About Jules Mariano

Jules Mariano is a full-time freelance search engine and social media marketing specialist and a web developer specializing in web content development. He is the co-founder of VPRO Digital Marketing, a company that helps individuals and companies big and small achieve their social media marketing goals. He currently writes for BookGator.com. BookGator.com is a social platform where students, instructors, and student interest groups can work together to reduce cost of textbooks and education in general. Twitter/Instagram: @julesmariano www.julesmariano.com www.vproph.com If you need similar work done, please e-mail him at julesmariano@gmail.com.

windows 8More schools across the US intend to install, deploy, and adopt Windows 8 to help improve overall learning experiences of students. Microsoft Corp has recently announced a deal with 10 schools and universities in the country that aims to bolster students’ preparedness and technology skills through the use of the new operating system.

Microsoft Corp has revealed that 10 higher education institutions and K-12 school districts have formally signed an agreement to use Windows 8. This deal will cater to more than 540,000 faculty members and students who are employed and enrolled in those schools. Those are in addition to the growing community of education centers that are adopting Windows 8.

The software giant is confident that its new operating system will facilitate modernization of the education system in selected areas in the US. The program is expected to be helpful in supporting new standards of education, online assessments, and possible migration to digital learning. Through the adoption, the company also assures that students will be prepared to take success in the currently competitive global economy where employers demand modern skills, critical thinking, and problem solving capabilities.

Those schools that decided to adopt the new operating system include Fargo Public Schools, Jackson-Madison County School System, Fresno Unified School District, Thomas College, San Antonio Independent School District, and Tuckahoe Common School District. These universities and schools have also announced their definite plans for the adoption.

Atlanta Public Schools

The network of schools across Georgia is one of the biggest school districts in the country where there are 48,000 students enrolled. Those will be given access to 25,000 virtual desktops where Windows 8 are installed. Educators intend to use SharePoint where their students will upload and share their student digital portfolio.

Barry University

The Florida-based university aims to install Windows 8 in its entire inventory of 2,815 laptops and desktops. This move will complement its ‘bring-your-own-device’ (BYOD) program. It will benefit its more than 8,700 students and around 1,200 employees. Barry University plans to use Office 365 Education and integrate access to campus resources to bolster productivity and collaboration.

Apollo Group

The online learning and adult education company is currently testing Windows 8 to be used for its own Product Support and Validation Lab. This education network wants to take advantage of proliferation of mobile and touch-based devices, coupled with rising demand for work and life combination tools. It presently supports up to 324,000 students and about 25,500 employees not just across the US but also worldwide.

Pace University

The New York-based university has already installed Windows 8 in all its campus labs. It is testing the program for more pilot products to build a classroom technology in a fast pace. The goal is to provide state-of-the-art experiences for learning that its students deserve. So far, the operating system is planned to be deployed in all its 10,000 devices and desktops.

public vs private schoolsThe number of enrollees in private schools across the US has been declining for many years now. Several reasons are cited for this trend.

According to data recently released by the US Department of Education, the number of students enrolled in private schools has been declining in the past years. It is estimated that only one in every 10 students in pre-K-12 grades is enrolled in a private institution. This is taken by surprise because there were measures previously implemented that should have increased private school enrollments significantly.

In the last 15 years, the number of private school enrollments has decreased to 10% from 12%. The trend is not expected to be reversed soon. Moreover, the Education Department expects that by 2021, enrollment in pre-K-12 private schools will further drop to 9%, while the number of students in public schools would jump to 91%.

Measures to increase private school enrollment

In the last several decades, many states have implemented programs that include providing tax credits and publicly funded tuition fee vouchers to parents who enlist their children in private institutions. To date, many states are also planning to expand their voucher schemes. In 2011, the broadest voucher programs in the country were enacted in Indiana.

The highly publicized policies are aimed at backing private schools. Those are aimed at helping increase enrollments in those institutions. However, it is noted that the measures did not lead to major increases in the proportions of enrollments in private schools, as intended.

Possible causes

Several reasons are cited for this trend. Since 1995, enrollments in Catholic private schools have declined. Such schools comprise more than 50% of private elementary schools in the US and about 75% of private secondary schools. Interestingly, the decline was not unique to Catholic schools as most educational institutions affiliated with particular religions are also suffering from dropping volume of enrollments.

The popularity of charter schools is also contributory to the trend. Public charter schools exhibit greater independence from the basic rules that are implemented in other public schools. Despite the fact that only 5% of public schools across the country are chartered, the number of enrollees has been growing aggressively. Those schools are usually located in cities where there are more low-income households.

Lastly, the recent economic recession could also take the blame. Stagnant wages and high unemployment rates have logically made it harder for many parents to shoulder private school tuition fees. Thus, many households in the last few years have enrolled their children in public schools, where education costs are much lower in comparison.

lady reading textbookIf you are not wise, you might make the following common mistakes while buying. When contemplating how to save on textbooks, keep these tips in your mind.

Many of you might worry how to save on textbooks in the coming semester? In recent times, it has been noted that there are many mistakes people make while trying to save on textbooks. Don’t make them, and you will reduce total cost.

