Disruptive Education And The Future Of Online Learning

Every aspect of our lives – our jobs, the smart-gadgets that track our fitness, our healthcare, how we stay in touch with friends – is affected by the technological advances of the last 50 years. The industries in which we work are moving with the winds of change… whether reluctantly or not is irrelevant. Technology is changing the workforce, and not just through the introduction and diffusion of Artificial Intelligence and other technologies, but through people as well.

The skills and knowledge required for this year’s graduates is almost entirely different from what their older siblings, parents, and grandparents needed to know. Of course, well-developed communication skills, organization, and at least basic math are still necessities, but today’s graduates are being thrust into a digital-first world with an expanded set of “basic” skills for the current job market. This is true across every single field – from graphic design to medicine – and it also means that how people in all fields are educated is changing. 

Online-focused education has never been as prevalent as it is today – global pandemic notwithstanding. Open education is not just about uploading content to the Internet for anyone to stumble upon; it actually creates many opportunities for traditional teaching institutions to broaden their students’ horizons and knowledge bases as well. Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) were initially intended to provide university-level educational material to the masses via the Internet for free or at a low cost; now, you can learn about an unlimited number of topics from amateurs as well via YouTube tutorials. While MOOCs are no longer a new phenomenon, in recent months and years, the technology used to first bring higher education to the masses has been further developed and continues to be integrated into traditional academic environments as well. Even in pre-COVID-19 times, making use of disruptive technology to increase educational capacity was already part of the industry discourse. In the midst of a global pandemic, we’re seeing just how valuable and important having this flexibility and online-first education can be. 

The benefits offered by MOOCs and other online-first teaching technologies and techniques are undeniable: flexibility for both students and educators, built-in performance tracking, information retention tools such as free PowerPoint templates, and perhaps most importantly, providing access to this information to students and educators who may be located in resource-deficient settings. For medical students particularly, this allows education to meet students where they are. In a geographic sense, shifting some elements of medical school – for example, foundational science courses – to an online-only or at least online-first setting immediately removes one barrier to entry for students who may come from cities, towns, or villages with substandard training programs or limited access to high-quality instruction. In an academic sense, this also removes the barrier of a one-track learning experience: with high-quality content available at their fingertips, students can broaden and deepen their knowledge base and learn from top-tier educators from around the world.

MOOCs, however, don’t just provide a well-needed educational resource to underserved populations. The widespread use of technology in traditional classroom settings is also worth noting. Teaching methodologies such as a “flipped classroom” approach, problem-based learning, and self-directed learning all utilize online tools and/or learning platforms in combination with traditional in-classroom instruction. 

“Flipped classroom” approach

In a “flipped classroom” approach, students will typically learn and review material prior to an in-class session on the same topic. This way, they are able to figure out what questions they have and educators can either take time to answer them and clarify the complexities often found in medicine, or they can also dive deeper into the nuances of a certain topic. 

Virtual imaging 

The best way to understand human anatomy is to work with a cadaver… but as these are expensive to come by and are single-use, many medical schools include some sort of digitally-based training for students to get started. The 3D anatomy models now available are often based on healthy patients; but not all of them are. Susan Potter donated her body to science, after a long life, several illnesses, and several surgeries: she lives on as a virtual cadaver. Thanks to Ms. Potter and the other two bodies prepared as part of the Visual Human Project, students can now see, layer by layer, a virtual representation of the human body. 

Case-based clinical questions

Patient-centered medical vignettes are a key component of medical exams around the world, whether an exam taken in a medical school course or a licensing exam. Most Question Banks (also called Qbanks) are full of these types of questions, but they’re also a useful teaching tool. Instead of talking more abstractly about a concept, educators can start the course with a clinical case question, and work through it with students. This works particularly well in a flipped classroom, as students would have already covered some of the information needed to know in order to answer the question; class time can thus be utilized to dive deeper into the concept or to help students better understand why the correct answer is correct in context. 

Patient simulations

Further enhancing medical curricula via the use of online-based patient simulations not only helps students become familiar with the human body, but does so in a risk-free environment in order to prepare students before they enter a hospital and start working with real patients for their internship or residency. 

There’s no denying: technology has fundamentally changed the way medical students learn and medical educators teach. Embracing these modern solutions and techniques will only serve to improve medical education and training, and should be embraced and celebrated.

Weighing The Pros And Cons Of Grad School

Anyone who has ever been a student in any capacity has felt the impact of education knows all too well that this is definitely an approach and a pathway that has its advantages and benefits. However, there is also a lot to be said about the fact that while further education is indeed the best pathway for some individuals,  for others it is not going to be the right fit. When it comes to figuring out if pursuing further education is the right path for you, it is important to understand and to appreciate that it is very much about knowing yourself and being able to figure out if you want to go through further years of academic experience so if you want to pursue different pathways. It is well known that different pathways have just as much success and legitimacy as the academic pathway and so more than ever, we are more aware and understanding of the fact that further education is by no means the only pathway to longevity and success professionally and personally in the future.

