Wednesday, October 24, 2012

India's Education Sector

India's US$40b education market is experiencing a surge in investment. Capital, both local and international, and innovative legal structures are changing the face of this once-staid sector
The liberalization of India's industrial policy in 1991 was the catalyst for a wave of investment in IT and infrastructure projects. Rapid economic growth followed, sparking a surge in demand for skilled and educated workers. This, combined with the failure of the public system to provide high quality education and the growing willingness of the burgeoning middle class to spend money on schooling, has transformed India's education sector into an attractive and fast-emerging opportunity for foreign investment.
Despite being fraught with regulatory restrictions, private investors are flocking to play a part in the "education revolution". A recent report by CLSA (Asia-Pacific Markets) estimated that the private education market is worth around US$40 billion. The K-12 segment alone, which includes students from kindergarten to the age of 17, is thought to be worth more than US$20 billion. The market for private colleges (engineering, medical, business, etc.) is valued at US$7 billion while tutoring accounts for a further US$5 billion.
Other areas such as test preparation, pre-schooling and vocational training are worth US$1-2 billion each. Textbooks and stationery, educational CD-ROMs, multimedia content, child skill enhancement, e-learning, teacher training and finishing schools for the IT and the BPO sectors are some of the other significant sectors for foreign investment in education.
Opportunity beckons
The Indian government allocated about US$8.6 billion to education for the current financial year. But considering the significant divide between the minority of students who graduate with a good education and the vast majority who struggle to receive basic elementary schooling, or are deprived of it altogether, private participation is seen as the only way of narrowing the gap. Indeed, it is estimated that the scope for private participation is almost five times the amount spent on education by the government.
CLSA estimates that the total size of India's private education market could reach US$70 billion by 2012, with an 11% increase in the volume and penetration of education and training being offered.
The K-12 segment is the most attractive for private investors. Delhi Public School operates approximately 107 schools, DAV has around 667, Amity University runs several more and Educomp Solutions plans to open 150 K-12 institutions over the next four years. Coaching and tutoring K-12 students outside school is also big business with around 40% of urban children in grades 9-12 using external tuition facilities.
Opening the doors
Private initiatives in the education sector started in the mid-90s with public-private partnerships set up to provide information and communications technology (ICT) in schools. Under this scheme, various state governments outsourced the supply, installation and maintenance of IT hardware and software, as well as teacher training and IT education, in government or government-aided schools. The central government has been funding this initiative, which follows the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) model, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan and ICT Schools programmes. Private companies such as Educomp Solutions, Everonn Systems, and NIIT were among the first to enter the ICT market, which is expected to be worth around US$1 billion by 2012.
Recently, the central government invited private participation in over 1,000 of its industrial training institutes and offered academic and financial autonomy to private players. Companies such as Tata, Larsen & Toubro, Educomp and Wipro have shown keen interest in participating in this initiative.
Regulatory roadblocks
Education in India is regulated at both central and state government levels. As a result, regulations often differ from state to state. K-12 education is governed by the respective State School Education Act and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Rules and Regulations concerning affiliation and/or the rules of any other affiliating body. Under current regulations, only not-for-profit trusts and societies registered under Societies Registration Act, 1860, and companies registered under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, qualify to be affiliated with the CBSE and to operate private schools.
While the K-12 segment accounts for the lion's share of India's educational market, weaving through the complex regulatory roadmap to qualify for affiliation poses serious difficulties for investors. The CBSE requires privately-funded schools to be non-proprietary entities without any vested control held by an individual or members of a family. In addition, a school seeking affiliation is expected to have a managing committee controlled by a trust, which should approve budgets, tuition fees and annual charges. Any income accrued cannot be transferred to the trust or school management committee and voluntary donations for gaining school admission are not permitted.
Schools and higher education institutions set up by the trust are entitled to exemptions from income tax, subject to compliance with section 11 of the Income Tax Act, 1961. In order to qualify for tax exemptions, the trust needs to ensure that its predominant activity is to serve the charitable purpose of promoting education as opposed to the pursuit of profit.
Alternative paths
Alternative routes do exist for investors seeking to avoid the web of regulatory barriers that constrain their involvement. Sectors such as pre-schools, private coaching and tutoring, teacher training, the development and provision of multimedia content, educational software development, skill enhancement, IT training and e-learning are prime sectors in which investors can allocate their funds. These areas are attractive because while they relate closely to the profitable K-12 segment, they are largely unregulated. As such, they make attractive propositions for private investors interested in taking advantage of the burgeoning demand for quality education. Companies such as Educomp Solutions, Career Launcher, NIIT, Aptech, and Magic Software, are market leaders in these fields. Educomp recently acquired a large number of educational institutes and service providers across India. It has also formed joint ventures with leading higher education groups, including Raffles Education Singapore, for the establishment of higher education institutions and universities in India and China. Furthermore, it has entered into a multi-million dollar collaboration with Ansal Properties and Infrastructure to set up educational institutions and schools across the country and closed an US$8.5 million deal to acquire Eurokids International, a private provider of pre-school educational services in India. Gaja Capital India, an education-centric fund, has completed the funding of three education services companies in India. NIIT and Aptech, meanwhile, are engaged in the IT training business.
Core Projects and Technology is also focusing heavily on India and is likely to bid to takeover, upgrade and run public schools for specified periods on a public-private partnership basis.
Higher hurdles
While state governments are largely responsible for providing K-12 education in India, the central government is accountable for major policy decisions relating to higher education. It provides grants to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and establishes central universities in the country. The UGC coordinates, determines and maintains standards and the release of grants. Upon the UGC's recommendation, the central government declares the status of an educational institution, which once authorized, is entitled to award degrees.
State governments are responsible for the establishment of state universities and colleges and has the power to approve the establishment of private universities through State Acts. All private universities are expected to conform to the UGC guidelines to ensure that certain minimum standards are maintained.
Amity University in Uttar Pradesh is one of the private universities to open its doors. It was approved by the Uttar Pradesh state legislature on 12 January 2005 under section 2(f) of the University Grants Commission Act.
Not-for-profit and anti-commercialization concepts dominate higher education fee structures. To prevent commercialization and profit-making, institutions are prohibited from claiming returns on investments. This, however, does not pose a hurdle for universities interested in mobilizing resources to replace and upgrade their assets and services. A fixation of fees is required in accordance with the guidelines prescribed by the UGC and other concerned statutory bodies. For this purpose, the UGC may request the relevant information from the private university concerned, as prescribed in the UGC (Returns of Information by Universities) Rules, 1979.
In line with the policy on Fee Fixation in Private Unaided Educational Institutions Imparting Higher and Technical Education, two types of fees are required: tuition fees and development fees. Tuition fees are intended to recover the actual cost of imparting education without becoming a source of profit for the owner of the institution. While earning returns on investment would not be permissible, development fees may provide an element of partial capital cost recovery to the management, serving as a resource for upkeep and replacement.
Legal precedents
In order to be awarded university status by the UGC, institutions must comply with the objectives set forth in the Model Constitution of the Memorandum of Association/Rules, and ensure that no portion of the income accrued is transferred as profit to previous or existing members of the institution. Payments to individuals or service providers in return for any service rendered to the institute are, however, not regulated.
In this context recent court judgments on private universities are relevant. The Supreme Court, in Unnikrishnan JP v State of Andhra Pradesh, introduced a scheme regulating the admission and levy of fees in private unaided educational institutions, particularly those offering professional education. The ruling was later notified in the fee policy.
Subsequently, in the case of Prof Yashpal and Anr v State of Chattisgarh and Ors in 2005, the Supreme Court assailed the Chattisgarh government's legislation and amendments which had been abused by many private universities. It was contended that the state government, simply by issuing notifications in the Gazette, had been establishing universities in an indiscriminate and mechanical manner without taking into account the availability of any infrastructure, teaching facilities or financial resources. Further, it was found that the legislation (Chhattisgarh Niji Kshetra Vishwavidyalaya (Sthapana Aur Viniyaman) Adhiniyam, 2002) had been enacted in a manner which had completely abolished any kind of UGC control over private universities.
The Supreme Court concluded that parliament was responsible for ensuring the maintenance and uniformity of higher education institutions in order to uphold the UGC's authority. Following the judgment, only those private universities that satisfied the UGC's norms were able to continue operating in Chattisgarh.
Professional institutions
Professional and technical education in India is regulated by professional councils such as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Established under the AICTE Act, 1987, AICTE gives recognition to courses, promotes professional institutions, provides grants to undergraduate programmes, and ensures the coordinated and integrated development of technical education and the maintenance of standards. The AICTE has recently exerted pressure on unrecognized private technical and management institutes to seek its approval or face closure.
