E-learning in the 21st Century: Khan Academy and Knowledge Economy

E-learning

In a world filled with learning options, and opportunities, it can be challenging to know where the most effective solutions to our educational problems lie. The post-modern student wants it all, and they want it now, so to speak. Yet the essential quandary for students in this day and age has become how to discern, decipher, and distill relevant information from the deep pools of disparate communications available to them. How do students sort out the facts from opinions? How can they orient their minds to the information so that they do not just become passive consumers of data and externalized discussions? How can they reconcile the information to their own understanding? Learning must still be personalized somehow. The marketplace of ideas and information challenges 21st century learners in ways that we do not yet understand.

Information has never been more available and accessible than it is in the 21st century. Knowledge is continually being re-packaged in novel forms and styles. Case in point: one Khan Academy astronomy lesson attempts to explain the scale of the universe in 13 easy Youtube videos. Even concepts within traditional academic disciplines are moving forward at breakneck speed, as older ideas are being challenged. Developments in linguistics, mathematics, science, and business—really all fields—are moving faster than traditional schools and textbooks can keep pace. Often this information competes for legitimacy with how knowledge is presented to students in traditional education systems.

e-learning khan academcy

Furthermore, public schools are being disaggregated and privatized, with charter schools experimenting with new ideological frameworks, for better or for worse. Yet despite all this, Howard Didsbury argues that charter schools have failed to improve student achievement. Despite some perceived progress, many students are not getting the special attention that they deserve or desire.

Our instant-access culture sometimes falls short on deep analysis or strong evaluation. Snippets and flash-points of info on a variety of topics may be creating a new consciousness. However, one might ask whether streaming video, sound bites, and memes will refine their skills of logic, critical analysis, and higher-order thinking. Students are still expected to perform on high stakes tests and exhibit some semblance of critical ability during their higher education experience and beyond. Can watching an astronomy video from Khan Academy truly help them understand the complexity of the universe in any comprehensive sense? It may be true that some cursory insight can be derived from short, stylized presentations. Interdisciplinary approaches have some validity in this era. Yet it is far too easy for students to breeze over complex topics in their eagerness for expediency and ready-made answers.

Many precocious students who have grown up in the information age have learned how to navigate through the sheer glut of material present at any given moment on the internet. But others remain overwhelmed by the velocity and volume of statistics, perspective, or advice. For example, they may simply want some Spanish help. Google Translate is an imperfect tool. Sure they can access unlimited PDF or PPT files or various articles geared to students or teachers of Spanish. But they may also spend hours online searching for answers to the most basic questions. They might be better served by asking an expert directly. Language acquisition is not necessarily something that comes easy nor will the average student be able to glean the internet on their way to fluency. Learning a language involves ongoing conversational practice. Students still need a human dimension to guide them.e-learning online learningStudents from across the world, no matter where they are located, are expected to compete in this terra incognita of the new knowledge economy. Although e-learning programs and online colleges have sprung up like weeds on the internet, they still lack the kind of credibility that institutions built of walls and desks still maintain in our societies. At some point in the future, perhaps all academic pursuits will be mediated through information technology. We can imagine a time without schools. Perhaps students will be assessed by elaborate computer-generated algorithms. But on a practical level, and in today’s world, students must perform according to more traditional academic channels. Khan academy is not going to replace Harvard or Oxford any time soon. Although Khan Academy-style education may be trending, it may not be so intellectually fulfilling. Shortcuts to higher knowledge almost never are. Students still need human contact, informed guidance, and practical people giving them real-world advice. They need personal help with their academic and intellectual challenges. There is a growing need for knowledgeable experts in the knowledge economy. Tutoring may allow you to engage in the emergent knowledge economy and at the same time influence students from all across the world.

References

Didsbury, Howard F. 21st Century Opportunities And Challenges. Bethesda, Md., World Future Society, 2003,.

Strauss, Valerie. “Separating Fact From Fiction In 21 Claims About Charter Schools.” Washington Post, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/28/separating-fact-from-fiction-in-21-claims-about-charter-schools/?utm_term=.50186923cada.

Amazing Strategies to Market Yourself as an Online Tutor

online tutors_online tutoring service

Personally and professionally we all want to shine in this world. Success is often measured in terms of recognition and exposure. We cannot all be famous, but some acknowledgment for the skills we possess and for what we have achieved go a long way toward filling the need we seem to have to feel accomplished, or even admired. In the digital marketplace, financial rewards also come from greater online attention.

The internet presents many opportunities to get your name out there. Yet without a clear strategy, it is just as easy to become obscured by the veritable flood of information and personalities online all clamoring for attention. Probably no magic formula exists beyond having endless financial resources, great agents, and publishers, or hiring an ingenious search engine optimist who can move your website to the top of Google’s queue.

However, having an agile method to improve your online presence can help you improve business as you gain financial independence as an online tutor. Here are some simply amazing strategies that may give you an edge in the world of online tutoring.