  • Make sure you have the exact book you are looking for, right down to the edition. There are many books, to which new information is added every year with newer editions posted. Don’t buy an older edition, because then, when you know that you will need the latest edition, you will have to repurchase.
  • Check your prices while purchasing from book stores, flea markets or online. Many of us actually do not check the prices of the original, and ends up buying an older edition for a price which is way higher. Sometimes, stores put stickers to cover the original price of the book, and make a tidy profit. This is especially prevalent in used books stores where to make a profit, the shopkeepers put a fake price sticker on the book.
  • Watch out for fakes. Believe it or not, there are many versions of books which are “fakes”. The quality of these textbooks is extremely low, with bad paper quality and prints, and they can be easily found out. Do not buy any book that might look like its fake. To determine that, you can check by looking at a new book, touching its pages for ensuring quality, and then compare the difference.
  • Check for pages. While buying books, always make it a point to check for pages and see if there are no pages or sections missing. You might buy a book, and then find out that there are pages missing from it, which would result in buying another book.
  • Xerox smaller sections. For those of you who are wondering how to save on textbooks you only need a small section from, then, you can get a photocopy done of the relevant section, which would cost quite low.
  • Look for e-books. If you have no problem reading out of your kindle reader, or computer, then check out e-books which you can purchase. Generally, e-books cost less than the original books, and they can be downloaded very fast too. Plus, there are lower chances that these textbooks are corrupted.

If you are wondering how to save on textbooks, these are some of the methods that can help you.

Image by Dawn Ashley

Teacher helping student in school computer labWhat’s new in the education industry? Here are developments that are worth celebrating this 2013.

One of the industries that benefit a lot from the rise of hi-tech products is education. As we all know, literacy is a huge determiner of progress in a country. It’s good to know that many educational technologies have adopted to the changing times. That said, here are 5 most promising technologies that hit the educational world by the storm.

Mobile Devices in Place of Books

Gone are the days when students have no choice but to carry huge, heavy bags to school because they have around 10 books in it. Add to that their notebooks, school supplies and their bulky lunch box. Today, students can use mobile devices such as tablets or laptops to download content from the Internet. There are many textbooks with electronic versions in the market today, so why bother with the bulk right? What’s more, along with these e-books and digital learning materials, other reading- and studying-related processes like note-taking, highlighting and bookmarking may also be easily done with most ebook formats.

Learning Through Games

We might have our first brush with game-based learning while we were still kids, when we used fruits to help us count and other kiddie examples. Today, with many game and application developers joining the educational bandwagon, there’s quite a number of very useful educational games. Most of these games are truly useful until tertiary level though, but it’s still very helpful in terms of knowledge transfer and memory retention.

Wide Usage of Cloud Computing

Although cloud computing has been widely used since a decade ago, people just started coming around to the idea that it can be used for educational purposes. Cloud computing cuts through the red tape and lets you avoid the costs that come with maintenance and restrictive licensing from the usage of traditional software. This way, most schools can access a huge repository of learning materials from the internet.

Learning Analytics Made with More Beef

Sure, we had “diagnostic tests” and evaluation papers but knowing that the needs of our students today are more complex and technologies for faster response are available, it’s high time that learning analytics take the center stage now. Today, students who are at risk of failing a subject or may be in the wrong course can be dealt with a mentor so s/he can avoid dropping out. What’s more, it’s also instrumental in helping teachers adjust to the different learning styles of students.

Content Openness

We talked about cheaper books through digital copies but here’s another good news: open textbooks. These are free (or sometimes with a very, very small cost) textbooks usually written and distributed by volunteers that are updated and accurate. These books are offered widely for use in many developing countries. This way, teachers can have their own library of alternative learning materials and new information comes in very handy.

Image credit by visualphotos

Advanced Organic Chemistry- Reaction and MechanismsThere are just too many textbooks about chemistry. Here are five of the most popular among college students in the US.

Chemistry is an interesting subject but numerous students don’t appreciate it. It is inevitable to take chemistry classes in college as those can be required as general or introductory subjects and as electives. There is a challenge for authors and publishers to make chemistry more interesting and engaging as a college course.

There are numerous chemistry college textbooks out in the market. Here are five of the most popular and widely used reference materials for college students who need to complete and pass the subject.

Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reaction and Mechanisms

Author: Reinherd Bruckner

The book was originally written in German language but it was translated into English to reach more students. The best-selling textbook is about mechanic organic chemistry. It focuses on reaction mechanisms, which would be more helpful for organic chemistry students in college. Knowing more about reaction mechanisms is important in every applied area of the subject. The content was written to fulfill that need through presenting appropriate materials targeted at the right level.

Advanced Organic Chemistry: Structure and Mechanisms

Authors: Richard J. Sundberg and Francis A. Carey

Since it was first published in 1977, the book has undergone several revisions and updates to keep up with the times. Its content still provides a comprehensive coverage of structure, synthesis, and reactivity of organic compounds. The latest edition (4th edition) contains updated material but still features the basic elements of the past editions. There are updates on selected topics that have undergone rapid advancements since the last edition. There are two parts: the first focuses on quantitative and qualitative study of reactivity and mechanism; the second emphasizes useful and general synthetic reactions.

Adventures in Chemistry

Author: Julie T. Millard

This textbook engages non-science major college students in learning about application of chemistry in forensics, arts, and infectious diseases. The content also aims to introduce readers to the fundamentals of chemistry using concise and clear language. The text uses metaphor to present core concepts and show how those apply to modern examples. The knowledge to be obtained could be used when making important decisions about medicines, food, and lifestyles.