And in the case of higher education, it is very much an experience that is incredibly effective if you are willing and able to put in the work. Higher education is very much an academic environment that operates under “you get what you give”. And so, if individuals want to pursue grad school but are not comfortable in an academic environment, then perhaps it is not the right choice. However, it is not always as simple as that. Sometimes, the journey to figure out whether grad school is the right option for you is very much a learning curve that can be quite overwhelming, to say the least. Some individuals can start out thinking that it is the right option or the wrong one for them and find in the end that they were entirely shifting in the opposite direction that they perhaps should have been. So, it really does help to have some tips and tricks down your sleeve to figure out if grad school is the right option for you. So, how does one go about weighing the pros and cons of an academic journey like grad school?

The praise of grad school really comes down to knowing that grad school is very much an environment that can open up doors and windows more easily due to having a degree under your belt. However, it is becoming more and more known all the time that having a degree does not always open all the doorways that you think it will and so it is really important to understand that while it is indeed a very good way to pursue and build your career comet it is by no means the only way to do so. The individuals that do best in their careers today are individuals that understand this and that have taken it and run with it. are the pros of grad school include but are not limited to, being in an environment that fosters and encourages further learning in a traditional sense so that individuals are able to really pursue the fields of interest in an environment that allows them to be freer with their approach to learning.

And in the way of cons of grad school, it is important to understand that this is a very high pressure environment. If you are not going to be able to navigate your way through the process while dealing with stressors, then it is probably best to leave grad school on the table and pursue different pathways to further longevity and success in your life. Quite simply, sometimes even the best GRE prep courses guide is not going to be able to give you all the information and advice you need if you were not able to do the work within yourself as well. Further, there are also obvious expenses that come hand-in-hand with grad school as well as having to prioritise further education yet again as opposed to prioritising other aspects of your life that you perhaps put on hold or do not prioritise as much as you should have during your initial higher education experience. ultimately, what it comes down to is knowing yourself and knowing which approach is going to work best for you not only in the moment but in the future as well. And that can be a work in progress. Knowing yourself is of the utmost importance. That should be at the core of your decision, always.

The student lifestyle is one that is very much intrinsically linked to ongoing awareness and understanding of not only what works for you but how you function and thrive heading into the future and beyond. While the academic pathway will indeed work quite well for some individuals, it is also important to appreciate that for others it is not going to be nearly as effective if it is at all. So, when it comes to weighing the pros and cons of grad school, it is all about understanding yourself and knowing whether or not you are going to be able to function and thrive in a higher education environment or if you are best left to your own devices to pursue different pathways. More than ever, we are intrinsically aware that one person’s approach to longevity and success is by no means going to be as effective for everyone else. So, it is more important than ever for individuals to take the time to truly become comfortable and familiar with what works for them so that they can find their best way to move forward.

SAT Exam: A Tool for an Objective and Standardized Method in College Admissions

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The SAT has been a staple of the college application process ever since it was introduced at Harvard almost a hundred years ago. It’s no wonder then, that with more students attending college than ever before, more high school students are taking the SAT than ever before as well. The importance of a college degree has continued to increase, and with it, the meteoric rise of the SAT as a tool used in college admissions. The SAT exam provides colleges with a (supposedly) objective and standardized method of measuring students’ potential and fit for each particular institution, after all.

Many factors contribute to the rise of the SAT besides the rise of the college degree. In fact, now that many states require students to sit for the exam and the College Board provides free testing in school, students almost have no excuse not to take the SAT. While many colleges and universities have switched to being “test optional,” this hasn’t deterred students from taking the exam in the slightest. Why? Well, how many times does optional really mean optional?

In 2019, more than 2.2 million students took the SAT.  In 2020, this number is expected to increase, especially given that the SAT will most likely have to be administered online due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that will prevent traditional testing to take place. While the College Board has come under fire  many times before because of its discriminatory and class-biased approach to the exam, unintentional or not, the number of students taking the test has continued to rise. Of course, the number of students taking the ACT has continued to rise as well.

Testing is simply a cemented part of the college admissions process by now, one that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. With the College Board’s partnerships with state governments in Idaho, Delaware, Maine, and the District of Columbia, students are sure to be taking the exam in these states at the very least, despite any bad press that the College Board might face. Even if it is flawed, the exam still presents a levelheaded way for colleges to evaluate students, especially given all of the different components that go into the admissions decision.

Beyond that, the College Board has made efforts to support low-income and first-generation students with more access to fee waivers, free preparatory modules online through Khan Academy, and the addition of “Landscape” which provides colleges with context about the applicant’s neighborhood, socioeconomic status, and school, in order to promote fairer admissions. The College Board’s sincere efforts have paid off, with more students now taking the test than ever. But the narrative of higher education being accessible to the rich and white has not been dispelled. Even so, students all over are rallying to take, and achieve high, on the SAT.