Recognize your value and potential

Confidence matters whether in person or online. Find an area to specialize in and build experience, credentials, and a personal appreciation for your own value. People gravitate toward those with competence, and from a charisma that comes from knowing what you are good at. This reveals itself in how you correspond and communicate online or in real life.

Exploit a niche market

The web can be mesmerizing and bewildering, but it is not complete. Look beyond the volume of information and find angles that differentiate you from the competition. This is where opportunities lie. People find success every day recognizing what is not available there, as opposed to what already exists. Do some research on your competition, and recognize how they market themselves. Seek areas to concentrate on that others have overlooked.

Network through various channels and social media sites

online tutors_social mediaMany social media sites exist beyond Facebook and Twitter, believe it or not. Wikipedia lists 213. Others might include Minds, which is free and secure, and Ning, which a paid platform, for general social networking. But also Upwork and even Craigslist posts can draw new clients in. The Italki platform connects language learners with native speakers. Individual countries and regions use specific sites if you want to venture into foreign markets. Renren, of China, Mixi, of Japan, and Twoo, in the Spanish-speaking world are popular. Using existing connections help, but also leveraging your current students to spread the word can move your name across different networks. Obviously, LinkedIn is a go-to site for business-related networking, but others are available. But beyond this, it may matter more what you post as far as content than directly soliciting clients on social media sites, which can be perceived as a put-off.

Create a website or blog site and promote it

If you have the computer skills to build your own site from WordPress or other sites, this is great. If you don’t, many online custom portfolio sites exist that will build one for you that is user-friendly. Portfolios are becoming valuable because employers ask for them. But also they can be a resource to show clients that you know your business. Publish articles and insights of interest in your field to let them know you are serious and engaged. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) writing is an art and science that can be acquired. Keep up on the latest development and strategies to improve your chances of staying up at the top of search engine. People normally do not scroll through multiple pages.

Publish in your fieldonline tutors_publish

Publishing opportunities are more available now than ever before. It may take some time to develop relationships with any of the top journals or magazines in your field. But other venues are easier to get your foot in the door. Publishing articles allows you the credibility clients and parents look for. Once you have a few articles under your belt, with by-lines, you can add them to your portfolio or send them along to potential clients to assure them of your expertise.

Create a series of tutorial videos on the subject

Youtube has a shortage of good tutorials in the academic fields. The ones online are often amateur in quality and not terrific, with a few good ones interspersed. Khan Academy YouTube videos have become a model for the potential of this type of work. Personality and quality presentations are a great way to grow your reputation.

Work for an established tutoring agencyonline tutors_online tutoring website

Registering for an online tutoring agency or academic services company will instantly give you credibility and allow you to hone your skills through the experience. Depending on your persistence, skill, and ambitions, it can become a solid revenue source. The advantage of working for an agency is that they take care of much of the marketing for you. You will be able to focus on building up your reputation and network within an established system. You will also feel like you are part of a community, while at the same still maintaining your status as a freelance or independent tutor.

Obviously, all of these strategies involve constant work and development. Yet money is out there to be made simply when students need extra science homework help. Reaching them, letting them know that you are qualified and available involves a bit more effort. But whether you tutor full time or as a side venture while you write your next great novel, or finish that Master’s Degree, opportunities are there for the taking in the digital tutoring world.

5 Money-Saving Tax Tips for Online Tutors and Freelancers

tax tips for online tutoring work

When it comes to work, many find that freelancing can offer freedom and flexibility that is not present in the everyday 9 to 5 job. Freelancing can be a lucrative source of second income or work well for travelers, work-from-home parents, writers, teachers, artists, and online tutors. The upside of freelancing is that you are only limited by the time and effort you invest in freelancing. The downside is that government still requires us to pay our share of taxes. Not only are you responsible for paying your taxes on your own, but you also have to determine the estimated percentage you owe each quarter or be penalized when it is tax time. Filing as an independent contractor can be daunting, so here are a few tax tips to keep you in the green with the IRS.

Tax Tips # 1.Keep track of your income

Taking an online tutoring job as a freelance contractor does not automatically come with a W2 at the end of the year. While you will be required to fill out a W-9 with the company you have begun working for, you are not necessarily going to get a 1099 or W-2 at the end of the year.  Here are a few programs that will help you keep track of your payments for your freelance work.

tax tips for online tutors

●PayPal- PayPal is one of the easiest money platforms for invoicing and receiving payment for work. With PayPal, you can track your invoice payments each year by searching your activity and entering the range of dates you wish to query. I used PayPal last year to estimate my income from a grant research contract after the person I was contracting with failed to send me a 1099. Had I not been receiving payments through PayPal, I would have struggled because I made the mistake of not tracking my payments. PayPal saved me time and the headache of searching through bank accounts and my files at tax time. The downside is that not every contract will allow you to use PayPal, but it is a valuable tool for freelancers and small business owners.

