Professor Tor Eika

Professor Tor Eika

Websites like Rate My Professor are popular with students as a means for rating former professors and finding information about new ones. In this article, professors speak up about the comments being posted about them on these websites.

Any university student asks about his or her professors for the new semester. After all, with the rising tuition fees, it is just right that students are looking to invest their scholarship or loan money on a class that is taught by a good professor, and of course, will give them a good grade to help with getting a good GPA.

Most students turn to their peers or other students who have taken the class before to give them feedback, but there are now websites that offer students a way to rate their professors to guide future students. Rate My Professors, a website founded by software engineer John Swapceinski in 1999 but has changed ownerships over the years to current owner MTV’s college channel mtvU, is quite popular – with more than 7,500 schools registered and more than 14 million comments and ratings from students submitted on the site.

It’s very easy for students to leave ratings on a website at the end of the semester, and given that it’s not an objective way to rating professors, the comments can vary from harsh to funny – with students commenting on professors’ style of clothing and plain good looks and sex appeal. The risk is students leaving exaggerated comments and new students avoiding or dropping from class without giving the professor the benefit of the doubt.

How do the professors feel about the site and specifically, what is written about them? Most of them know about the site, and some of them do check how they are being rated by former students.

One professor, Douglas Whynott from Emerson, admitted that he checked the site for the first time after his daughter mentioned the site to him and said that he is not rating too well on the site. After checking it out, Whynott was not really impressed and doesn’t understand the reason why he rates low, specifically what he is doing wrong in the classroom. The worst thing is the fact that only the negative comments are posted – he wonders what happened to the positive ones he receives verbally from the students. Thus, he feels the website is more commonly used for revenge, rather than constructive criticism.

Some professors, with more colorful comments not anymore connected with teaching methods, admit even that family members and friends also check out the site and forward the comments posted.

There is an estimated 5 million students using the site every month, thus the site sustains itself. Although the site in theory is good and useful, students looking for ratings of current professors should always remember to take with a grain of salt what they read on the website. Best see the professor and rate him yourself.

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Cary Nelson, President of the American Association of University Professors Universities use evaluations gathered from students to assess professors’ performance in classes. In this article, discussed are some factors that may make this tool not as effective.

Professor evaluations are powerful tools for school and university administrators to assess the performance and the teaching abilities of the professors. For students, there is a certain amount of power, or at least a voice, to give feedback on how well or bad their professors are. However good the intentions are for conducting evaluations, the implementation isn’t always as easy and there are several factors that complicate the process:

  1. Bias – Of course, in the same way that professors can also be biased and give higher grades to favorite students, students can also exercise the same power during evaluation time. Students who are given low grades can be seen to give unfavorable evaluations of their professors in return. Thus, administrators should know how to balance the differences in evaluations and identify ones that are biased.
  2. Timing – If administrators conduct the evaluations at the end of the semester, then professors have no time or chances to adjust their teaching style or make improvements until the semester after. Feedback should be given at an earlier point, for example during the middle of the semester, wherein students can already identify areas for improvement that the professors can work on for the rest of the semester. Administrators can also do an endpoint evaluation at the end of the semester, to assess whether professors acted on the feedback and suggestions and teaching styles have been improved. This way, evaluations truly become the feedback tools they are meant to be.
  3. Consequences – Although performance is almost always connected to rewards or worse, sanctions, the use of student evaluations alone can make it unfair to the professors being rated. If professors knew that their performance affects their job or their pay, then some will no longer do a good job and simply do what they can to impress the students. After all, sometimes the students don’t really know that what the professor is doing is best for them. For example, a professor can end up giving a lot of readings to give students various approaches rather than just one theory. And students might not always be happy about that. Administrators should balance student evaluations with other forms of information – teacher observations, student performance and the like – to form a fuller picture of the professor’s performance on the job.

Student evaluations of professor performance should be understood and respected by both students and administrators alike that these are tools to improve professors’ teaching. It is only in this way that evaluations can be done properly and used critically. After all, students stand to benefit in the end, with getting better professors and more learning.

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Boston University The Castle

Boston University The Castle

College course planning can be effective for making sure completing a program or degree will be on time. Students should take advantage of their freedom to choose the subjects, sections, and schedules to take. The task can be tedious and demanding but it will surely be worth all the effort.

Every semester or school year, many students get into the dilemma over choosing the right subjects and deciding how many courses to take. It is not practical to enroll in as many subjects as possible and at the middle of the semester, realize that not all the courses are required or are relevant to the degree program. The presence of prerequisite, general, minor, and major subjects make the situation more complicated. Thus, college course planning will help make any student stay organized. Here are some tips when doing the plan.

Knowing the required courses

It is advisable to get a list of all courses required to complete a program or degree. The information can be requested and obtained from the college or university. That list will be most helpful when doing a program subject plan. Make a list of subjects to take in a chronological order. Do not forget to take note of prerequisite courses.

Determine the general education courses and units required in a program. Students should understand that general education subjects are required to provide well-rounded knowledge. Equally important are elective courses, which students should choose from a list provided by the college.

Planning the number of courses to be taken per semester

Have a definite plan on how many subjects to be taken and completed each semester. This is important for any plan to go full time or part time. Going full time means taking the college’s required or recommended number of units per term. Doing so will enable a student to complete the program in the prescribed number of years, which is usually four years.

Four to six courses per semester will be ideal for four-year programs. It may be tempting to consider enrolling in seven or more subjects. Doing so is allowed but students should not get too overwhelmed because it surely will be difficult to divide one’s focus on too many courses at a time.