A single bench decision of the Delhi High Court in Chartered Financial Analysis Institute and Anr v AICTE illustrates the far-reaching implications this kind of pressure can have on all institutions operating independently of the AICTE. The court found that the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute, a US-based organization, was engaged in imparting technical education and that its charter, though not described as a degree or diploma, was nevertheless descriptive of the candidate attaining an academic standard, entitling him to pursue further courses, and achieve better prospects of employment in the investment banking profession. The AICTE argued that the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute fell within the ambit of its regulation and was therefore obliged to submit to the jurisdiction of the regulatory body. The Delhi High Court upheld the AICTE's view that the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute did qualify as an institution imparting technical education..
This judgment may have emboldened the AICTE to proceed against a number of other establishments that are on its list of unapproved institutions. It holds particular significance since despite not granting degrees and diplomas, the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute was still deemed by the court to be covered under the description of a "technical institute".
Enthusiasm grows for foreign participation
While regulators such as the AICTE continue to exercise influence in the Indian education system, the sector is expected to witness a surge in foreign investment and perhaps a reduction in the number of regulatory roadblocks as a result of the central government's enthusiasm for overseas investors. Foreign direct investment in higher education could help reduce government expenditure and there is a general consensus that education as a whole should be opened for domestic and foreign private participation.
The entry of foreign educational institutions into India will be covered by the new Foreign Education Providers (Regulation for Entry and Operation) Bill. The bill seeks to regulate the entry and operation of foreign education providers, as well as limit the commercialization of higher education. Foreign education providers would be given the status of "deemed universities" allowing them to grant admissions and award degrees, diplomas or certificates.
Operationally, the bill proposes to bring foreign education providers under the administrative umbrella of the UGC, which would eventually regulate the admissions process and fee structures. Since these foreign institutions will have to be incorporated under central or state laws, they will also be subject to the government's policies of reservations. The bill is pending approval from the Indian Parliament but it is unclear if it will be taken by the present government for a vote prior to the general elections in 2009.
Innovative structures unlock profitability
The regulatory restraints on running profitable businesses in the K-12 and higher education sectors have driven Indian lawyers to devise innovative structures that enable private investors to earn returns on their investments. These typically involve the establishment of separate companies to provide a range of services (operations, technology, catering, security, transport, etc.) to the educational institution. The service companies enter into long term contracts with the trust operating the institution. Payments made by the trust to the service companies must be comparative and proportionate to the services rendered by such companies. Furthermore, in order to qualify for tax exemptions, the expenses paid by the trust to the service companies must not exceed what may reasonably be paid for such services under arm's length relationships.
Despite the regulatory constraints, the Indian education sector is on a path of exponential growth. A growing number of private companies are undertaking creatively structured projects in the education business and the level of investor confidence is demonstrated by the recent spate of M&A activity that has taken place.
With more domestic players emerging, the education sector is likely to witness consolidation, but at the same time, increasing foreign participation will drive competition and raise standards. Liberalization will continue to intensify as the government struggles to remedy its poor public education system and provide quality institutions to educate India's masses.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Online Degrees in Education

Education is very extensive field and provides you several diverse opportunities. Degree holders or teachers can concentrate on early, middle or secondary students. They can also work in administrative positions. Professionals can also specialize in designing teaching material, adult education or they can also get training as an administrative specialist such as principal or vice principal.
Goals of Earning Online Degrees in Education
Teaching is considered as very easy going profession. But if you really want to become a good teacher you must have multiple skill and expertise like ability of handling students, strong communication skills and talent to convince, motivate and train. After earning any online degree in education from top accredited online university or college you will be able to train students to resolve the problems. If you start your career as elementary teacher you will teach all subjects of basic level. But on secondary level you will teach subjects of your area of specialization. Higher level online degrees in education enable you for higher education positions such as community colleges, vocational schools and universities.
Online Degrees in Education
Several online degrees from associates to doctorate levels are available. Many top accredited online universities and top accredited online colleges offer online degrees in education. Following are the online degrees available.
o Associates Degree in Education
o Bachelors Degree in Education
o Masters Degree in Education
o Ph.D. Education Degree
o Degree in Early Childhood Education
o Master Degree in Education Administration
Online Associates in Education
Online Associates Degree in Education is ideal for working individual to make a career move. It is very beneficial because it is very focused and practical without vast time obligation of bachelor's degree. You will focus on a general education courses that include sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. After earning associates level degree your potential career paths incorporate teaching in a Head Start program, Elementary school Para professional and teacher assistant. Associates degree is considered as initial level online degree in education.
Online Bachelors Degree in Education
Online Bachelors Degree in Education provides you option to become certified K-6 Teacher. You will get thorough knowledge of K-6 elementary teacher certification, advanced educational studies, human recourse development, corporate training and higher education. You can select any specific subject of your interest. You will be able to help young students to develop skills and acquiring knowledge. After earning online bachelors you can work as elementary/high school teacher, counselor, course developer, researcher and college professor.
Online Masters Degree in Education
Online Masters in education enables you to join better paying administrative jobs. Masters degree gives you the chance to become certified professional after bachelor. MAT or MIT and M.Ed. are the common master degrees available in education. You can continue to work as teacher or choose to work as principal or assistant principal. This degree provides opportunity to professionals to earn degree with job. You can earn this online degree in education to advance your career. Following are some master's concentrations available
o Administration and supervision
o Adult education
o Distance learning
o Special education
o Curriculum and technology
Online Ph.D. Education Degree
Online Ph.D. degree is the highest level online degree in education. It is suitable for passionate professional wishes to gain higher grade job. It is basically for individuals already had teaching experience. After earning online masters degree you can teach as professor at university. You will also able to conduct research and apply what you learnt. You can specialize in elementary and secondary education, special education, adult education and higher education.
Online Degree in Early Childhood Education
Online degree in early childhood education is also an important online degree in education. After earning this degree you will be able to work with children below the typical school age between 3 and 5. Course work includes child psychology, parenting and early learning strategies.
Professional finds job in elementary or pre-schools. Early Childhood Education professionals effectively train young children during critical time in which formative learning, skill building and social growth takes place. Children who gain proper training at this stage of life can effectively find their way through the academic and social rigors that every student will have to face later in life. That's why schools, families and government spend considerable money on early childhood education.
Online Master in Education Administration
Online Master in Education Administration is a unique online degree in education. It is designed for education professionals who have keen interest in administration issues. Course work includes education finance, school law, duties of principal, community relation and supervision of personnel. Degree needs internship experiences in school administration at administrative and principal level. Plenty of jobs are available in educational administration. Educational administrators can work on variety of jobs ranging from day care administrator to college president or school principal. Administrators have good communication skills and able to prepare budgets, supervise student's progress, manage everyday operations, fund raise, designing policies and standards and command institute to maintain the state and national standards.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Millennium Education Development

Dr. Tooley: His conclusions on Private Education and Entrepreneurship
Professor James Tooley criticized the United Nations' proposals to eliminate all fees in state primary schools globally to meet its goal of universal education by 2015. Dr. Tooley says the UN, which is placing particular emphasis on those regions doing worse at moving towards 'education for all' namely sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, is "backing the wrong horse".1
On his extensive research in the world poorest countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, India, and China, Dr. Tooley found that private unaided schools in the slum areas outperform their public counterparts. A significant number of a large majority of school children came from unrecognized schools and children from such schools outperform similar students in government schools in key school subjects.2 Private schools for the poor are counterparts for private schools for the elite. While elite private schools cater the needs of the privilege classes, there come the non-elite private schools which, as the entrepreneurs claimed, were set up in a mixture of philanthropy and commerce, from scarce resources. These private sector aims to serve the poor by offering the best quality they could while charging affordable fees.3
Thus, Dr. Tooley concluded that private education can be made available for all. He suggested that the quality of private education especially the private unaided schools can be raised through the help of International Aid. If the World Bank and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) could find ways to invest in private schools, then genuine education could result. 4 Offering loans to help schools improve their infrastructure or worthwhile teacher training, or creating partial vouchers to help even more of the poor to gain access to private schools are other strategies to be considered. Dr. Tooley holds that since many poor parents use private and not state schools, then "Education for All is going to be much easier to achieve than is currently believed".
Hurdles in Achieving the MED
Teachers are the key factor in the learning phenomenon. They must now become the centerpiece of national efforts to achieve the dream that every child can have an education of good quality by 2015. Yet 18 million more teachers are needed if every child is to receive a quality education. 100 million children are still denied the opportunity of going to school. Millions are sitting in over-crowded classrooms for only a few hours a day.5 Too many excellent teachers who make learning exciting will change professions for higher paid opportunities while less productive teachers will retire on the job and coast toward their pension.6 How can we provide millions of more teachers?
