Posts published in June, 2017
BY DANIKA KIMBALL
It’s clear that technology will have a prominent role to play in the future of higher education in the United States. Students of all ages have found technology to be a powerful tool in the classroom, both as a means of delving deeper into the material, as well as forming relationships with peers and professors from all over the world–a trend that will only continue to manifest in years to come.
In recent years, the way we gain information has changed drastically, in part due to the development of online learning platforms. Though brick and mortar campuses are still very much a part of the higher education experience, the ways people can earn a degree are vastly different from the ways that early educators initially envisioned.
Personal computers, mobile phones, and internet access have made higher education drastically more accessible to a larger variety of students. Today, students don’t have to travel miles to campus, live in dormitories, or study from textbooks in order to glean meaningful knowledge and experiences from their college years.
The accessibility of mobile devices has helped to ensure that busy individuals can keep up with their coursework throughout the day; online learning platforms have made it easier for students all over the world to access high quality college courses; and educators have more tools at their disposal to engage in high quality research and teaching tools.
Online learning has become popular, in part, because of the flexibility that remote learning brings to students’ lives. But the benefits of technology in the classroom may be more impactful than one would initially think.
Courses that are delivered in an online environment may be more conducive to individual students’ personal learning styles. Additionally, students have the flexibility to work full time, have extra time to absorb the material, and have more productive discussions about course material.
Less obvious, however, are the ways in which technology continues to change the educational environment. Gamification is rapidly changing the way that students experience their coursework, allowing them to explore advanced concepts in an active, adaptive learning environment. Interactive videos and recorded lectures allow students to experience new information in an accessible way.
With the use of technology, even the quietest students can become active members of group discussions. Online course forums give students the unique opportunity to create dialogues with their classmates, providing links to videos, studies, and think pieces to further move discussion forward.
“They’re very dynamic discussions,” explains Paul Ventura, Acting Director of the School of Business at Marylhurst University. “In a class of 12 people, we might have a discussion question on reading a particular article of how a business has developed a sustainability plan . . . And out of 12 students, there’ll be a hundred different comments . . . they’re extensive. Our students are literally talking books. They’re bringing in resources. They’re bringing in links to videos–things that you can’t do in a spontaneous classroom.”
In fact, some professors note that they have a stronger connection with their online students.
“Some our faculty will even say with the online program that they have such a strong connection with the online students because of the weekly and sometimes day to day interaction that they have with them in the way courses are structured,” says Enrollment Adviser Robin Nathan of Case Western University.
As this technology continues to evolve, students may be able to experience education in a richer and more immersive manner. New technologies will soon allow students to experience the classroom in virtual and augmented reality, creating a dynamic learning environment that will only enhance the learning experience for students of all ages.
Danika is a writer and musician from the Northwest who sometimes takes a 30 minute break from feminism to enjoy a tv show. You can follow her on Twitter @sadwhitegrrl
BY SYLVIA KOHL
Thanks to the internet, nowadays it’s quite easy to find a job posting online. However, the labor market is more competitive than ever, with thousands of candidates applying for the same position. One way you can stand out from your competition is to include on your resume some of the soft and hard skills that are in demand at the moment.
Hard skills are those technical abilities you can learn at school, institute or college. More often than not, these are industry-specific. Soft skills, however, are harder to quantify. These are mostly subjective and relate to the way you interact with other people.
Below is a list of hard and soft skills that will get you hired straight out of college.
Languages (hard skill)
Since hard skills are usually pointed out in the cover letter of your resume, they are some of the first things potential employers learn about you and can get your foot in the door. Being proficient in one or two languages aside from your mother tongue will most certainly give you an edge over your competitors when applying for a job. If you don’t have this skill yet, don’t worry, it’s never too late and it is now even possible to learn on your own schedule thanks to free language apps like Duolingo or even full-fledged online language schools like Lingoda, making you proficient in no time!
Teamwork (soft skill)
There are very few careers out there (if any) that will allow you to be completely independent. Most of the time you’ll have to work alongside other people in an office or online. As such, being able to perform in teams is something most hiring managers are looking for in their employees. Since this is a soft skill, the only way to learn to be good at teamwork is to practice.
Problem-solving (soft skill)
This another soft skill that’s very sought after in the labor market. Employers, especially those working in a fast-paced business industry, require their employees to be able to think on their feet and provide quick, efficient solutions to whatever problems may arise in a work day.
Data analysis (hard skill)
No matter which field of work you may want to venture into after graduating, data is an essential component in most businesses. The ability to analyze, organize and interpret data in order to gain insights and provide an actionable plan will most definitely help you get hired. Especially if you’re capable of understanding both qualitative and quantitative information. A proficient use of Excel is especially good for the latter. Just like with languages, data analysis skills can be acquired online and even sometimes for free (if you don’t require a certificate) thanks to massive open online courses platforms like Coursera or EdX.
Emotional intelligence (soft skill)
Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence (EI) has nothing to do with logical reasoning and everything to do with emotions. EI is about being able to identify your emotions and their cause as you’re experiencing them. This way, you can control that feeling in order to be more efficient. Emotional intelligence also has a lot to do with empathy; being capable of understanding things from another’s perspective. This soft skill will not only make you more valuable at the workplace, but it will also make you a better person overall.
Research (soft skill)
While, as a potential employee, you’re not expected to know all of the answers from the get-go, it does pay off to know how to do your research and get said answers. Especially important is being able to discern between valuable information and data that is less useful.
What happens if you don’t have these skills?
If you can’t claim to have any of the skills mentioned above, don’t despair. While these are all good abilities that will make you a more attractive prospect to employers, they are not the only ones in existence. Also, it’s never too late to learn and/or hone a new skill.
Sylvia Kohl is an IT teacher with more than 8 years of professional experience. Her main spheres of interest are e-education and she convinced that learning process doesn`t stop after years in school and university.