2013 is Year of Personalized Learning

library with students readingPicking the wrong major is one of the major problems based on the result of the recent studies conducted among college students. It turns out that part of the problem is blamed to federal student loan process where students have to choose their major and put them on the application form before they get the chance to even discuss these to their professors or mentors in schools.

Upon identifying the reasons why many college students fail to graduate or finish their college education the government may respond soon to this dilemma and plan to make changes to the system.

The process is viewed as backwards and is not healthy for many students therefore many educational institutions are trying to figure out how they can better support students given the current situation and how some system changes could affect future enrolment as well as graduation rate.

If you’ve ever heard of Tennessee’s performance-funding model, many schools are encouraged to support students with appropriate program to help them achieve their educational goals instead of encouraging more enrollees in schools. By doing so schools get more state funding.

Tristan Denley and Austin Peay State University (APSU) president Timothy L. Hall pointed out just how effective this new system is as they’ve seen increased number of student graduates for the past five years which is measured at 25%.

Today, education gear towards personalization. There’s no one-size-fits-all modem that works for all types of students. Educational programs are being developed that tailors to each student’s capabilities and interest in order to better assist them in achieving their goals.

The joint project of the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, called 2013 Horizon Report on higher education, speaks about personalized learning as a challenge for this year. It stated,

“The increasing demand for education that is customized to each student’s unique needs is driving the development of new technologies that provide more learner choice and control and allow for differentiated instruction. Technology can and should support individual choices about access to materials and expertise, amount and type of educational content, and methods of teaching.”

CourseEasy is supporting personalized learning as it helps student make better academic decisions themselves and not because they are pressured by some institutions or people around them. Our academic tools, an academic cloud model, are designed to help each student better manage their academic work and other activities related to their studies.

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How to Obtain Better Course Ratings through Rate My Professor Feature

college studentMost students tend to become punitive and harsh when providing course ratings. Professors who want to get good feedback should be more proactive in these three aspects.

Every end of the semester, course ratings are processed. Students are asked to fill out evaluation forms to assess how their professors and courses have been helpful to them. The ratings are basis for evaluating performance of instructors. Those can also provide feedback so that professors will know how to do better next time.

CourseEasy has a facility that allows a student to actually rate a professor and provide information to professor’s way of handling the class and his “apparent” level of expertise and method of teaching. It is an efficient way to provide clues as to the professor’s performance inasmuch as college students are concerned.

It is not surprising that most students are punitive and harsh during course ratings. Professors who intend to get higher ratings should aim to make students enjoy the course. To get better ratings from their students, they should be proactive through these three ways.

Understanding today’s college students

They may not directly say it, but in general, college students want their professors to know who they are. They will appreciate it if their professors will know their names and will understand them. Modern students are technologically savvy and busy with so many things. Understand that not all of them are already ready for college coursework.

Professors should aim to help all their students through making them perform better in class. For a start, ample background knowledge should be provided about subject areas. It also helps to share rationale behind what instructors and students should do. There is a need to clearly and interestingly explain why the lessons have to be learned no matter how difficult they are. Greater motivation to study usually ends up with higher course ratings provided by students.

Setting criteria for grading

Every student wants to achieve high grades. Even if they don’t say it, they want to know how to achieve their targeted grades. Today’s college students are familiar with rubrics and criteria sheets, which they have been encountering since their elementary school. Thus, they may expect the same in college. It is not surprising that students want to determine their standing on any particular day within the semester.

Professors should adopt a ‘no-mystery’ grading approach. There should be simplicity and clarity to the grading system, which should be re-explained briefly after returning quizzes, exams, and assignments to them. During first day of classes, it is normal for students to be overloaded with too much information. They usually get more ready to understand the grading system after the first assignment is graded.

Getting early feedback

Course ratings are summative and are processed at the end of the semester. Some professors aim to respond promptly to students’ needs without waiting for the end-of-course evaluation. Formative feedback can be collected earlier during the semester to achieve teaching goals.

It is effective to collect formative feedback during examinations or submission of major papers. It is strategic to attach a page at the back of exam sheets or ask students to submit a paper answering questions about their learning process, the class activities they like and dislike, the topics that remain difficult, and their suggestions to professors.

The Importance of College Course Planning

boston collegeCollege course planning enables students to take control of their schedule and coursework. It is an important activity based on the following advantages.

College course planning is a way students can exercise their freedom to choose and decide for their studies. They get the power to choose the courses they take considering the schedule and the professor. They can now carefully and strategically choose classes to accommodate their other responsibilities and obligations.

There is a reason why most colleges and universities allow their students to choose their classes. Those institutions provide a list of required courses to take, leaving students to decide when to enroll in those subjects. Course planning is an important activity based on the following advantages.

Adjusting to limited budget

Students who have limited financial resources can use college course planning to stay within their budget. They can opt to attend school on a part-time basis. Enrolling in just one to three courses per semester will be less costly compared to enrolling in six or more courses as a full-time student.

