A Lesson in Education Technology From a Very, Very Old Tradition

In Okinawa, Japan, women have been diving for pearls for more than 2,000 years. Traditionally dressed in only a loincloth, they would dive to depths as deep as 120 feet to find the oysters and mussels that produce pearls. This work was largely done by women because they were better able to endure the cold of the depths they were diving (Women’s bodies distribute fat more evenly then men.) The work was very dangerous, as you might expect, exposing them to predators, harsh environments and shallow water blackouts.

In the 1960s, they were approached by a firm selling scuba gear. The company demonstrated that one person with the right gear could gather as many oysters as an entire village of women in a day. The results were enticing, but they also raised a number of very significant questions including which women would use the gear, and how would the profits be divided. A town counsel was called and everyone discussed the pros and cons of buying scuba gear. In the end, the decision was made reject the use of scuba and continue with their tradition.

Today these Ama Divers, as they are called, still dive for pearls, though largely for the benefit of tourists rather than for the pearls they gather. Even scuba divers couldn’t compete with the advancements in pearl culture, where thousands of oysters could be grown in shallow depths and tricked into growing pearls in a confined area where they could be easily harvested.

So what does this have to do with education? Look just about anywhere in the education industry and you will find wholesale attempts to introduce as much technology into the classroom as quickly as possible. There are even watchdog groups that report on the school boards that are acting the quickest to engage in these technologies. Blog after blog extols the virtues of employing the latest technological masterpiece, while those who are slower are looked down on as archaic and anachronistic. Some of these programs have good empirical data to back them up, many do not. Some programs are developed by wonderful people with altruistic motives, but many are being promoted by new non-profits that are little more than shells for large corporations who stand to make fortunes if their particular technology becomes the new standard.

With all the hype and hyperbole that is flying around right now, it is virtually impossible to find a voice that will ask the tough questions about whether or not these technologies make good sense. Unlike the Japanese Ama Divers, there are few town council meetings to carefully consider what makes sense and what does not. One of the reasons the Common Core standards, good as they may be, are getting such resistance at the grass roots level is because the proponents have A) used a top-down approach, and B) have not been completely forthcoming about who the stakeholders are and who will profit when these technologies are adopted.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with coming up with something new and making a profit on it; it’s the American way. However, using healthy political contributions to get the support of legislators in bellwether states in exchange for support for new programs is certainly less desirable.

This doesn’t mean we need to be reactionary; it just means that we need to examine the new technologies that are introduced, checking the validity of their claims carefully before we purchase them. It also doesn’t mean we need to reject a promising new technology, as the divers did, if that technology can produce better results at a lower cost. What it does mean is that teachers and parents alike should ask the requisite questions to make sure we are getting the best bag for the buck.

Progress and technology are wonderful tools when balanced with careful consideration and forethought. Let’s do the due diligence before we head down a rabbit hole that could take years to escape. It’s our future we are betting on here, and that is certainly worth our full attention.

Tips for Homeschoolers – Take a Break

Taking a break can be very important to a successful homeschool. I do not mean that you need to take a lengthy summer or Christmas break several times a year and I don’t mean that schooling year-round is bad. I mean, that you need to recognize when your kids, and YOU, need a break.

There are many ways to take a break so you can recharge and be ready to get back into the swing of things and your normal schedule.