In Queens, New York, three brothers are helping these students achieve their desired SAT scores. With branches in both Jackson Heights and Jamaica, the brothers running Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center are ensuring that their students make it to the finish line. Additionally, Bobby-Tariq now provides live-online SAT Prep so students can prep from wherever they want.

With a comprehensive BEAST curriculum, also known as Bobby’s Beast, that was cherry picked by founder and CEO Kukhon Uddin Bobby and his brothers President Tariq Hussain and Vice President Sakib Hussain, students at Bobby-Tariq are given the most up to date, realistic materials to base their studying on. Bobby, Tariq, and Sakib know that the SAT is not an exam that measures intelligence. It’s an exam that measures motivation, grit, and dedication.

In fact, it was famous psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth who coined the term “grit” which means sticking with something until you master it. This is the type of attitude that Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center aims to instill within its students. Not only do tutors provide top quality material and explanations to their students, they also provide motivational speeches and insight that contribute greatly to their exams scores.

“We know the SAT is not an easy test. More than 900,000 students score below national average, so we are here to help students all around the nation. As a matter of fact, we are officially launching live-online SAT Prep in 2020 to provide access to affordable and quality SAT prep to those in need,” said CEO Bobby.

More students are taking the SAT now than ever, and this means that students should aim to score higher in order to set themselves apart. “We train our students with the shortcut strategies to hack hard math, the grammar rules that show up without fail, and other nifty ticks and trips that make their lives so much easier,” said Vice President Sakib.

“You might not think so, but the insight that we provide our students with goes a long way,” said President Tariq. “So much of what they’re doing is new and foreign to them. So much of it is challenging and at times, they want to give up. We acknowledge that and push them to go above and beyond. And it works.”

Students at Bobby-Tariq Tutoring Center know the SAT is not an easy test and worry they may not find success. But without fail, these students have scored within the top 5% of all test takers for the last ten years. If there’s a secret to the SAT, these three brothers have mastered it. 

Current Trends in Educational Technology – Ready to Disrupt the Educational Field

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Technology often disrupts established fields, but there’s a common misunderstanding as to how that happens. People often think that the technologies that are transforming our world today were created recently, but the nature of technological development makes that proposition unlikely.

In most cases, new technologies are clunky, expensive, and hard to implement — which is why they start with a small user base and remain in that state for a while until the required leaps are made. Only then does a new technology gain mass appeal and start being adopted on a large scale. In other words, it’s only at this stage that a technology becomes capable of truly disrupting a field.

Take your phone’s screen as an example. It may feel like touch screen technology was invented and made popular by the 2009 iPhone, or maybe you think it was created for and popularized by the PDAs that were around in the 90s and early 2000s. But in truth, touch screen technology was invented in the 1960s. The HP-150 computer had touch-screen support — it was launched in 1983.

The reasons why those early renditions of the touch screen failed to realize the technology’s potential were due in large part to technical problems. The HP-150, for example, relied on a grid of infrared beams to detect touches on its screen. But the infrared sensors would collect dust, and required constant cleaning as a result.

Why bring all of this up? Well, it’s simple. For the past few years, a lot of interesting applications of education technology have been in the “collecting dust in the sensors” stage. They were clunky, expensive, and hard to implement; they looked bad and frustrated users. However, many of those new educational tools and ideas are now ready to be mass implemented and disrupt the educational field.

The Jill Watson case

Let’s consider a simple example: chatbots. You have likely already dealt with one of those. A lot of companies have started implementing chatbots as part of their customer experience efforts, and chatbots can now do everything from helping customers browse catalogs to setting appointments and even holding conversations.

Colleges have also started making use of chatbots. Back in 2016, Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel used IBM’s Watson AI to build Jill Watson — a chatbot teacher assistant. The bot was trained using data from the course’s forum, and for one semester, Jill helped students with their routine questions and requests on the course forum. The best part was that the students didn’t even realize Jill was a bot, and she was helping computer science majors.

Jill is still active today. According to the Georgia Tech website, “Soon Jill will be able to answer about 40 percent of the 10,000 questions students ask each semester. And she doesn’t even need coffee breaks.”

Georgia Tech calls Jill an “artificially intelligent teacher assistant.” Other sources call her a chatbot. The truth is the line between the two is blurry in cases like this, especially when you throw machine learning into the mix. Regardless of what you call it, the result is that we are ever closer to creating an automated general learning assistance solution—one that can be customized and adapts to individual students’ needs.

This will result in software like Jill being present in every student’s phone and forum, helping people learn faster, more effectively, and in a more self-sufficient manner. It will be a personal digital tutor serving students content, grading essays—yes, bots can already do that—and overall, making students’ and teachers’ lives easier.

The rise of massive education

Before the printing press, each book had to be copied by hand. The cost in time and materials, combined with the technical knowledge needed to copy books, meant that books were expensive luxury goods for most of human history. But then came the printing press, and we went from awkwardly copying books page by page to mass-producing books by the truckload in a matter of weeks. Technology made the written word more accessible than it had ever been before.

