Posts published in October, 2014

Tools To Make Webinars More Effective

Online lectures and webinars are an extremely powerful tool for learning, effectively eliminating the problem of distances and allowing people from even the most remote locations to get the education they want. Moreover, this medium provides a lot more opportunities than plain text.

But it isn’t enough to simply listen to webinars and take screenshots from time to time. In order to reap all the benefits, one has to know the right tools – and it applies both to listeners and presenters.

In this article you will find some of them.

1.     Lecture Capture Tools

The major problem with webinars and online lectures is their fleeting nature – they provide an easy way to perceive new information and in some cases offer interactivity, so that you can ask your own questions. But once they end, they end. Some services even deliberately make it impossible to record their webinars in order to avoid their redistribution. Fortunately, you can use a– an application that allows you to capture screen or any of its areas as a video file to watch later at your discretion.

2.    Presentation Making Software

Webinars and lectures which show the face of the presenter for the majority of time can just as well do without video at all. In order to fully use the possibilities of this medium one has to support what he or she says with visual imagery – and nothing does it better than a good presentation.

Good news – you don’t have to possess any specific knowledge to prepare one. There are numerous easy-to-learn presentation-making tools like Prezi which can turn even the most boring topic into a fascinating one.

3.    Presentation Sharing Tools

Some presentation tools, like Slide Rocket, are specifically designed for work in groups – in addition to providing you with an efficient way of creating presentations, they allow you to easily share slides with other people and getting feedback from them.

4.    Webinar Creation

The times when in order to create a webinar you had to record screen of your computer while you clicked through some pre-made slides are long past. Today it is much easier to use a tool that will deal with all the little things, allowing you to concentrate on creative work. For example, Cisco WebEx provides conferencing in HD video with file and presentation sharing system – all for more than a reasonable price.

5.    Web Conferencing

Web conferences, like many other innovations, first became widespread in business circles, but after they proved their effectiveness they entered all possible spheres of human activity – including, of course, education. With their help you may meet with a group of people (from 2 to more than 10), share files, discuss topics and listen to each other.

Some web conferencing tools require monthly fees, others, like MeetingBurner, are free of charge (some others have free trials or free accounts with limited functionality). But whatever you choose, they allow you to meet people from any part of the planet face-to-face, listen to lectures and conduct them, ask and answer questions. Recent studies show that video conferencing study environment allows for even higher percentage of perceived information and student satisfaction than traditional approaches – so it is much more than simply a substitute for a classroom.

The nature of education in general is changing – recent breakthrough in telecommunication technology created possibilities that were hard to believe just 20 years ago. The new generation of teachers, at least those of them who are used to thinking outside the box, are willing to make these changes even more drastic. After all, why remain limited by the old ways which were established when there simply was nothing better.

Melissa is a student of journalism. She is passionate about digital technologies and tries to implement them in the sphere of education.

Experiences Of Black Males In Postsecondary Education

Black Males in Postsecondary Education: Examining Their Experiences in Diverse Institutional Contexts

Excerpt of review by Rachelle Winkle-Wagner — October 09, 2014 for Teachers College Record

coverTitle: Black Males in Postsecondary Education: Examining Their Experiences in Diverse Institutional Contexts
Author(s): Adriel A. Hilton, J. Luke Wood, Chance W. Lewis
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1617359327, Pages: 242, Year: 2012
Search for book at

Black Males in Postsecondary Education focuses on the overarching question: How does institutional type, size, and scope influence Black men’s experiences and development in higher education? Each chapter of the book explores a different postsecondary institutional type and demonstrates how institutional cultures and environments can change the outcomes and experiences for Black men. In so doing, Hilton, Wood, and Lewis have compiled a unique, anti-reductionist approach to the study of Black male experiences in college that illustrates the many differences between and among Black men and their experiences. The emphasis on differences between Black men is in itself a triumph: it pushes past the deficit-focused approach (i.e., what is wrong with the students, their backgrounds, or their outcomes) often taken towards the study of students of color in higher education.

In the span of twelve chapters, the book considers Black male experiences across community college, for-profit colleges and universities, liberal arts colleges, Ivy League institutions, historically Black colleges and universities, predominantly White institutions, religiously affiliated colleges and universities, not-for-profit colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions. The book draws from literature reviews, semi-structured interviews, large-scale surveys, longitudinal surveys, and focus groups. The diverse methodological approaches reveal multiple dimensions of experiences that Black men have in college—this is certainly one of the key attractions of the book. The authors bring together fresh ideas. An additional treat within this volume is that nearly every chapter ends with actionable recommendations for policy, research, or practice; the final chapter offers a compilation of recommendations across institutional types.