Air Composition and Chemistry

Author: Peter Brimblecombe

The textbook is about the earth’s atmosphere and how it is affected by human existence. The first several chapters focus on biological, geochemical, and maritime sources specifically of trace gases. On the succeeding chapters, the author analyzes chemistry in atmospheric gases, rainfall, and suspended particles. It also discusses the logical sources of air pollution.

Analytical Chemistry: An Introduction

Authors: Donald M. West, Douglas A. Skoog, Stanley R. Crouch, and James Holler

The textbook can be an ideal resource when reviewing general chemistry. Molecular artwork was used to further enhance effectiveness of the text. There are notable updates about analytical methods and instrumentation. Furthermore, there are broader spectrum of applications, which include new developments in environmental science, medicine, and biology.

Kirkland Hall on campus of Vanderbilt UniversityThe US News & World Report has recently released a list of its most recommended graduate schools for the next school year. Here are four of the best institutions it has identified so far.

College students and graduates who are considering taking post-graduate degrees should check out recommendations from the experts. In reality, there are too many universities and colleges that currently offer such programs. But which of those are the best? What can be expected not just from the post-graduate programs but also from the schools?

The US News & World Report conducts and releases an annual survey of what answers the question, ‘Which are the best graduate schools in the US?’ The study covers more than 1,200 universities and schools across the country that offers post-graduate programs.

The poll not just determines the best postgraduate institutions. It also provides realistic rankings based on the responses of actual students, graduates, educators, and other experts. Here is a sneak peek of the top and best graduate schools that are recommended in 2014.

Vanderbilt University

The Nashville, Tennessee-based university is a private research institution. It presently has up to six professional and graduate schools across the US. It has affiliations with several other research institutes and centers. This university has been recognized as among the best schools for specific postgraduate and masteral programs.

Johns Hopkins University

The Maryland-based private research university is actually not-for-profit. It has organized itself into five graduate divisions that are offered on its two major campuses: the Medical Institutions campus and the Homewood campus, both situated in Baltimore. This university is best known for pioneering the concept of a modern research university in the US. For many years now, it has always been among the top universities in the world.

Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts is the home for this research university, which is a part of the private Ivy League. It is among the oldest educational institutions in the history of the US. Thus, it is proud about its long history, wealth, and influence. Aside from its popularity, the university can also boast about its own university library, which is currently the largest not just in the US academic history but also in the world.

University of Texas at Austin

The flagship institution of the prestigious University of Texas is also among the best graduate schools in the country. It is currently a major center as far as academic research is concerned. Of all the four best postgraduate universities, this one is the most outstanding in terms of its involvement and support for sports. Thus, it is logical that balance is utmost offered to its students and other clients.

old textbooksVirginia-based Tidewater Community College will start offering a textbook-free degree program this coming academic year. It will be the first accredited college in the US to offer a degree that does not use traditional and commercial reference materials.

A community college is set to offer a degree program that could set as a model for other colleges and universities that plan to facilitate textbook-free degrees in the future. Tidewater Community College (TCC) will begin a pilot textbook-free education project this coming academic year (2013–2014). The goal is clear: to help lower students’ expenses amid increasing costs of modern textbooks.

The Norfolk, Virginia-based community college is collaborating with Portland, Oregon-based Lumen Learning for this initiative. The initial goal is to offer and facilitate an associate of science degree program in business administration without the need to use the usually expensive traditional textbooks.

Open educational resources

The program will require the use of open educational resources (OER) or ‘open textbooks.’ These materials are openly licensed and freely accessible. The references can be found in public domain. Those can even be released and accessed under intellectual property licenses, which allow free access and repurposing by just about anyone.

Ideally, OER can assume several forms—it can be in text format that include different types of presentations, graphics, and videos. Logically, the information can be in a format that is not only highly useful and accessible but also very interesting and even interactive.

However, students will be required to use a PC to access education materials. Their devices should also be online so they could use browsers to access and utilize the learning materials. The courses will be built in the popular Blackboard, which can be accessible even via a tablet or a smartphone.

Cost savings

TCC is confident that the program will significantly minimize, if not totally eliminate students’ expenses on textbooks. The community college is confident that the project could spare up to a third of students’ total college costs. If proven successful, the initiative can serve as a prototype to combat the inevitably rising textbook prices, which have jumped by up to 812% since 1978.

To make the initiative work, TCC would offer a section at a time of each of the 21 courses in the curriculum. Traditional textbooks will not be required. About 13 faculty members will serve as instructors for every section. Courses will be delivered online and on campus. This way, every student can save up to $2,000 after completing the entire program.

TCC is an accredited US college. Currently, it offers a number of programs in different types of degrees. More than 30,000 students are presently enrolled in the community college. It is still not clear, though, how many college students will enroll in this pilot program.

finlandFinland’s accomplished education system is logically more effective compared to the US education process. American schools should consider adapting those practices to improve students’ learning.

It does not surprise that the US is not on top of world rankings in terms of education. For the last 40 years, the top spot has been occupied by Finland. According to Pearson PLC’s the Economist Intelligence Unit, the European country currently has the best education system. The ranking system has combined test results internationally, which served as the basis of the list.

Surprisingly, there is a stark contrast between the educational practices in Finland and in the US. Clearly, the Finnish educational system has a more effective strategy to reach its current prestigious status. What are those differences? Should the US and other countries start adapting and implementing those effective practices?