College lectures are already undergoing the same type of revolution. Earlier, the only way to see a lecture was to be physically present in the room and witness the lecture being executed in front of you.

As cameras became cheaper and video storage tools more reliable, the rise of long-distance and correspondence courses gave us an inkling of what a future with mass-produced education could look like. However, mail was clunky, slow, and often unreliable. Those were still the early days of massive long-distance education.

In the present, those initial problems have been solved thanks to cloud storage, cloud computing, and streaming technologies. This is what made EdX possible.

EdX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider launched in 2012. The platform is the result of a partnership between Harvard and MIT. Their approach is simple: every single course is open and free, and the curriculums are organized around weekly video lessons that are followed up with activities to help students review and deepen their understanding of the lecture. If you complete a free course, you can pay a fee to get a certified EdX accreditation.

As of 2018, EdX has served 18 million students through two thousand university-level online courses. In the same year, an estimated 20 million students were attending university in the US.

Right now, this form of education is an alternative to traditional learning. But when will it become a partial replacement? With the rise of video technology, making professors deliver the same lectures every semester is no longer necessary. It makes a lot more sense to simply record the semester’s lectures, edit them together, and then let students watch those lectures on their own time, at their own pace — which is what EdX allows.

Professors will then be responsible for updating the videos when needed. They will be able to dedicate the rest of their time to answering questions and helping students.

The personal benefits

The rise of mass video tools and AI teacher assistants will mean a surge in students’ ability to learn independently. This freedom will benefit college students while at university and post-graduation. After all, careers today require almost constant learning of new technologies, and the independent study skills students learn at EdX will help them as they continue their real-world studying. In addition to career benefits, constant study has also been linked to longevity and increased mental health.

Right now, we have to search and find information. The next step is having information come to us when we need it and at a manageable pace. While we wait for such tools to gain mass appeal, you can get young students’ attention using more traditional methods, such as math worksheets.

College Financing Avenues Available for Students with Disabilities

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College is usually one of the biggest expenses a person can face; however, it is an investment in their future and a way to achieve their goals. Importantly, college can even be more expensive for people with disabilities.

In many cases, accommodations to make their classrooms accessible have to be paid by the student. Furthermore, medical bills also take a toll on their finances, with higher costs than average, and their transportation needs can be more expensive than other students. Therefore, students with disabilities should be as well informed as possible about the options they have when it comes to funding.

Here, some of these options are presented, in the hope that students with disabilities can learn more about the resources available to them.

Scholarships

Students with disabilities should get information about the many scholarship options available to them.

Some of these are:

  • AAHD Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disability.
  • Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) College Scholarship Program.
  • Google Lime Scholarship Program.
  • Baer Reintegration Scholarship.
  • Flora Marie Jenkins Memorial Disability Scholarship.
  • National Center for Learning Disabilities Anne Ford and Allegra Ford Thomas Scholarships.
  • Hemophilia Federation of America (HFA) Educational Scholarships.
  • Microsoft disAbility Scholarship.

Some of these scholarships are available to any student who has finished high school, while others have more specific criteria. The scholarships offered by Google and Microsoft are for students with disabilities who want to declare a major related to technology. Meanwhile, the Baer Reintegration Scholarship is directed to students with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Federal Disability Benefits

The federal government has been instrumental in making more campuses accessible to students with disabilities. Furthermore, they consider this population as eligible for the Federal TRIO Programs. These are services that are offered to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities. There are eight different programs, and people are eligible from middle school until they finish their graduate studies.

Also, the Pell grant is available to all students, including those with disabilities. The amount of the grant will depend on several aspects, including how expensive the school the person wishes to attend is, if their education will be full-time or part-time, the depth of financial need, and more. Therefore, an extensive process is done to apply for this grant.

The amount depends on your financial need, costs to attend school, status as a full-time or part-time student, and plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

The government also offers the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, which is focused on helping people with disabilities to find a job. During the assessment, they offer insight on what the educational goal should be for this person based on their aptitudes and vocation. After this, the program offers assistance with higher education options, including vocational training.

Other Financial Options

Loans

The first option for loans should always be federal loans. The amount students can borrow varies, but the interest rates are much better than loans from a private institution. Like any other student, students with disabilities must fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), where their eligibility is assessed.

Students with disabilities must do a correct estimate of the cost of attendance. As these are very likely to be higher than for other students. Therefore, it is important to have the necessary documentation to provide proof of these estimates. This means, being able to provide the bills and services the student will have to pay due to their disability.

On the other hand, there are personal loans for fair credit and private loans, that will take into consideration credit scores as well as other criteria, which will depend on the institution in question.

Grants

Unlike loans, grants do not need to be paid back. However, this usually translates into stricter criteria. Like with loans, financial need and family situation are assessed before a grant is awarded. Similar to scholarships, there are numerous grants offered every year to students with disabilities.