  • Have an UNSCHOOL DAY – If you are a traditional homeschooler, and not an unschooler, you may wish to have an UNSCHOOl day to break from the norm. Tell your kids that you they can pick anything they want to work on and learn about today. See where the day takes you. (Don’t worry, one day won’t kill the schedule!) If you are an unschooler, maybe plan the day for the kids with worksheets and reading lists and see what happens.
  • Take an unplanned fieldtrip – Feeling like no one wants school today? Take an unplanned fieldtrip to a park, museum, library, even the shopping mall. Decide to walk around, talk about whatever you want to talk about, stop and relax (and don’t think of the schedule). Have a lunch out. Walk outside. Go to the dog park and name the types of dogs. Look at nature and talk about trees. Just get out of the house and away from the schedule for the day and see how much more focused everyone is the next day.
  • Let the kids teach – Tell the kids that today, they do not have to do school, but you need to learn. Have them teach you for the day. It’s silly but everyone will have fun and both you and the kids will be surprised how much you learn.
  • Have Game Day – Spend the entire day playing board games, cards games, and physical games. Have everyone play even if it’s a game for little ones or big ones. Help the little ones by working in pairs. Have big sister suffer through Candyland. Everyone will have fun playing games, taking turns picking what is next, and just spending time together.
  • Take Dad lunch – Need to take a break from the grind and get out of the house? Take dad lunch at work. Meet him in his lunchroom, at a park, or, if that’s not feasible, find a restaurant nearby and take him there. Enjoy talking to dad over lunch for a change. Maybe show the kids around his office. The kids will like to see dad and even dad will enjoy the break!
  • Don’t be afraid to have movie day – If you really need a total break. Head over to the library or local movie store and rent some movies. Make some popcorn and cuddle up for some movies. They can be a mix of educational and fun. Let each person in the family pick a movie. Movie day can be fun and educational.
  • Take it outside – Even in the winter months, you can take some time outside to enjoy the weather and take a break from school and chores. Got snow? Build a snowman or have a snowball fight (look at you sneaking in PE). Walk around the block and enjoy the beauty (name a few trees and you have Science). Just get out and breathe in that rejuvenating air.

How do you take a break in your school?

Tips for Homeschoolers – Start the Year Out Right

As a homeschooler starting a new school year, one of the best things you can do is make sure you start your year out right. This doesn’t mean you have to make a big production or a party. Just remember that it’s a new year and sometimes that’s a great time to make any necessary changes.

Whether your changes are big like a whole new math curriculum or small like changing your schedule, the beginning of a new school year is the best time to start. If you have decided to make some changes, determine which changes you are going to make and then decide what needs to be done to make the changes happen. Get started right away.

If you have been homeschooling for a while, you know what is working and what isn’t. But remember, just because a specific curriculum, game, or schedule worked for another child, it does not mean that it will work for all children. Be sure to make changes that appropriate for your particular child’s learning style as well as to the schedule that best suits your entire family.

Many families use the new year or the new semester as a time to try something new. Maybe you want to set new goals this year or try out a new homeschool group. Just because you make a change to something new doesn’t mean it will be the best fit and you’ll want to stick with it. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you can always change it up again if it isn’t working.

If you just find that you are in a rut and need a change – any change, try out a different teaching style. For instance, if you are a unit study family, try out a box curriculum or if you are a strict schedule person, try out a little unschooling. You might be surprised to see how your family thrives when you mix it up a little.

Maybe you need a new approach, a new attitude, or a new subject to mix things up? Consider adding an internet class or online game to change things up. Start your morning with some exercise or a nature walk. Look into a homeschool group or extra curriculum activities.

Whatever you feel your need are, and no matter when you begin your school year, remember… it’s a new year. Now is the time to make the changes you need to make your homeschool run more smoothly and effectively.

What changes will you be making this year?

Teaching Tips – Using the 4 "P’s" of Powerful Teaching

Great teaching does not happen just because you show up to school. In order to be a great teacher, you must be willing to work and work hard. You must continually work at improving your skills, obtaining more knowledge and furthering your development if you are to become a great teacher.

Let’s face it, on every campus from elementary to the university if you ask students who their favorite teacher is the same few names will continually come up. Would you like to be one of these teachers? If your answer is “Yes” then you need to read the following principles, learn these principles and put these principles into action.

The 4 “P’s” of Powerful Teaching

Planning

If you are going to be an effective teacher you must be prepared, and preparation comes from careful planning. You must know what you are going to present and how you are going to present it. Then you must practice, practice, practice. You must become comfortable with the material and be ready to answer any questions the students might ask. Planning ahead will make you look knowledgeable, professional and polished.

