• 04Sep
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Education Comments Off on Taking a look at today’s students in America
    “To better your education, you’re always gonna better your status.”

    We still rely on myth to fuel the higher education system in this country. We base our policy decisions largely on the perceived truths of yesterday. This Public Agenda report prepared for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shines a glaring light on the reality of college students’ lives in today’s America.

    The number one reason for dropping out of school before earning a two or four year college degree is not being able to manage the stress associated with juggling work and school. The majority of these young adults work an average of 20-hours per week while taking on full course loads. Whether it’s because they’re not managing their time properly, or that tuition fees are too high, or perhaps because they weren’t properly prepared for the requirements of studying at a higher education level, the devastating fact is that not many are able to achieve academic success beyond high school. Since cash buys bread and a diploma can only promise the prospect of a better future, schooling takes the brunt of the downfall of today’s society.

    “Many of the young people we interviewed believed that they could not afford not to work for the time it would take to complete a degree. They had to have a paying job to make ends meet. Far from being slackers, as some people imagine, they were often assuming responsibilities and financial burdens that traditional full-time college students do not have to shoulder. It is a test of maturity and perseverance that more affluent students are usually not required to face.” ~ Report 1

    The report cites that over the last 25 years, college costs have risen by 400 percent while average household income has only climbed 150 percent, painting a undeniable picture of why higher ed isn’t a priority on middle Americans’ minds.

    Location of teaching establishment was also cited as a huge obstacle for those who failed to complete their college studies. Many admitted that they found it difficult to access a college close enough to their home or work that offered classes at times that aligned with their work schedules.

    “Among those who did not complete college, two-thirds say they selected their school primarily for its convenient location, nearly 6 in 10 because its schedule worked with theirs…”

    Reading through the report, I couldn’t help but refer back to my experiences studying and teaching with educational technology. Why aren’t more students considering blended learning options? I understand that students just starting their college careers find the idea of face-to-face time with instructors comforting, which is why I’m not suggesting everyone take a look at fully online degree programs, but what about mixing a bit of online study with the bricks and mortar approach? Is my experience as a borderless student still out of the norm?

    But, you know what? Why don’t we set all the fancy research results aside for a moment? I’ll even put my experiences in my pocket and practice opening my mind. Let’s have a listen to what the students had to say for themselves…


  • 28Aug
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Educational Technology Comments Off on Job Opening @ Virtually Scholastic

    Position: Writer
    Location:
    Anywhere

    Description: Are you involved in the world of educational technology? Studying or teaching online? Developing elearning strategies for your institution and putting together blended learning curricula? Or perhaps you’re training people on how to make the most of a particular technology and writing up online learning materials? And don’t think I’ve forgotten about all you learning management system/virtual learning environment administrators! If you fall into any or all of these categories, (or one that I’ve missed) and you’re interested in writing about your colorful experiences, then you’ve come to the right place!

    Virtually Scholastic is opening its digital doors to guest contributors who know how to wrap timely messages in witty packages. This is a perfect opportunity for writers interested in expanding their readership and amplifying their virtual voice. It’s also a wonderful chance for those of you who’ve been thinking about starting a blog but who aren’t really sure whether to make the investment just yet. Virtually Scholastic has been around since 2008 and has cultivated a loyal following from places around the world like the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Italy, the Philippines, India, Spain, China and Russia.

    If you know how to speak to a global community of practitioners (or aren’t exactly sure what that really means but would still like to have a go), then here are the steps to follow:

    1. Read through some of the content at http://www.virtuallyscholastic.com to get a feel for the tone and the nature of the material.
    2. Write what you propose to be the next post to be published on the site. Make it timely, fill it with interesting links, and remember to include a poignant message. Also remember to include one image along with source to accompany your writing.
    3. Email your article to contact {at} virtuallyscholastic {dot} com along with a brief introduction to yourself and your work.

    Guest contributors will be asked to write between one to two articles a month. Biographies of contributors will be featured on the site once three pieces have been published. Writers will also be expected to monitor discussions of their posts once comments start coming in, as well as to post occasional commentary to other VS posts.