Time spent for learning

Most K-12 students across the US would certainly rant about how they spend much longer time reading lessons, taking tests, or doing homework. They surely wish for longer recess time, greater breaks, and more time for recreation. In Finland, students’ preferences in learning are prioritized and addressed.

To the surprise of many, Finnish students spend less time in studying. In general, children are rarely assigned any homework. Teenagers are given less but strategic assignments to be completed at home. In comparison, a typical 5th grader in the US spends more than an hour each day just to do and complete assigned homework.

Moreover, Finnish students take just one major exam by the time they reach 16 years old. This is obviously different compared not just to the US education system but also to the practices in most other countries around the world, where numerous exams are administered per month, semester, or school year to assess students’ learning and academic performance. And yes, in Finland, school children enjoy up to 75 minutes of recess divided among three breaks per learning day.

Quality of teachers

Logically, the quality of teachers is another significant factor that influences the education system. In Finland, teacher-to-pupil ratio is just at 1:12. The educators are carefully picked from among the top 10% of all college graduates. Most of those also possess a master’s degree.

In the US, teacher-to-student ratio is 1:25. Most school teachers come from the bottom 25% of college graduates as the top ones are enticed to join other industries, especially those that offer higher salaries and better career opportunities. The volume of learners in the US can be literally higher in the US than in Finland but it is still possible to make adjustments if the Finnish education system would be adapted in American schools.

state-flag-virginiaThe state of Virginia is aiming to replicate education reforms that were first implemented in Louisiana. Governor Bob McDonnell intends to take control of schools that perform poorly.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnel is aiming to adopt the education reforms implemented in Louisiana in 2005. He is confident those changes would bring about favorable and effective improvements in the state’s education system. The same reforms proved to be successful and effective in Louisiana.

Those proposed reforms are considered as among the most important components of Gov. McDonnell’s current education agenda. It recently passed the senate. Those proposed legislation intend to make schools accountable for their actual performance through using the A-to-F scale, which is implemented on students.

A different system

It would be different from the system that is presently used in the state. It would discontinue categorizing schools as accredited, not accredited, or accredited with warning. For quite some time now, Gov. McDonnell has been openly criticizing the current system.

In the proposed education reforms, an Opportunity Education Institution would be created to take over management of schools, especially those that receive ‘F’ in terms of performance for two years in a row. That, once implemented, would install an 11-member board to assume control of schools in Virginia that meet failing requirements.

The agenda has already passed through the chambers of General Assembly. However, many analysts and observers are still not sure of the direct effects of those to the state’s education system in the future. Some critics assert that more changes are needed aside from altering the grading scale to match students’ performance.

The Louisiana model

As mentioned, similar education reforms were implemented in 2005 in Louisiana by Governor Bobby Jindal. The changes were installed following the devastation by the historic Hurricane Katrina. It instantly gained support from the state’s constituents.

It took Gov. Jindal a while to implement the education reforms in the state. In a fundraising event in Richmond, he clarified the need and the measures to impose the proposed changes. The reforms allowed the state government to take over management and control of so-called ‘grade F’ schools until a time when those exhibited significant improvements.

McDonnell’s worry

Meanwhile, Gov. McDonnell has also expressed his worry over the supposed decline of the US education system compared to other nations. In a public speech to promote his proposed reforms, he reiterated how the country’s education system is slipping in education rankings internationally.

Though Gov. McDonnell is quite sure the changes would improve the education system in the state, many people are still not sure whether those would really be for the better. For now, most experts are satisfied about the initiative and effort to introduce improvements in the current education system.

textbooksStudents can possibly convert their old books into cash. Here are simple procedures on how to sell old textbooks online.

Students who want to generate extra money can opt to sell their old textbooks online. Selling through the Internet is more advisable because most college bookstores and traditional second-hand stores offer cheaper buying prices for used books. In many cases, those businesses also refuse or reject specific copies after meticulous inspection.

The procedure for selling used textbooks online may not be tedious. A student who intends to do so may begin by finding reputable buyback firms that buy old books across the Internet. Popular search engines can be used to look for those businesses. Here are the succeeding steps to successfully sell those items online.

Finding good prices

After finding buyback businesses, students should compare price quotes that are offered by those companies. To do so, they should go to those firms’ Websites, where they will be asked to enter their textbooks’ International Standard Book Number or ISBN (numbers coming with barcodes on the back covers) into designated blank fields for ISBN search bar. In several seconds, price quotes on books will be revealed.

To find the best prices offered, students should check out several buyback firms at a time. It will be easier to compare price quotes. The business with the highest offer prices to buyback old textbooks online should be chosen. There will also be a need to create an account on each of the Websites.

Deciding on the payment method

After initiating and confirming sale of textbooks, students should declare how they prefer to be paid. Common choices include being paid through PayPal or through checks sent to their mailing addresses. Some buyback companies only pay through handing checks. There is a need to further communicate with the business for more important details.

After that, the used books should be prepared and packed. It is ideal to use corrugated cardboards or designated shipping boxes to make sure the books will not be damaged while in transit. The box should be securely taped and labeled.

