Posts published in June, 2015

Gadgets at College: Must Have or Better Avoid?

By Terry Smith

Over the past 5 years, we have seen the mass invasion of tech gadgets into educational system. Gadgets have become indispensable pieces of electronics for both students and teachers when it comes to keeping up with college schedule, organizing and sharing information, passing tests, performing complicated calculations. But are they must-have items to bring to college on a daily basis? Let’s figure out.

LA technology and education mismatch

We all remember LA schools’ iPad adventure. This was a bold project aiming to become a technologic breakthrough in education. The District invested $1.3 billion in iPads. The price of each iPad was $768, plus extra $200 for the Apple curriculum license.

Nevertheless, all went wrong. Students and teachers faced various types of app interruptions at least once per class. Now the LA School District asks for a complete refund or a delivery of the state-of-art technology as Apple promised. But who should take the blame here? Apple, because they sold an incomplete product? Or the School District, because they somehow forgot to test its functionality before implementing it.

The LA case uncovers the more complex problem – technological weakness of the US educational system. Each coin has two sides, so does technology in classrooms.

New approach to knowledge vs. device-abuse

In fact, gadgets may turn boring college studies into a new adventure and motivate students to go on. A seemingly boring topic can easily become alive if students start exploring it with multimedia or apps on their devices. The same is true about passing tests and exams. A standardized testing procedure on tablets can optimize students’ experience and enhance measurement.

The side effect of bringing gadgets to college is an uncontrolled device use during classes, and even an abuse. As study shows, children get used to gadgets quickly and depend much on the entertainment brought by the modern hardware. College students though taking more responsibilities for themselves and their actions often fail to stop playing with gadgets and switch to learning. Social media and various entertainment apps are other time-killers during boring classes.

Gadgets, health and communication

Lightweight tablets are easier than a backpack to carry to college. Devices can store as much data as a dozen of 200-page books. But starring at screen for several hours and lack of motion isn’t favorable for young human health. In the 1980-s students went outside to play in a college’s playground. Now, they stick to watching YouTube videos or playing games for the rest of the day.

Another key aspect of change is communication and social interaction. Social life at college teaches you to find borders between your individuality and others, express yourself, find a compromise. It requires a lot of emotional and mental input from a student. A machine is much simpler. Just type an answer and it shows whether you are right or wrong. College students spend so much time with devices, so sometimes they don’t know how to start a small-talk with their mates.

Fast access to information vs. creativity

Gadgets provide a quick access to information. College students can compare various points of view. Such enormous amount of Internet data encourages fast info processing and compilation. But it might negative affect students’ imagination and creativity. Earlier to write an essay, a student would spend much time in the library and think of personal vision of the problem. Now they can Google and copy-paste others’ ideas into a brief piece of content or even download a ready essay on any topic. About what thinking activity can we talk here?

Gadgets at college, let them in?

Progress is unstoppable and we need to embrace technological transition in college education. But LA iPad case teaches that evolution is better than revolution. The problem happened due to a large-scale implementation of technology, which was forced suddenly. It was supposed to be introduced gradually and ease this change.

So inclusive technology might be the solution that colleges need. Technology in educational system isn’t a goal, it’s a means. A tablet should accompany studies and provide additional resources.

Transforming old college system can’t happen in one click. Both students and teachers need time to adapt. Teachers will upgrade tech skills to be proficient with devices. Students will get used to new rules in education.


About the author:

Terry Smith is a freelance web developer and blogger. He loves testing and reviewing new educational tools and exploring ed-tech topics. Follow Terry on Twitter.


4 Incredible Ways to Get Student Discounts

By Rochelle Ceira

 Student discounts are most commonly awarded to college students who are either wealthy enough to afford college or are able to incur a huge amount of debt. You cannot deny the fact that nothing saves you money like a conservative student discount. When you are a student, every penny counts. Thanks to the rapid growth of discount apps, loyalty programs and mailing lists, you’ve got more choices than ever before.

 Here is a brief guide on how you can avail student discounts and pay as little as you can and save as much as you can:

1)    .edu Email Address

Almost every academic institution in the world has a website. Most of these institutions enable students to create email accounts. Getting an edu email address is imperative for you because it is the main requirement of many student discount offers. At times, when universities and colleges do not provide their students with .edu email accounts, they offer a forwarding service. Every now and then you may receive tons of emails regarding student discounts and sales in your inbox. You can avail these offers and enjoy the perks of being a student.

