Category Archives: Education

The Difference Between Online and Traditional Classes

Progressing and climbing the career ladder demands value addition to your skills in the form of acquiring or upgrading your knowledge. However, as a full-time working adult, taking a course or choosing a college that gives you enough time to juggle both work and education has become increasingly difficult. Here is where the dilemma of choosing between online classes and traditional classes arises. It then boils down to a simple question, are you willing to trade your handsomely paying job for a college degree that could give you an even better pay?. But, coming to an objective answer to this question is easier said than done.

A lot of factors have to be considered before you invest time, effort, and money in gaining education. In the following article, we take a look at some of the very important aspects of online classes and traditional classes, and what each setup has to offer.
Student Using Laptop
Virtual or online classrooms give you the freedom to attend or access them from any place. You can simply login to your classroom from your home, from a coffee shop, or while commuting to work. This arrangement ensures optimum utilization of time as it allows you to work during the demanding office hours, and study at your leisure. The only drawback of this situation is that it is a solitary activity unlike a traditional classroom. This reduces your chances of meeting new people and being exposed to a certain environment that could have been.

Student Using Laptop
The first important point to be noted about traditional classes is that they are bound by geography. They are always conducted within the confines of a classroom, putting a limitation on the number of seats, and thus reducing its reach to aspiring students. This may also demand staying on a campus, as classes conducted by visiting faculty could be scheduled at odd hours. On the plus side, conventional classes allow one-on-one interaction with professors and fellow students, fostering long-term relationships and building networks.
Woman Working At Home
Online classrooms do not require students to commute, as they can be attended from anywhere. The expense these classes demand is that of good Internet speed. Given this, virtual classrooms can be attended without any disturbance from the comforts of your own home.
Students Going To School
Unless you are staying on campus, pursuing a conventional type of education demands that you compulsorily commute everyday. This means you have to commute at a given hour and for a given time period. This means that one has to incur an additional expense for the necessary commute.

Technology Impact on Education

Technology has revolutionized the field of education. The importance of technology in schools cannot be ignored. In fact, with the onset of computers in education, it has become easier for teachers to impart knowledge and for students to acquire it. The use of technology has made the process of teaching and learning all the more enjoyable.
Technology is a teaching aid
Computers offer an interactive audio-visual medium. PowerPoint presentations and animation software can be used to present information in an interactive way. Owing to the audio-visual effects, this way of teaching invites greater interest from students. The method is equally helpful for teachers. Projectors and screens facilitate simultaneous viewing of information by a large number of students. Addressing systems using microphones and speakers make it possible for teachers to reach a larger number of students simultaneously. These teaching aids have led to improvements in student attendance and their attentiveness in class. Interactive media have proven to be useful in increasing students’ concentration levels.

Technology has made student life easy
Technology aids student expression. Students can use much more than just pen and paper to express themselves or present what they have learned. They can use software to make presentations and projects. This makes them more interested in the subject and leads to better retention of information. With technological aids, they can make easy-to-remember notes and a creative presentation of the information they have acquired. It won’t be wrong to say that application of technology has made a student’s life easy. It’s easier for students to carry a PDA than carrying big fat books to school. An iPad is less bulkier than a pile of notebooks or an ebook reader much lighter than a book.

Owing to technology, student life is easy and learning is much more fun!
It’s easier to store information
Computers enable better and more robust storage of information. If you weigh chalk, board, books, and notebooks against technology, you find that technology can substitute for any and all of these. Computers have replaced chalk and board; they can even do the talking sometimes while the teacher takes a step back and lets the presentations ‘speak’. Digital libraries require no physical space and students and teachers sitting in different parts of the world can access the same library at the same time. Compact memory devices have replaced notebooks and a keyboard and computer mouse are the new writing devices. What would have required hundred pages of a book can be compacted into a tiny memory chip. It can take hours to write, but it takes only seconds to type. Storing data has become much easier, owing to technology.

Unemployed Students

Many financial institutions specialize in instant loans, just like payday ones. These have an approval time ranging from 24 – 48 hours, and are very popular with the student population. Another reason they need financial assistance is when they want to get that all important car for their transportation needs. Car loans are also offered by many lending institutions as these are secured. Let us take a look at the different options available for them in the market today.