Make a workable and logical schedule

One of the most practical uses of college course planning is for working on a logical schedule. It is not enough to decide on which subjects to take. The schedule of available classes matters as well. Making a strategic arrangement of schedule will be helpful. It will also be beneficial to distribute difficult subjects in different semesters and take those along with easier courses to ensure balance.

Students who prefer to attend classes on specific days of the week can benefit the most from careful college course planning. Most of the time, students do not want to attend classes all days of weekdays. There is an option to go to school two or three days a week and it can only be possible with proper scheduling. It is also helpful for those who dislike morning classes.

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Stanford UniversityYou can get a quality education without leaving your desk or sofa and spending a cent on tuition and fees. The article provides you suggestions and information on how to get free education online.

Education doesn’t always come cheap. … Actually, not anymore. It could just be few dollars or even free! And did we say it is not hundreds of miles from your home but one click away from your mouse?

It doesn’t matter if you are a student, home-schooler, teacher, TA, parent wanting to help your child in Calculus, or a harmless Martian just trying to get a head start in Earth Science, free education online is here to help you. Free online education comes in the form of audio lectures, video podcasts and written transcripts though most of these courses will not award any college credits or degrees.

Affiliated with eighteen Nobel laureates and known worldwide for its expertise in cognitive tutoring, Carnegie Mellon University established Open Learning Initiative (CMU-OLI) as CMU’s answer to MIT’s OpenCourseWare (MIT-OCW). Note that CMU-OLI offers two options to use their course materials: the Open & Free Courses- which are all free and the Academic Courses-which charge low per-student maintenance fee.

The Harvard Open Learning Initiative, a Harvard Extension School program, offers eight online courses free in their entirety. Check out their 600+ evening and online courses, many offered for credit at a reasonable tuition rate, if you are interested in exploring what else Harvard Extension School has to offer.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) seventy-eight alumni, faculty, researchers and staff have won Nobel Prizes. The next one could be you- sans the need to go Cambridge, MA. Supporting the dynamic classroom interactions of an MIT education, MIT OpenCourseWare (MIT-OCW) is a free web-based publication of MIT course materials that reflects almost all the undergraduate and graduate subjects. Try their science courses; they’re top-rate.

Yes, you can now go to Stanford through your iPod. Stanford on iTunes U is an archive of audio and video contents of course lectures and faculty presentations (plus supplemental materials, assignments, and exams) on Apple’s iTunes platform.

Take this. Harvard + MIT = EdX. Imagine getting the best from both worlds…. For free! Equally owned and funded by Harvard and MIT, EdX is a Cambridge-based not-for-profit joint partnership offering online learning to millions of people around the world. EdX will offer Harvard and MIT classes online for free. Now you can get free education online from two top schools at the same time.

A community of hundreds of higher education institutions and associated organizations worldwide, OpenCourseWare Consortium is committed to advancing a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials. Lectures and educational materials from top universities in Japan, Australia and Hongkong are also included.

Many of these courses require books in order to follow the course just like you were a student of the school. You can grab the required books at a fraction of its original cost at BookGator, a social platform where students, instructors, and academia can work together to reduce cost of textbooks and of education in general.

Not intended to replace formal degree at a reputable degree-granting school, free education online courses solves a number of other needs that cannot be handled by regular schools.

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professorThere are a lot of times when we feel that we weren’t treated or rated right in our class. Usually, this happens when we really put a lot of heart into what we do and strive to meet the deadline but the professor was just being unfair. Before we complain, we must first understand how the other end works. And beyond this, we ask ourselves: how should a professor rate my work?

First of all, before the official classes (with lessons) start, the professor should already lay down his grading system. Some professors put huge weight on exams, some on quizzes, and others on the day-to-day oral recitation. This way, students get their focuses right and you don’t always ask yourself “how will a professor rate my work?” and finally start working on getting those numbers done.

Aside from that, it is also important that a professor sends a message to his students that he intends to be fair in the upcoming course run. By laying down a professor’s style, grading system and even the little things that he likes or dislikes, he is implicitly telling the students that he has a standardized way of grading and that every student, with the right motivation and effort, can do well in his subject.

Moreover, a professor should also rate a student with the best interest of the student’s learning. There are professors who hold on to their prides and give very difficult quizzes and exams, as if that gives people the impression that they are super smart and only very few people “get” them. There are also others who give the same exams as the ones they gave 3, 5 or 10 years ago! If you must know, times are changing and there are a lot of new information added every day! At the end of the day, the professor must always think of the student’s welfare and which model helps him to learn more. In fact, he should even be able to adjust his teaching style once in a while.

Lastly, there could also be cultural or developmental differences in the learning pace. For example, a teacher who graduated in Harvard must not subject his students, who are studying in a small college in a developing country, to the same stringent standards. He must also be conscious about the other factors that can affect one’s learning pace and the background. For example, a college freshman in a more developed country/city might not necessarily know the “basics” that this other freshman from a less developed country/city knows. Professors should also include that criteria in ratings, although this is not very common.

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microscope and flask on a science textbookThere are many computer science textbooks in the market today. Here are five of the bestselling of those books that are purchased and used by numerous students.

Computer science college textbooks abound. This is logically because many students are taking computer science programs because of the numerous opportunities that await them in the career path. Not surprisingly, there often is confusion when choosing and buying the right reference materials especially if the university or professors do not prescribe or require any.

