the people involved in education and training within the federal government.

Covering Costs for Distance Learning Online Education Programs
Financial aid is available to online students, just as it is for traditional students. Online students can apply for applicable state and government financial aid, Stafford loans, student loans, tuition reimbursement and scholarships to cover costs for cyber classes. Also, virtual students save money on transportation and housing. Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, said, “The College Board continues to advocate for need-based aid, so that students can have the opportunity to benefit from college education.”

National and international strides are being made everyday in distance learning online education. Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., introduced legislation to scientifically scrutinize online learning. The Independent Study of Distance Education Act of 2007 directs the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study that would compare classroom instruction with distance learning programs. Colleges such as the University of Wyoming are experimenting with gaming as a form of teaching online education. Consider that the dynamic nature and convenience of online education has attracted about 3.2 million people to take a distance learning course in the past year. Distance learning online education programs are an effective way to achieve higher education.

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How to Get Language Education

Language education is the educational process that allows a student to learn about new languages and to study them in depth. While the student may learn to speak the language themselves during this type of education, in addition to this, the student is likely to gain much more than just a basic education. They are also able to learn the background of that language and every other aspect of this area.

When you want to get this type of language education, or any other specialized type of education in the area of humanities, you do need to focus on what the school has to offer to you. The following tips will help you through that process.

•    What type of languages background do you have in this area? The school that you choose needs to be known from its high level of educational options in this area in order for your degree to be valuable.
•    What are the overall options that you can choose from? Most of the time, you want options in this area of humanities. It goes without saying that you need to get this type of education in a way that is interesting to you.
•    Consider other factors outside of the actual education that you will receive, such as the school’s policies, resources, faculty, tuition assistance options and even the school’s education options such as learning online.

When it comes down to it, language education can only be as successful as the student who is enrolled in it. In other words, you need to choose a program that is going to meet with your overall goals and you want to focus on a program that is of interest to you. That makes it a better choice for you across the board. Keep in mind, you do have plenty of options to choose from.

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Photography in Education – Ideas For Using Photography to Enhance the Educational Experience

Here are some great tips to enhance the classroom and learning experience using photography.

1. How We Grow. Photograph the children by a measuring stick or mark on the wall. Consider having them photograph each other. Take some early, mid-year and end of year images and let them see, measure and discuss the differences. Talk about things that would affect the accuracy of the measurement (shoes, hair, posture, camera angle, etc.)

2. Nature Walk. Take the class on a nature hike and try to identify plants, animals and rocks. For those that can’t be identified, take the images later and use them to look up the item. Print out photos of the items to display when it’s cold outside, and save some for your seasonal bulletin boards.

3. Photo Gifts. Have each child take a photo of themselves or other subject and have them make a gift, such as a card or other craft to give as a holiday or occasion gift.

4. Local Print Sponsor. Ask one of the local businesses such as a grocery or drug store to donate some number of digital prints or developing services, so the class can choose the best pictures and have them printed on nice paper.

5. Photo Club. Consider creating a photo club as an after-school or activity period club. Look for sponsors to provide funding for disposable cameras and film, or a couple of good digital cameras. Approach a local photographer to be a club instructor, mentor or speaker. See my article on Photo Club Activities for more ideas.

6. Theme Bulletin Boards. Before you build those boards yourself, share the theme with your kids and get some volunteers to take some photos to support the theme.

7. Kid Camera Weekend. Assign a digital camera to one child each weekend for them to take home. Ask them to take photos of their experiences – family, pets, activities and ask them also to take a creative photo or one that represents their personality. Then in the following week, have them build a slide show and share with the class. You may need to have editorial review on some of those photos!

8. Computer Editing Skills. Digital photography will be a part of every child’s life. Why not offer basic photo editing as part of the computer skills curriculum? You can also have some creativity at play – see who can come up with the most interesting edit of a standard photograph.

9. Photography as Art. Have the students understand some of the artistic elements of photography – composition, lighting, posing, editing and printing for example. Perhaps have them review certain famous works or photographers and choose one to study or emulate.

10. Yearbook and Newspaper. Classroom candids, school life and special events are all great opportunities for children to get involved. Also consider having an online newsletter or blog built by and maintained by the students. Allowing students to actively photograph assemblies and other special events promotes responsibility, creativity and leadership.

11. School Tour. Producing a book or video for new students is a great service that your students can perform. They can gain experience in storyboarding, scripting, recording, photographing, editing and producing. A video or annotated slide show produced by the students and approved by the administration is a great tool and also a great testimony to the trust and responsibility that the school gives the children.

12. Time Lapse. Science classes, especially biology, lend themselves to time lapse photography. Define the rules (how often, how to set up, who takes photos), and capture the sprouting and growth of plants, or the growth rate of animals in your classroom. Also, taking a photo outside of your windows every day will make a really neat weather/climate video near the end of the year. The key is consistency and follow-through to stitch the photos together in a movie format.