 

tax tips for online teachers

●Excel- Excel has been around since before Microsoft gave us an animated paperclip as an assistant. But it has more bells and whistles, and you can use Excel to not only track payments received, but also business expenses. As an online tutor, you will have business expenses like printer ink, internet access, and pens and pencils and other miscellaneous purchases. Keeping track of those purchases on an Excel sheet will help you when it comes time to file your taxes since you can write these off (more on that in a minute).

tax tips for freelancers

●QuickBooks- This program has a plan for everyone from large corporations to small business owners. As an online tutor or contractor, you are self-employed and can benefit from QuickBooks programs to help track payments, invoices, profits, your bank accounts and even estimate tax percentages each month. As a freelancer, it can be one of your more helpful tools, especially if you prefer a one-stop destination that keeps you more organized and tracks it all for you.

Tax Tips # 2.  Have a savings account or fund set aside for taxes

According to thebalance.com, it is advisable to set aside 25-30% of your freelance income to cover your taxes. The best way to ensure you save toward your taxes is to make a payment into your savings account as soon as you receive your payment. Another way to do this is to set up a bank account strictly to receive your freelance pay, separate from your household account, with bank transfer capability established so that you can transfer 70% to your household account, leaving the rest for taxes. Doing it this way will keep you from putting off depositing your tax percentage.

Tax Tips #3. Be aware of how your income will affect your tax bracket.

tax tips for work at home freelancers

Freelance income could increase your tax responsibilities. Income tax withholding estimations can be found on irs.gov to help you determine your tax percentage liability. Another helpful website is smartasset.com which has a Federal Income Tax Calculator.

Tax Tips #4. Keep track of your expenditures

tax tips for freelancers_expenditures

You can write-off part of your cell phone plan, your internet and Wi-Fi plan, office supplies, printer ink, paper, and even your laptop can be considered deductible expenditures. Just be sure to properly estimate the amount these things are used for business and not personal use when you are filing your taxes. For example, if you use your internet about 25% of the time for your work, you would enter 25% of what it cost you for the year when deducting it as a business expense. Also, if you travel for work, keep track of your gas receipts and mileage, those are deductible as well.

The best way to keep track of these expenses is not only to track it in Excel or a program like QuickBooks, but also keep a file of your receipts and invoices. Scan them or take a picture and keep them on your cloud, just in case your originals are lost or misfiled.

Tax Tips #5. When in doubt, seek help

tax tips for online tutoring jobsTax time and finances can be confusing and tricky for many freelancers. The days of EZ file and quick estimations are gone once you go into business for yourself or incorporate a side hustle. An accountant can assist you through the process and tracking so that you can continue to focus on your freelance work. If you are at all in doubt when it comes to taxes, pay a professional to help you through it. It is simply another business expense you can deduct, and it will help you maintain peace with the IRS. Tax penalties and fines add up. Having an accountant will ease the stress of trying to manage your finances without knowing what you are doing.

As the saying goes, the only sure thing in life is death and taxes. You don’t want to end up in the same boat as Wesley Snipes, Martha Stewart, and Annie Liebowitz. Unfortunately, the responsibility ultimately lies with you. Follow these tips to be well on your online tutoring way to being comfortable if the tax man ever rings your door.

The Future of Jobs: How Technological Innovation will Affect the Future of Work

the future of jobs

The robots are not coming; they’re already here. And they are changing the future of jobs market for your kids in ways you may not necessarily expect. Some analysts envision apocalypse where others see salvation, but artificial intelligence and technological innovation will likely affect the future of work somewhere in between. While not all the experts agree, there are some common themes that suggest that the best jobs and ways to make money in the future are counter-intuitive.

Nothing is more widely agreed upon than the accelerated pace of technological change that shows no signs of slowing down. Billionaire investor Mark Cuban observed that, “what took 20 years before, and then became 10, could be 5 or 3” in the near future.[1] Young people entering the workforce today will likely have multiple careers, engage in more freelance work, and will not have the job security their grandparents or even you have experienced.[2]future of jobs-effect of automationAutomation is also routinely recognized as a major catalyst of job market change. While the loss of manufacturing jobs is currently the most observable effect, today’s top jobs may be equally under threat in the future. Industries such as programming, finance, and engineering look like attractive career directions for your child now, but in 5-15 years, these fields will also experience major job losses due to automation.[3]

The accelerated pace of innovation and automation do not need to foreshadow future unemployment for your children, however. Their thinking about what job skills are valuable may just need to change. Harvard education expert Dr. Tony Wagner outlines seven “survival skills of the future”: critical thinking & problem solving, collaboration & influencing, agility & adaptability, initiative & entrepreneurship, oral & written communication, assessing & analyzing information, and curiosity & imagination.[4] Rather than competing with technology, students should be seeking jobs in areas where humans have a genuine competitive advantage with these types of skills.

future of jobs_critical thinking

With terms like data analytics, the Internet of Things, and blockchain technology regularly surfacing in the media, it can be tempting to drive students toward only technical or “practical” fields where parents imagine more promising job offers pouring in. But the jobs of the future will favor people with soft skills, critical thinking ability, creativity, and adaptability over those with narrow, technical expertise. In 2017, a philosophy major may be a more prescient, “robot-proof” choice than a finance major. Only time will tell.