Here are five of the bestselling computer science resource materials for modern college students. The list is according to volume of sales on online and traditional bookstores.

Real-Time Rendering (2nd Edition) – by Eric Haines, Tomas Akenine-Moller, and Naty Hoffman

This is an all-around resource about computer graphics. The latest edition is at pace with new and interesting developments in software and hardware, which have bolstered the quality and speed of rendering images. The textbook includes information about the latest technology in the subject. Because of its helpfulness, it is considered a must-have for all programmers especially those who aim to remain at the cutting edge.

3D Games: Real-Time Rendering and Software Technology – by Fabio Policarpio and Alan Watt

Probably the first ever academic textbook for games programming, this resource material introduces the basic theory behind designing of computer games and using advanced techniques. The authors apparently want college students to develop their very own games using the principles discussed in the content. In the end, they are expected to learn how to actually program complex games. Some educators see this book as a helpful resource for standard 3D graphics programming courses in college.

Introduction to Algorithms, 2nd Edition – by Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, and Clifford Stein

The book is highly recommended to computer science students because it combines comprehensiveness and rigor, which other textbooks about this subject fail to do. The content covers a wide scope of algorithm and at the same time touches on design and analysis. Every self-contained chapter can be used as a separate unit of study. Descriptions of algorithms are in English and are written in a way that would be highly readable and understandable especially to students who only do little programming.

Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (2nd Edition) – by Peter Norviq and Stuart Russell

This bestselling textbook offers a highly comprehensive and updated introduction to the basic theory and logical practice of artificial intelligence. The book is an ideal material for undergraduate and graduate-level programs in computer science.

Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice in C (2nd Edition) – by Andres van Dam, James D. Foley, Steven K. Feiner, and John F. Hughes

One of the bestselling textbooks in computer graphics, the C-language version of the book is a highly sought one. It remains as a standard text in computer graphics. It combines practical applications and current concepts in the subject.

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Granville BridgeThere are many engineering college textbooks in the market today. Here are five of the bestsellers among those.

There are numerous engineering textbooks available today specifically for college students. The plethora of such reference materials sometimes make it harder for universities, colleges, and professors to select the best and most appropriate to use for teaching difficult engineering subjects to students.

Engineering subjects are highly difficult and technical. That is why it is important to choose the right and most comprehensive materials. Not all can be effective in covering subjects and facilitating classroom discussions. Likewise, not all books are effective for self reading.

Logically, there are popular books for engineering subjects that are widely available today. Those bestsellers are favored because they offer value and significance to college students. Here are five of the bestselling engineering textbooks in the market today.

Fundamentals of Fluid Mechanics – by Bruce R. Munson, Theodore H. Okiishi, and Donald F. Young
This is the best-selling textbook so far in fluid mechanics. In every edition, the authors successfully refine their major goal to help develop skills and confidence when solving problems in fluid mechanics. The 5th edition has numerous new problems, updated examples, and new case studies. Since its first launch, the book has been noted for its effective pedagogy, practical examples, and outstanding collections of problems.

Microcontroller Technology: The 68HC11 – by Peter Spasov
The book provides readers with necessary background to fully understand the use of 8-bit microcontrollers, particularly Motorola 68HC11 and 68HC12. It covers a broad range of topics that serve as guidance for controlling software and interfacing. The text also encourages hands-on practice in using computer simulation or more, an evaluation board.

Advanced Engineering Mathematics – by Erwin Kreyszig
This popular textbook is most popular for its comprehensive coverage, correct mathematics, and outstanding practice exercises. It is often described as one of the best reference materials for engineering mathematics. The subject matters are self contained for maximum flexibility.

Materials Science and Engineering: An Introduction – by William D. Callister
This reference material promotes student understanding of the subject through clearer and more concise writing style. It also uses more familiar terminologies for easier comprehension. Topics are presented in a more organized and approachable manner, making the content truly user-friendly.

Probability and Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences – by Jay L. Devore
This bestseller provides engineering students with comprehensive discussions about probability and statistics. The textbook uses concepts, models, realistic examples, logical applications, and methodologies to achieve its purpose.

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biology book by campbellRice University’s OpenStax College has unveiled the first iBooks version of a popular textbook. College Physics is based on an open source book of the same title. The publisher also announced plans to create versions of more textbooks specifically for iPad users.

OpenStax College has made a history by publishing the first ever iBooks textbook based on an open source material. The new version of College Physics is dynamic and interactive to facilitate students’ immersion into the material. It comes with interactive features like videos, graphics, demos, and quizzes. Although the book is based on an open source content, each copy will not be downloaded for free but the tag price is still minimal at $4.99.

The iBooks textbook version aims at two goals. First, it will be the first step to make open education resources (OER) from OpenStax available to numerous students who use iPad. Second, revenues from selling the iBooks textbook versions will be used to fund the conversion of more titles in the future for the popular device.

Interactive experience

The new version of College Physics, as mentioned, facilitates a more engaging and full screen experience. It was intentionally sprinkled with photographs, videos, diagrams, and other features that are uniquely interactive. Students can possibly dive into any image especially those with full motion demonstrations, interactive captions, and embedded quizzes. And because the digital books will be used in iPad, users can simply flip through the pages through sliding a finger across the screen. Moreover, students can highlight selected text, make online searches for more information, and take notes.

OpenStax College’s iBook textbook versions are seen to set a new benchmark for OER. According to the publisher’s editor-in chief, David Harris, the digital books come with very low price tags to make them still affordable to students. Mr. Harris added that by choosing to use the iBook versions of textbooks, students can easily recoup the cost of buying iPads through the significant savings on buying reference materials.