Persistence

In order to be a great teacher you must be persistent. You cannot give up or quit at the first sign of trouble. You must be willing to help solve problems, give a little extra and go the extra mile. Great teaching seldom happens overnight, it comes from consistently applying yourself to problems and overcoming the problems.

Patience

The teacher who desires to impact the lives of her students will have an abundance of patience. Patience is necessary to show your students that you care and are willing to wait till they get it. It’s not important that you cover every topic in the book, what counts is that your students learn what you covered. Always remember, if you didn’t create a memory then you didn’t teach anything.

Passion

“Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made that commitment, your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.” – Bill Cosby

Great teaching comes from the teacher with passion. If you aren’t passionate about your teaching please don’t teach. Teaching is not a job it is a profession. In order to be great you must have a fire burning inside you.

Online Degree Tips – Your Guide To Online Degree Programs

Is an Online Business Degree Right for You?

Deciding if an online business degree is right for you is an easy task. With the wide selection of programs, flexibility and personalized formatting, an online business degree is a great choice for any one new to the business world or those that are very experienced but looking to learn more.

These degrees can be obtained in many fields of business, for examples, accounting, general business, leadership and marketing. Many colleges offer these business degree, but three well know, accredited online colleges are Ashworth College, Kaplan University and Walden University.

To decide which online business degree is right for you, it is best to decide what your career goals are or what your current job calls for. For instance, if you want to start your own small business, then a degree in marketing may be your best bet. But, if you are currently a manager at your place of business then a leadership degree may get you the skills you need to get a promotion and a raise in your current career.

Other individuals may pursue an online business degree in order to change careers. Many nurses, teachers and other non-business career holders seek online degrees while working at their regular job.

Applying is easy. All you need is a high school diploma or G.E.D and a wilingness to learn. Depending on your previous college experience and work history, you may be able to obtain your business degree in as little as six months.

Before deciding on a university that you are interested in, make sure that they are accredited and the staff has extensive experience in the field that you are interested in.

Once you have decided to enroll, getting started is easy. Most colleges offer year round enrollment so that individuals can get started on their studies right away. After enrolling, most online programs make the coursework available for immediate download so that you can start that very day itself.

What are the Advantages to Completing an Online Bachelors Degree?

An online bachelors degree is a four-year college degree that an individual completes and earns through the Internet. The biggest benefit of an online bachelors degree is that it usually takes less time to complete.

Most individuals can complete their online bachelors degree in as little as three years. If you have prior college credits to transfer or relevant work history to consider, then you can complete your degree in as little as six months.

Another benefit to completing an online bachelors degree is that the course work is extremely flexible. Classes can be taken any time throughout the day and you never have to leave your house. All course work is completed via the Internet either through downloadable lessons or virtual class times.

The average online bachelors degree program requires at least twenty hours of course work a week. But since the course are completed online, individuals can work faster or slower, depending on their schedule, as long as the course is completed within the allowed time frame.

The standard time frame for the course work of an online bachelors degree is one class every five weeks. This schedule allows a student to concentrate solely on one class or module at a time ensuring that they learn all of the information presented in that session. This is an advantage over traditional four year colleges because with an online program you can devote your time to each session without being distracted by other classes and information.

Tuition payment is also easier with an online program. Online degree programs qualify for the same tuition assistance that on-site programs do. Therefore, individuals can apply for student loans, payment plans and employer reimbursement programs. Plus, some online colleges allow the student to pay as they go, cutting down on upfront college costs.

Earning an online bachelors degree is a perfect way for individuals that are currently employed full time to further their careers. By studying online, individuals can keep their regular job and still earn a degree in record time.

To qualify for enrollment, you are only required to have a high school diploma or G.E.D. Since no prior college education is required, online degrees are also the perfect choice for someone that must work full time to pay for.

If you are contemplating earning your bachelors degree, then an online bachelors degree program is definitely worth researching.