13. International Photo Pals. Consider hooking your kids up with some other schools across the planet, and trading photos on specific subjects a few times each year. For example, you could do a set on food, and have the kids photograph their lunch experience and some of the foods that are common to their school and area. You could focus on clothing, customs, holidays, sports, local environment and lots of other subjects. The kids will be excited to send and receive these electronic photo packets.

14. Photo Contest. Teach the children about evaluating photos. Develop a score sheet with their inputs and some general guidelines. Have each child submit a small number of photos for blind evaluation. Encourage each evaluator to find positive things in each photograph. The top 3-5 from each class go to a grade-level round, and the top grade level compete for over-all school awards. Everyone will have fun taking, editing, evaluting and following the contest. The winner can get a certificate and perhaps the local paper would print the image along with an article written by some of the students. Or, a local photographer may agree to work with the student to get the image professionally printed and framed.

15. See the Numbers. When explaining large numbers to kids, photographs of the items will be handy. How about 1 Million? Consider having them count out 1,000 of something like paper clips, then photographing and printing 10 copies. That can be 10,000. Then take a picture of those 10 pictures, duplicate it 10 times and you have 100,000. Once more and you have 1 Million, and you can show the groups of 10 pictures beside each other on a board to show the scale.

16. See the History. Field trips to local museums or historical areas are good opportunities to capture history. You can collect some of those images and use them as study guides – the kids can remember the trip through the images and reinforce their learning. Also, you can ask them to photograph or bring in the oldest thing in their family and talk about it.

17. See the Health. Students can stage and photograph healthy activities and lifestyle and can build a book or board to share with others.

Have fun incorporating these ideas into your classroom experiences. If your school or classroom does not have a digital camera, contact your community foundations, retail stores and local photographers to ask for help in obtaining usable digital cameras and software.

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Using Action Research To Change The Future Of Education

Learning in online environments is no longer a new idea. Around the world, in classrooms and in homes children and adults of all ages are learning in both structured and non-structured environments online. People from three to 73 are successful online learners. People who predict disruptive innovations have said that by the year 2025 over 50% of all the education in the world will be done through computers. Changes present problems. If you change too early the new idea may prove to be a bust and there you are, having invested in an idea that quickly deteriorated. I remember the man in charge of technology at Columbia telling my class in the early 90′s that online learning was not paying off – putting the content materials up online was too costly and too quickly out of date to ever be profitable. Of course you know now that these challenges were overcome. Universities with online platforms are the fastest growing anywhere in the world, and online schools for younger children are quickly gaining in importance, especially for children who live in remote areas, speak a language different from the country in which they live or who have difficulties socially with other students.

This article discusses how action research might be used to help parents, educators or concerned citizens design the successful integration of “new paradigms” of educational ideas (online or other), materials and content with traditional schooling- making the ideas of change within education less of a trauma and more of a seamless, integrated process. As I have written in other articles, it often seems challenging to average people to take on ideas that come from research, nonetheless the three steps in action research of discovery, action and reflection will seem familiar as indeed they are. What may be new will the unique blend of how they interact in the process to make seemingly difficult things become simple. This allows us to move ahead and make changes in your educational design that may not have previously been considered.

Discovery

During the discovery phase you learn about the attributes of both the paradigm or model that you are currently using and the one that you are considering for adoption. To use the redesign of schools as an example you might ask the following questions then go to the web, other people, professional journals and books, etc to find a range of ideas as answers. Notice that in the following list you look for both the positive and the remaining outliers who still may not be served by the known models.

  • What type of student learns best online? In the classroom? In a blended environment?
  • What type of student is not likely to learn in any of these?
  • What are the implementation costs of each model? Who pays?
  • How do these costs amortize over time? How does that compare to how the content becomes outdated?

Armed with answers to these and other questions that you feel are important for schools in your community, you set up a graphic organizer to help guide your decisions as to what changes you want to make to improve your schools. Across the top of your table you put the styles of education (both those that you are doing and those that you are considering). Down the left edge you list the attributes you are looking for in your ideal educational type. The end result will look like many lists that you may come across comparing the features on a product – and just like when shopping you chose the model that best suits your needs.

Measurable Action

As you were listing the attributes of your current schools against the ideals you were interested in striving for you were also establishing a baseline of what you currently do and don’t have. Armed, with solid ideas of what is working elsewhere that you want for your own community you are now ready to take the first actions toward making change. Remember three things are almost always true about change: it takes longer, costs more and is more frustrating to implement that we think will be true when we start – that is where the second two steps take of action research help. In the measurable action step you keep good records and twice a week you jot down what you have done and what the results were. As an example for a school reform project you likely need more partners to help you succeed. The first actions may include going to see important people, discussing your ideas and the discoveries you made in the discovery section. Before you leave you will ask for their help.