Discrimination in girls access to education persists in many areas, owing to customary attitudes, early marriages and pregnancies, inadequate and gender-biased teaching and educational materials, sexual harassment and lack of adequate and physically and other wise accessible schooling facilities. 7
Child labor is common among the third world countries. Too many children undertake heavy domestic works at early age and are expected to manage heavy responsibilities. Numerous children rarely enjoy proper nutrition and are forced to do laborious toils.
Peace and economic struggles are other things to consider. The Bhutan country for example, has to take hurdles of high population growth (3%), vast mountainous areas with low population density, a limited resources base and unemployment. Sri Lanka reported an impressive record, yet, civil war is affecting its ability to mobilize funds since spending on defense eats up a quarter of the national budget.8
Putting children into school may not be enough. Bangladesh's Education minister, A. S. H. Sadique, announced a 65% literacy rate, 3% increase since Dakar and a 30% rise since 1990. While basic education and literacy had improved in his country, he said that quality had been sacrificed in the pursuit of number.9 According to Nigel Fisher of UNICEF Kathmandu, "fewer children in his country survive to Grade 5 than in any region of the world. Repetition was a gross wastage of resources".
Furthermore, other challenges in meeting the goal include: (1) How to reach out with education to HIV/AIDS orphans in regions such as Africa when the pandemic is wreaking havoc. (2) How to offer education to ever-increasing number of refugees and displaced people. (3) How to help teachers acquire a new understanding of their role and how to harness the new technologies to benefit the poor. And (4), in a world with 700 million people living in a forty-two highly indebted countries - how to help education overcome poverty and give millions of children a chance to realize their full potential.10
Education for All: How?
The goal is simple: Get the 100 million kids missing an education into school.
The question: How?
The first most essential problem in education is the lack of teachers and it has to be addressed first. Teacher corps should be improved through better recruitment strategies, mentoring and enhancing training academies. 11 Assistant teachers could be trained. Through mentoring, assistant teachers will develop the skills to become good teachers. In order to build a higher quality teacher workforce; selective hiring, a lengthy apprenticeship with comprehensive evaluation, follow ups with regular and rigorous personnel evaluations with pay-for-performance rewards, should be considered.12 Remuneration of teaching staff will motivate good teachers to stay and the unfruitful ones to do better.
Problems regarding sex discrimination and child labor should be eliminated. The Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA), for example, addressed the problem of gender inequality. BPFA calls on governments and relevant sectors to create an education and social environment, in which women and men, girls and boys, are treated equally, and to provide access for and retention of girls and women at all levels of education.13 The Global Task Force on Child Labor and Education and its proposed role for advocacy, coordination and research, were endorsed by the participants in Beijing. The UN added that incentives should be provided to the poorest families to support their children's education.14
Highly indebted countries complain on lack of resources. Most of these countries spend on education and health as much as debt repayments. If these countries are with pro-poor programs that have a strong bias for basic education, will debt cancellation help them? Should these regions be a lobby for debt relief?
Partly explains the lack of progress, the rich countries, by paying themselves a piece dividend at the end of the Cold War, had reduced their international development assistance. In 2000, the real value of aid flows stood at only about 80% of their 1990 levels. Furthermore, the share of the aid going to education fell by 30% between 1990 and 2000 represented 7% of bilateral aid by that time. 15 Given this case, what is the chance of the United Nations' call to the donors to double the billion of dollars of aid? According to John Daniel, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO (2001-04), at present, 97% of the resources devoted to education in the developing countries come from the countries themselves and only 3% from the international resources. The key principle is that the primary responsibility for achieving 'education for all' lies with the national governments. International and bilateral agencies can help, but the drive has to come from the country itself. These countries are advised to chart a sustainable strategy for achieving education for all. This could mean reallocation of resources to education from other expenditures. It will often mean reallocation of resources within the education budget to basic education and away from other levels. 16
A Closer Look: Private and Public Schools
Some of the most disadvantage people on this planet vote with their feet: exit the public schools and move their children in private schools. Why are private schools better than state schools?
Teachers in the private schools are more accountable. There are more classroom activities and levels of teachers' dedication. The teachers are accountable to the manager who can fire them whenever they are seen with incompetence. The manager as well is accountable to the parents who can withdraw their children.17 Thus; basically, the private schools are driven with negative reinforcements. These drives, however, bear positive results. Private schools are able to carry quality education better than state schools. The new research found that private schools for the poor exist in the slum areas aiming to help the very disadvantage have access to quality education. The poor subsidized the poorest.
Such accountability is not present in the government schools. Teachers in the public schools cannot be fired mainly because of incompetence. Principals/head teachers are not accountable to the parents if their children are not given adequate education. Researchers noted of irresponsible teachers 'keeping a school closed ... for months at a time, many cases of drunk teachers, and head teachers who asked children to do domestic chores including baby sitting. These actions are 'plainly negligence'.
Are there any means to battle the system of negligence that pulls the state schools into failing? Should international aids be invested solely to private schools that are performing better and leave the state schools in total collapse? If private education seems to be the hope in achieving education for all, why not privatize all low performing state schools? Should the public schools be developed through a systematic change, will the competition between the public and the private schools result to much better outcomes? What is the chance that all educational entrepreneurs of the world will adapt the spirit of dedication and social works - offering free places for the poorest students and catering their needs?
Public schools can be made better. They can be made great schools if the resources are there, the community is included and teachers and other school workers get the support and respect they need. The government has to be hands on in improving the quality of education of state schools. In New York City for example, ACORN formed a collaborative with other community groups and the teachers union to improve 10 low-performing district 9 schools. The collaborative won $1.6 million in funding for most of its comprehensive plan to hire more effective principals, support the development of a highly teaching force and build strong family-school partnerships. 18
Standardized tests are also vital in improving schools and student achievements. It provides comparable information about schools and identifies schools that are doing fine, schools that are doing badly and some that are barely functioning. The data on student achievement provided by the standardized tests are essential diagnostic tool to improve performance. 19
The privatization of public schools is not the answer at all. Take for instance the idea of charter schools. As an alternative to failed public schools and government bureaucracy, local communities in America used public funds to start their own schools. And what started in a handful of states became a nationwide phenomenon. But according to a new national comparison of test
scores among children in charter schools and regular public schools, most charter schools aren't measuring up. The Education Department's findings showed that in almost every racial, economic and geographic category, fourth graders in traditional public schools outperform fourth graders in charter schools. 20
If the government can harness the quality of state schools, and if the World Bank and the Bilateral Agencies could find ways to invest on both the private and the public schools - instead of putting money only on the private schools where only a small fraction of students will have access to quality education while the majority are left behind - then 'genuine education' could result.
Education for all apparently is a simple goal, yet, is taking a long time for the world to achieve. Several of destructive forces are blocking its way to meet the goal and the fear of failure is strong. Numerous solutions are available to fix the failed system of public schools but the best solution is still unknown. Several challenges are faced by the private schools to meet their accountabilities, but the resources are scarce. Every country is committed to develop its education to bring every child into school but most are still struggling with mountainous debts.
'Primary education for all by 2015' will not be easy. However, everyone must be assured that the millennium development goal is possible and attainable. Since the Dakar meeting, several countries reported their progress in education. In Africa, for example, thirteen countries have, or should have attained Universal Primary Education (UPE) by the target date of 2015. 23 It challenges other countries, those that are lagging behind in achieving universal education to base their policies on programs that have proved effective in other African nations. Many more are working for the goal, each progressing in different paces. One thing is clear; the World is committed to meet its goal. The challenge is not to make that commitment falter, because a well-educated world will be a world that can better cope with conflicts and difficulties: thus, a better place to live.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview with Dr Renato C Nicolai, Author of "The Nightmare That Is Public Education"

A retired teacher and principal with thirty-eight years of experience in public education, Renato C. Nicolai, Ed.D., taught 6th through 12th grade and was both an elementary and middle school principal. In education circles, he was known as Dr. Nicolai, which eventually was shortened to Dr. Nick, and has stuck ever since.
Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Dr. Nick. Obviously, the state of public education in the United States is of great concern to many people. To begin, will you tell us what you think is wrong with the public education system?
Dr. Nick: Wow! What an opportunity! Yes, I would be pleased to tell you what I think is wrong with the public education system. My thoughts aren't in any order of priority; I'm telling you about them as they come to mind.
What I think of first is what I wrote about as the main emphasis in my book. Teachers desperately need to improve the quality of their teaching, so, specifically, what's wrong is that too many teachers are either incompetent or mediocre instructors at best. Yes, if you had the opportunity to stand by my side in the hundreds of classrooms I've visited in my career, you would be both amazed and horrified at how much poor quality teaching there is in our public schools. If parents only knew how much more their children could be learning with instruction from superb teachers compared to what they are most likely learning now from incompetent teachers, they would be flabbergasted. That's how bad it really is. This indictment of teachers, however, is not a major problem at the elementary school, but is a serious and rampant problem for sure at the middle school, junior high school, and especially the high school level of education. Parents, you'll want to read about the eight essential qualities most teachers don't possess. I've listed and described them in the first chapter of my book.