[1]https://youtu.be/CxD4F3MQRDI?t=13m

[2]https://psmag.com/economics/the-future-of-work-we-have-been-here-before

[3]https://youtu.be/CxD4F3MQRDI?t=13m

[4]https://singularityhub.com/2017/07/04/7-critical-skills-for-the-jobs-of-the-future/

The Failures of No Child Left Behind and Teaching to a Test

No-Child-Left-Behind Failure

Let’s face it. Our education system has long struggled to reconcile the ideal of the “greatest good for the greatest number,” with the procedural needs of individual students doing math homework, for instance. Educators want to maximize the potential of all students, but often in this pursuit, they fall down on delivering the personal attention each student deserves.

For years now, America public education has been grappling with ideas about how to keep young people competitive in a globalizing world. Whether it was a valid notion or not, fears were that our education system was failing our children. An ambitious response came in the form of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This rather virtuous-sounding policy marked a fundamental reform of progressive education, creating great controversy and shaking up the education system to its core. High stakes tests like the SAT and various state assessments were now considered of preeminent importance. Even district funding became determined by student performance on these tests. This was supposed to motivate schools to raise the scores of American students across the board.

Critics of No Child Left Behind often feel that in the mad push to improve test scores across the board, the qualities, special skills, or deficiencies of each student are often overlooked or outright neglected. They argue that the range of human knowledge should not be reduced to a test score or two focusing almost exclusively on math and language skills. Certainly, these skills are valuable, even indispensable. Yet the pressures schools face to implement these high-flung policy goals, coupled with the realities of class sizes and differing levels of aptitude in the classroom, have forced many schools to abandon learning for learning’s sake approaches in favor of results-oriented ones. Individuated instruction is often sacrificed in this pursuit.

no child left behind_student performance

Since the turn of the millennium, American education has undergone further reforms and changes, including Common Core, a policy perhaps no less controversial. The private sector has also seen opportunities to fill the achievement gaps left by public education. Kaplan, for example, offers test prep services for SAT, ACT, GMAT, and even the GRE. These can be done online at the student’s own pace. SAT sample questions are abundant online, and various textbooks are available, which attempt to prepare students for these high stakes tests. However, what seems to be missing is personal instruction. They seem to want to resolve systemic problems by creating new systems.

Every student possesses a skill set from which they must build upon. A child’s development is not formulaic, and they often need guidance through the process of learning. Mastery of a subject does not often come all at once. Although groups like Kaplan or Khan Academy offer online programs where students can learn information at their own pace, they do not offer the kind of one-on-one instruction that many young people need to succeed. Reviewing a set of SAT sample questions, or even taking endless practice tests, will not automatically ensure that students understand how to solve these problems. Some learners are self-starters, while others need steady guidance, structure, and reassurances along the way. It is frankly difficult to find such help. Qualified people are hard to come by, and other academic services fail to provide students with the individual care they may not get in public schools.

No child left behind_child development

StudyGate aims to fill this gap. Our platform allows students to connect with qualified people who can provide the personal assistance that your child deserves. The social impetus towards high-stakes aptitude tests only seems to be gaining strength as the years go on. This means that whether we like it or not, students will be measured on such criteria. In some cases, their futures will depend upon the results of these tests. The Harvard educational psychologist Jerome Bruner maintained that “any subject can be taught effectively in some intellectually honest form to any child at any stage of development.” Yet proper scaffolding needed to be constructed so that developing minds can flourish. This kind of intellectual support and nourishment seems to be a missing element in the way we go about the business of education today. Connect with StudyGate and ensure that your child builds upon their capacity and overcomes the challenges set before them. Whether they need extra homework help doing their math or seek some foundational guidance on essays, science reports, or more, sometimes students just need a little personal guidance from someone with a command of the subject.

Works Cited

Bruner, Jerome S. The Process of Education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Food for the Brain: 6 Foods Every Student Should Eat for Great Energy and Concentration

food for the brain

There is no single, straightforward pathway to academic success. It’s a multi-faceted endeavor, a combination of multiple choices that you must make every single day, to achieve the outcome that you desire. The fact that you’re reading this tells me that you already know this and that you’re looking for an edge in the area of nutrition, a potential energy formula that will boost your concentration.

We’ve done the research, and we’ve come up with six food for the brain that will help fuel your body with what it needs to get your brain energized and focused on your academic endeavors.

Food for the Brain #1: Water

Water should be your best friend. Always. And while it might seem strange to think of water as a “food”, it is an abundant, affordable, and essential substance that we need to consume. Consider this; studies have indicated that people perform better on challenging mental tasks when they are adequately hydrated. So aim for those 8 glasses every day, and keep a water bottle handy when you’re studying or taking exams.