Payment for sold used textbooks online can be expected in about one day to three days. The buyback forms must first inspect the books after receipt. The agreed amount should be immediately deposited or the check should be sent to sellers’ addresses immediately. Checks can be encashed on the same day or within a few more days, depending on the bank. Proceeds from the sale of used books can now be used by students for any important purpose.

Fox West Coast Village Theatre UCLAEvery year, U.S.News conducts a survey of thousands of schools in the country to create various lists that serve as guidance to students. The organization has released a list of 10 most expensive private universities and colleges in the US.

The cost of college education continues to rise in the US, just like in most other nations. This is why it is not surprising that many students consider expenses as a primary factor when choosing colleges or universities. Less expensive schools are favored more than their costlier counterparts.

College students usually find high fees as very difficult to swallow. No matter how they want to earn a degree in a specific university or college, their final decision is often influenced by the costs they would incur. Some students, on the other hand, still find more expensive schools as ideal institutions where they would obtain or complete their education.

Annual survey

That is why U.S. News is always monitoring college fees in private universities and colleges across the US. The organization aims to give students a guide when selecting the institutions they would go to. It comes up with an annual survey of college costs per school.

In the school year 2012 to 2013, the organization has studied over 1,800 universities and colleges for its yearly survey of undergraduate programs. Aside from providing ranking for the best universities based on many factors, it also releases a list of most expensive schools.

Schools with highest fees

Every year, U.S. News compares tuition and other fees that are collected by private universities and colleges. The ranks are based on data that the institutions submit. The computation and comparison does not include expenses for boarding, textbooks, and other related expenditures.

For the school year 2012 to 2013, the list of 10 private universities and colleges with the highest fees is not surprising. Most of the schools were also in the same list for the previous school year. Columbia University in New York topped that list as each student can expect to spend $47,246 for a four-year program. It is followed by Vassar College also in New York, where student expense can climb to $46,270.

Others in the list

Third on the list is Trinity College in Connecticut, which collects $45,730 per college student. In Wesleyan University also in Connecticut, college could cost $45,628. At No. 5 is Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University. Students spend $45,378 for college education there.

On the sixth spot is Tulane University of Louisiana where college costs $45,240. Here are the other universities and colleges ranked No. 7 to No. 10 and the corresponding college costs at those: 7) Union College (New York) — $45,219; 8) Carnegie Mellon University (Pennsylvania) — $45,124; 9) Dartmouth College (New Hampshire) — $45,042; and 10) Williams College (Massachusetts) — $44,920.

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college student studyingAccording to a recently published study, almost half of college graduates in the US have jobs for non-degree holders. Underemployment is now a growing issue in the local job market.

Aside from the growing unemployment problem across the US, many people who actually have jobs are more likely to be underemployed. According to a study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, about 48% of college graduates across the country are currently employed in jobs for people having less than an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree.

The non-profit research group published its report entitled ‘Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities.’ The same study also found that up to 37% of college graduates in the US are now taking positions that require only a high school diploma.

Lack of good jobs

Those underemployed college graduates are working as fire fighters, taxi drivers, telemarketers, and sales clerks. One of the study’s co-authors, Ohio University economy professor Richard Vedder said more people with bachelor’s degrees now have jobs. But he added that those employments may not be considered as good jobs.

Vedder is known as being one of the major opponents of the education department’s college for all program. For a long time now, he has been arguing that too many US citizens now go to college. He reiterated that there is nothing wrong with that but the fact remains that there are not enough jobs in the current economy that actually require those skills that are offered and taught in college.

There are other interesting findings of the same report. With additional data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the authors have found that up to 15% of taxi drivers in the country as of 2010 possess at least a bachelor’s degree. In comparison, in 1970, only less than 1% of taxi drivers were college graduates. This is an information that many graduates and educators consider as very alarming.

Overlooking underemployment

At the same time, many analysts note that underemployment is not highlighted in employment reports. Economists usually overlook that information and only focus on employment and unemployment figures. If the unemployment rate decreases, it is not clear how many professionals have succumbed to the idea of getting a job that does not make use of their college degrees.

However, many observers also note that underemployment may come with underpayment. But many underemployed college graduates tend to be contented in their jobs because they are earning just enough dollars to meet their requirements and expenses. Most of those jobs are also not as demanding and as stressful as jobs that college graduates are supposed to take.

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American Council for Education logoFive Coursera MOOCs were declared worthy to earn students college credits upon completion. The American Council for Education has given universities and colleges the authority to decide whether to allow their students to take those subjects online or traditionally.

The American Council for Education (ACE) has announced that several of the massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered through Coursera are worthy to earn college credit. The council has emphasized that five of those courses have almost the same quality as similar classes that are offered and facilitated in traditional classrooms. It stated that those would earn more academic respectability if facilitated with anti-cheating measures.

Those courses are the first ever MOOCs to be declared eligible for credit. Universities and colleges would decide whether to allow their students to replace corresponding traditional courses with their counterpart online subjects. This is expected to be warmly welcomed by students who prefer to take lower-cost online courses.

ACE is recommending those MOOCs but it is still up to universities and colleges to decide whether credit would be given for passing those. If educational institutions would readily accept this recommendation, it would be considered a giant leap for online education in the US.

Taking MOOCs

Presently, free MOOCs are provided through Coursera to online students. However, those learners do not receive any college credit for taking the subjects. ACE’s latest approval is set to change this. Consequently, more students would be given the opportunity to take identity-verified course modules and proctored exams through the program. It is estimated that every course could only take $100 to $190 to complete.