Tenure is another critical problem. Once tenure is granted by a school district, an incompetent teacher is a teacher for life. It's extremely difficult to dismiss a teacher who has tenure. What's wrong with tenure is that it's achievable so soon in a teacher's career (after only three years in most cases), so final (once it's granted it's irrevocable), and so long lasting (the teacher keeps it for as long as he/she teaches). What happens is that some teachers work very hard during their first few years on the job, receive tenure, and then slack off in their performance because they know they can almost never lose their job. Instead of tenure, public education should promote a system of performance reviews that teachers are required to pass periodically in order to keep their teaching position for the next two or three years.
The way a teacher is evaluated is all wrong within the education system. It's basically a sham and a joke. Collective bargaining contracts and union involvement in teacher evaluations has watered down the process of teacher evaluations to the degree that practically nothing worthwhile results from the process. In my book, I have a chapter titled "What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You," and the concept of teacher evaluation is discussed in that chapter. If parents and the public at large knew how ineffective and unproductive teacher evaluations are, they would demand a more efficient system. The system as it exists in most school districts today is a tactful process of saying the right words, doing what's anticipated, and not ruffling anyone's feelings. What it should do is help teachers improve the quality of their teaching to the degree that they help students learn better, but it doesn't do that at all.
The public education system is rooted in the false notion that all teachers are qualified educators who can be trusted to make good decisions, follow school district rules and regulations, work together in a spirit of collegiality, promote the welfare of students as a priority, and, generally, do what is just, moral, and professional. What's wrong is that this description is simply not true; yet, school districts throughout the United States allow teachers the freedom to work unsupervised because they are assumed to be well-intentioned, professional persons who have the best interests of students at heart. Don't misunderstand me, please. Of course, there are many conscientious teachers who do work well with each other and do have the best interests of students at heart, but I believe that there are many more who take advantage of academic freedom, collegiality, and lack of supervision to do whatever they want within the four walls of their classrooms. This is actually a very serious problem that is covered up by the educational hierarchy.
Another very serious wrong is the way in which school districts manage the use of substitute teachers. Substitute teachers are rarely observed to determine their competence, frequently assigned to subject areas they have no qualifications to teach, and regularly subjected to unbelievable disrespect and insolence from students. When a substitute teacher is present in a middle school, junior high school, or high school classroom, little or no learning takes place. That class is a waste of instructional time, the students' time, and the substitute's time as well. The three most common activities that take place when a substitute takes over a regular teacher's class are the showing of videos or DVDs, the administration of tests, and the supervision of long, boring written or reading assignments left by the regular teacher. The lesson plans left by most regular teachers for substitute teachers to follow are generally a set of instructions on how to occupy the time students have in class. The entire substitute teacher system needs to be completely overhauled. Students must be taught to respect substitute teachers, to assist them with the lesson, and to be responsible for their own learning. Expectations that students will cooperate with substitute teachers, that regular teachers will conscientiously prepare quality lesson plans, that substitutes will teach, and that administrators will monitor substitutes are so miserably low, currently, that the education system simply accepts the status quo of chaos, lack of learning, and disgraceful substitute teacher academic and professional performance.
Tyler, the public education system in the United States is really in trouble. It's inundated with problems; there are many things wrong with it. I could have written about lack of student discipline, emphasis on sports over academics, permissiveness throughout the culture of public schools, reticence about the problems that exist, and much more. I believe that it has deteriorated so much over the last fifty years, that mediocrity and incompetence are the status quo. Parents don't even realize that the system is so bad. What they see and experience is what they think is how the system should be. They don't understand how much better it could be and how their children could be receiving a more superior educational experience.
Tyler: Dr. Nick, will you tell us a little bit about your background in education-where you taught and the subjects you taught, as well as your experience as a middle school principal. What personal experiences have led to your current viewpoints?
Dr. Nick: My first full time position in public schools was as a 9th and 11th grade teacher of English at El Camino High School in South San Francisco, California (a city separate from San Francisco). After teaching two years, my assignment changed to teaching English half the school day and counseling the other half. In my third year as a teacher at this school, I was elected president of the local teachers' union and the following year chairman of the School District Negotiating Council. In my fifth year, I was appointed Assistant Principal of Parkway Junior High School (7-9) in the same school district.
During the seven years I held this position as assistant principal, I enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Southern California, and from 1969-1972 I achieved a Doctor of Education degree in Educational Administration and Secondary Curriculum. My dissertation, which researched the administrative behavior of superintendents of schools, was the first dissertation sponsored by the newly formed Association of California School Administrators (ACSA).
In 1974, I was selected Principal of Isaac Newton Graham Middle School (7-8) in Mountain View, California. You asked me to share my experience as a middle school principal, and I'm pleased to do so, but I want you to know that I could easily write another book about those experiences alone. So, I'll try to give you an encapsulated answer. I think I could best describe my experiences as a middle school principal as a continuing five year roller coaster ride because I never knew when my feelings, emotions, and experiences would be up or down. On the up side, I was thrilled to see many students learn to their potential as a result of the excellent teaching of some superb teachers. After all, helping young people learn is what education is all about. I also observed some outstanding teachers whose skills and methods motivated students to excel beyond their own personal expectations. That was extremely exciting. As the leader of a neighborhood school, I grew personally as an educator because I had the opportunity to influence curriculum, work for the educational benefits of students, and associate often with community leaders in various agencies (fire department, police department, recreation department, mayor's office, and so on). These experiences made me a better principal. On the down side, I learned quickly that many teachers should never have been allowed to enter a classroom to teach. They were not suited to interact with adolescents and teenagers; they didn't have the skills needed to help young minds understand concepts and ideas; they failed to devote themselves to learning how to teach expertly; they didn't know how to control and manage a class of thirty students. I also realized what some of the problems were that I had to deal with (incompetent teachers, low quality curriculum, collective bargaining contracts to name a few) but that I didn't have the power to bring about effective change. That was frustrating to no end. Finally, the lowest possible experience for me was to meet so-called teachers who had literally given up; that is, they had decided to go through the motions of teaching only. They were no longer eager to teach, didn't look forward to meeting their classes, and did as little as possible to meet their professional responsibilities. I left out so much that I feel my answer is inadequate. I can see the joy on the faces of students who won academic and sports awards, the enthusiasm of both staff and student body at our annual soft ball game, the annual parent club barbecue, and so much more.
I remained at Graham for five years and then moved on to an opportunity in southern California as the Administrative Director (Superintendent/Principal) of Chatsworth Hills Academy, a private school in Chatsworth, California. I preferred serving in public education, so I returned to Graham as a 7th grade core teacher, teaching English and social studies (world history). In October of my second year back from southern California, I was asked by three Santa Clara County superintendents to head up a "joint powers" school named The Institute of Computer Technology as an on-loan school administrator. Along with an on-loan administrator from IBM (Ken Butler), I helped this new educational enterprise get its feet off the ground. It was exciting work and I enjoyed hiring teachers, meeting technology experts at Apple and IBM, developing curriculum, outfitting a school with security systems, working with school superintendents, learning how to protect valuable hardware and software, and a lot more. After doing what I was hired to do, I returned to Graham, teaching English, social studies, and geography to 7th and 8th graders, including the 8th Grade Honors English program. I remained at Graham for the next twenty years and retired in 2001.
During my career, I've been a presenter at various conferences, in-service sessions, and conventions. My presentation topics were usually in the areas of teaching methods, literature-based instruction, discipline, and classroom management. I've also been a master teacher, chairman or member of numerous curriculum committees, and an adjunct professor in the teacher training program at National University.
My current viewpoints and attitudes toward public education developed throughout my career based upon my personal experiences as a teacher and principal, what I saw other educators do and heard them say, what I read, what I learned best helped young people reach their learning potential, what political reforms failed, and what I learned about how young minds gain knowledge. For instance, there was a time when I opposed vouchers; I'm adamantly in favor of them now. The more choices parents have in the education of their children, the better. I was a staunch supporter of tenure at the beginning of my career until I witnessed how many deficient teachers hide their incompetence under the protection of this law. Tenure should be abolished. I'm sure you get the idea. I hold the views, attitudes, and feelings that I do about education as a result of a life-long career in schools. You know, children aren't the only ones who learn while at school.
Tyler: You mention that many teachers are not competent? What is the reason for this, and why does the school system allow them to remain in the classroom?