However, going part-time will result to extending a student’s college years. For instance, a typical four-year program may be completed longer if a student goes part-time or if he enrolls in just one college course or two each semester. Moreover, taking a slow pace can be more advantageous to students who aim to excel in courses. Taking just one or a few courses per semester will also mean being able to focus more on those subjects.

Getting ideal class schedules

Effective course planning can help obtain a strategic schedule of classes. A student may first check out the official course schedule before deciding to enlist and enroll in any course. He may strategically choose which courses to take based on what days the classes are held.

This is important for those who prefer to attend classes for just two or three days in a week. Working students need to carefully choose the schedules of their classes. Their class schedules must be manageable enough so those may not possibly interfere with their part-time job obligations. An independent or working student can strategically take schedules that will require him to go to school and attend classes for just two days or three days in a week. He may spend the other days of the week doing his job duties.

Logically, it will be costlier for a student to go to the campus and attend classes four or five days a week. It will also consume more time for preparations and traveling to and from the school premises. College course planning can be most helpful to students who need to lower transportation expenses. However, they should understand that choosing classes held just two days a week can be overwhelming because the school days may get really hectic especially during the mid-terms and finals season.

Here at CourseEasy we are support course planning by providing the necessary tools based in cloud computing technology that allows teachers to better manage their classes. We want them to be able to collaborate and engage effectively with their students while freeing up more time that they can allot for their personal improvement.

We offer tools that helps educator give assignments, create course syllabus, as well as conduct exams in one unified online tool. Check out the features section for more info.

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The Infographic on School Costs

The inflating price of textbooks has been one of the college students’ woes, the publishers’ El Dorado and the reason why college professors go Pontius Pilate. Intensive analyzation of the entire system has been made and thoughtful suggestions are offered.

Talk about the cost of going to college and more than often you will hear about the textbooks’ inflated price. But what more alarming than that is how the students seem to ignore the very steep rock face of the textbooks’ price that’s nearly impossible to climb; students feel so helpless to correct the entire system. The act of apparent unconcern gives the textbook companies a strategic position in the market. This has been taking place for years. Publishers have managed the academia somehow unaware of the textbook prices thus turning themselves an invincible force in the textbook market while turning the students vulnerable.

Students somehow are seizing the power back thru the emergence of new options available to them – online book sellers, book rentals, e-books, open source. These solutions are not one-size-fits-all to this ever-changing problem but with the enactment of reforms by the government, students can save a hundred or two. And in college this is a significant amount.

How Much Are We Talking About Here?

Major textbook publishers bleed college students dry by rising the textbook prices by twofold since mid 80′s.

Average cost of a single textbook is as worth as a person’s monthly budget for his groceries.
An annual cost of textbooks is enough for someone to buy a Mac Air or to pretty cover 75% of tuition costs at a two-year public school.

Textbook Market Analyzed

In a typical market, merchants, i.e. the publishers, compete with one another to sell the most products while the consumers, in this case the students, are free to choose what they want to buy based on quality and price. Unfortunately, this is not what happens in the current textbook market.

In present-day textbook market, professors indicate the recommended textbook for the course, while the publisher seems like charging whatever they want. This regrettable set-up renders the student both powerless and helpless.

Who’s to Blame?

Nobody is pointing the guilty finger at college professors. They select textbooks which they deem ideal for their course though most of them admit that they are not made aware, or at least informed, by the publishers about the textbook prices. Professors disclose that should they know about the price of the textbooks they require students to secure, they would rather switch to a cheaper textbook of same content.

As for the students, there are quite a lot of ways to win the game by not playing the normal rules, in a way publishers do not want you to. Each one is not picture-perfect; students can mix-and-match these solutions to suit their needs.

Used Textbooks
Up to half of the price of its new counterpart
Just up to a quarter of textbooks out in the market are used
Tend to sell out quickly

Buying Online
Up to 40% cheaper than you buy in regular bookstores
Because of that, once in a while, they run out of stock of the books you need

Textbook Rentals
61% more affordable than buying textbooks
Almost all students said they would rent if they got a chance to
A new fad in the textbook market structure; not yet widely available on most campuses

E-books
Up to 52% cheaper than physical textbooks
Have no buyback value, more than often, expire after a semester
Only half of the students admit they’re comfortable using them

Open Books
The average amount per book is $30
Students can choose between digital or print format
Not yet widely accessible

Congress Shake-up on Textbook Shakedown

Congress can no longer turn a blind eye. The Higher Education Opportunities Act (HEOA) effective July 1, 2010, contains provisions on textbooks and textbook costs that need to be complied:

Publishers will made textbook information (ISBN, cost) readily available for faculty and to share the data with campus bookstore
Universities and colleges must publish information on required textbook in course schedules or registrations.
Publishers must break down the textbook bundles and supplemental materials.
…
Things are about to change. With new technology, new market players and with legislative intervention, students now are starting to have their power back over the textbook problem.

the infographic on school cost

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