The book begins with a focus on two-year institutions. Chapter Two covers a forty-year overview of research on Black men in community colleges and emphasizes the barriers faced: racism, poor academic preparation, health risks, criminal justice policies, alienation, low expectations, and negative media portrayals. The chapter ends with an extensive list of policy recommendations for high schools, community colleges, and the state- and federal-levels of government. The next chapter begins with a literature review of the experiences of Black males within for-profit colleges—many of which are two-year institutions. Within the chapter, Fountaine shows that for-profit colleges are one of the leading granters of degrees for Black men—outpacing even historically Black colleges—particularly for degrees in business, management, or marketing. Fountaine concludes that for-profit colleges should be further examined as part of the educational pathways of Black men, in order to explore how to increase Black male graduation rates more generally.

The next six chapters center on four-year institutions. In Chapter Four, Berhanu and Jackson contemplate two Black men’s experiences as graduate students in an Ivy League institution. The findings demonstrate how undergraduate experiences with racism influence graduate school experiences (e.g., less engagement), and also offer a perspective on highly ambitious, driven Black male students. Chapter Five provides a counterpoint to the work on high-achieving Black men at predominantly White institutions, focusing instead on the impact of historically Black colleges. Gasman et al. describe how Black male participation has increased in some fields (computer science, biological science, and engineering), and demonstrate the need for research on Black male participation in other fields (e.g., mathematics, agricultural sciences). Chapter Six examines Black male enrollment and graduation from the top 50, nationally ranked, predominantly White institutions; findings reveal continued racial inequities in graduation outcomes for Black students. Chapter Seven explores the Black student experience in religiously affiliated institutions, many of which are also predominantly White. Marks, Carey-Butler, and Mitchell consider Black male experiences at private, not-for-profit colleges and universities: their findings suggest an increase in Black nationalist ideology and depressive symptomology, and a decrease in risky behavior, spirituality, and self esteem. Finally, Reddick, Heilig, and Valdez investigate Black men’s experiences at a Hispanic-serving institution and show that participants (a) were often unaware of the HSI designation, (b) regularly dealt with racial issues, and (c) turned to the Black student community for support.

College Cost Rise Unsustainable Says Stanford President

The head of the Silicon Valley university at the forefront of the digital revolution in teaching and learning warned more than two years ago that “there’s a tsunami coming” in higher education. In hindsight, Stanford University President John L. Hennessy’s assessment could be seen as overstated.With isolated exceptions, colleges and universities do not seem this fall to be in jeopardy of financial collapse. Experiments in offering free education through “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, do not yet appear to be the market-disrupting force that some theorized they would be.

But Hennessy is taking a longer view. Ripples on the ocean’s surface far from shore, he contends, may yet signal a wave that will, eventually, rise and swamp the old college order.

 The “vast majority of higher education institutions,” Hennessy argues, need to “transform to a more sustainable economic model.” The reason: Diminished state subsidies for public higher education and stagnant family income threaten to undercut the funding that supports schools with high fixed expenses.

Hennessy had used the tsunami metaphor in an interview with the New Yorker for an April 2012 article about Stanford’s role as the intellectual engine of Silicon Valley. (The school was not thrilled with the headline: “Get Rich U.”) Here are a couple takeaways from a conversation The Post had this year with Hennessy, beginning over a summer lunch in Washington and continuing through recent e-mails.

 ●Colleges must get real about attacking the problem of costs. “The change must come from a boost in productivity,” he said. And what is productivity? Simply put: Degrees per dollar. “Technology is the best shot we have at bending the cost curve by enhancing productivity,” he said.● Don’t fall for hype over free online courses. Don’t ignore them either. “There is a role for MOOCs both as a tool to educate educators and as the primary access method for students who have few other choices,” Hennessy said. “But they will not be the mainstay of U.S. higher ed.” MOOCs, he said, “are only a small portion of a much larger change: the more aggressive use of online technologies.”

That could mean that a college focuses on adaptive learning, using computers to tailor the pace and content of a lesson to individual needs. Or the college could use more interactive videos to deliver what in years past would have been conveyed through lectures, eliminating the stultifying effect when a professor acts as a “sage on the stage.”

Hennessy is hardly the only educator to make these points. But his views carry weight because of Stanford’s deep ties to the high-tech world. Indeed, some of its faculty started the well-known MOOC companies Coursera and Udacity. Also, Hennessy has had a notably long run at the helm of the elite university.