Dr. Nick: Why are many teachers incompetent? Here are some reasons to contemplate:
Because they don't possess the personality needed to interact well with young people. If a person doesn't like kids, doesn't enjoy being with them all day long, doesn't look forward to teaching them, doesn't accept their immaturity and want to help them become more mature, can't stand constantly answering questions, can't accept individual differences (race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc), can't cope with special needs (hyperactivity, behavior problems, and so on), then that person will never be a competent teacher.
Because they don't possess, exhibit, use, and treasure enthusiasm, and, so, they are truly boring to most of their students. Ask any kid at a middle school, junior high school, or high school in your community what they dislike the most about their teachers, and, I guarantee you the answer will overwhelmingly be that they are boring. And you know something, Tyler; the kids are right. Most teachers are insufferably boring in how they teach. Enthusiasm is a sine qua non for all competent teachers.
Because they don't know how to get concepts and ideas across clearly to their students. They don't possess the knowledge and skills needed to help students learn. They just don't know what to do and end up quite often being frustrated and saying something like, "Oh, those kids just can't learn this stuff." That's an expression equivalent to defeatism and incompetence. If the learning material is age appropriate and part of the accepted curriculum, of course a normal, healthy student can learn it. It isn't the student who is at fault; it's the teacher who doesn't have the competence to design lessons, activities, and programs to help students learn. The reason for this is that many teachers tell students but don't show and teach.
Because they can't manage and control student behavior. Teachers daily face challenging disciplinary and behavior problems. If a teacher can't effectively handle these problems, that teacher will never be a competent instructor-never! In this case, the incompetence is in not knowing what to do when a disciplinary or behavior problem presents itself because the teacher hasn't thought out a personal Educational Philosophy for Control of Student Behavior. Every teacher needs to do this to harmonize his/her personality with methods of discipline. I explain this in detail in my book.
Because many teachers don't manage classroom time efficiently. I devote an entire chapter to this topic: "Wasted Time - Inept Instruction (Euphemism: Teaching Mistakes). How can anyone consider a teacher competent when that teacher tries to teach over the noise of unruly students, doesn't know how to quell effectively unnecessary noise at the change of a classroom activity, and allows students to talk whenever they want. This inability to control noise leads to as much as 25% of each class period being wasted. Many teachers can't even control the time at the end of class when students get ready to leave and waste the ten or fifteen minutes left.
Because many teachers can't effectively control group learning. One of the most effective ways for students to learn is to interact with each other, allowing students to help each other learn in groups. Sometimes, students have just the right words and explanations to help a fellow student understand a lesson. However, most teachers don't control student groups effectively and so waste tremendous amounts of instructional time.
Because many teachers don't have high enough academic and behavioral expectations and standards. In other words, many teachers don't challenge their students enough academically and don't expect them to learn to the level of their potential. Teachers must project an attitude of high expectations to motivate their charges adequately. Most teachers don't even understand this concept and need to learn it themselves. Not putting it into effect in classrooms is indicative of ignorance and incompetence. In Chapter Three, I wrote a seven-page description of the most important strategies used by teachers who truly understand how to teach high academic and behavioral standards. Teachers, you've never seen anything come close to this practical list of how to teach standards.
Because some teachers don't have a sufficient knowledge of the subjects they teach. They don't! They are assigned to teach a subject they don't know adequately or they don't even like. Many teachers are teaching subjects and they don't have either a major in that field or a valid certificate to teach it.
There are other reasons as well, but the few I mentioned are really significant ones, aren't they? Now, what are the reasons for these incompetencies and why do school systems allow these incompetent teachers to remain in the classroom? Well, the first part of the question can be answered easily. Students learning how to teach are not being prepared adequately by schools of education. You know who should teach prospective teachers how to teach? Not education professors! No! Excellent, experienced, current and retired teachers who know what a classroom is all about and who have a love for kids and teaching in their hearts should teach candidates for teaching. Give me proven experts at teaching young people, a group of twenty teacher candidates for a year, and I know we could do a much better job of teaching them how to be good teachers than any school of education in the country.
Answering the second part of the question leaves me with a heavy heart. The reason is that most school districts don't effectively monitor and evaluate the progress, competence, and teaching skills of new teachers. The procedures to do this are woefully inadequate and rarely result in new teachers being dismissed if they are incompetent. Teachers new to the profession learn more about teaching from their own personal experiences the first three years on the job and from other, experienced teachers than they do from any program presented by the school district they work for. School districts don't really know if a new teacher is mediocre or, worse yet, incompetent so they grant tenure because they need a body in the classroom. There is a tremendous shortage of teachers throughout our country today. Once tenure is granted, it is virtually impossible to dismiss a teacher on the basis of incompetence.
(Due to space constraints a portion of this review was omitted -- please see Reader Views website for the entire interview.)
Dr. Nick: Parents must be involved in their children's education from preschool right through high school and, perhaps, even into college. The tendency is for parents to step back from involvement when their teenagers start high school. This is a serious mistake. Parental involvement is critical during high school because the high schooler is under tremendous pressure from peers mainly to experiment in many different areas: drugs, alcohol, sex, ideology, cults, etc. That involvement should take the form of proactive participation, diligent observation, and ardent questioning. I recommend that parents do the following to ensure that their children receive a quality education:
Parents must communicate regularly in person, over the phone, and via e-mail with the teacher throughout the school year about every aspect of their child's learning by asking questions and seeking information about these and other important aspects of schooling:
math skills
language arts skills (reading, spelling, grammar, writing)
listening skills
participation and cooperation
Parents must frequently monitor the progress of their child's learning at home and act as the most important teacher in their child's life.
Parents should observe their child's teacher(s) to assess the teacher's quality of instruction. My book is filled with tips for parents to do just that. It also contains lists of questions for parents to ask and what to look for in a classroom to determine if a classroom's physical environment is organized as a valuable learning tool.
Parents should participate in the life of the school, if possible:
join the PTA or parent club and participate in its activities and governance
volunteer as an aide at school
offer to assist the teacher with paperwork
Parents must attend school functions: Back-to-School Night, Open House, music programs, special events, sports contests, fund raisers.
Parents must meet with the teacher at parent conferences and ask questions about their child's educational progress.
Parents should introduce themselves to the principal and other persons in key positions at the school to know who they are and to make sure these school personnel know who the parents are.
Parents should communicate their ideas and opinions to their elected school board members, and, on occasion, attend a school board meeting.
Parents must be sure their child is equipped to do the best possible work at school by providing:
necessary school supplies
a nutritious and balanced diet
enough sleep and rest
a positive attitude toward school and teachers
a distraction-free place for homework
Tyler: Does the concern over public education have a place outside the school system? What about people who do not have children? Why should they care about things like millage elections, or want to pay more taxes, or support the school system?
Dr. Nick: Yes, concern over public education does have a place outside the school system. Most people who don't have children, are retired and have no contact with children, or whose children are now adults pay taxes and generally want a school system that produces an educated person. These people are automatically invested in the public school system as a result of their taxpayer status and expect to receive good value for their tax money. I know I do because 62% of my annual property taxes (nearly $3,800) goes to public schools in the community where I live.
Tyler: Students often do not value the education they receive until years later. As a former college English professor, I taught many lazy students, and I was constantly in dismay that so many of them were even admitted to college when they could not write a complete sentence. I frequently wondered what they had done for thirteen years in the public schools? Do you think the college system is in any way responsible for the decline of public education in the elementary and high schools? Should entrance requirements into colleges be raised?
Dr. Nick: I don't blame our college system in any way at all for the decline of public education in the elementary and high schools. State colleges and universities, community colleges, private and religious colleges and universities-all provide opportunities for students who are qualified to pursue them. It's the responsibility of the elementary and secondary schools to prepare students to take advantage of those opportunities and meet those qualifications. I do think these colleges and universities should regularly evaluate their entrance requirements, as I'm sure they do, to ensure that they maintain high standards of academic expectations.
These colleges and universities have a responsibility to graduate well-educated and highly competent young people. Watering down the entrance requirements to fill classrooms would be a disgrace and morally reprehensible. Not all high school students should be expected to attend a four-year college, although that's what many high school counselors and administrators tell them is possible. I do blame some schools of education, however, for the poorly prepared teachers they seem to turn out by the thousands each year. School of education reforms in recent years in teacher training programs, curriculum standards, course content, and subject matter proficiency have not produced quality teachers. If they had, our elementary and secondary school students would be exceptionally successful learners and you would not have asked this question. After all, teachers are supposed to help students learn to their capacity.
Tyler: Dr. Nick, how long do you think the public school system has been declining? Do you believe it has affected the American job force and economy?