Future plans

The publisher has also announced plans to create and release more iBook versions of other popular and widely used textbooks. It is initially targeting textbooks that are required in heavily attended courses in college. To date, three titles are set to be completed and released in early 2013. Those are: Anatomy and Physiology, Concepts of Biology, and Biology. Sample chapters of these books are set to be made available via iBookstore beginning this fall.

OpenStax College has started generating funds for its endeavor to add more titles to its soon-to-expand catalog. It is set to develop iBook versions of popular open source textbooks in subjects like chemistry, economics, history, algebra, and psychology. Its version of College Physics is now available for download at iBookstore, which can be easily accessed through iPad.

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used textbook with used stickerThe usually high cost of textbooks has prompted many students to find alternatives. Here are some online venues where helpful resource materials and content can be found and accessed for free.

Trying to use the search engine to find such resources will be easy. The Ministry of Education in New Zealand is one of those agencies that share curriculum documents and exemplars to Internet users. The Ministry of Ontario, CanHigh cost of textbooks has always been an issue that students face. Expensive sticker prices may contribute greatly to make overall cost of education expensive. With the advent of the Internet and of various information processing devices, there are now many forms of online resources that can be great substitutes or supplements for any textbook.

Wikipedia is logically one of the most popular resources for general information these days. Its content can provide a simple overview on almost any subject. But experts warn against relying solely on it as a reference. In many instances, some information found in the Website can be dubious or inaccurate. There are many other sites that can be used as online alternatives for textbooks.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a collection of public domain digital books in plain and convertible formats. There are more than 40,000 materials that are accessible for free. The number is continuously growing as more titles are added on a regular basis by the Distributed Proofreaders group, a unit of the organization that proofreads books many times.

The most outstanding in the collection are history reference materials. There are authentic and rare historical documents like speeches of past presidents and world leaders. The periodical section features archived issues of magazines, which include the Scientific American and the Atlantic Monthly.

Teacher and homeschool Websites

It is not surprising that many teachers are sharing their resources online. They may be sharing their core teaching curriculums to other educators. Supplementary materials that are shared can be in the form of teaching kits, worksheets, and slide presentations. There are information and materials covering almost all subjects.

Just like educators, homeschoolers are also sharing a lot of resources online. What is interesting in homeschoolers’ sites is that those are providing access to complete curriculums for free. Print resources in almost all subjects are shared in an effort to help other homeschoolers around the world. This growing community is making the Internet a more ideal venue to find and retrieve information and resources for free.

Websites of education agencies

Around the world, education ministries or agencies of different governments are posting various resources like open source textbooks. It is not surprising that many education departments are now recognizing the online media as an effective portal for disseminating information and resources to students in their country. Of course, those references are posted for everyone to see and access.

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primary school student typingSome outstanding startup businesses focus on using technology and innovation in helping improve the education sector. Those new businesses not just deal on distributing textbooks online; those are also active in using other modern strategies to help students and educators.

Technology innovation can be most helpful in education and its use may not be confined to the four corners of the classroom. Websites and device apps can be effective in teaching children how to read, absorb their school lessons, improve speech, access textbooks, or develop analytical thinking. That is why many businesses focus on the use of technology and innovation to help students, educators, and parents. Those enterprises aim to prove that profitability can be achieved even through social and educational advocacies.

It is notable that some startup businesses that are part of Startup America aim to help use technological innovations in disseminating education to students. Textbooks can now be distributed and accessed online. The use of sophisticated devices catches interest of young people. It is just ideal if student learning can be induced through modern strategies that make use of programs and products that the youth of today actually use. Here are three startup businesses that strive to make a difference in the education sector.

19 Pencils

The Internet-based startup business offers quick and instant access for teachers who need to find resources that can be used in their class lessons. Its beta site features a number of great resources targeted to educators. It serves as a resource generation and sharing tool for teachers especially those in the US. The Website facilitates access to and creation of quizzes and open source textbooks, establishment of class online site, sharing of sites, sharing of resources, and tracking of students’ progress through assessments. Educators who are not Web-savvy can find comfort in the fact that this site is friendly to users.


This standard based gradebook provides insights into the strengths and weaknesses of students. It helps educators through targeting their lessons plans, engaging students on individual levels, and improving performance as teachers. The site can facilitate monitoring not just of grading but also of students’ development so that lessons can be tailored, designed, or adjusted to meet their needs. Many educators who use the Website attest that it can help them understand their students more.

Speech with Milo

As an educational platform, Speech with Milo includes iOS apps for iPads and iPhones, which are widely used by students today. Its main goal is to provide engaging, practical, and fun apps to speech language pathologists, teachers, and parents so they can help children in developing basic language skills. The endeavor operates under Doonan Speech Therapy, which in turn offers a broad range of interactive tools for speech therapy that can be utilized for a wide spectrum of children’s needs.

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Girl sitting at desk flipping through textbook pagesThere are plans in British Columbia to further promote the use of open source textbooks. The idea is set to significantly lower education costs in the province.

The provincial government of British Columbia has announced plans to produce open versions of textbooks for 40 of the most popular college courses in the Canadian province. During the recent Open Education 2012 Conference in Vancouver, which focuses on creating open education references, Minister John Yap of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation, and Technology said the project would take advantage of new technology to lower education costs.