Two of those approved MOOCs for college credit have been developed and offered by Duke University—Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach and Introduction to Genetics and Evolution. Two other approved courses are Algebra and Pre-Calculus from the University of California at Irvine. Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania facilitates Calculus: Single Variable.

ACE’s plan

This approval is seen as part of ACE’s plans to fully understand the impact of free online courses to modern academics. The council is aiming to examine long-term prospects of MOOCs. It wants to determine how those courses could increase learning productivity and at the same time improve college curricula.

Coursera, a for-profit organization, currently offers up to 217 online courses taught at about 33 universities and colleges. Students usually take subjects for free. However, it collects about $30 to $99 if a student wants to take a completion certificate of any class under standard surveillance. Additional $60 to $90 is charged if a student wants to take a final examination proctored through Webcam. A part of those fees go to partner schools or universities that offer the subjects.

kansas flagThe Kansas state government is aiming to strengthen Kansas-China trade relations through an educational exchange program. Governor Sam Brownback hopes encouraging Chinese students to study in the state could entice more Chinese investors into area.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback hopes an existing student exchange program between Manhattan High School and Beijing’s LuHe High School could further strengthen the trade relationship between the state and China. The arrangement comes as trade between the state and the Asian country shows signs of growth and expansion. He has stressed the significance of building a link to bolster the connection.

In May 2012, a $2.6 billion deal between Kansas City’s AMC Entertainment and China’s Dalian Wanda Group was signed. Under that agreement, Wanda Group would buy AMC screens and theaters across the US and Canada. Prior to that transaction, China has been among the top destination countries of Kansas’ exports. In 2011 alone, the state exported over $642 worth of goods to the country.

Gov. Brownback thinks an exchange education program would enable its students to start making connections in their own way with Chinese trade players. He thinks such arrangements would result to good experiences for students from both parties. He also implied that such a gesture to welcome Chinese teachers and students to the state could possibly create a good impression on prospective Chinese investors.

A strategic investment

Kansas has already invested in specific areas it targets to increase its competitiveness amid an intensifying global economy. It has increased the volume of engineering students by about 50%. It has also invested in specific areas like human medicine, veterinary medicine, and aviation.

The exchange program for high school students is aimed at preparing and orienting Chinese students not just about the US education system but also about American culture. The arrangement lasts for three weeks. Selected students from Manhattan High School are also sent to a similar learning experience in China.

Those Chinese students would be welcome to take college courses at Fort Hayes State University after their graduation. Currently, there are numerous Chinese students who are taking undergraduate and graduate programs at the state university.

Kansas’ educational exchange program

The Kansas State Department of Education started educational exchange programs with Spain in 2005 and with China in 2006. Under those arrangements, teachers from those countries may teach in Kansas schools for three years or less. Some Kansas teachers are also given the opportunity to do the same in those countries.

Consequently, the program has prompted the increase in language classes in the state. In 2006, prior to the implementation of the program, only a few schools in the state teach Chinese language. Now, Mandarin classes are offered in schools across more than 20 school districts in Kansas.

BroadcastMed logoBroadcastMed has announced a new medical education resource for physicians who take continuing medical education credits. St. David’s HealthCast also targets informed patients and other medical practitioners who want to learn about the most modern and best practices in the industry.

BroadcastMed has launched a new online education resource for physicians, students, and the general public. The online medical broadcasting firm’s St. David’s HealthCast, a new video education channel, is part of its efforts to contribute to the medical education field. It will impart education to physicians, patients, and medical students beyond the walls of classrooms and hospitals.

The new resource would facilitate viewing of actual medical and surgical procedures that are performed within the premises of St. David’s HealthCare. It aims to impart knowledge to medical practitioners about the best practices in the industry as performed by the system’s best and world-class physicians. The goal is to impart knowledge about new advances in medical research, technology, trauma care, and innovative procedures.

St. David’s Healthcare

St. David’s Healthcare is known for pioneering and introducing new breakthroughs when it comes to medical treatments. According to its senior vice president for clinical innovations William H. Rice, M.D., they are excited to share new developments in medical practices with the rest of the local and global medical community.

St. David’s Healthcare is a system that comprises of St. David’s Medical Center, St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, St. David’s Georgetown Hospital, Heart Hospital of Austin, and St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. It is considered as among the leaders in terms of providing specialized medical services and acute care using latest technologies to patients across Central Texas.

St. David’s HealthCast is set to feature resource videos that focus on specific areas. Those include cardiology, bariatrics, neurology, orthopedics, women’s health, robotics, rehabilitation, and trauma. Most of the intended content will target physicians worldwide. Those will also enable doctors to possibly earn credit for their continuing medical education. Some content, on the other hand, will also be geared towards patients and the general public.

About BroadcastMed

As an online medical broadcasting business, BroadcastMed helps hospitals, medical education institutions, and medical device manufacturers to develop and manufacture safer services and products to the public. It does so through delivering accurate educational content that is specifically targeting physicians.

It develops comprehensive videos and resource materials for other healthcare organizations using mobile and online platforms. Throughout its existence, the company has been noted for showing excellence in conceptualizing, executing, and disseminating videos that range from pre-recorded lectures/symposia to live or actual surgeries. It also owns and operates ORLive.com, a portal for information that targets healthcare professionals and patients. That site is gathering more than 40 million views yearly.

macmillan-digital-courses logoA unit of Macmillan Publishers is infusing investments into two online education startups in Brazil. Macmillan Digital Education aims to reach and help more students in the Latin American region through supporting the initiatives of Veduca and Easyaula.