Foor for the Brain#2: Fatty Fish

food for the brain_fatty fishFish is among the healthiest of proteins available because fish contains nutrients and components that are both anti-inflammatory and boost the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, all of which are linked to brain health. Fish that are wild-caught (i.e., not farmed) and high in Omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely the best for you. To boost that brain, go for wild-caught salmon, mackerel, and herring.  But for those of you who don’t cook or are on a tight budget, look in the grocery store or your campus cafeteria for canned Alaska salmon, Pacific sardines, and canned albacore tuna.

Food for the Brain #3: Eggs

Eggs are affordable, versatile, easy to cook, and available in every campus cafeteria.  Eggs contain high concentrations of the nutrients tryptophan and choline, which contribute to the neurotransmitters that affect mood and memory.

Food for the Brain#4: Berries

food for the brain_berriesBerries are full of antioxidants, which protect brain cells and stimulate brain function and memory. While the seasonal availability of fresh strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries can be short, these fruits are easily found in frozen form in grocery stores.

Food for the Brain #5: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, when ingested, is absorbed quickly by your brain and has been shown to have positive effects on memory and mood. Because of increased demand, coconut oil has become less expensive and more readily available over the past few years and can be used instead of vegetable oils in cooking.

Food for the Brain #6: Kale

food for the brain_kale

Kale has antioxidants, Vitamin B, which is key in brain development, Vitamin C, which increases serotonin, Vitamin K, which helps with verbal memory, AND is one of the best plant sources for Omega-3s.Kale is another food that is very versatile; use it in juices or smoothies, throw some kale in salads, or even coat with coconut oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven to make kale chips!

Food for the Brain——Honorable Mention

While we wanted to limit this list to six items, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two other brain-boosting foods: walnuts and avocados.  Walnuts are high in Omega-3, and avocados have Vitamin K, Potassium, healthy fats and folate, which is a nutrient that contributes to cognitive function.

With these six food good for the brain, plus the honorable mention items, you could create an incredible full meal to share (or keep the leftovers for lunch)!  But you could also choose just one, two three of the food to make your own energy formula to give your brain a boost.  Any way you choose, your brain will thank you.

Don’t Put Down That Tablet Just Yet:Online Learning and Test Prep Are Right At Your Child’s Fingertips

online learning_technology

These days, it seems that everywhere we look, children are more likely to have an electronic device in their hands than to have a book. Many parents and educators lament the intrusion of technology and digital devices as a distraction. But technology, when used effectively, can act as a great learning tool by students, teachers and tutors. Technology advances beyond the traditional schoolhouse model by advancing integrative learning. The medium also enhances online learning and even offers a broad base of college test prep and tutoring opportunities. Standard teaching methods and test prep for college entrance exams are established as a one size fits all institution, which seems to be failing both students and teachers. Fortunately, online learning and digital technology can increase flexibility in education and offer the opportunity to reform the traditional education model to fit the needs of today’s student.

Parents all know that education is one of the cornerstones of success and one of the most effective opportunities to improving a quality of life by offering upward mobility. But children are individuals, with different temperaments, backgrounds and learning styles. The one-size-fits-all model that is reflected in the United States educational model leaves many students feeling left behind or lost in the shuffle. This article reviews the tools and learning models that are being integrated into the classroom to strengthen the learning capability of every child.

Online Learning: Interactive Learning Technologyonline learning_integrative learning technology

It’s no secret that students are more engaged with technology and more plugged in than any preceding generation. Interactive learning marries technology with education to allow students to be actively engaged with the lessons they are trying to learn. Educational websites and applications allow students to use interactive learning programs to gain strength in critical skills in Math, Science and Reading. Technology can also offer more opportunities for learning and understanding in the everyday classroom. Interactive learning programs can also make learning and homework fun. These are important factors for students who are often overburdened with homework and long school days in the classroom. Interactive Learning is a model that holds the future of education and should be a key factor when school districts and legislators are seeking ideas for reform that works.

Online Learning: The Future is Collaborative

 learning_collaborative learningCollaborative learning has become an important module of learning in classrooms. Parents may be surprised at how often their children are engaged in class team projects.  But is an important skill to master because many businesses require project collaboration. When students use technology like iPads, interactive SMART Boards, and teleconferencing, to complete their collaborative projects, they are able to work independently on parts of a project, while also learning to collaborate more effectively. As a matter of fact, a study conducted in Canada by SMART Technologies found that educators believed strongly that collaborative learning paired with technological tools like SMART boards in classrooms helped social and emotional development among their students. So if your child struggles with working in groups, it is important to know that with effective teaching practices, engaging software, and collaborative learning opportunities, students can work through solutions while learning from each other. Mastering such skills early on will prove to be a great benefit to children when they reach college age or when entering the workforce.