Some of these are:

  • The Foundation for Science and Disability Grant.
  • Gabriel’s Foundation of Hope Scholarships and Grants.
  • Alice Chavez Pardini Education Advancement Grant.
  • Michigan Scholarships and Grants for Students who are Blind or Visually Impaired.

Just like with scholarships, grants can be general or highly specific. The Foundation for Science and Disability Grant is offered to students who will be focusing on STEM careers, while the Alice Chavez grant is specifically for people who are legally blind. Furthermore, other grants are awarded to cover for any technological or accessibility issues that need to be paid by the student due to their disability.

Work-Study Programs

These programs are available to all students and the vast majority of them are funded by the federal government. However, there are limits to how much a student can earn through these programs. The hourly pay starts at the minimum wage, and it can increase depending on the job.

Summary

The federal government has implemented different bills and acts to ensure students with disabilities are not discriminated against in college. However, this goes beyond improving accessibility. Increased financial expenses mean that college, which can already be very expensive, can become a prohibitive dream for many. Therefore, financial aid becomes instrumental for most students with disabilities, and getting informed about the options available can make all the difference. It is thanks to these financial aid opportunities that many students with disabilities can embark on a successful college career.

 

The Thrilling Evolution of Educational Toys

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Education is one of the most forward and revolutionary industries in the world. This has always been the way for this intellectually inclined industry. Throughout the decades, education has adapted with the shifting tides of a changing world, evolving time and time again to realign with the next phase of the human experience. Throughout all these years, the key fundamentals in education that have never wavered have been that education is powerful, and educational tools and toys make or break student experiences. The evolution of educational toys has been an evolution that has been challenging and inspiring, depending on which perspective you looked at any given moment in time from, and how long you stayed rooted to that perspective, taking it all in. In recent years, the educational toys available began to modernise again, this time becoming more capable and reliable through the introduction of technological advancement and enhancement. Even now, the toys utilised in education are becoming more heavily focused on modern marvels like digitalization and technological advancement than ever.

Of course, this is a direct mirroring response to the way that the entire modern education industry is slowly but surely transforming, being revolutionised in the face of technological advancement. The world around us has been slowly but surely shifting into high gear as a response to the climbing efforts in technological advancement that have had a phenomenal impact on the way the education industry – and the world itself, for that matter – have changed over the years. Today, the educational toys that students and educators alike utilise are more technologically sound than ever. So much so, in fact, that they are now almost entirely driven, or at the very least cultivated in collaboration with, technological innovation. Why, you ask? It all starts with the students. The students that go through the global education industry at any given time largely (if not entirely) control what aspects of education – yes, including educational toys – are working and which are not.

Modern students have grown up positively immersed in and surrounded by great feats of digitalisation and technological advancement. So, when the educational toys available to them began to incorporate and even mirror those same tech-driven innovations they had grown up surrounded by for their entire lives, they responded to them. It is a known fact that we respond best to what we are familiar with – at least in the beginning. Tech-driven educational toys like the digitalisation of learning materials (think textbooks, test papers, etc), iPads for homework, and Kindles for reading (among many other examples of tech-driven educational tools, of course) are just some examples of the educational toys that have evolved to become some of the most well-known and highly utilised of all of those available. This has all been through the ongoing assistance of the students who, one way or the other, make it known how the educational toys in circulation are being received and how useful they actually are to the students.

From educational toys in Australia, to the educational toys in Europe, and everywhere in between and beyond, the one constant is that the evolution of educational toys has been one that is rife with excitement, innovation, growth, and trial and error. Over the years, all those teachable moments and reigning triumphs built up to become what the educational toys available to learners and educators alike today, are. Never have educational tools and toys been this incredible, this profound. And never again will they be this simple, this old-school. The fundamentals that go into evolving educational toys from one era effectively into the next are the very same fundamentals that play a core role in ensuring that education remains fresh and relevant. This is an important distinction to make because if we lose sight of that fact, it becomes all too easy to lose sight of everything else.

Throughout the decades that education has thrived in its colourful existence, it has been a recurring theme that this is an industry that has adapted with the shifting tides of a world that refuses to stop evolving. Of course, this is a good thing. Education is a key fundamental contributor to the way of the world around us, and without it we would surely crumble. So, having an academic industry like education that not only meets expectations but far exceeds them, is a gift. The educational tools and toys that have assisted students and educators alike in their pursuit of more capable and reliable ways to learn and to teach, have become more and more technologically advanced and enhanced over the years. Today, these educational toys are more tech-savvy than ever. Going forward, these innovations in educational toys will only continue to become more and more advanced and enhanced – and technological innovation is largely, if not entirely, to thank for this ongoing evolution.