Macmillan Digital Education has announced its investments into two Brazilian online startups that target adult learners. The digital publishing unit of Macmillan Publishers is supporting both Veduca’s and Easyaula’s initiatives to enhance development and growth of technology-based education in Brazil. The two platforms are expected to help the group reach its goals in supporting more people who are in their life-long learning journeys.

The investments will bolster Macmillan Digital Education’s reputation as a serious investor for education and technology ventures across the Latin American region. It currently targets businesses that complement its own ecosystem of online services and develop e-learning products to facilitate empowerment of more students.

Managing director Matthias Ick in an interview said the effort is an important step in the unit’s goals to become a catalyst for next phases of the group’s ambitious plans in the wider region. Macmillan Digital Education is one of the three technology-driven startup units of Macmillan’s Science & Education. It focuses on building consumer-centric educational services. Macmillan New Ventures discovers and develops new, proven, and innovative technologies for development in education, while Digital Science makes software solutions specifically for scientists.

Veduca and Easyaula

Veduca is an Internet-based video platform that specializes in aggregating and curating educational content that is publicly shared by top universities from all around the world. It facilitates access to free video content featuring lectures and other educational materials in English with Portuguese subtitles to reach out to more local students.

Meanwhile, Easyaula is a virtual educational hub that facilitates learning anything from other people. It taps into communities and networks that provide offline classes especially to aspiring adults. It aims to give students more tools to learn more skills and obtain more knowledge.

Macmillan’s efforts

Macmillan has a long history of devotion to teach English to students in all levels especially in many non-English speaking countries. It has been active in related projects in Brazil for almost two decades now. It has been noted for developing instructional materials that appropriately reflect cultural conditions to gain better appreciation. The country is aiming to improve English language teaching in its schools for economic and cultural reasons especially prior to the upcoming 2016 Brazil Olympic Games.

Other established businesses of Macmillan Group have built stronger brands and more attractive history of editorial excellence through taking technology enabled and content-led approaches. Macmillan is known for fusing new disruptive technology units with more editorially-rich and more established players in the industry. The company does so to spawn evolution of its entire business and to access new markets and opportunities more quickly.

Loans billboard signThree universities/colleges have filed lawsuits against student loan borrowers who fell into default. Those institutions aim to collect payments so they could continue to provide Perkins Loans grants to needy students today.

Three US colleges are determined to collect repayments for defaulted student loans they provided in the last couple of years. Yale University, the Pennsylvania State University, and the George Washington University have filed lawsuits against borrowers of student loans that fell into default. The total number of filed charges remains undetermined but some insiders assert it may reach hundreds.

The three colleges, incidentally among the wealthiest education institutions, are suing to forcefully collect repayments for unpaid Perkins Loans they have granted to poor college students. It is estimated that the overall amount of student loans default now reach around $1 billion.

Colleges generally depend on student loan repayments to fund new Perkins Loans. Thus, when graduates are not able to pay back their student loans, those institutions may not be able to award assistance to current students. Analysts worry that if such defaults remain unpaid, the Perkins Loans program may be affected and become hardly accessible to financially needy college students.

Growing student debt

From June 2010 to June 2011, graduates defaulted on about $964 million worth of student loans. That is 20% higher than the default amount in 2005. Average amount of student loan has doubled to $27,253 in 2012 from $17,233 in 2005. The higher debt amount per student can still be cited to the increase in volume of Perkins Loans defaults.

Following graduation in college, each student-borrower is given 9 months as grace period to repay their borrowed amount. After that period, the loan amount is set to incur a 5% annual interest rate. To begin with, such assistance is strictly given to students from low-income families, which have the least capacity to pay back.

By the time students graduate, they may have other debts that incur much higher interest rates. Since Perkins Loans come with lower rates, most borrowers decide to repay private loans first. High unemployment rate makes the problem worse.

Increasing costs

As college education costs continue to rise, more students get forced to apply for student loans. This led to increased national education debt to its current level of $1 trillion. However, President Barack Obama still proposes to increase the Perkins Loan fund to $8.5 billion from $1 billion. White House is also proposing to put the provision of student loans from the management of institutions to the direct supervision of the Education Department.

Meanwhile, default or non-payment of student loans can still bring about disastrous impact to borrowers. Aside from the exponential growth of the loans, they may also suffer from the serious and negative impact of default to their credit history.

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The Stanford Church

The Stanford Church

Amid a growing dissatisfaction over the rising costs of college education across the US, several universities and colleges have announced plans to lower education expenses. Most of those institutions aim to offer four-year undergraduate programs for just $10,000.

Ten Texas universities and colleges have announced plans to lower the costs of their undergraduate degrees to $10,000. The educational institutions have collectively launched a project called ‘10K-BA,’ which aims to minimize expenses to make college education more affordable to students.

The initiative is seen as a response to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s call to make tertiary programs cheaper. In 2011, the governor challenged all colleges and universities in the state to develop undergraduate degrees that could be earned for just $10,000. Back then, the average costs for tuition and other fees stood at $27,000.