To date, it is estimated that students in the area spend about $900 to $1,500 for textbooks per school year. The range could possibly decline to about $0 to $300 yearly. Open textbooks are readily accessible to be read or downloaded at minimal or no cost. Those can be retrieved online for free or can be printed at just a fraction of the typical cost of traditional course materials.

The open source project

The Ministry will be working hand-in-hand with BCcampus. The publicly funded organization has started collaborating with all tertiary education institutions in the entire province to compile and produce materials for the references. BCcampus has always aimed to make college education more accessible through facilitating collaborative IT services.

The open textbook project of BC is estimated to cost about $600,000 to $1 million. The project will cover creation of new content and/or enhancement of existing open source references, which were produced elsewhere. It does not include possible buying of license to use existing traditional textbooks for the purpose.

Popularity of open textbooks

BCcampus executive director David Porter said introducing open source reference materials is not without challenges. He identified a major setback for the endeavor—lack of familiarity about the new process among numerous users. Mr. Porter said aside from producing open source reference materials, there is also a need to establish and enhance awareness among faculty members and students. It is expected that it may take a little more time to make more people understand and use this option.

Once the project is completed, it is expected that college costs could be lowered by up to $1,000 per academic year, especially in Greater Victoria. The initiative could benefit about 200,000 local students as soon as next fall.

The use of open source textbooks is becoming more popular not just in Canada but also in many countries worldwide, especially where education costs are expensive. Open education helps college students save more money and allows instructors/professors to effectively customize resources to boost quality of education and student performance.

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CD on top of textbookDigital tablets are gaining popularity especially in K-12 schools, where traditional textbooks are on the way to becoming obsolete. Here are the pros and cons of using the devices for accessing and retrieving reference materials required in classrooms.

Traditional textbooks are usually expensive. Their sticker prices are climbing at double the current rate of inflation. Moreover, numerous students dislike the idea of having to carry around heavy and bulky books when they go to school. The much slimmer digital tablets are ideal alternatives especially as those facilitate retrieval of electronic versions of course materials.

It helps that currently, it is estimated that up to 98% of all K-12 classrooms across the US have access to the Web. Not surprisingly, the number of school districts that consider the use of digital tablets and electronic books keeps on rising. Still, the use of e-books and digital tablets remain controversial.

Advantages of digital tablets

Obviously, tablet PCs are more compact and are much lighter compared to print textbooks. A typical 4-GB digital tablet that contains up to 3,500 e-books may weigh just more than a billionth of a gram more compared to a tablet with empty data. Similar number of traditional books may possibly weigh around 2 tons. Thus, the use of e-books retrieved through the device can be a solution to problems regarding children who suffer from back pain and injuries due to carrying heavy backpacks that contain textbooks.

Studies have found that students who use digital tablets exhibit improvements in standardized test scores. For instance, in a particular research conducted in Riverside Unified School District in California this year, it was found that students who used digital version of Algebra 1 textbook got 20% higher scores on standardized tests compared to students who stuck with the print textbook version.

As mentioned, a tablet PC can store not just hundreds but thousands of digital books. This way, the environment can be saved by reducing the amount of printing, which requires cutting of trees for making paper and leaving carbon footprint to the environment. The use of the device can boost interactivity and creativity. Lastly, digital textbooks are much cheaper.

Disadvantages of digital tablets

On top of the list of disadvantages of tablet PCs is the usually expensive cost of buying the device. However, this setback is easing because tag prices of digital tablets decrease due to stiff competition among manufacturers. Aside from costliness of the units, it is also quite expensive to establish and maintain required Wi-Fi networks. Faster outdating of technology can be another setback.

Of course, digital tablets can be too distracting because students can easily be tempted to check out other Websites and use non-productive applications for entertainment. In many cases, the devices are blamed for onset of headaches, blurred vision, and eye strain among users. The tablets can also be fragile and are subject to glitches, which may be time consuming and costly to fix.

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ebook reader with glasses on topFrance’s Gutenberg Technology has introduced MyEbookFactory, a new software that is designed to accelerate the usually tedious process of creating e-textbooks. Here are reasons why the program is helpful in revolutionizing production and distribution of e-textbooks.

Gutenberg Technology has launched a new software called MyEbookFactory. The French digital publishing company is aiming to simplify production and distribution of electronic textbook through the program. There are questions and doubts regarding the adoption of e-textbooks but interestingly, major publishers like Macmillan and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are pressing ahead.

Many students are still not familiar about the use of e-textbooks. Several studies have been conducted to test the reception of students towards virtual textbooks. Unfortunately, the results have been somehow discouraging. Interestingly, the publishing industry is not losing its determination to go on the digital path to education.

What is MyEbookFactory?

MyEbookFactory comes as one of the latest in a roster of new software tools that are designed to create interactive textbooks with various multimedia content in a cheaper and faster process. The program will facilitate seamless creation of e-textbooks for the currently popular formats like Windows 8, iOS, Kindle, and Android.

The software will function more like earlier authoring tools such as Inkling and iBooks Author. It offers traditional textbook publishers an easier and more economical platform for conversion of printed books into digital, which in turn can be exported and converted into any other device format. Gutenberg has spent several years testing this program. It has closely worked with other publishing firms like Hachette and Pearson.

When used for PDF, the software can create XML content and store it in a special database, where its publisher can customize by enhancing text and interactivity before distribution in multiple device formats. Fortunately, Gutenberg has an existing patent for database of book content, which can be to its advantage. Through this technology, publishers can now readily and quickly update their books’ editions and content instantly and even remotely.