Cash Loans

Every student at one time or the other goes through a situation where an emergency cash requirement props up. The reason and the amount required can vary from person to person, but the need remains the same. With the traditional sources of acquiring loans requiring income proof and good credit rating, the option available for many of them is taking a cash loan. These are the equivalent of payday loans and have a high-interest rate.

These are made available by lending organizations by filling up an online application form. The creditor will perform a background check before giving one. Credit history (if any), the applicant’s identity, and background will be checked; academic background might be checked by some lenders. In some cases, a guarantor will be required for the approval of the same.

Personal Loans

Being an unemployed student with financial needs is a very difficult situation to be in, because there is little or no financial help available. Nowadays, however, there are lending institutions that provide personal loans to such individuals. These are mostly secured and are for a lesser duration; usually, the principal amount can be repaid in 1 – 6 months.

Generally, one can pick the repayment plan, which is restricted to less than six months in most cases. To get such a loan, the lender might ask you to come up with collateral, like jewelry or car. The rate of interest is also calculated according to the amount granted, the value of the collateral, and the duration of the term.

Car Loans

Almost every student dreams of owning a car and these loans are making this dream come true for many of them. Most lenders give them out because, in case of non-payment of the amount, they can repossess the car and sell it to recover the amount. Some lending institutions will ask for a cosigner who has a good credit rating; students generally use a family member. The interest rate is not that high, and it is a good option for those looking to get their own set of wheels. Contacting the car manufacturer or dealer for availing the same is a much better option than getting one from a private lender.

Homeschooling Laws

Quick Fact
In the year 2011-2102, the parents of 91% of the homeschooled pupils said that their dissatisfaction with the public school environment was the primary reason for switching their children to home schools, instead.
Homeschooling is a concept fast becoming popular in the U.S., with many families preferring to teach their children at home, instead of sending them to a more formal educational institution. The reasons for this vary―parents wish to be associated more closely with their child’s development, or they feel dissatisfied with the public school system, or they are worried about their child’s safety when at school, or their child has special needs, or even if the child is gifted in music or sport and needs more time to practice that art.
Yes, the reasons definitely vary. What remains universal is the fact that parents believe they can make their child a better individual if he/she is schooled at home, either by them, or a tutor. However, it may not be very easy to switch to or decide on homeschooling, in some states. Fortunately, the law in Texas is friendlier on parents, and allows them to switch to homeschooling quite easily. Before you make the decision of schooling your child at home, do make sure to get well acquainted with all your legal rights.
Homeschooling Laws in Texas
Homeschools in Texas are considered to be private schools by law, and hence, children are exempted from compulsory attendance to public schools if they are being schooled at home. An excerpt from the Texas Education Code, Chapter 25, Section 25.086. states that, “A child is exempt from the requirements of compulsory school attendance if the child:
(1) attends a private or parochial school that includes in its course a study of good citizenship;”

For legal homeschooling in Texas, the law requires parents to follow three basic requirements:
The curriculum must include five mandatory subjects―spelling, grammar, mathematics, reading, and a study of good citizenship (i.e., civics).
The curriculum must be in visual form―either books, computers, or a combination of both.
The instruction must be bona fide, which means that it must be completely genuine, and not a sham.
Many families have found that their children have highly benefited from homeschooling, have gone on to university after completing 18 years of age, and have become successful, accomplished adults.
Homeschooling in Texas: All That You Should Know
Texas is a “free” state when it comes to homeschooling, meaning, the law is easier on parents than homeschooling laws in other states in the US. There are a few general requirements for legitimate homeschooling in Texas, which are fairly easy for parents to understand and follow.
The age requirement for schooling is six years as of September that year, till the time the child turns 18 and has graduated high school. This requirement applies to both public as well as private schools, and since homeschools fall under the private school category, this age requirement applies to homeschool pupils, too.
According to the Texas Education Code, public schools must have 180 working days in a year, out of which students must attend a minimum of 170 working days, unless subject to exemptions mentioned in the Education Code. However, since homeschools are private schools in Texas, there is no specific number of working days mentioned by the law. The school (or in this case, the parent) can decide the number of days their child has to be homeschooled in a year.