Dr. Nick: The American public school system has been declining over the last fifty to sixty years. All you have to do is look at the statistics to see that the reforms attempted during the past half century have not resulted in significant changes in learning, test scores, and student achievement. In fact, in most curricular areas, there has been little or no change at all, and in math and English there has been decline.
Perhaps your readers would be interested in an excellent article published in the September 2007 edition of Harper's magazine. It's titled "Schoolhouse Crock (Fifty years of blaming America's educational system for our stupidity) and presents an excellent analysis of educational reform over the past fifty years.
This decline continues to affect the American job force, businesses, and our national economy as well. Many businesses and corporations have instituted their own systems of internal education to train their work force properly to do the work expected of them because they can't rely on the public schools.
Tyler: The ones who suffer the most in this situation are the children, yet as children, students are unlikely to know what they are not learning and how it will be detrimental for them. Furthermore, they may be too intimidated by teachers to complain when they are given more free time or fruitless assignments or actual lessons. What if anything, can students do to improve the quality of their own education?
Dr. Nick: At the elementary school, middle school, and junior high school levels of education, there is probably very little if anything the young people who attend these schools can do to improve the quality of their own education. They are too young, inexperienced, and immature. At the high school, however, some students are mature and serious enough about their own schooling to do something. I might add, though, that there are most likely very few who would actually challenge the powers that be (teachers, principals, superintendents, boards of education) for a variety of reasons. The two most significant ones, in my opinion, would be peer pressure and fear of retribution or retaliation on the part of teachers or administrators. Nonetheless, here are some actions mature, serious, intelligent, concerned high school students could do:
Go to your principal and complain about the poor quality teaching you're experiencing. Nothing will happen the first time, so go a second and third time. Bring other concerned students with you.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Difference Between On-Campus Education and Online Education

On-campus education vs. online education! Is one better than the other? Can one completely replace the other? Indeed it seems that online education is the way of the future. Educational institutions, corporations and government organizations alike already offer various forms of electronic teaching. However, can a computer truly replace a teacher and a blackboard?
How people learn
Each individual has a form of learning that suits them best. Some individuals achieve fantastic results in courses taught online, however most people drop out of 100% computer-led courses. Educational institutions, as well as companies in carrying out staff training, must recognize that there is no ideal way to carry out the teaching of a large group of individuals, and so must design programs that best suits the needs of the group as a whole.
People learn using multiple senses. This involves learning through both theoretical components of a course, as well as social interaction with both instructors and other students. Students learn from each other's mistakes and successes, not just from what they are told by instructors.
Each individual student has an ideal learning pace. Instructors are therefore faced with the challenge of designing courses that move forward such that those students with a slower learning pace do not get left behind, while not moving so slowly that students with faster learning paces get bored.
Online education
In the age of high-speed information transfer, online education is becoming a popular and cheap means for delivering teaching to individuals outside the classroom, and in some cases all over the world. Teaching can be via CD, websites, or through real-time online facilities such as webcasts, webinars and virtual classrooms. However, different methods of online education each have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Online education is still a relatively new concept, and in many respects still in the teething stages. As such, various problems arrive across different online education environments. For example:
1. Lack of immediate feedback in asynchronous learning environments: While some online education environments such as webcasts, webinars and virtual classrooms operate live with the addition of an instructor, most do not. Teaching that is delivered through a CD or website, although having the advantage of being self-paced, provides no immediate feedback from a live instructor.
2. More preparation required on the part of the instructor: In an online education environment, an instructor can not simply stand in front of a whiteboard and deliver a class. Lessons in online education environments must be prepared ahead of time, along with any notes and instructions that may accompany the teaching.
In many cases it would also be necessary that the instructor not only understands the concepts being taught, but the technology used to deliver that teaching. This therefore increases the skill-levels needed of online education instructors, placing greater demand on educational institutions.
Staffing levels may also be higher for courses run in an online education environment, requiring for example:
The Instructor - able to teach both course content and be skilled in the use of technologies involved
The Facilitator - to assist the instructor in delivering content, but may do so remotely
Help Desk - to offer assistance to instructors, facilitators and students in the use of both software and hardware used to deliver the course.
3. Not all people are comfortable with online education: Education is no longer only sought by the world's youth. With an increased trend towards adult and continuing education, there is a need to design courses suitable for students over a larger age-range, as well as students from different and varied backgrounds. It is difficult, however, to design online education environments suitable for everyone.
4. Increased potential for frustration, anxiety and confusion: In an online education environment, there are a greater number of parts making up the system that can fail. Server failures may prevent online courses from operating. Software based teaching applications may require other specific components to operate. Computer viruses may infect software necessary to run online education environments. If these systems are complex, students may choose the ease of On-campus education rather than taking the additional time and effort necessary to master the use of online education systems.
5. The Digital Divide: Many people who live in remote areas and developing countries do not have access to computers, making any form of online education virtually impossible. For this reason, online education is only able to be targeted at the people lucky enough to be able to take advantage of the technology involved. Similarly, offering live teaching across the world means that different time zones and nationalities increase the demand for multi-skilled instructors.
In addition to these, there are also several legal issues associated with maintaining an online education environment. For example, intellectual property laws, particularly those relating to copyright, may or may not fully cover electronically created intellectual property. For example, information on a website is not necessarily considered to be public domain, despite being available to everyone. However, the Australian Copyright Act was amended in 2001 to ensure that copyright owners of electronic materials, including online education environments, could continue to provide their works commercially.
On-Campus Education
Still the most common form of instruction is traditional classroom-style learning. These instructor-led environments are more personal than online education environments, and also have the advantage of allowing for immediate feedback both to and from student and teachers alike. However, the classroom allows for less flexibility than courses run in online education environments.
Instructors in modern classroom environments are still able to take advantage of several forms of electronic teaching tools while still maintaining the atmosphere associated with the traditional classroom environment. For example, PowerPoint slides can be utilized instead of a whiteboard or blackboard. Handouts can be distributed via course websites prior to the event. However, on the day, students are still able to actively participate in the lesson.
Like online education environments, On-campus education comes with certain drawbacks, the most common of which is the classroom itself. This requires a group of people which, in a university for example, could reach a few hundred people in size, to gather in the same place at the same time. This requires enormous time and financial commitment on behalf of both the students and the educational institution.
However, it is this sort of environment that is most familiar to students across the world. People of all ages can access a classroom environment feeling comfortable with the way that a classroom-run course is carried out. Older students who may not be comfortable with the use of information technology are not required to navigate their way through possibly complex online education environments, making On-campus education the most accessible form of teaching.
On-campus education has one advantage that 100% electronically delivered courses can not offer - social interaction. Learning comes from observing, not only what is written on a page or presented in a slideshow, but what is observed in others. Most students are naturally curious, and so will want to ask questions of their instructors. The classroom environment allows students to clarify what is being taught not only with their instructors, but with other students.
So, Which is Better?
There is no style of instruction that will best suit every student. Studies have shown (Can online education replace On-campus education) that courses where online education is used to complement On-campus education have proved more effective than courses delivered entirely using only one method. These courses take advantage of both online education materials and a live instructor, and have produced results higher than those of students in either 100% online education or classroom environment courses. Students have the advantage of the immediate feedback and social interaction that comes with the classroom environment, as well as the convenience of self-paced online education modules that can be undertaken when it best suits the student.
It would seem that online education environments will never completely replace On-campus education. There is no "one size fits all" method of teaching. Teaching styles will continue to adapt to find the method that best fits the learning group. Using a mix of online education environments and classroom sessions, educational institutions, corporations and government organizations can ensure that training is delivered that is convenient and effective for both instructors and students alike.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Becoming An Educator

W.B. Yeats said, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." If you want to be the one to light the fire for learning in the hearts of students, becoming an educator is right for you. But what degree program should you pursue? Because the field of Education is so incredibly diverse, you have many options to choose from. Here is a brief listing of just some of the career opportunities available to those that decide to seek a degree in Education.
o Teacher Certification & Certification Programs. Looking to earn your Teacher Certification or credential? If you already have a Bachelor's degree and have decided to teach, earning your Teaching Certificate is the next step to take to launch your career as an educator.
o K-12. Completing your K-12 education degree will put you on the path toward a rewarding career teaching children of all ages.
o Adult Education. Graduates of adult education degree programs are given special instruction in adult learning to accommodate the unique needs of adult learners. With more and more people choosing to continue their education well into old age, opportunities for adult educators continue to grow.
o Art Education. Become an art teacher! Get your degree in Art Education and combine your passion for painting with a talent for teaching. Teaching art to others can be an extremely fulfilling and rewarding career.
o Business Education. Become a business teacher and learn the rewards of teaching business to others. From accounting and finance to marketing and operations, business teachers not only teach people how to succeed in business, but how to succeed in life.