Overcoming challenges to the new technology

MyEbookFactory is superior because of its capacity to create content for various platforms. But the new software has a major setback: its tag price. Licensing through the software can cost about $10,000 to $15,000 annually or about $9,000 to $11,000 for each book for just up to 10 different books. Publishers may have to shoulder higher licensing fees for projects with greater scales. Gutenberg may even impose caps on the number of books to be published.

But despite the expensiveness, Gutenberg is still confident about the appeal of the software. The company asserts that it is offering the best deal to publishers. It believes that in about 4 years, digital books would be more popular and would be about 50% less costly to be produced online.

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hand holding a readerThere is a new law in California that gives a stimulus fund to replace traditional textbooks and have them available in free digital versions. Many people say this spells the end of college textbooks.

For as long as we can remember, this system has been practiced: student learn altogether, follow chapter-to-chapter in similar speed, and their learning will be measured through a general test/ quiz. This hampers the students have an exploratory learning experience. And this system is cemented into our schools because of traditional textbooks.

In University of California, Irvine, another story unfolds. Internet research takes the place of the textbook, and interactive learning is more vibrant. Given this, why are a lot of schools and states not embracing the same system? There might be more to this than what meets the eye.

This might come as a surprise to you but according to “Academically Adrift”, students show little wonder or curiosity towards critical thinking after 4 years of uniform instruction. This study was based on how students form opinions upon reading a newspaper article. The same study claimed that usually, professors only research and not teach.

For example, for a course evaluation to be above average, all a professor needs to do is to ask little from the students, grade easily and try not to bore them. There is little incentive to step up for colleges as well, because they get the same amount of funding no matter what the results are.

Textbooks fuel this deplorable practice because they represent the agreement between teachers and students that they can simply mimic learning. The same lessons get taught, and the same exams are given. Hence, learning doesn’t really become a priority.

Another facet to this problem is that many high school students are intimidated by the idea of critical thinking. In one class in the University of California, students were tasked to research for policy prescriptions. When the textbook was taken away from them, they were lost. They didn’t even know how to intelligently use the Internet.

Eventually, these kids will learn how to use Internet research critically, and, this should even be taught earlier than high school.

In totality, textbooks are good because they would save a lot of students cash…but it’s not always about convenience or savings, and digital textbooks are not exactly panacea. There has to be a shift in the understanding of the entire system, and the accountability put unto these teachers.

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professor teaching classNobody would deny the fact that we learn most values and knowledge inside the school premises. We all depend on our professors to stuff us with so many lessons that are necessary for future use. In addition, we also depend on our professors to help us attain good knowledge; behind all of our extracurricular activities, we still want to show our parents a good return of their investments in us.

On the other hand, nobody would also deny the fact that there are teachers who feel that they are only there to deliver us lessons and to compute the grades that we earned. Also, there are some professors who aren’t as approachable like the others, and because of this problem, we are not sure how to approach them at times we are in need.

So how could we possibly mingle, or even at least be familiar with them? A top solution would be professor rates. Professor rates are surveys that are taken online by students to evaluate and discuss their own professors. These surveys are of great advantage simply because through these surveys, students get information from other students about their teachers. If you are keen on getting to know your professors, just by looking at their ratings are answers themselves. Through this, you can also give yourself a huge chance of impressing them.

Another reason why professor rates are really helpful is that it helps professors raise the bar in terms of teaching. Since all evaluations are accessed online, professors can also see them. Through this, they will also be able to see what they don’t see, and will be encouraged to change his ways, if he deems that it does not work for students.

Moreover, if the teacher is doing well already, then at least s/he will be commended and will be more inspired to continue to good work. So if you have an account in these sites, try to make your evaluations as accurate and context-driven as possible so you (and the other students) can make the most out of them.

Technology has indeed changed the world; even to the smallest problems any person could go through are covered by techie solutions. Just like students, without the help of professor rates, there is no way we could establish a good appropriation for the environment that we will get once we enter those classrooms. For as we all know, a good environment comes with a good relationship towards other people. And good relationships may be forged with pre-emptive understanding.

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mathetmatics textbookOpen-source textbooks are popular today especially among students who need to be more practical due to budget constraints. College students who need resource materials in math can check out any of the following books available online for free.

Open-source textbooks are gaining popularity these days. Many students are given the freedom to choose the books they would use when taking college courses. The idea is to enable them to find more practical yet effective resource materials. To date, there are numerous open source books available for free in online and/or PDF versions. Here are 10 of the most recommended for college mathematics courses.