Effective Reading Lesson Plans

The history of guided reading plans started in New Zealand around 1960. It was developed by two educators – Myrtle Simpson (inspector of school) and Ruth Trevor (National Adviser on Reading). This idea was then incorporated by Tom Wright in the United States who secured the rights to the sunshine series of leveled books from New Zealand. Slowly, the guided plans started gaining momentum and spread across the globe bringing benefits to teachers and students.

Steps to Improve Reading Skills

Guided reading lesson plans are developed with an aim to improve the reading skills of students by use of strategies. Usually teachers start by working in small homogeneous groups where teachers analyze and work on the weak areas of students. According to literary educators, guided plans are followed in the steps outlined below.

Advocating Students to Read Loudly
Firstly, the teacher needs to assess the background of the student by providing a mini lesson for reading. The teacher then works on the student’s reading skill by helping the student to pronounce difficult words and correcting his/her mistakes. Here, activity like connecting the dots is a great idea where the teacher relates the lesson to the student’s personal experience so as to inculcate interest in reading. Explaining the text in easy to understand language is done so that the student can get the crux of the story, which in turn helps him/her to work on the unique words and phonics.

Encouraging Silent Reading
Through silent reading, the student can understand inferences, locate information pertaining to the story and set the purpose by reading the text. A teacher should encourage students to see the picture and decode the meaning of the text. Also, by encouraging students to ask questions, the teacher can get a brief idea of the student’s thinking ability. The teacher should ask questions about the story, which will help the child to strengthen his/her weak areas. Like in many kindergarten schools, a story is broken down and students are encouraged to draw the story into pictures and express their thoughts.

Rereading for Improving Fluency
Teachers motivate students to reread the story so as to improve the vocabulary and foster rhythmic reading. The idea is to relate minor details to the big picture. Through this approach, a teacher can monitor the problems faced by the student in pronouncing difficult words. This is a widely practiced option, which enables the teacher to get the clear picture. The teacher can also progress to a more challenging text, if the students show progress in their current level.

Round Robin Reading Strategy

Popcorn reading is another oral reading practice, where the teacher reads a few lines, before uttering the word ‘popcorn’, followed by the student’s name who should do the reading job after her.
All teachers have this power to create a bunch of intellectuals. But the task is demanding and requires several ways to motivate and make the students inclined towards learning. As they rightly say, it is easier to take a horse to the pond, but it is not easy to make it drink water from the pond. Likewise, it is easier to gather the students for the class, but it is no easy job to inspire them to learn.

Therefore, several strategies are used by the teachers to pursue their teaching talent, apart from using the long chiding sessions and the stick-trick with their pupils. Well, coming back to the point, one of the most practiced strategy is the Round Robin Reading Strategy. We shall call it the RRRS henceforth in the rest of this article. The name is potent, agreed. But what is the strategy and how to apply it in the teaching process, what are its merits and demerits, if any. These are some of the questions whose answers we will seek in this article.

To begin with, let’s specify that the term generally hinges on the phenomenon of repetition. For a while we are transported back in the time of history, when we used to be in schools and had tough times in the company of those really strict teachers. But have we ever experienced RRRS ourselves? I am sure, at least once in our lifetime, we have all been exposed to this practice.
History of Round Robin Reading Strategy (RRRS)
Now before delving into the borders of its advantages and disadvantages, let us first find out, what exactly is RRRS? It is nothing but the practice of allotting each and every student in the classroom to read from chapters which is a new chapter.

So, no one has any idea about the content of the chapter. While s/he does the reading, the rest of the class listens, waiting for their turn to come; or rather hoping that the class gets dismissed for the day, before they become the next easy prey to this unique practice! Well, the practice is also famous as ‘popcorn reading’.

Well, the origin of the term is dicey, many sources say that there were times when in navy, there were complaints lodged against the higher authority, which were undersigned by the members who complained. In order to keep themselves safe from bearing the blame of initiation of the complaint, the signatories signed in a ’round’ pattern on the paper, thus, successfully hiding the initiator of the complaint.

Engineering Universities in the World

Engineering is one of the most lucrative career options, and it has attracted aspiring young men for a long time. With average salary in the range of $60,000 to $80,000, it promises financial stability and respectable life to aspiring candidates. There are certain universities in the world which are known all-over the world for their excellence and infrastructure. While it may not be possible to mention all these universities in this article, we will take a look at the top 10 universities in the world to study engineering.