The Continuous Advancement of Online Education

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Education is an industry that, over time, has been through its fair share of evolutionary eras. This makes perfect sense. After all, education is an industry that quite literally must adapt and evolve with its clients (i.e. its students) to maintain its relevance and its steady hand in the world. Over the years, there have been many great evolutions within the education industry, all of which have had their own distinct impact on the students that successfully made their way through the systems and the academic layout itself. Now that the modern world is dealing with exceedingly rapid innovations in digitalisation and technological advancement, the next natural step in the ongoing evolution of the education industry is the move towards innovations that digitise elements of the academic experience. This concept has been hovering on the horizon for a while now, but it has only been in the last few years that it has begun to genuinely shift into being. Now, we are seeing the proof in the pudding all the time in the education industry.

Consider the introduction and ongoing advancement of online education, for instance. Traditional education has always been enormously successful, of course, but there is something to be said about the power of breaking down the structured barriers of traditional education and giving students access to a form of learning that is truly and entirely inclusive. Traditional education is a sole approach, in a set environment, with structured hours for classes and communications. For some students, this is the ideal approach to learning, and they thrive. But the fact is that trying to education millions of students a year with a single approach to learning, will never get the best out of each and every student. That is where online education comes in and changes the game. Online education is all about breaking down the barriers that are set in place in traditional education (intentionally or not) and creating an environment where students can have a more flexible experience.

Of course, it is important to note that a more flexible learning environment does not mean that it is any less legitimate at all. In fact, the online courses and degrees available via online education are there largely (if not entirely) because they are the very same courses that are offered through traditional education opportunities. Literally the only difference is the nature of the environment and its surrounding circumstances that students navigate when engaging in online education versus traditional education. Learning standard skills like writing and perfecting an impressive resume and learning some of the more stimulating lessons like sciences and understanding the history of literature, are all lessons that are available in online education as well as traditional education. The most valuable ideal of online education is simply that it essentially puts learners in a position to take control of their experience more.

Digitising materials, courses, and entire programs is a life-changing feat that many people honestly once doubted would ever come to fruition. Now, however, thanks to online education, the boundaries of traditional education have been effectively broken down, and students around the globe now have the option of a more heavily structured approach to learning (traditional education) or a more flexible approach to learning (online education). Having the power to decide which pathway a student wants to take has had a dramatic impact on just about every aspect of their education experience. That is why online education is so overwhelmingly valuable. That is the power of online education. And that is exactly why online education is only going to continue going from strength to strength over the coming years. This is just the beginning for online education. As the most exciting and revolutionary transformation in education and its history, online education is going to continue breaking down barriers and changing the lives of students going into the future.

As one of the world’s oldest industries, education has been through many great evolutions in its time. Moving forward, it will continue to do so. Now, as we head further and further into the impending digital era, education is undergoing perhaps its most exciting evolution yet: the introduction of the digitisation of elements of academics. Of course, this includes online education. The movement towards online learning is one that has been on the horizon for quite some time now, but it is only in the last few years that it has truly kicked into high gear. The ongoing innovations in online education are ones that are changing the way that students learn and educators teach, for the better. This is just the beginning for online education too; there are many advancements coming up in the next few years that are set to further revolutionise the online education approach. This is an exciting time for education.

Dutch Researchers Rank Higher than the Top 10 Most Research-intensive Nations in Key Research

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When it comes to ranking a nation and its researchers high in the list of global researches, there is a set of prerequisites that they ought to fulfill. Apart from being proven productive and efficient in the works submitted, the chief objective of the researchers must be to abide by all the constituents that would take his country forward along with placing it on the world map of integrated advancement and add to the overall value of its education system and uplift the present awareness and understanding of the same. 

In the recent past, reports that were conducted with an aim to announce the outcome of a comparative study based on Dutch researcher’s international performance and comprised of straps from scientific, technical and medical information products and services asserted that in a comparison that included the top 10 nations placed in order of their annual spending in research and development, the Netherlands ranked number one. Furthermore, the Dutch researchers were declared to be placed at a position higher than all its contemporaries in terms of their publication impact per article and effectiveness in international collaboration. However, the list of achievements associated with the Netherlands in the field of educational research doesn’t make halt here; it moves on to place the country at number one in the world as far as citations generated per unit of Resource and Development spending is concerned and at number two in case of publications generated per unit of R&D spending. All these digits and configurations were duly verified and submitted at the Impact of Science Conference held in Amsterdam.

After browsing through all these technical facts, if we start exploring the components that in reality led to this glaring success of the Netherlands amidst the top 10 most research-intensive nations in key research, we will come across the two major ones that form an indispensable portion of any research-driven study. Firstly, in the past few years, the Netherlands ‘ international collaboration and initiation of a geographically mobile research base were invariably high with almost little or no exceptions. A sum total of about 48.7% of the number of articles submitted by a Netherlands-based researcher were delineated in collaboration with a researcher who hailed from a distinct country altogether. In any research technique, international collaboration is always studied under a positive light and justifiably so. Coming back to our evaluation, the constituting figure of 48.7% is inevitably a higher proportion when placed alongside any of the top 10 R&D spending nations of the world. Like we have already mentioned, international collaboration is always considered to be a positive driving force when it comes to laying a generous impact on the research impact and prestige. 