  • Abstract Algebra: Theory and Applications by Tom Judson. The textbook teaches abstract algebra principles and theory specifically to college students in their junior and senior years. The strengths include a broad range of exercises (computational and theoretical) with nontrivial applications.
  • Fundamentals of Mathematics by Denny Burzynski and Wade Ellis. As a work text, this book covers traditional topics in modern pre-algebra courses. It also tackles other important topics like elementary analytic geometry, estimation, and introductory algebra.
  • A Gentle Introduction to the Art of Mathematics by Joseph Fields. This is one of the most popular free open-source math textbooks for obvious reasons. The content focuses on foundations of the subject and introduces students to many important techniques about mathematical proof. Amusing quotations are provided at the start of every chapter.
  • A First Course in Linear Algebra. The introductory textbook is designed specifically for college sophomores and juniors. The content includes discussions about systems of linear equations. From there, other concepts are covered like matrix algebra.
  • Analysis 1 by Jairus M. Khalagai. The material is divided into three units. The first consists of analysis on real line; the second is about vector analysis; and the third covers complex analysis. The book is written based on the fact that mathematics is about analysis.
  • Calculus by Ralph W.P. Masenge. The four-unit module covers everything students should learn about calculus. The first two parts cover basic concepts of integral and differential calculus. The third unit is about sequences of numbers and infinite series. The last is about integral and differential calculus of functions of variables.
  • Understanding Algebra by James W. Brennan. The book is highly recommended to college students who need a refresher about algebra. This is for those who are preparing for more complex college-level mathematics and who are into homeschooling.
  • Probability and Statistics by Paul Chege. Students who are studying statistics will find this book most helpful. The three units consist of descriptive statistics, random variables, and probability theory.
  • Numerical Methods with Applications by Autar K. Kaw. Like many open-source math textbooks, this one is designed to integrate math concepts with practical applications. There are chapters about approximation and errors, differentiation, nonlinear equations, interpolations, and more.
  • A Modern Formal Logic Primer by Paul Teller. The book has associated solutions manual to serve as guide for students when solving given mathematical exercises. This textbook was originally published by Prentice Hall in 1989 but was pulled out when Pearson Education bought the company. The author was given the right to publish it on his own and so he did but as an open-source material.

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Livraria Lello & IrmãoStudents are turning savvy these days, steering through college all geared up and dodging the obscenely expensive books from the campus bookstores with the help of textbook-centered websites, where you can pick up books that are easy on the pocket.

Paying for textbooks puts a knock on students’ resources. However, you can now be able to purchase new and used textbooks at considerable discounts, thanks to dedicated textbook websites. Here are five of the many textbook-centered websites students can turn to, to save on books.

  •, as we know it, is already a household name and need not an introduction. This website has a massive array of new and old books that course into the tens of thousands by means of titles, subjects and categories. It has a specific student/textbook section with improved textbook search and student-focused features that also offer different shipping option, giving students best deals there are!
  • permits you to either purchase, rent, and sell textbooks, to and from other students, offering a savings of up to 90% on used college textbooks. It boasts a textbooks buyback prices that will surely helps you to recoup some cash as well. Among its awesome features is the textbook prices comparison engine that can rally round new, used and rental textbook prices to find cheapest alternative.
  • is a website that lets you rent your books for a small percentage of the price, excluding the displeasure of selling the books back and the frustration in how little you get back, offering you a savings of up to 80 to 90 percent of the cost if you can sell all your books back to them. Users are given the option to pick out the length of your rental, the sort of shipping you desire and the alternative for a full refund within 30 days of purchase. And as soon as you’re done with the books, slip them in their prepaid shipping envelope and drop them in the mail to send it back, easy as 1, 2, 3!
  • presents thousands of new and used DVDs and textbooks online. They store a hefty stock at their Ohio-based headquarters. Aside from offering textbooks from their own inventory, they are also a secondary seller marketplace as well where users can put up their textbooks for sale online via their website and cater to the needs of students with its no-questions-asked return policy. also purchases books directly, compensates for shipping costs and receives various payment options including check, PayPal and store credit.
  • is an online marketplace offering inexpensive textbooks from more than 10,000 independent booksellers nationwide. concentrates solely on students and your textbook needs by presenting only textbooks. Selling textbooks online can be done through the website as well, giving you the option to choose to either put your textbooks on sale directly to ValoreBooks or sign up as marketplace sellers.

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Flavio di Giorgi, professor da USP

Flavio di Giorgi, professor of USP

Bad school reviews, concerns regarding professors, and poor student performances–these topics, for you, may be none of your business. You might think that these matters should be made private; that these things should be discussed within the school premises only. But then, what if you came from one of those rumored schools? What if some of those professors are your friends or people you know, at least? And most importantly, what if those students, whose cries couldn’t be heard, are your family members? These problems, coming from a big or small community, affect the educational system.

Rate Professor” websites, online survey systems on schools and professors for students, was made for the public. Although it might sound advantageous, there are still a few people who are against it. The reason behind why some people are against this idea is: they find it as a violation to their right of privacy. When a school or a professor gets mad, it’s either because of untrue stories or shame. Shame, because they are aware that what they’re doing are unethical, but they don’t find any reason to change such attitude. On the other hand, sadly, some students take online professor ratings for granted; they don’t take surveys seriously, and they even make fun of it. But that’s didn’t defeat the purpose altogether.

Several people find such online surveys a great advantage, especially for the future generations. We all know that everything we do today could affect the future, which is why people of today are doing the most they can. These “rate professor” sites still hold authentic and context-consistent reviews that if the student was discriminating enough, he would know that the one who wrote the review was really telling a balanced story. Through these truthful and balanced stories, these review sites increase in credibility and the spillover effect of this is that the professors, themselves, will also depend on it to do self evaluation.

It’s also a way for the professor to get to know his students. You know how grumpy and old-fashioned some seasoned professors can be. They think that because a certain style has worked in his time, he would think that it would still work now. However, times change and the people also shift preferences. When these “rate professor” sites serve as their eye to the other side of their profession (how they ACTUALLY do their job), it gives him more impetus to adjust.

At the end of the day, online ratings will count so if you ever get around to writing one, make it as truthful and as balanced as possible. The future somehow depends on you, you know that!

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ebooks in a smartphoneOnline textbooks are rapidly becoming popular because they have quite a few advantages over their paper predecessors.