Online Learning: Technology, Tutoring, Test Prep

Not only do tools like iPads and educational applications open a world of knowledge at the speed of a double click, they also offer flexibility in learning and teaching techniques. However, funding, bureaucracy, and class sizes often limit the capability for schools to fully integrate these tools, or quickly implement changes in the classroom model. In such cases, parents sometimes seek a tutor for their students. Whether your child is a student that is struggling to catch up or you want them to learn effective test prep, tutoring stands as one of the best resources for parents and students. In a nation that has long cried for education reform, tutoring may be one of the most effective solutions in schools. This is backed by a study released in 2014 by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which highlighted the benefits of tutoring for struggling students. In this study, a group of high school students learned three years of traditionally taught math skills in eight months with intensive tutoring and counseling. This offers hope to many parents who have students who are struggling in the traditional school model. For parents who are seeking local tutors, tutoring centers offer test prep classes for their child. When geography is a problem, online tutoring websites allow parents to seek help online from qualified professionals, regardless of where they are in the world.

Online Learning: Education Reformonline learning_education reform

With the challenges presented by the traditional school model, educators are reconsidering the future of learning through the use of technology and even integration of tutors in public schools. Some states, like Texas and Pennsylvania,  offer Charter School funding to online schools for students who need alternative education. These programs are often strictly online, but still utilize integrative and collaborative learning models for students. Some education reform advocates have argued that education reform should include tutoring in public schools. There are currently no federal tax deductibles for tutoring unless you have a student who receives special education. Such reform would benefit students and ease the financial burden of those parents who currently pay for tutoring out of pocket. States may not have the capability of placing tutors for individuals in public schools, but they do allow parents to apply state tax deduction to offset the cost of tutoring. For example, the Indiana Department of Revenue allows a $1000 deduction per dependent toward private and homeschooling expenses, which includes tutoring. In the future, other states could adopt similar deductions to include online tutoring programs.

The truth is that traditional educational model shave long been in need of reform. But more than any other time in history, parents and students have choices that are not limited to geography thanks to technology. Additionally, classroom teachers are finding that digital tools like tablets and SMART boards are increasing their capability to reach students better than rote learning and lecturing alone. Interactive learning and collaborative learning are becoming mainstream staples in primary schools as well as higher learning, and it is in the best interest of the student and the public school systems to have such tools available for the upward mobility and the individual’s future success.

References

ActivTable Changes The Way Curriculum is Delivered [Online] / auth. Promethean World. – https://www.prometheanworld.com/perspectives/activtable-changes-the-way-the-curriculum-is-delivered.

Back To School: Deducting Tutors & Special Education [Online] / auth. Erb Kelly Phillips // Forbes . – Forbes.com, 09 09, 2013. – https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2013/09/09/back-to-school-deducting-tutors-special-education/#7b58d12b1d35.

EDUCATION CREDITS AND DEDUCTIONS [Online] / auth. Indiana Department Of Revenue // In.gov. – August 18, 2014. – 2017. – http://www.in.gov/dor/5192.htm.

Intensive Small-Group Tutoring and Counseling Helps Struggling Students By MOTOKO RICHJAN. 26, 2014 Continue reading the main storyShare This Page Share Tweet Email More [Online] / auth. Rich Mokoto // New Tork TImes Online / prod. Times New York. – 01 27, 2014. – https://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/education/intensive-tutoring-and-counseling-found-to-help-struggling-teenagers.html.

SMART Reveals Positive Results in Students’ Skill Development Linked to Technology-Driven Collaborative Teaching [Online] / auth. SmartTech . – 2016. – https://home.smarttech.com/about-us/news/media-releases/ttl-report.

Think Your Child’s GPA Doesn’t Matter After Graduation? Think Again.

Does GPA Matter When Looking for A Job

Walking? Check. Talking? Check. Reading, writing, and doing math? Check. Off to college? Check! Raising children can feel like one daunting challenge after another. Having survived the college admissions process, you (and your kids) may be tempted to coast through the next four years, confident that a degree will buy some measure of job security regardless of GPA. But time once spent answering SAT or ACT practice questions to gain college admission may not transform into time spent asking, “What grade do I need to get a job after I’m done with college?” And that could be a serious problem.

Here’s why: about 90% of companies will immediately reject candidates with a GPA lower than 3.0.[1] While a candidate with a 3.2 GPA can differentiate him or herself from a candidate with a 3.7 GPA through volunteering, internships, and demonstrable job skills, someone with a 2.8 GPA is unlikely to survive the initial screening process to earn even a cursory look from prospective employers. GPA is never the sole reason a company accepts or rejects a candidate, but it remains one of the top selection criteria that companies use to compare and weed out applicants.

Does GPA Matter When Applying for A Job

Employers value GPA not only because it is one of the more objective and comparable measures of previous success and future potential; studies have shown that it may be an important predictor of other valuable skills and character traits. One 2017 study found that GPA is also highly correlated with how likely a person is to “engage in voluntary, helpful behavior in the service of co-workers and the organization.”[2]GPA becomes even more important if it can help predict not only cognitive and critical thinking skills but also soft skills such as cooperation and helpfulness.