A professor of electrical engineering and computer science, Hennessy, now 62, became Stanford’s 10th president in fall 2000. He has served longer in the position than any of his peers whose schools rank among the top 10 on the U.S. News and World Report list of national universities.

Among leaders of top-50 universities, only four have held office longer: Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1999; William P. Leahy, president of Boston College since 1996; Mark Stephen Wrighton, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis since 1995; and Henry T. Yang, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Barbara since 1994.

Ifety takes up a significant amount of his time, especially with the emergence of sexual assault prevention as a national issue. There are also perennial questions about underage alcohol consumption and binge drinking.

Asked how he would counsel incoming students on these issues, Hennessy said he supports “affirmative consent,” a key concept in California’s new “Yes means Yes” law.

“When consent is truly affirmative, there are rarely misunderstandings,” Hennessy said. “If consent cannot be given, it is assault to assume it is given. And no one should be afraid to say no when they are unsure.

“If you drink alcohol, never drink so much that you don’t know where you are, who you are with, or how to get ‘home.’ Under such conditions, anyone can do things they later greatly regret. . . .

“Finally, promise to intervene when you see a troublesome situation; don’t be an uninvolved bystander. Help a friend when they need help doing the right thing.”

He also weighed in on federal policy.

Of President Obama’s plan to rate colleges, announced last year, Hennessy said the government should tread carefully. “The danger of not doing this right is the unintended consequences,” he said.

Graduation rates, he said, should considered through the prism of family income of students — preferably broken down by income quartiles or quintiles, not just the single criterion of whether a student is eligible for federal Pell grants. The nation, he said, also needs better information on graduation because the primary current metric is how many full-time, first-time students obtain degrees within six years. “You also need measures for the many part-time and nontraditional students,” he said.

Asked what two things he would seek if he could magically enable the federal government to take action to improve higher ed, Hennessy offered three.

First: “Hold schools accountable for outcomes” by requiring them to share some financial responsibility when former students default on loans or when Pell grant recipients don’t earn a degree. “If we don’t do something like this there is a danger that the federal loan and grant programs will collapse,” he said. “Of course, these programs need to be risk adjusted to be fair.”

Second: “Fix K-12 [schools] to get many more students college-ready.” Data from the ACT admission test, he said, show “that only one third of the students are fully college ready in English, math and science. ONE-THIRD! And far too many students are in remedial programs. This is the number one thing that government could do to improve college graduation rates. It’s very hard.”

Third: “Help low-income kids with a little college counseling.” Eight hours of preparation for the SAT or ACT tests can make a difference, he said, as well as an hour of personalized college counseling and a simplified financial aid system. “Too many talented low-income kids don’t get to college because the process is overwhelming. This is easy to fix.”

He acknowledged his second goal “is extremely difficult and may take a long time to accomplish.”

A former Post education editor, Nick writes about college from the perspective of a father of three who will soon be buried in tuition bills.


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Common Core Implementation Requires Educator Capacity Building

The Common Core in California: An Interview With Mike Kirst
An excerpt:

Marc Tucker: How long will California teachers have to implement the Common Core before it counts for anything?

Michael Kirst: We will give a baseline assessment in 2015, but we know that full implementation of Common Core in our classrooms is going to take time.  We’re committed to getting this done right rather than letting federal policy dictate how we improve learning and student outcomes in our state.  We are still operating under the requirements of NCLB, and we’re providing $50,000 for professional development on Common Core in addition to other support for each school newly identified for corrective action.  Every time you ratchet up accountability, you have to ratchet up capacity.

Read the full blog and leave your comments here:

Predictions About the BIg Impact OF Competency Based Education

The Quiet Movement That Could End Higher Education as We Know it

By Michelle R. Weise

In an op-ed published this week in Bloomberg Businessweek, Michelle discusses why online competency-based education programs will inevitably gain an increasing amount of traction in the market—particularly when it comes to filling skills gaps in the workforce. The newer pathways could serve as robust alternatives to the traditional four-year degree.


Why “Full Time College” Should Be 15 Credits

By Stan Jones, Complete College America
It’s Time to Redefine “Full-Time” in College as 15 Credits

As the current and former commissioners for Indiana’s higher education system, we agree that on-time college graduation must become the standard rather than the exception it is today. Less than 1 in 10 full-time community college students complete an associate degree within two years and just 3 in 10 full-time students pursuing a bachelor’s degree finish in four years.