World’s Top Engineering Universities

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology was founded in 1861 by William Barton Rogers. Just two days after the MIT’s charter was approved, Civil War began and Rogers had to wait for another four years so that students can enroll in the institution. Today, the MIT campus is spread over 168 acres and draws thousands of applications from all over the world. It has produced 73 Nobel prize winners, out of which nine are members of the current 1,017 strong faculty.

2. Stanford University
Stanford University was founded by Leland Stanford in remembrance of his son who died at a ripe age of sixteen years. Its alumni include the founders of Google and Hewlett-Packard. The School of Engineering was founded in 1925 and today it is home to about 4,000 students and 241 faculty members. The courses of computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering are sought-after.

3. University of California, Berkeley
The Berkeley engineering college initially offered mechanics, civil engineering and mining, when it was incorporated in 1868. It has produced several luminaries including Rube Goldberg, the famous cartoonist and Douglas Engelbart who invented the mouse. Today, the Berkeley engineering is one of the best rated schools around the world.

4. Georgia Institute of Technology
The College of Engineering is one of the largest school in the Georgia University, offering numerous degree programs. The faculty strength is 442, out of which 26 are National Academy of Engineering members. The College of Engineering is consistently ranked among the top-five colleges for engineering in the world.

5. University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
The College of Engineering at Illinois is one of the best institutes in the world. The courses offered include nuclear engineering, plasma engineering and radiological engineering. There are more than 2,500 graduate students at the College of Engineering which are thoroughly assisted by the Career Service Office in their job search. Besides, a cash prize of $30,000 is given to the student who proves to be the most innovative in technology.

6. University of Cambridge
The Department of Engineering at Cambridge University has Europe’s best engineering colleges. It was founded in 1875 and since then it has grown to the largest integrated engineering departments in United Kingdom. It has around 1,000 undergraduate students and 340 faculty members, which includes 200 research staff.

7. Imperial College London, UK
Imperial College in London is another great institution to study engineering. With a research income of more than £60 million (approximately. $98,000,000.00) and 1,200 staff members, Imperial Colleges is one of the best places to study engineering outside America.

Oldest University

There have been learning centers available for students for many centuries, ever since knowledge started spreading, but not all olden learning centers can be classified as universities. A college is an institution that grants learning degrees, whereas a university is a collection of many such colleges granting various degrees. The classification and definition of a university differs from country to country. For example, in the United States, an educational institution that undertakes research work is given this title. In the United Kingdom, the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992 grants power to the Privy Council to confer this title upon an institution. Basically, it means an institution of higher education (both undergraduate and postgraduate) and research, which confers degrees upon its students.
There were two universities which came before all the old ones that are functioning today, although these two are not in existence anymore. One of these universities was Takshashila and the other one was Nalanda.
Location: Currently in Pakistan
Founded in: 600 BC
It prospered greatly from 600 BC to 500 AD. It is said to be the world’s first proper university. It was present during the time of the Gandhara kingdom. Students from all over, including Babylon, Greece, China, and Syria came to learn there. The subjects that were taught included the vedas, warfare, surgery, grammar, medicine, archery, accounts, politics, futurology, astronomy, music, documentation, dance, the occult, and many more. These were taught by experienced people who had mastered them greatly. It was located in the northwest of the then Bharat (now India). Chanakya was one of the students of this university.

Location: Bihar, India
Founded in: 500 AD
This university was in operation for 800 years from 500 AD to 1300 AD. It had a campus that was a mile long and half a mile wide. There were 300 classrooms and laboratories, and such other facilities. It also had an observatory known as the Ambudharaavlehi and a massive library known as Dharma Gunj. The entrance exam that needed to be given to get admission into this university was said to be extremely tough, with the number of students clearing it being only 3 out of 10. This institution was destroyed by invaders.
The following is a list of some of the oldest universities in the world that are functioning even today.
University of Al-Karaouine
Location: Fes, Morocco
Founded in: 859 AD
Also known as the University of Al-Qarawiyyin, it was founded in 859 AD by a woman called Fatima Al-Fihri. Located in Fes, Morocco, this is the oldest Madrassa in the world, and is revered by the Muslim world in particular. It is a great spiritual and educational center. It focuses mainly on Islamic religious and legal sciences. The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded it as the oldest continuously-operating degree-granting university.