The widely observable trend of grade inflation gives employers additional motivation to require higher GPAs from candidates. This trend has become more dramatic over time. While C’s were the most commonly awarded grades at colleges in 1960, A’s and then B’s became the most frequent by 2008.[3]If the GPAs of all students have been inflated over time, then employers have every incentive to raise the bar for candidates to increasingly higher levels.Does GPA Matter For College StudentsAs you prepare to send your child off to college, be sure that that academic performance, not just textbooks and the right meal plan, is on both of your checklists.

[1] I don’t know where this statistic came from, but it was given as the prospective title of this piece.

[2]http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/DLO-08-2016-0072

[3]http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007681316300878

How to Study for the ACT: 8 Popular Study Habits to Avoid

study habits_test prep tips

In order to help you prepare for the American College Testing (ACT) exam, here is some guidance on how NOT to study for the ACT, including how not to approach ACT sample questions and ACT sample tests. Read on to discover some tips on how to avoid common study habit errors, and what you can do instead, to maximize your study time to boost your ACT scores.

Study Habits to Avoid #1: Pulling an All-nighter/Cramming

Let’s start with the obvious. Sleep deprivation, no matter your age or circumstance, is never a good thing. Staying up late or all night, to study for an exam is pretty much the worst idea ever.  Instead, take some time to review your notes, and then put them aside well before you go to bed. Relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Study Habits to Avoid #2: Studying with friends.

Unless you’re in a completely structured and disciplined peer group that is working together toward a common goal, like the completion of a project, studying for exams with friends isn’t a good idea. Distractions will happen, and you’ll lose time and productivity.

Study Habits to Avoid #3: Listening to music*

study habits_loud musicListening to your playlists or other favorite music, especially loudly, is counter-productive.  Because you end up listening to the music more than you end up absorbing the information that you’re studying.  In order to maximize your efficiency, study in a quiet environment.

*Having music on low in the background as ambient noise, especially if it covers other distracting noises, is an exception to this tip.

Study Habits to Avoid #4: Looking at the answers to the sample questions first

Reading the answers before you attempt the question does you no favors. Instead, read the question first and attempt to answer it, THEN read the answer.  You’ll be able to recall the answer much better the next time you go through the practice questions.

Study Habits to Avoid #5: Over-caffeinating prior to the exam

study habits_over caffeinatedIf you’ve made the mistake of cramming the night before, or couldn’t sleep because of nerves, a low to moderate amount of caffeine may help.  However, ingesting too much caffeine can make you jittery, unfocused, and can lead to a major crash in your energy well before you’re finished with the exam.

Study Habits to Avoid #6: Re-writing all of your notes

Some people believe that typing or writing out all of their study notes will help their recall. Not true. Once you’ve been through the practice exams, make index card notes on any questions that you really get stuck on, with the questions on one side, and the answers on the other.

Study Habits to Avoid #7: Multi-tasking

study habits_multitask

It’s not just listening to music that can distract from your studying. Unless you are one of a very small percentage of the world’s population (i.e., 2%), you are not a good multi-tasker. So put down the phone, shut down your browser and turn off the TV.

Study Habits to Avoid #8: Studying for long periods of time

Studying for the ACT takes up a lot of energy, so trying to study for long blocks with no breaks can actually be detrimental.  Focused studying for shorter periods of time, and taking periodic breaks to focus on something else, can help you maintain a consistent level of focus and energy. Make sure you’re drinking water, eating, and taking occasional breaks just to stand up, stretch and move. At least one 10-15 minute break for every hour of study will help keep your focus on test prep.

How to Keep A School-Life Balance: Creating the Right Ratio

School-Life Balance

When I was in high school, I felt like I had as many sides to my life as a pentagon (that’s five, for the record): school, work, sports, friends, and other extracurricular activities.  Maintain a school-life balance in student life is very important. I felt like I was living in one giant geometry problem, and I was constantly doing equations in my head to determine the time I could squeeze into each section, like figuring out the areas of different shapes. After a year or two of practice, my routine became as easy and automatic as w(h) or bh/2. If I can do it, you definitely can too! Here is how to take the pressure off and keep a school-life balance.

Ways to Maintain School-Life Balance #1: Set Priorities school-life balance_priority

For starters, determine which activities are the most important to you, and which ones need the most immediate attention. If you haven’t made a study guide for your biology midterm tomorrow, but your friends are going to the soccer game tonight, biology wins this round.  You won’t be allowed to retake that midterm. There will be other soccer games! However, if you’ve spent the past three weekends with your nose pressed to the textbook, go spend the day at the movies. You’re not doing yourself any favors by not letting yourself enjoy being a teen.

Ways to Maintain School-Life Balance #2: Make Choicesschool-life balance_school activityIf you find that you don’t have enough time in the day to fit in all your activities, it might be time to cut a few loose. If you’re missing every other basketball practice to go to your video game club, you’ve already shown yourself which one is more important. Some clubs, like National Honor Society and Student Council, are great for building your resume and getting involved with the community, but it’s not worth it if you’re stressing yourself out daily or don’t really enjoy them.