2)    DreamSpark

Microsoft has a special program for students called DreamSpark. DreamSpark is a Microsoft Program that supports technical education by providing access to Microsoft software for learning, teaching and research purposes. You can either be a college or university student to take advantage of this program. All you have to do is simply create an account, verify your student status and download the software from the website free of cost. You can also get access to different software applications if your college or university has a subscription.

3)    NUS Cards

No doubt NUS cards are one of the most widely used cards in the world. When you register with your university you will get a Standard NUS card (National Union of Students). It is simply an ID card which is normally used at the library. It will also help you get into different events and allow you to take advantage of various facilities that are provided to students only.

It is completely free and it comes with a lot of discount offers. You’ll be amazed to see how it does wonders even with local companies.


4)    NUS Extra

 Unlike the simple NUS Card which is free, the NUS Extra card requires an annual cost of £12. Stats show that you’ll save about £523/year with this card. This is the reason why it is recognized as the number one student discount card.

You’ll get exclusive discounts with hundreds of big names such as Amazon, McDonalds, Ticketmaster, Superdrug, Domino’s Pizza, Dissertation Avenue, etc. The complete list can be found here. With a meager £12/year, it is certainly a bang for the buck.

Make sure this card is in your wallet at all times so that you can avail all sorts of exciting offers and discounts.

Though there are tons of other student discount cards available like UNiDAYS, StudentDiscounts, ISIC and many more but the NUS cards beat them all in terms of variety, discounts and perks that are offered. Enjoy and get the student discount for as long as your student life lasts.

Rochelle Ceira is a professional consultant with extensive experience in the education sector. When not working, she invests her time analyzing latest ed-tech trends and ways on how those trends can be implemented.


Top 5 Most Common Student Hobbies that Can Boost Up Your Career


By Melissa Burns

While you’re enjoying your college or university years, a good hobby may not be something that you find serious. Without a doubt, you’re extremely busy with essays, research papers and even dissertation (as well as a bunch of the other academic works) to make time for any hobby. But the fact is that providing your hobby on your Curriculum Vitae list can become an amazing opportunity to get a dream job! The whole point is that this information enables the hiring manager to get a right perspective on your professional skills. Besides, hobbies are a great way to relax and let all the stresses go. So, what kind of hobbies can become your “golden ticket” to the position you’ve been longing for?

Learning a Foreign Language

Considering the frames of the globalization, it is always a good idea to learn a foreign language. Whether you will have to travel for a holiday or work, you will have an opportunity to interact with the other people in the region you’re in. What is more, language is a perfect way to know more about the local traditions and culture. Your efficient knowledge of the foreign language will prove that you’re ready to master new things and are absolutely open to absorb new information.  Your prospective employers will make sure that you can easily fit into a multicultural environment.

– Cars Addiction

A lot of people love cars. And when they’re being asked about the reasons of this passion, the answers turn to be diverse. While some of the car addicts admire the aesthetic look of the shiny toys, the others are extremely great at the cars’ history and can easily name the full list of car logos as well as provide detailed descriptions for the four-wheel drive. Some guys are good at such a puzzle work as car diagnosing. All this can a free card to the car industry!

– Team Sport

Playing a team sport is a truly energizing hobby. But together with that, it is a great opportunity to keep fit and healthy. Your prospective employer will like the idea that you are a good team player since it means you will do great when working with the other people to meet various corporative goals. So, make sure to give enough time for a team sport when being occupied with your Masters degree.

– Blogging

If you are passionate about writing, blogging is what the doctor ordered! While some people find it a complete waste of time when the question is about posting blog articles, the others enjoy every aspect of writing. The thing is that due to the lack of time, the employer is not going to read all of your essays and term papers. That is why a personal blog is the best way to enlighten your employer on what you’re interested in and what motivates you every single day.

– Volunteering

A lot of companies are on the lookout for the young specialists, who have relevant experience in handling and managing people from all possible walks of life. Volunteering will provide you with the required knowledge, which can be obtained either in local soup kitchen, charity shop or elsewhere.