Leadership Activities for High School

The school is a place where a child can learn much more than the structured courses included in the curriculum, provided the right training is given. There are many leadership ideas for high school students which can help develop their confidence and make them assertive. As self-awareness is the key to development, leadership activities help in self assessment and personality development. Developing these skills in children from the high school days is very important.

Various leadership activities for students can inculcate personal assessment, and help develop potential leadership skills along with a sense of responsibility and identifying their leadership style.

Defining the term leadership is a difficult thing to do. However, it could be described as the process by which one influences people in order to get them enlisted in an activity for achieving a particular objective.

The participants for this activity could be from a minimum of 4 to 20 at the most. It takes around 1 hour to complete this activity. The objective of conducting this leadership activity is to help the participants identify their development needs and work towards the path of personal development. The activity is started with a group discussion on self assessment followed by a questionnaire to be completed by the participants. The questions included in the questionnaire could be such that they test a person’s behavior. One can prepare his own list of questions for the test (for example, which thing holds more importance to you, self-esteem or power). The questions may or may not be provided with multiple-choice options. The participants should be asked to work in pairs and carry out the assessment of their peers. This leadership activity enables the participants to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is necessary for a leader to understand his strengths and weaknesses before thinking about leading a group or a team. The ‘Learning to Lead’ activity thus, proves to be the first step in the development of leadership in students.

The students are divided into groups of three in this activity. Objective of the activity is to enable the students to share their experiences and build rapport. A list of situations is provided to the students and they have to think of an experience similar to these situations. Here is a list of some of the situations provided to the participants:
Something that generated a great deal of excitement.
A pleasant surprise.
A creative twist on a situation or issue.
An ‘Aha’ moment.
A clever improvisation.
A really tough situation.
A breakthrough insight or solution.
A conflict resolved.
An emotional situation.
A blindside experience.

High School Learning Skills

Tips to Improve High School Study Skills

Create a Schedule
The primary step to effective studying is to make a schedule and follow it. This will include allocating how many hours and which part of the day you will spend studying. Among the vital factors for students, is the ability to prepare a schedule that takes into consideration the time you will spend doing assignments or homework, as well as manage to include some real study time over and above this. Try to ensure that your study time takes place after you have rested, so that you are fresh, alert, and are able to absorb what you study. You will also see that studying at the same time every day will help you to focus and concentrate better. It is also a good practice to study the same portion that was covered in class during the day, as it will be fresh in your mind. It is also important to keep revising this schedule, to make it more effective over time.

Where to Study
It is important to pick a place to study that will help you concentrate. Any place rife with distractions will cause you to waste a significant part of your study time. The spot you pick to study should be austere, without the presence of any jarring colors, pictures, or loud sounds. Apart from the place you pick at home, libraries, study lounges, and private rooms are also good options.

Another key step in creating good study material is to compress a portion of information to about one-third of its original size, including only the important dates. This method, that also applies to study skills for middle school, makes reviewing and revising very easy.

Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review
High school as well as middle school study skills include this method; often referred to as SQ3R. The first step is to survey and involves chalking out all that needs to be covered (make subheads and points) and getting a general understanding of the subject. Next, you can categorize material and learn it as answers to questions such as what, why, how, when, who and where. As you study, ask yourself questions and seek the answers in your material. You are more likely to remember it using this method. You can also make your notes following this format. The next crucial step is reading, which must not be a mechanical process, but a receptive one. Ensure that you include tables, graphs, and illustrations, while reading. The next step is reciting which will tell you how effective your reading has been. One way to do it is read one section, and then explain it to yourself (without looking at your book), to check how much you have retained. The importance of doing this is that information is better retained in your own words. If you have sorted the information into main headings and sub points, they will come in handy here, as they pop up in your head while you are recalling, and help you piece together all that you have read. The last step, reviewing, is often the most important one. It is often said that information that appears before us a few times, gets transferred from our temporary memory to our permanent one. One needs to review and revise any material about three times, before it firmly takes root in our minds.