If these students are attending college full-time and not part-time, why are so few graduating on time? One frustratingly simple reason is that many students just aren’t taking enough credits each semester. This is the unintended consequence of flawed federal policy combined with misconceptions about what’s in the best interest of students.

Since the federal government defines full-time enrollment as 12 credits per semester for financial aid purposes, students often mistake their “full-time” status with a guarantee for on-time graduation. In actuality, full-time students must take at least 15 credits per semester, or 30 credits per year, to earn their degrees on time. This disconnect costs students, families and taxpayers millions of dollars in extra tuition fees, loan debt and lost wages for each additional semester.

Equally troubling is the fact that students—especially low-income and first-generation college students—often are discouraged from taking more than 12 credits a semester. This well-intentioned but ultimately counterproductive advice is based on the conventional wisdom that students who “ease in” to college by taking fewer credits have a greater chance for success. The data tell a different story.

A recent report by the Community College Research Center adds to the evidence of what we’ve found to be true in Indiana and at institutions across the country: students who take 15 or more credits per semester earn better grades, are more likely to stay enrolled in school, and most important of all, they are far more likely to graduate.

With the launch of a statewide “15 to Finish” campaign this year, Indiana has joined a national movement led by Complete College America that aims to increase college completion by redefining full-time as 15 credits. In response, our colleges have incorporated the “15 to Finish” message into their academic and financial aid advising practices and students are becoming empowered as advocates for their own success.

Though most have embraced the “15 to Finish” campaign and the student-centered policies that support it, some critics have questioned whether this message is right for all students. The fact is many more students can benefit from increasing their credit accumulation. Indiana’s “15 to Finish” campaign is squarely focused on the nearly 40 percent of full-time Hoosier college students who are missing the mark of on-time graduation by only a couple courses each year.

We remain committed to advancing policies and practices that help all students, including part-time and returning adults, reap the rewards of a college credential sooner. We have all been inspired by the stories of students who finally earned their degrees after years of struggle. At the same time, we can’t help but wonder: If given a choice, would these students have wanted it to take so long?

This column was co-written by Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers and Complete College America President Stan Jones. Learn more about Indiana’s 15 to Finish campaign at

It first appeared in The Statehouse File.

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Making the Higher Education Market Work For Students And Taxpayers

Andrew Kelly and Kevin James, American Enterprise Institute

Key points

  • US policymakers are more concerned with ensuring individuals’ access to US postsecondary institutions than with the educational value of enrollment, which contributes to discouraging labor market success and loan repayment rates among America’s university and college graduates.
  • Policymakers must examine the building blocks of the quality-assurance system for higher education–characterized by consumer choice coupled with a hands-off regulatory approach built on accreditation–to diagnose which elements have benefited students and which have fallen short.
  • While it is tempting to substitute federal power for the failures of the higher education market and accreditation system, such an approach would likely fail to ensure quality and would undermine positive aspects of the current system.
  • Reformers can help ensure positive educational outcomes and foster innovation in the higher education system by thinking more broadly about who can act as authorizers and accreditors of academic quality, who bears the risk when students fail to pay back their loans, and how to best equip consumers to choose the right universities or colleges.

Read this publication online

Measuring College Readiness: The Use Of Multiple Measures

From: Jobs For the Future

Among education researchers, there is a growing consensus that college and career readiness depends on not just academic knowledge and skills but on a wide range of social and developmental competencies, as well—such as the ability to monitor one’s own learning, persist at challenging tasks, solve complex problems, set realistic goals, and communicate effectively in many kinds of settings. Yet, most U.S. schools continue to use standardized achievement tests, focusing exclusively on reading and math, as their primary means of gauging student progress.

In this paper—the first in Students at the Center’s new Deeper Learning Research Series—David T. Conley, well-known for his influential research on college readiness, argues that the time is ripe for a major shift in educational assessment. State and federal policymakers should reconsider their overreliance on standardized tests, he argues, and they should embrace the use of multiple measures that, in combination, provide much deeper and more useful information about students’ readiness to succeed after high school.

Access A New Era for Educational Assessment >

88% of High School Graduates Go to College By Age 26

This college going rate is for 2 and 4 year institutions only, and does not include beauty colleges etc. It is higher than previous studies, and seems to support the use of high school standards for college and career like Common Core. 79% of students go to college by age 20!


A Conversation with Michael Kirst

Brooke Donald, Communications Manager of Stanford Graduate School of Education, interviews Michael Kirst on his recent reappointment to President of California State Board of Education, his thoughts on California’s education the next 4 years, Common Core State Standards, Local Control Funding Formulas, Vergara lawsuit.