o Distance & Online Education Programs for Teachers. Earn your degree in distance learning education and be on the cutting edge of learning technology. Learn about the newest advances in online education technology and discover how to create innovative online experiences for your students.
o Early Childhood Education Programs for Teachers. Thinking of becoming a preschool teacher? Start by getting your degree in Early Childhood Education. Early childhood teachers are the first to shape the minds of young children and mold the leaders of tomorrow.
o English Teacher Programs. Teach English and help students discover the language arts. Earning a bachelor's or master's degree in English education is the first step toward a rewarding career as an English teacher. English teachers are needed to fill positions in public, private and English language schools.
o Elementary Teacher Programs. Elementary school teachers work with children in grades K-8, giving them an introduction to a variety of subjects.
o Higher Education Programs for Teachers. Interested in teaching higher education? Get your doctorate or master's degree in higher education and take the first step toward teaching at the college level.
o History Teacher Degree Programs. Get your degree in history education and get on track to a rewarding career teaching history to others.
o Instructional Technology Degree Programs. Get an instructional technology degree and be on the leading edge of learning technology. Instructional designers create new ways for people to learn by incorporating current technologies such as video and the Internet into a curriculum. Instructional technology is a burgeoning field with many positions expected to open up in the next few years.
o Math Education Degrees. Want reap the rewards of teaching math to others! Then become a math teacher! Teachers are needed to give mathematics instruction at the elementary, middle school and high school levels.
o Middle School Education Degrees. Get your middle school education degree today and teach children from sixth to eight grades.
o Reading & Literacy Education Degrees for Teachers. Teach someone how to read! Become a reading teacher by completing your degree in Reading and Literacy Education.
o Secondary Education Degrees for Teachers. Focusing on Secondary Education means teaching children in high school. Help shape the next generation by providing a solid education to young students before college.
o Science Teacher Degree Programs. Science education teachers are high in demand to teach science in Elementary and Secondary schools.
o Social Studies Education Degree Programs. Social studies teachers are needed to teach in both Elementary and Secondary schools. Get on the path to this rewarding career by earning your degree in social studies education.
o Special Education Teaching Degrees. Special Education Teachers are some of the most in-demand teachers in education. Special Education teachers held a total of about 441,000 teaching jobs in 2004. The U.S. Dept. of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for qualified special education teachers to grow faster than average through 2014. This makes it a great time to get your special education degree.
o TESOL (ESL) Education Programs for Teachers. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) can be an exciting and rewarding career with job opportunities in both the U.S. and abroad. The U.S. Dept. of Labor-Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of non-English-speaking students will continue to grow, creating demand for bilingual teachers and for those who teach English as a second language.
o Curriculum & Instruction Programs for Teachers. Get your curriculum and instruction degree and improve your teaching skills while learning to create fascinating new curriculums that bring learning to life.
o Education Administration Degree Programs for Teachers. Earn your Education Administration degree today and jump-start your career. This advanced degree, either a Master's or a PhD, will give you the leadership skills you need to manage large educational programs, both in public schools and the private sector.
o Educational Counseling Degree Programs. Begin a rewarding career in school counseling by earning your education counseling degree. This degree is the perfect way to combine a love of education with a love of psychology.
o Educational Leadership Degree Programs. Earn your Educational Leadership degree and prepare yourself for a new and exciting career as a school administrator or principal.
o Library Science / Media / Technology Degree Programs. Get your degree in library science, educational media or technology and begin a rewarding new career helping children access information. Graduates of a library science programs are eligible to become a School Librarian. Graduates of educational media and technology programs have learned ways to incorporate new technologies, such as video and the Internet, into their classrooms.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pros And Cons Of Online Education For The World Citizen

More and more young people are choosing non-traditional education to start and advance in their careers while completing and furthering their formal education. "Typical distance learners are those who don't have access to programs, employees who work during scheduled class hours, homebound individuals, self-motivated individuals who want to take courses for self-knowledge or advancement, or those who are unable or unwilling to attend class" (Charp, 2000, p. 10). Three key elements surround the online learner: technology, curriculum, and instructor (Bedore, Bedore, & Bedore, 1997). These elements must be keenly integrated into one smoothly and operationally functional delivery tool.
While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners. Online asynchronous education gives students control over their learning experience, and allows for flexibility of study schedules for non traditional students; however, this places a greater responsibility on the student. In order to successfully participate in an online program, student must be well organized, self-motivated, and possess a high degree of time management skills in order to keep up with the pace of the course. For these reasons, online education or e-learning is not appropriate for younger students (i.e. elementary or secondary school age), and other students who are dependent learners and have difficulty
assuming responsibilities required by the online paradigm.
Millions of students use e-learning solutions in over 140 countries: corporations such as Kodak and Toyota and education providers like ExecuTrain, New Horizons, the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS), Phoenix University amongst the hundreds of schools and colleges.
Studies have shown student retention to be up to 250% better with online learning than with classroom courses. Several recent ones have helped frame the debate. The Sloan Consortium published a widely distributed report titled "Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States in 2005" that examined the growing prevalence of online education across U.S. institutions.
In addition, a study conducted by the Boston-based consulting firm Eduventures found that, while about half of institutions and more than 60 percent of employers generally accept the high quality of online learning, students' perceptions differ. Only about 33 percent of prospective online students said that they perceive the quality of online education to be "as good as or better than" face-to-face education. Ironically, 36 percent of prospective students surveyed cited concern about employers' acceptance of online education as a reason for their reluctance to enroll in online courses.
But what actually drives quality? A March 2006 report released by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education identifies six quality indicators: mission, curriculum and instruction, faculty support, student and academic services, planning for sustainability and growth, and evaluation and assessment.
The debate rages on while the Pros and Cons of Online Adult Education for today's international students are constantly analyzed to determine if this type of education platform can deliver predictable and measurable results.
The Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) is one institution which uses this type of delivery system. ENOCIS enhances their learning experience by offering many other "value added", cost reducing benefits to students. Online pupils can apply for scholarships available to students of excellence and other financial aid programs like the Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS), with attractive interest rates. They also provide convenient payment facilities, on line banking, Western Union Quick Collect, bank cards and a student who is granted a loan can start repaying it after two months if they have a corporate guarantor.
Pros of Online Education:
The key advantages of the online education experience are briefly explained below:
1. Cheaper: Online courses may be more affordable than those offered at colleges or trade schools. You may also save on transportation costs like gas, bus passes, and parking permits because you don't need to commute to school and there are no housing or meals plans to worry about since you do not need to live on or near a college campus. Housing expenses and other costs associated with living expenses are usually the most expensive aspects of a college education, so by taking an online course you could save quite a bit of money.
The best part of online education is the absence of travel and immigration problems. Some students may prefer not to pursue traditional on campus education, as it involves traveling to attend lectures. With online education, an applicant does not need to travel. Courses simply require accessing the internet in order to begin the learning process.
2. More Convenient: By taking courses online, you're able to decide when you study and for how long. You are also able to schedule your studying around your work or social schedule.
Since you're not bound to a classroom, you may do your work wherever you have access to a computer and the internet. You'll be able to set your own pace and decide exactly how fast you want to go over the material.
Take online courses when you need them, not based on some college's annual or semester schedule. You can learn when you need it (Just-In-Time) A course is as close as a computer with an Internet connection.
3. Flexibility: with no set class times, you decide when to complete your assignments and readings. You set the pace. In some programs, you can even design your own degree plan. The online students can carry out their private or official work, along with the online education. As it provides the convenience of time flexibility, a student can login and logout as per his desire whereas, the traditional education do not provide such flexibility in learning.
Flexibility of online education allows the student control over their studies. They can allot more time in the topics, which they feel comparatively hard and vice versa. The speed of learning depends solely upon the students.
4. Technology: With the help of the scientific technology, students can do their online education at any place. The only mandatory pre-requisite is the availability of computer along with an internet amenity. Side benefits include the learning new technologies and technical skills
5. Availability: distance-learning opportunities have exploded over the past few years, with many accredited and reputable programs.
6. Accessibility: with an online course, you can work on the course just about anywhere you have computer access. Your learning options are not constrained by your geographic location. The new virtual classrooms have created a myriad of learning opportunities for global learning and education center. On line education is a new era experience adapting to the needs of the world citizen.
7. Self-Directed: you set your own pace and schedule, so you control the learning environment.
8. Time Spent in Classroom: now you can take a course on just about any subject without ever having to be in, or travel to, a classroom so you have very little wasted time. Note, however, that some distance-education programs still do have an in-class component and normally to receive a fully accredited US university degree an international student must spend one or two semesters on campus.
9. High Quality Dialog: Within an online asynchronous discussion structure, the learner is able to carefully reflect on each comment from others before responding or moving on to the next item. This structure allows students time to articulate responses with much more depth and forethought than in a traditional face-to-face discussion situation where the participant must analyze the comment of another on the spot and formulate a response or otherwise loose the chance to contribute to the discussion.