When trying to cut down on total budget for books, it is a good idea to look at all possible avenues. Rather than buying textbooks, it is more budget-friendly to purchase the important tomes off an e-bookstore, where you can get a huge array of great books at a really low price.

The best thing about these books is that they are easy to use, purchase, and keep. Here are our top five reasons for choosing these stores over a normal bookstore if you are not averse to the concept of e-books.

  • Online textbooks are cheap. The truth is, when you go and buy expensive books, they actually cost you much more than an e-book version. Most intelligent publishers produce books which come in paperback, hardcover and e-book version nowadays. When looking for college textbooks, you can also stumble upon a reasonable store from where you can actually purchase them for cheap.
  • One storing device for many. Mostly, if you purchase a Kindle, or have an e-book reader, or just own a computer, then you can easily go into any online ebookstore and purchase a good book from them. One storing device can actually keep a lot of books, so you do not have to waste time or space on these books.
  • Environment-friendly. One of the biggest advantages of going paper-free is to conserve trees. Books, made of paper, make use of a huge number of wood or lumber to create, and it is a very good idea, which is safe too, and thus, makes you friendlier to the environment. Each small step from every online reader can save up a huge amount of paper, and that can add up to saving the universe.
  • Easy to carry. Instead of carrying a huge number of college textbooks, and lug them across the campus, you can simply buy an online version from an e-bookstore. In college, a lot of students complain about back pains due to carrying heavy bags. This is a great way of lightening up the bag.
  • Can be shared easily. A lot of times books are not available in the libraries or with the sellers, and the demand for them grows by the tenfold. However, online versions can be purchased easily and they can be easily shared as well.

So, in the end, you should look out for different kinds of books from an e-bookstore, but then, look for availability of those books. There are still publishers who have not converted their books to online versions, so be on the lookout for the ones who have.

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cat on top of textbookJust like other books, textbooks can sell millions of copies worldwide. Here are 10 of the best-selling college books for different courses.

There are several textbooks that are noted for having accumulated impressive sales over the past couple of years. There is no doubt that when it comes to books, the best sellers are usually those that are categorized as fictional novels, biographies, and historical accounts. Textbooks are not usually included in such lists but in reality, these have the potential to sell more because thousands of students are required to buy them when taking specific college courses.

When it comes to such books, here are 10 of the best sellers. You may have already come across any of these in college. You may also check these out if you want to find out what the hubbub is all about. These can also be perfect for supplemental reading.

  1. Understanding Nutrition (Authors: Eleanor Noss Whitney and Sharon Rady Rolfes)
    This textbook covers basic nutrition topics like macronutrients, diet planning, food safety, and vitamins and minerals. It is so far the best selling reading material about introductory nutrition, having sold more than a million copies.
  2. Psychology (Author: David G. Myers)
    As a psychology class standard, the book is one of the top choices about the course. Each new edition features meticulous updates specifically about new technologies, case studies, and latest research in the field.
  3. Chemistry: The Central Science (Authors: Theodore E. Brown, Bruce E. Bursten, Patrick Woodward, Eugene H. LeMay, and Catherine Murphy)
    The book has easily outpaced all other textbooks about chemistry. The reason is that its content has been written in a way that can be more easily understood by students. Many professors also prefer to use this textbook. The 12th edition has so far sold millions of copies since its launch.
  4. Principle of Microeconomics (Author: N. Gregory Mankiw)
    Not too many students like to study economics, which they often declare as an intimidating and challenging subject in college. However, this book has presented economics in a more interesting, friendly, and engaging way. Students are also given the opportunity to have an online interaction with the author for clarifications and inquiries about specific content of the book.
  5. Business Law: Text and Cases (Authors: Roger LeRoy Miller, Frank B.Cross, and Kenneth Clarkson)
    The book blends teaching of classic ‘black letter law’ with cutting-edge examples that are drawn from contemporary issues and cases. Now on its 12th edition, it is used by more universities and colleges than all other business law textbooks since its initial release in 1980.
  6. The Art of Public Speaking with Connect Lucas (Author: Stephen Lucas)
    Since its first release in 1989, this textbook has become among the most widely used books about speech and communication in the US. The author, a professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written the content to be easier to read. To date, it has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.
  7. Managerial Accounting (Author: Peter Brewer, Ray Garrison, and Eric Noreen)
    The popular accounting textbook focuses on major functions of managers within organizations. The book presents accounting information required to fulfill specific financial functions. Since it was initially published, this has sold more than 3 million copies already.
  8. Calculus, 7th Edition (Author: James Stewart)
    This is logically the most popular textbook for college students who take Calculus. It is filled with loads of exercises, helpful graphics, and detailed text content. Proof of its popularity is the fact that the book has already been translated into various languages like Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, Korean, Indonesian, and Greek.
  9. Biology with Mastering Biology, 8th Edition (Authors: Beil Campbell and Jane Reece)
    The best selling and most popular college biology textbook in the US and around the world has so far sold more than 6 million copies. The book is known as a good source of knowledge about important biology concepts like the foundations of ecosystems and cell reproduction. The 8th edition comes with a free version in e-book format for students who prefer to use virtual books.
  10. Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function, 5th Edition (Author: Dr. Kenneth Saladin)
    It took Georgia college professor Kenneth Saladin four years to complete writing this textbook. The content uses conversational writing, numerous illustrations, and storytelling to help students take a better understanding of the complex topics in the subject. It has a unique perspective that is favored by students and professors alike.

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