The second factor which analysts qualify as a highly influential ingredient in positing the Netherlands at the top of the list is the mobile research base. This mechanism of research is related to the term that we call “brain circulation”, or in simpler terms, cross-border mobility of researchers. As per the guidelines of this method, the country allows and aids its researchers to explore distinct notches of educations and the fields that they are related to both in the national and international realms. When a scholar is pursuing his research, it is not customary for him to limit his mode of investigation within the resources available in his country; and therefore, he is free to examine the funds supplied by its collaborators. The Netherlands has always been known and been in history for allowing people to move in and out of the country, even when it comes to pursuing the assets in the world of science. For instance, there has been a record of at least 74% of affiliated authors with the Dutch universities who have successfully published their research articles in an institution situated in another country at some point in their careers.

After analyzing the above-mentioned influences we can safely conclude that the rank that has been granted to the Netherlands in the paraphernalia of global educational research has been rightly earned by the Dutch scholars. A notion that we have all believed and been taught since our childhood is that there is no end to learning; a man, no matter how learned or well informed he is, cannot guarantee a full-fledged demonstration of the same. Therefore, when it comes to dealing with a serious matter like that of research, steering away from the implications of international collaboration and mobile research base cannot be waived. Injecting profound shreds of information like no other and enriching the study with lesser-known facts and SEO approved content is the key to illustrating a worthy research paper that is capable of representing the educational trends and recourses of its country.

The Rise of Sustainable Tourism

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Last month, the last tourists were allowed to ascend Ayer’s Rock or Uluru, Australia’s most famous rock and a drawcard for international and domestic tourists. Uluru is now closed to tourists in respect of its traditional owners, the Anangu people, whose culture and law forbid people to climb Uluru. The decision to close Uluru comes after many years of debate between local indigenous communities and local government, and is one of the few times where Indigenious values have actually won over other (financial) interests. The decision was made by the Australian government, in extension of its support for the Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) program, which enables Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to manage existing and creating new IPAs, in an effort to protect and conserve Australia’s rich biodiversity. Even if that means tourism revenue is lost as a direct result.

It is just one example of a growing travel trend we are seeing around the world – a trend where more value is being placed on ethics than on profits, where environmentally and socially sustainable outcomes are being emphasised over ‘experience vacationing’. It is the rise in sustainable tourism, and boy is it about time. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious: they want a holiday, but not if it is to the detriment of a local community or the local environment.

Millennials are driving the shift, fueling demand for more sustainable accommodation, tour agencies and group holiday experiences. They are also prepared to pay more for the experience, 73 percent of them are, in fact. They would rather not visit a major tourist attraction if they know its profits are used to further corruption within the government, and they will skip out on a walking tour of a slum community if they feel it will have a harmful impact on those residing within the slum. They would rather avoid visiting an elephant orphanage if they know the elephants are ‘rescued’ under false pretences and then abused.  Even if it the best location for wildlife watching, the new age conscious consumer is not interested in staying at an African safari lodge if it uses plastic bottles for drinking water, or if lodge profits aren’t used to better the surrounding community. They know what we want, and thankfully so, because the future is more or less in their hands.

It’s not just millennials driving the trend though, 105.3 million U.S. travellers are prioritising vacations that give back to the environment and community as much as they take, according to Sustainable Travel International, and 60 percent of leisure travellers in the U.S. are sustainable travellers. The UN even aptly named 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, taking advantage of global momentum to further the efforts of sustainable tour operators, airlines, organisations and companies seeking to lessen travellers’ impacts on the world.  According to the UN, the fastest growing group of sustainable traveller is that which would rather travel to a pristine, remote area and contribute to conservation efforts there than go on an all-paid luxury holiday to a tropical beach. People want to come back from a holiday feeling reinvigorated and inspired, not as though they have laid on a beach for a fortnight drinking cocktails.

For a destination to be certified as sustainable by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, it must follow a very specific set of criteria, from supporting local businesses to conserving natural resources. Yellowstone National Park and Vail, Colorado, are two U.S. destinations on the path to becoming certified as sustainable destinations – but a place must tick a lot of boxes in order to make the cut. Beyond this particular certification, well-known destinations right around the world are doing what they can to negate the impacts of the hordes of tourists they welcome on a daily basis. Cinque Terre, Machu Picchu and the Great Barrier Reef are some of them, by limiting the annual number of visitors they receive, while authorities of places like Koh Tachai in the Similan National Park are prohibiting visitors altogether in an effort to conserve the pristine environment.

The thing is, if we wish to continue being able to explore all corners of planet earth, bathe in its waterfalls, swim on its beaches, walk on its mountains, we really do need to change the way we travel.