10. Student Centered: Within an online discussion, the individual student responds to the course material (lectures and course books, for example) and to comments from other students. Students usually respond to those topics within the broader conversation that most clearly speak to their individual concerns and situations resulting in several smaller conversations taking place simultaneously within the group. While students are expected to read all of their classmates' contributions, they will become actively engaged only in those parts of the dialog most relevant to their needs. In this way, students take control of their own learning experience and tailor the class discussions to meet their own specific needs. Ideally, students make their own individual contributions to the course while at the same time take away a unique mix of information directly relevant to their needs.
11. Level Playing Field: In the online environment learners retain a considerable level of anonymity. Discriminating factors such as age, dress, physical appearance, disabilities, race and gender are largely absent. Instead, the focus of attention is clearly on the content of the discussion and the individual's ability to respond and contribute thoughtfully and intelligently to the material at hand.
On line adult education can be more effective and better for certain types of learners (shy, introverted, reflective, language challenged, those that need more time). Distance education courses are often better for people who learn through visual cues and experiential exercises.
12. Synergy: The online format allows for a high level of dynamic interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves. Resources and ideas are shared, and continuous synergy will be generated through the learning process as each individual contributes to the course discussions and comments on the work of others. The synergy that exists in the student-centred virtual classroom is one of the unique and vital traits that the online learning format posses..
13. Access to Resources: It is easy to include distinguished guest experts or students from other institutions in an online class as well as allow students to access resources and information anywhere in the world. An instructor can compile a resource section online with links to scholarly articles, institutions, and other materials relevant to the course topic for students to access for research, extension, or in depth analysis of course content material in the global classroom.
14. Creative Teaching: The literature of adult education supports the use of interactive learning environments as contributing to self-direction and critical thinking. Some educators have made great strides in applying these concepts to their on ground teaching. However, many classes still exist which are based on boring lectures and rote memorization of material. The nature of the semi-autonomous and self-directed world of the virtual classroom makes innovative and creative approaches to instruction even more important. In the online environment, the facilitator and student collaborate to create a dynamic learning experience. The occasion of a shift in technology creates the hope that those who move into the new technology will also leave behind bad habits as they adopt this new paradigm of teaching. As educators redesign their course materials to fit the online format, they must reflect on their course objectives and teaching style and find that many of the qualities that make a successful online facilitator are also tremendously effective in the traditional classroom as well.
Cons of Online Education:
Briefly explained are some factors that could negatively affect your success with distance learning courses:
1. The Technology:
a. Equity and Accessibility to Technology: Before any online program can hope to succeed, it must have students who are able to access the online learning environment. Lack of access, whether it be for economical or logistics reasons, will exclude otherwise eligible students from the course. This is a significant issue in rural and lower socioeconomic neighborhoods and educating the underserved peoples of the world. Furthermore, speaking from an administrative point of view, if students cannot afford the technology the institution employs, they are lost as customers. As far as Internet accessibility is concerned, it is not universal, and in some areas of the United States and other countries, Internet access poses a significant cost to the user. Some users pay a fixed monthly rate for their Internet connection, while others are charged for the time they spend online. If the participants' time online is limited by the amount of Internet access they can afford, then instruction and participation in the online program will not be equitable for all students in the course. This is a limitation of online programs that rely on Internet access. Equity of access to learners of all backgrounds and parts of society
b. Requires New Skills/Technologies: if you're not computer-savvy or are afraid of change or new technologies, then online education will probably not work for you. The online students are required to learn new skills, such as researching and reviewing the internet. For the online students, they need to learn the techniques of navigation on an online library for necessary information. Technical training and support of learners and instructors
c. Computer Literacy: Both students and facilitators must possess a minimum level of computer knowledge in order to function successfully in an online environment. For example, they must be able to use a variety of search engines and be comfortable navigating on the World Wide Web, as well as be familiar with Newsgroups, FTP procedures and email. If they do not possess these technology tools, they will not succeed in an online program; a student or faculty member who cannot function on the system will drag the entire program down.
d. Limitations of Technology: User friendly and reliable technology is critical to a successful online program. However, even the most sophisticated technology is not 100% reliable. Unfortunately, it is not a question of if the equipment used in an online program will fail, but when. When everything is running smoothly, technology is intended to be low profile and is used as a tool in the learning process. However, breakdowns can occur at any point along the system, for example, the server which hosts the program could crash and cut all participants off from the class; a participant may access the class through a networked computer which could go down; individual PCs can have numerous problems which could limit students' access; finally, the Internet connection could fail, or the institution hosting the connection could become bogged down with users and either slow down, or fail all together. In situations like these, the technology is neither seamless nor reliable and it can detract from the learning experience.
2. The Institution: Many online education facilities are relatively new with many courses and hence, lack in modern instructors for instructing the new curriculum. Estimates show that there is still a need for an increase of more 50% of qualified instructors for online education.
b. The Administration and Faculty: Some environments are disruptive to the successful implementation of an online program. Administrators and/or faculty members who are uncomfortable with change and working with technology or feel that online programs cannot offer quality education often inhibit the process of implementation. These people represent a considerable weakness in an online program because they can hinder its success.
3. The Facilitator :Lack of Essential Online Qualities: Successful on-ground instruction does not always translate to successful online instruction. If facilitators are not properly trained in online delivery and methodologies, the success of the online program will be compromised. An instructor must be able to communicate well in writing and in the language in which the course is offered. An online program will be weakened if its facilitators are not adequately prepared to function in the virtual classroom.
4. Perceptions/Reputation: while slowly changing as more and more mainstream colleges and universities embrace distance learning, there still is a stigma attached to distance education to the student's interaction in the online education. Some of the students believe that, there are few opportunities with regards to face-to-face interactions and feedbacks.
5. No Instructor Face Time: If your learning style is one where you like personalized attention from your teachers, then online education will probably not work for you.
6. Little Support: students are expected to find their own resources for completing assignments and exams, which is empowering for some, but daunting for others.
There is little support and limited guidelines provided in online education system. Online students are required to search as per their own imaginations for completing exams and assignments.
7. Lacking Social Interaction: while you often interact with classmates via email, chat rooms, or discussion groups, there are no parties or off line get-togethers.
If you enjoy meeting new people and learn better while you're interacting with other people, you may want to reconsider online education.
8. No Campus Atmosphere: part of the traditional college experience, of course, is the beauty of the campus, the college spirit, but you have none of that with distance-education courses.
Since you're not on campus or in classes, you may lack opportunities to meet other students. You will not have many opportunities to interact face-to-face with your professors, so they may not have a real sense of who you are as a person.
9. Making Time: if you are a procrastinator or one of those people who always needs an extra push to complete work, you may have a hard time making time for your online classes. On line learning requires new skills and responsibilities from learners
10. Academic honesty of online students: requires a new mindset to online assessment. Most education experts agree that rote memory testing is not the best measure of learning in any environment and new measurement and evaluation tools are evolving.
11. Types and effectiveness of assessments: The importance of outcomes in online learning cannot be over emphasized. Does the program have measurable results? Are students learning what you say they should be learning? Then there are institutional outputs: course completion rates, job placement rates (if that's the goal of the institution), graduation rates, student success on third-party tests, and student satisfaction scores.
These factors, both the pros and cons, contribute greatly to making an informed decision about the direction of your career path and how you are going to accomplish your goals: on line, in the classroom or a combination of both.
Institutions and companies that use continuing education to meet their needs also face similar decisions. Institutions that deliver online education are confronted with a series of challenges, including the search for good faculty, use of technology, and provision of adequate student services.
The Sloan Consortium report "Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States in 2005" found that 64 percent of chief academic officers and faculty believe that it takes more discipline for a student to succeed in an online course than it does in a face-to-face course.
More and more major business and industry is turning to on line continuing education as a viable and cost effective resource for training its personnel. Hilton Hotel has 380 hotels worldwide and is represented in 66 countries.
When you weigh the benefits and advantages of on line adult continuing education the cost of study and flexibility of scheduling tip the scales of programs like the Enoch Olinga College, Capella and Phoenix University's distance learning program on line adult continuing education is becoming a world wide respected form of education.
However, as with any situation, there are both pros and cons with the concept of online education and the benefits of the virtual or global classroom. You may want to evaluate both before you decide on an online education program. By examining the advantages and disadvantages, you will be able to make a more informed decision. But, at the end of the day, online learning is independent learning. A lot of structure has been put into online programs, but it still comes down to a learner sitting in front of a computer by him or herself. The knowledge you receive or the benefits it will generate either in development of self esteem or increasing earning capacity will depend sole upon you the student.