    I look forward to reading your work!


  • 24Aug
    Author: Katherine Pisana Categories: Technology Comments Off on I See You.

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    Mashable has been singing the praises of location-based apps spinning their case toward bottom-line hungry small business owners. Benefits like the ability to draw customers to your location and to create incentives that build a loyal following are being highlighted in the discussion as ways of helping entrepreneurs see the potentials of geolocation technology. I apologize if I’m pointing to the obvious, but my question is, ‘Have you lost your minds’?

    Have we suddenly gotten over our hang-up of Big Brother watching us? You’re quite intent on keeping your browsing history private when you don’t want anyone knowing where you’re clicking. The notion of someone tracking your physical location bothers you less than someone knowing where you click? I understand how cell phone companies can justify providing services allowing account holders to ‘see’ where each one of their additional phones are at any given time as a way of enhancing parental controls, but are we sure we want to go down this road?

    Loopt has been around for a while, so the concept of suping up our trendy, high-tech phones with the ability to tell us when we’re a few blocks away from our ex in an effort to avoid acting like a mature adult is no new thing. However, when the location-based technology market starts to bloom in all its invasive glory, one has to wonder where the demand is coming from for these developers to see enough lucrative opportunities to want to get in the game. Have you not reached the point yet where information overload is almost unmanageable and it’s come time to prune your way back to human interaction? Do you really want the general public to know where you are all the time? Evidently you do, because even Facebook is on board.

    Are you happy now? Your dream of being able to notify everyone in your network of where you are has finally come true.  Your ‘network’ – that group of people you haven’t spoken to since you shared glue sticks in grade school but who you’ve perhaps nonetheless poked once or twice, or maybe, if you were feeling particularly generous, you may have even thrown a sheep his or her way.

    You can even tag people who are with you!

    Hold on, let me get this straight. Even when I’m having an actual face-to-face conversation with someone, you want me to pull out my ‘smart’ phone and make sure that my status and location are updated? Why? So as not to inconvenience all of my devoted followers? Come on! Aren’t we making the paparazzi’s lives a little too easy?

    And what about the soon-to-be massive lists of external entities grabbing hold of your information (which may now also include satellite images of your backyard, what time you checked in at your gynecologist’s office and how cruel gravity was to you at your last Weight Watchers weigh-in)?

    For right now, though, only a few apps have been selected to push information back into Places. Initially, Gowalla, Foursquare, Booyah (creators of MyTown and Nightclub City) and Yelp will integrate with Facebook Places. ~Source

    From an educational perspective, there may be some ways to take advantage of this type of technology. For a multi-location based approach to teaching, such as the one adopted by THINK Global School, I suppose it might be interesting for parents, teachers and chaperons to know where students are throughout their years of studying abroad. I guess you could also try to make the case that it would be a good way for students to figure out how to read maps and learn some geography by getting used to seeing where all of their fellow classmates are munching their sandies and learning their Mandarin on any given day. But the question shouldn’t really be, ‘Can we think up a way to use this technology?’, should it?

    Ok, granted when an application of a technology is so novel that it necessitates a change in the way to communication/operate/connect, etc., then perhaps we do have to approach a review of its potential benefits from a slightly crazed ‘inventor’ mind-set in which we think outside of the outer perimeters of the outside of the conventional box.

    I suppose you could always design a business marketing class assignment around geolocation technologies asking students to develop creative ways of generating sales in specific industries by using any one of the smart phone apps out there. Some ideas that come to mind are thinking of how the restaurant industry can benefit, or perhaps the travel sector, and questioning the relationship between location-based technologies and the ever-present community rating models like Yelp and Tripadvisor, and more recently Hunch.com. Then again, that might be construed as condoning this type of technology, and to be honest, it comforts me to convince myself that it’s only a fad.

    I guess if we look at the bright side, at least playing this type of ‘video’ game gets you out of the house.