Why You Should Choose an Accredited Online Degree

An accredited online degree is a college degree that is received through Internet studies offered by an accredited college. This means that the school or university that is offering the degree has been approved by a national or state board of education.

In order to offer an accredited online degree a college must offer its course work and lesson requirements to the board of education for approval. The board will then go through that course work and make sure that it adheres to the industry standards for completion.

When contemplating completing any type of degree over the Internet it is best to do so with an accredited online degree provider. Accredited degrees are more reputable and the credits transfer to other schools should you ever decide to further your education again.

Online degrees can come in many forms. You can earn an associate’s degree, bachelors or masters degree or even a course completion certification diploma.

To earn a masters accredited degree online, you must first possess a bachelors degree from a regular or online college.

To earn a bachelors accredited online degree, you need to have at least a high school diploma or G.E.D.

With both degrees, you can shorten the amount of time it takes to complete by having prior college credits or related work experience.

It usually takes about three years to complete an accredited online degree. This time frame is based on a curriculum of at least twenty hours of course work a week. Some degrees, like a specialized law degree, can take up to four years to complete.

By choosing an accredited online degree program as opposed to a regular degree program, you are choosing a degree of a higher standard. With an accredited degree, there will be more choices opened up to you and more occasions for advancement.

What are Accredited Online Degree Programs?

Accredited online degree programs are college programs that are offered over the Internet by certified schools and universities. Accredited online degree programs are tested and approved by state or national education review boards.

There are many different types being offered on the Internet. These programs include degrees in many different fields such as accounting, law, business management and healthcare.

A few well-known schools that offer accredited online degree programs are Phoenix University, Concord Law School and Pierce University. Accredited online degree programs usually offer a completely off-site program, meaning that the student can access everything they will need to earn a degree from the comfort of their own home.

Also, these online degree programs usually offer downloadable lessons that can be accessed and completed at any time during the day or night. However, some programs do require the attendance of virtual meetings or classes that are put on at certain times throughout the day via the Internet.

To find out which degree program is right for you, you first need to choose a field of education that interests you. After defining your field of interest, seek out a school that specializes in that field.

Accredited online degree programs are very useful for those individuals seeking to further their education while continuing full-time at their present job. Some even offer credits for work already completed in the same field as the sought after degree. These credits are usually based on work or life experience. Also, some programs accept credits from other colleges.

Applying prior credits toward accredited online degree programs will help to shorten the length of time required to receive your new bachelor’s or master’s degree. While some programs can take up to four years to complete, prior credits can reduce your education time by up to two years.

How to Get Your Bachelors Degree Online

Getting a bachelors degree online can be a fast and easy way to further your career. But before you enroll, there are a few important things you need to know.

First, you’ll want to make sure that the college that offers the online degree is accredited. School and universities are accredited on a state or national level. This accreditation means that a board of education has researched and approved the schools curriculum and course work.

Next, you will want to make sure that the school is highly recognized and that the bachelors degree is transferable. This helps because someday you may want to further your education by completing your masters degree and you will need to be able to transfer your bachelors credits.

Prerequisite to getting a bachelors degree from any university, you must first have at least a high school diploma or a G.E.D. It also helps to have some college or previous work experience under your belt. If you have previous college credits, then they can be applied toward your bachelors degree program and shorten the length of time that you will need to be enrolled in school.

Without previous college credits, most bachelors degree online programs take up to three years to complete. This time frame is based on an individual that takes at least twenty hours of course work a week. With prior college credits, or by spending more time on course work each week, some individuals can complete their bachelors degree online program in as little as one year.

To decide which college or university to enroll with, it is best to decide what type of degree program you need. Many colleges offer these programs but some specialize in different fields. For example, a person who wants a bachelors degree in business night want to go with Ashworth College, while a person that wants an education degree would want to go with Penn State University.

Once you have chosen a bachelors degree online program, you need to research its class schedule. Many online programs allow you to download the course work and complete it on your own schedule, but some programs require that you log on to the Internet for virtual class sessions a few times a week at a designated time.