According to Sustainable Travel International, travel and tourism are responsible for 5 percent of total carbon emissions globally, contributing significantly to climate change, thus putting all these still-pristine destinations at risk of destruction. The World Tourism Organization expects the international tourism market to climb to 1.8 billion by 2030, and has confirmed that in the past 20 years alone worldwide destination seeking has grown by more than 50 percent. The tourism industry is not shrinking any time soon. The choices we make in terms of the food we eat, the agencies we travel with, the modes of transport we use, and the types of activities we engage in, all have significant impacts on both the physical and social or cultural environments in which we find ourselves while travelling. Even the dirt and dust we carry home with us after our travels to foreign lands can have monumentally significant impacts on the integrity of our home country’s ecosystem if introduced. It is no wonder we are all beginning to question how we can do things better while on the road, enjoying ourselves while not putting global communities or ecosystems at risk. With proper measures and by trying wherever possible to travel sustainably, we can negate our impacts and in some circumstances even restore environments to their pre-discovered state.

How English Evolved Into a Modern Language

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In many countries, education is considered as a duty, not just a mere right. It is often accepted as a fundamental resource for individuals and societies. Historically, over the past two centuries, there has been a substantial expansion in literary education over the globe. The global literacy rates have been increasing. In 2016, it was recorded that approximately 86% of the world population were able to read and write. In 1820, literate people accounted for only 12.0% of the population. Rising rates of enrollment in primary education and a continual increase in the growth of secondary and tertiary education are perceived to have been driving up the global literacy rates.

Currently, English is the preferred global language and the international language of commerce, science and other major areas, despite being ranked top 3 in the world’s most spoken language. There are more than 350 million people that speak English as a first language, with 350 million people conversing in English as a second language. English started to get popular many years after the English alphabet got its full 26 letters.

Literacy has a very long history. The very first written communication can be traced way back to around 3500 B.C. Inscriptions on the Kish tablet were observed by experts to be the earliest form of known writing. The tablet is inscribed with proto-cuneiform signs that are typically elementary symbols intended to convey meaning by means of their resemblance to physical objects. By 3000 B.C., the Sumerians had developed cuneiform script, known by many people as wedge-shaped script because the inscribed marks seem to have been pressed into clay tablets with a wedge. Gradually, these pictorial symbols were developed into smaller characters that were meant to represent the syllabus of the spoken language. Because of its versatility, cuneiform writing was also used to write various languages, including Elamite and Hittite. An actual alphabet, having symbols to represent phonetic sounds, came later from a different culture. Having been Influenced by cuneiform, the Phoenicians developed, around 1400 B.C., a set of symbols expressing consonants only. The Phoenician alphabet was widely used throughout Greece and the Mediterranean region as it only comprised of 22 letters based on sound as opposed to the countless symbols used in cuneiform. The Greeks, building on the Phoenician alphabet, added vowels around 750 B.C. It was sometime later appropriated by the Latins who had merged it with some Etruscan characters, such as the letters F and S. The Latins became the Romans, and the Roman alphabet looked very similar to our modern English today. It contains every letter except J, U/V or W.

When the Roman Empire landed in Britain, the Latin language was brought by them. At that time, Anglo-Saxons was controlling Britain, the spoken and written language of which were based on the runic alphabet. Throughout the intervention of the Roman Empire, Old English was developed. It was the combination of the Latin alphabet and runic alphabet. Around 1066 A.D. when the Normans invaded Britain, Old English was still being used by some of the lowborn. The clergy, scholars and nobility were conversing and writing in either Latin or Norman French, during which Old English was slowly being developed into Middle English, changing its pronunciation, spelling and grammar. After the end of the ruling of Norman, English started to become more prominent. In the middle of the 15th Century with the establishment of the first printing press in Great Britain, English became more standardized. Sometime later, the first English dictionary was introduced, known as the Table Alphabeticall. By the 19th Century, the letters J, U, V and W had been added, completing the English alphabet that we still use today.

Considered by many as a global language, English is widely used all over the world today. An English renowned linguist has once suggested that a language turns into a global language due to the influence of the people who use it. He mentioned that the popularity of English was due to the influence of the British Empire. In the early 1920, the British Empire had covered over a quarter of the world’s total land surface, including North America, Australia, Africa, Asia and many other areas. During that era, English was widely used. In addition, he also implied that British colonialism was also the reason behind the popularity of English.

In addition to being the preferred global language, higher education is often taught in English all over the world. For instance, Singapore, a multicultural country, has become the top three of an international annual ranking in relation to English proficiency. Despite being a linguistically diverse country where various languages are widely spoken, including Malay, Chinese, Tamil and English, English is taught in every school as a first language, and many tuition classes, such as creative writing classes for primary schools, are conducted in English.

Given its never-ending popularity, English will be used as the global language for many years to come. The English dictionary will likely to expand with the inclusion of many new words. The global literacy rates will continue to raise alongside an increase in the number of English language speakers. Such evolution of literacy will become part of the history of languages.