The challenge was received with skepticism. Professors and other people from the academe thought it would be unrealistic to lower college education costs. Most of them believed it would be impossible to do so without compromising quality of education. Those hesitations are now set aside.

Other states follow

The call to more affordable college education echoed in many other states. In Florida, Governor Rick Scott has recently announced that all state colleges (23 of those) in the state’s public education system have already committed to develop cheaper undergraduate degree programs. He asked those universities and colleges last year to take his $10,000 college degree challenge.

The aim is to help students earn degrees and skills so they could contribute to the economic growth of Florida. Governor Scott was quoted as saying that his administration wants to help college students avoid the need to take debts just to finish schooling. Not surprisingly, similar efforts are now underway in California, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Revolution in college education

In a media interview, Thomas Lindsay, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Higher Education said the college education system in the country is in a revolution. He said lowering costs could be a direct response to rising dissatisfaction towards higher education. According to the US Department of Education, a typical four-year degree program now costs $30,804, excluding expenses for textbooks, meals, and boarding.

In a 2011 poll by the Pew Research Center, 57% of respondents think that colleges are short of providing students with a better value for their expenses. Another 75% of the respondents think college has become too expensive these days. According to some experts’ analysis, average college tuition fees have jumped to about 440% across the US in the past 25 years. Worse, many college graduates fail to find appropriate and high-paying jobs after finishing school.

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The State Capitol of Texas at DuskThe University of Texas has joined a growing roster of universities that offer courses online. The state education system is now part of edX, an Internet-based platform that facilitates online education.

The University of Texas has announced plans to join the fray of universities that offer Internet-based education. It will soon offer courses from its 15 educational institutions (nine academic universities and six health institutions) to students who prefer to study online. This initiative is expected to bring college education to more students especially those who don’t have enough financial resources to attend tertiary school.

The state higher education system will offer its programs through edX, an online platform that provides ‘massive open online courses’ or MOOCs. It will infuse up to $5 million into the project. The university is the latest educational system that joined the platform, following the University of California at Berkeley, which signed up with edX in July 2012.

The learning platform

edX is a $60 million project jointly launched by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in fall 2012. It was developed to facilitate Web-based college classes for free. The non-profit platform aims to cater to not just US-based learners but also to other college students worldwide.

Under the initiative, an open-source software will be developed and distributed to other educational institutions that want to take part in the project. It would also enable other universities to offer their own courses through a designated edX Website. The software will facilitate interactive learning experience beyond typical lecture videos. It can also be used for distance education and research learning.

Rival project

Meanwhile, a similar platform was established in August 2012. Coursera was founded by two computer science professors at Stanford University. Unlike edX, it was funded by another organization, the Silicon Valley venture capital. Another striking difference is the fact that it is a for-profit project, although some college courses are offered for free.

Coursera was launched by the University of Michigan, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton. During its launch, 12 additional partners were announced. After a few months, 17 more educational institutions joined its roster, bringing the total of its university partners to 33.
Online education

Online education is getting more popular. According to a research by the EducationDynamics, up to 10% of college graduates in 2012 earned their degrees through the Internet. Many professionals are taking online courses to bolster their job credentials and increase their chances for career advancement. Numerous employers now prefer to subject their employees to Web-based training.

MOOCs provide opportunities for learning facilitated by world-class instructors without or with much less cost. However, only certificates are awarded after completion of programs. College degrees or academic credits are not yet awarded through such projects.

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At the University in MunichIt is possible to find private colleges or universities in the US where tuition fees are less than $5,000 per school year. Here are the top two least expensive of those, according to US News.

Studying in private colleges is logically expensive. That is why many students are instantly and easily turned off by the idea of attending a private university. In annual survey conducted by the University of California—Los Angeles, about 43% of incoming freshmen students revealed that they considered cost when they chose which college to attend. This is logical as many of those intend to work while studying while others are conscious about how difficult it is for their parents to shoulder education expenses.

The cost of studying in a public university may pale in comparison to the cost of attending a private school. In an annual survey conducted by US News, the average tuition in private schools in the school year 2012 to 2013 stands at around $28,900. In contrast, the average cost in an in-state university is about $8,100 while in an out-of-state college, it is around $18,900.

However, there are always exceptions to the rules. Not all private colleges are unreasonably expensive. US News has released its findings of a study, which aimed to determine the least costly of all private schools in the US. Here are the top two least costly private colleges and universities in the country.

Berea College

The Kentucky-based private liberal school has the lowest combined tuition and other fees to date. For the school year 2012 to 2013, each student only spent $980. The amount is smaller compared to the costs of studying in most other private and even public colleges.

Interestingly, all of Berea College’s students work in the school to obtain tuition subsidies. There are students who even receive further financial assistance to cover fees for enrolment.
This college was founded in 1855. It is now in history for being the first college in all of Southern US to be racially integrated and coeducational. It is estimated that without the subsidies extended to its students, total cost of studying in the institution is about $25,500 per school year.

Brigham Young University—Provo

To study in this Utah-based private university, a student needs to spend $4,710 per school year. The amount is around $24,000 smaller than the average cost of private school education. It is even smaller by around $3,500 compared to the average of tuition fees at in-state public universities.

As a Mormon university, students who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given significant discounts. Non-Mormon students are required to shoulder an average tuition fee of about $9,500. It is still drastically below national average.

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