Twice a week (often enough you won’t forget the details) you make note of what you did and the outcomes. Pretty soon you will see patterns in the responses you get and you will refine what it is you are doing, also increasing the likelihood of success. Your bi-weekly notes give you some advantages: First they keep you on track, making it hard for a week to go by and nothing happens. Second, you find success faster because your note-taking ensures you notice the details that help. Third, you lose your fear of trying new strategies as they all become just more data about what worked and what didn’t. Finally, and without necessarily noticing it your notes will give you a sense of satisfaction that you have really tackled this hard problem and are making progress.

Reflection

It is likely that your ideas will not completely change education as you know it in your area. Our systems are doggedly conservative because all the people involved come with their own history of how things were done before now, defaulting to that easily. The more complex the system, and education is one of the most complex and the harder for sweeping change to take hold in a sustainable fashion. That doesn’t mean your reform steps won’t make a great impact, only that but both your new ideas and those that you want to replace will live side by side. What is required is for leaders to be able to do this type of analysis in order to bring new ideas to their organizations without losing the stability created by the more familiar ones.

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Summer Educational Ideas for Parents to Bridge the Achievement Gap

One thing that I find troubling is the lack of access that is afforded to many parents with regards to educating their children. An ability to speak more than one language, a defined curriculum of math and science, as well as, an understanding of the workings of the world outside of American shores will give our children an advantage in the world that they will inherit as adults. Is this a secret to anyone? When we compare the idea-learning curriculum to the curriculum offered in many public schools, we can see a drastic difference. If you are reading this and wondering if I am bashing teachers or public schools then let me assure you, I am not. I am a former public school teacher and have worked in urban as well as suburban public schools in both New Jersey and Maryland. I am also a mother of four children.

My son attended private school and for a time was home schooled. My two oldest daughters are both in public school. And as I child, I attended both Catholic school, and public school. The fact of the matter is the educational gap between the idea curriculum, and the general curriculum offered to our students, which on a large part is based on socioeconomic status. Many working parents simply cannot afford the language immersion classes, robotics training, or early chemist programs that are being offered in more affluent school districts. The solution cannot be a simple bashing secession, but a plural marriage between policy makers, teachers, and parents for the best practices for all American children. Until that agenda is realized and acted upon, the question for parents become what can I do now to bridge the gap. With summer, being just around the corner the ground is fertile to put plan to action with your child. With awareness, patience and a little ingenuity you can begin to incorporate the missing elements; thereby adding depth to your child’s education. Until, the country as a whole get together and decide that all children deserve the highest education possible we as parents must do our best to link the missing pieces. So if you are asking, “What are we going to do”, then read the Three S’s below.

Start Small

    1. Retrieve all of the class work, homework, tests and quizzes that your child completed throughout the course of the year. Have them re-do each assignment and practice each skill being addressed. Practice makes perfect, and repetition solidifies learning making each level of advancement easier to master as your child progresses.
    1. Get a copy of the curriculum from your child’s classroom teacher or from the board of education. Most boards list the standards or skills covered by grade level on their website. Identify and review deficit areas.
  1. Ask teacher for summer work or activities to reinforce skills. The purpose of this is not to lose learning skills while on vacation.

Steer Ahead

    1. Obtain a copy of high achieving private school and/or public school curriculums. Identify gaps between your child’s curriculum and those from the high achieving more affluent school districts.
    1. Explore learned academic concepts and find relevance in your child’s everyday life. Math is used consistently in our lives For example, fractions in the kitchen when baking cookies, to algebra when calculating distance and time to grandma’s house.
  1. Hire an older student within your own community to work with your child on particular subject content areas. Children have a way of communicating, that is unique to their generation and in some instances, may be able to teach academic skills in a way that is effective and easily understood. In doing so, your child not only gets a few extra skills under their belt, but a chance to see a positive model which reinforces the idea of, “If this person can do this, then so can I”.

Soar High

    1. Make use of the skills and talent within your community. Is there a songwriter, visual artist, or author in the neighborhood? What skills do you posses? Are you good at writing poems or stories? Are you able to sew or enjoy making fragrant soaps in your spare time? Coming together as a community to share skills and talents with the youth follows the adage; it takes a village to raise a child. In the process, our children develop skills beyond learning the ABC’s of traditional schooling. And we begin to not only shape their minds but moral values as well.
    1. Research colleges within your city to identify continuing educational courses offered to young children during the summer vacation. There are many programs to supplement the general educational model. Find one that compliments the personality and ambitions of your child. The costs vary and it is very likely that you will find a course that is affordable and beneficial.
  1. Take advantage of the summer months by exposing your child to different cultures. Visit neighborhoods with different ethnic groups than your own. If your primary mode of transportation is by car, venture out on a Saturday using public transportation. Go to cultural events or visit online websites that show the diversity in the world. These early glimpses of the world outside of a child’s everyday environment is a great first step at improving your child’s cultural intelligence, and can lead to him or her becoming more compassionate towards children of different ethnicities and/or children with special needs.

Parents can indulge their kids in reading science fiction books, get a jules verne book list here.

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