Ways to Maintain School-Life Balance #3: Remember to Go Easy on Yourself

school-life balance_relax with friends

Finally, make sure you remember to go easy on yourself. You’re in a period of your life where you’re starting to shoulder some real responsibility and find out who you really are, but it’s okay to not know what to do sometimes, or make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to call out of work if you haven’t gotten a day off in two months and you want to spend the day relaxing with your friends. One day won’t kill you. If you’re too frustrated to work on your calculus homework for the third straight hour, take some downtime or even you can contact StudyGate for homework help. You won’t regret learning experiences, but you will regret missing the chance to make memories that will last a lifetime.

How to Avoid Procrastination in College: Helpful Advice for Students

how to avoid procrastination

Brittany A. and Brittany R. are college roommates, first semester Sophomores, American Cultural Studies majors, and both have projects due two weeks before midterm. Brittany A. is writing a paper on the passage of the 13th Amendment for her African American History class, while Brittany R. is contributing to a cooperative group presentation regarding European-introduced disease to Northeastern U.S. Native Americans for her North American Cultural Catastrophes class.

As part of their Freshman Seminar Class last year, they were required to participate in lessons and exercises about how to avoid procrastination or putting off until tomorrow what can and should be done today.  They should have both learned that putting things off until tomorrow, or two weeks from now, or mere hours before what you need to do must be done is a spectacularly bad way to operate in college. Brittany A. and Brittany R. absorbed that information and apply it to their lives in very dissimilar ways.  One Brittany completes her project with time to spare, confident that she’ll get a high grade, while the other Brittany…well, read on:

Project Start:how to avoid procrastination_group studyBoth Brittany’s are given their choice of topics to study and develop reports/presentations on. They are also both given the choice to work alone, or in groups.  Both know what topics they want to address.  Since Brittany A.’s knowledge about Abolitionis strong, she declines the opportunity to work with others on this project. She wants to take on the entire thing herself because it’s a topic she’s passionate about.  Brittany R. is also knowledgeable about her project topic, having done previous research and presentations.  However, Brittany R. also knows the value of working in groups; tasks can be divided and accountability for getting tasks done can be structured. She chooses to work on her project with three other people from her class.

Project In Progress, Weeks 1-3:

Brittany A. knows she has about six weeks to complete her project, which is so doable. She knows she could research and write the paper within just a few days, maybe even one afternoon, so she puts it on the back burner and focuses on anything but this project.  She is reminded weekly during class about her project but is unconcerned for the first several weeks. Brittany R. finds that her cooperative group is eager to get going, so they set a weekly meeting time. At their first meeting, they establish objectives, responsibilities, and roles for each member, and they hash out what their finished product should be. They also contact their professor during Week 2 to clarify her expectations and project details. By the time they are at the halfway mark, they have their sources, bibliography, abstract, and an outline.

Project In Progress, Weeks 4-6:how to avoid procrastination_deadline

Brittany A. starts working on her project. She finds her research sources, writes her abstract and has a goal of establishing her bibliography and an outline. But when she reads her abstract, she is overwhelmed and anxious, thinking she took on too broad a topic. Brittany R. continues to meet with her cooperative group weekly. They realize they have too many sources and too much information, some of it not germane to their objectives. They decide to meet twice a week to review each other’s work and provide support, suggestions, and edits.  By the beginning of the week, before the project is due, they have a draft for all members to review.

Project Due In Two Days:

Brittany A. asks Brittany R. on Saturday evening, “Is there school on Columbus Day?”, with the faint hope that there will be no classes on Monday, therefore giving Brittany A. an extra day to complete her project. Brittany R. informs her roommate that, sorry, there are classes on Monday. Brittany A. decides to email her professor, asking for an extension and some additional guidance about the project requirements.

Project Due Date:

how to avoid procrastination_deadline

Brittany R. and her group have submitted their project three days ago, and they receive excellent marks.  Brittany A. does get an extension from her professor, but even with the extra time, she completes the project with resentment and stress and knows that her project is not the work she is capable of, and her grade on the project reflects that.

A post-mortem look at how the Brittany’s approached their projects shows you ways to avoid procrastination and the subsequent stress and substandard work product.  It’s very simple:

●When you have a task with a deadline, look at the deadline and work backwards to create a schedule.

●If you can work in a group, do so. Establish accountability for each member of the group and make sure they know their responsibilities.

●Contact your professor/supervisor for clarification or with any other questions early in the process.

●Create a schedule that you need to adhere to.

●Break the big project down into small tasks.

●Don’t think “I can’t”, think “How can I?”

Procrastination can be a huge mental roadblock on the path to academic success.  Acknowledging it, and learning how to avoid procrastination, can provide you with an incredible edge.  So get done what you can get done today. And relax tomorrow.