If your views on taking a college or university hobby are still skeptical, think twice. The point is that a good hobby can not only attract many interviews, but also help your career go up. Thus, you will have the desired luxury to select the best job offer.

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact Melissa:

Redesigned State Remedial Policies Help Students

On the forefront of developmental reform
Community college systems in Virginia and North Carolina lead in statewide efforts to improve developmental education. Both states redesigned their remedial English and math courses, their assessment instruments and placement policies to decrease the number of referrals, reduce the time students spend in remedial classes and align developmental education across colleges and with college-level courses. This report provides preliminary results. (Community College Research Center)

States Replace Common Core With Carbon Copies

Highlighted Story: Why are so many states replacing Common Core with carbon copies?


From Emmanuel Felton, The Hechinger Report: “Common Core’s staying power might be explained by what it is and isn’t. Common Core, after all, is not a curriculum. It doesn’t mandate a set of textbooks or tests. It doesn’t provide lesson plans or scripts for teachers. It’s a list of targets for what students should be able to do at the end of each grade. And how different can those targets really be?”


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Numerous Criticisms Of College Boards/Trustees

College boards of trustees push into the spotlight
Populated largely by wealthy alumni and political appointees, university and college boards of regents and trustees have historically operated largely out of sight. But as tuition escalates, along with questions about what students and their families get for their money, boards are finding themselves in an unaccustomed spotlight. (Hechinger Report, April 30)

Top Summer Learning Apps and Resources for College Students

By Jane Hurst

As a college student, or a high school graduate who is entering college this fall, you need study tools, but you also need tools that will fit into your budget. Not only do you need these tools for college, you need them now, because you should be continuing your studies right through the summer so you are fully prepared for college. Luckily, there are all kinds of awesome learning apps that are absolutely free to use, and they will help you to get the most out of your college experience. Here are our top picks.

Dragon DictationTop Summer Learning Apps and Resources for College Students

If you have notes to type, but you just can’t type any longer because your fingers are so sore, use Dragon Dictation. It will convert all of your spoken words digitally, and then you can paste what you have said to other apps, send it as a message in an email, or even save it to use later. This is great for those who find that typing makes their hands sore. You can even use this tool to dictate text messages, so everything you do is hands-free.

Brainscape-Smart Flashcards

Test your memory using smart flashcards from Brainscape. You can create your own sets of flashcards to use whenever you need them, so you can always test yourself and improve your memory all the time. Brainscape is easy to use, and you don’t have to pay for it.


This is a great general study tool that has flashcards for just about any topic you can think of. The flashcard sets are created by high school and college students, so you get the information that you really need to pass all of your exams. If you can’t find what you need, you can make up your own course of flashcards. You can also use images and audio in your flashcard sets.


A website builder that is easy to use and doesn’t cost anything is IM CREATOR. You can build websites that are simple yet elegant, and of course, extremely effective. As a college student, you can use a website to make that much-needed extra money, and this is a builder that is going to help you do just that. You can find other website builder options at SiteBuilderAwards, so you can easily create your own great website in just a few minutes. Check out reviews about various builders so you can choose the one that is best suited to your particular needs.


While this is promoted as a communication app, it is actually a whole lot more. It offers text chat, voice chat, video, file sharing, etc., and it can be used as a study app. You can get last-minute info from classmates right before an exam, and they can send you files to download. If you can’t read their writing (from notes they sent), you will be able to chat and make sure that you have all of the necessary information.

Google Drive

Use this app to take notes, draw diagrams, create presentations, create spreadsheets, and more, and keep everything right in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere. Google Drive is a collection of office apps that are cloud-based, and you will have more storage than you will likely ever need. If you do run out, it doesn’t cost much to get more. All apps are browser-based, but there are iOS and Android versions. You can sign up for free using your email address, and signup is automatic with a Gmail account.


Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot.

Thank you!

Community Colleges Recieve Least Amount of Public Support

Community Colleges

Addressing the inequity gap

Community colleges tend to receive the least amount of public financial support compared to other institutions, yet they are asked to push high numbers of low-income students into the middle class with few resources. A new report urges additional funding. (Inside Higher Ed, May 28)