What can a hat teach you?

Teachers, much like hats, come in all shapes and sizes. I have had the good fortune of encountering many excellent teachers through out my years of schooling. Each step of my educational journey has been highlighted by a string of distinct characters, beginning in elementary school with a thin, excitable kindergarden teacher, continuing to the present with my loud, towering Business Law professor and a round, jolly, unforgettable Accounting professor. Teachers like these have helped teach me how to function in the world and how to be a more structured thinker.

Despite the gratitude I hold to my group of school teachers, many of the most impactful lessons I’ve learned have actually come from people without graduate degrees, people who do not call themselves teachers. Some of my biggest lessons have come from my mentors and my business partners who I have met on my journey to adulthood. These people are down to earth, knowledgable, and, most peculiarly, they tend to wear awesome hats–It’s true!

The fact that they wear hats may be a coincidence, but in doing so they all convey a common lesson. It’s done as a statement of their individuality. Being a great educator is about delivering a message and being memorable. Those things are accomplished by moving beyond the basics of reciting facts and by taking measures to create an experience that resonates deeply with the learner. It doesn’t have to be high-tech, and it doesn’t have to be hard either. It just has to be enough to make the observer ask questions, and to give them reason to remember it. Ultimately, it is about creating a human connection. And that idea is easily lost in this transition to digital learning. We mustn’t forget the importance of crafting the learner’s experience, because without the ability to establish a human connection there is no education. To commit to the future of eduction we should all explore our own awesome hats, finding new ways to make knowledge interesting, and to resonate in the minds of tomorrow.

As a final, closing inspiration I present you now with a short but sweet list of my hat wearing heros:

Two of my most admirable life mentors. From them I have learned deep lessons on psychology and finance, Pictured above they are setting the mood at a seminar, breaking the ice for all the first-timers.

My friend and business partner. A completely anonymous individual who has taught me much about patience, ambition, and commitment.

A trio of student business owners, presenting at a local entrepreneurship event. This group, which I am a part of, empowers students to take their personal and professional development into their own hands, and promotes the benefits of business ownership. I’m the gentleman featured on the left with the big smile and the inconspicuous blue top-hat, a tribute to all the awesome hat wearers in my life.

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Student Escape

Landis Green

College, the time when students dive headfirst into student loans, wild parties, and late night cramming. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am was one of those students who always tried to do everything else but school. Weekends were my days off from school, and so were weekdays. I found that it was important to escape not only the campus life, but the city life in order to deal with the stress of school.

I tried doing all the things students usually do: Party, Tailgate football games, etc…  I fit perfectly into the role of a Nole, at Florida State University. I will admit that on occasion I ended up enjoying the fictitious rivalry between schools and the sport games, but soon enough that gets old and repetitive. So I found myself a more enjoyable hobby exploring places.

Location Location location, doesn’t matter:

My experience in College was great from a artificial point of view: I got excellent grades and I made good friends. But from a realistic point of view I was desperate to get as far away from it as possible. Exploring any other location far from my classes had soon become my hobby in between classes.

FSU Reservation

FSU Reservation

I initially explored only on campus. I started in what seemed to me at the time the center of the school, Landis Green. I almost immediately started heading uphill in an effort to spot from up top good locations, so I went up to the parking lot. I marked locations in every direction on my handy dandy campus map, and set out exploring. Off the bat the campus was very monotonous. Every building looked the same, and half of the people I ran into were obnoxious Jersey Shore types that made the act of enjoying a scenery feel like I was sitting on the couch watching E Television.  I was actively walking back and forth looking at different things, and that in itself was what was relaxing. Soon enough I found out that it doesn’t really matter where you go, as long as you go somewhere that is different.

My favorite locations included but weren’t limited to:

  • Parks
  • Housing Complexes
  • Downtown
  • Random Hallways
  • Rooftops

EXPLORE EXPLORE EXPLORE.

Francis Wayles Eppes

Francis Wayles Eppes

Always keep your mind open to exploration. For me, Tallahassee is a beautiful place with a lot of hidden gems. There is the FSU Re(z)servation for kayaking and rockwall climbing, and Apalachicola National Forest is right around the corner if you like hikes. You can get more information about the reservation by visiting FSU’s campusrec website, which also gives you more information on recreational activities around town. The key to this is to keep your mind moving by exposing yourself to new things. Some people like exploring new restaurants, new clothes, new shoes. I like new places.

The goal is to always keep yourself focusing on other things not related to whatever is causing stress in College. Now find something you like, and go out and explore! That is my student escape, what is yours? Leave comments below and share what works for you in relieving stress.

To quiz or not to quiz

Have you ever found yourself hours away from an important event which required you to memorize lines or facts? As a college student and business owner, I have very little time to study, and ended up relying on a great service called Quizlet.

“The world learns on Quizlet.” Or so their page says. Quizlet is essentially a service which allows users to create a list of terms and definitions, which when coupled with their online learning tools, makes learning anything a cinch. Did I mention that its free?

Quick Guide

1. First off we start by viewing a sample Flashcard. (you can follow the link here)

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The flashcard is in the center and has buttons to the left and right to control it.

  • Tools below the flash card allows you to study in different ways such as:
    • take a quiz generated on your flash cards
    • Play games such as matching words to definition as fast as you can
    • Spell out terms based on the definition
  • This page also features a chat on the lower lefthand corner, which allows anyone to openly discuss the content.
  • The Flashcard itself has a certain degree of customization:
    • Full Screen
    • Shuffle Order
    • Audio readout of the Term & Definition
    • Show Term first or Both sides at once
  • If you prefer to print out your flash cards or add the terms you like to your own, Quizlet offers you a few tools for that:
    • Print
    • Export
    • Copy
    • Combine
    • Embed

2. Now lets create our own Flashcard. On the upper left-hand corner, click Create.

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If you are logged in, the screen will look pretty much the same as below, with the exception that the extra steps to create an account wouldn’t be there.

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  1. At first it is self explanatory, you fill in the Title, Description and even choose a subject if you so wish.
  2. Now as we proceed to add our terms and definitions, we come across a pretty unique feature within the world of online flashcards. Language. This gives us more formatting feature when typing.
  3. After you read the end of the fifth term & definition, you have two options: Either click ‘Add Row’, or press TAB on the last input box and it will do one for you and focus on the Term so you can keep on typing.
    • One option to note, is the search and add images. Searching through their images and selecting one is free, but uploading your own requires you to upgrade your account to a paid version. (well worth it I might add if you are a visual learner)
  • Here is a screenshot of what mine looks like:

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Go ahead and Click Create Set. This will guide you through the Account creation and in a matter of seconds you will see your Flashcard. Pretty nifty isn’t it?

5That is it!  You can quiz yourself, share it with others, and even edit the terms. Two of my favorite features in this page is the ability to double click the term below the flash card and do a live edit, and the live audio playback (read your term aloud).

Give it a try, and post any questions to the comments ! Hopefully more people can take advantage of this great simple tool of learning.

Case Study – Khan Academy

Khan Academy LogoSalman Khan identified a systemic problem of students being forced to move on to the next level in schools even when they possess huge gaps in knowledge. Pursuit of a solution lead ultimately to the creation of Khan Academy. Here at Digital Bridge we look to Khan Academy as an example of what can be accomplished by determined groups who set their sights for shaking up the education system, and who don’t shy away from facing big challenges.

What is Khan Academy
Khan Academy is a nonprofit educational service started in 2006 by Salman Khan. Their website serves a collection of more than 4,000 video lectures on a comprehensive range of subjects spanning from math, science and physics all the way to systematic methods for solving brain teasers. These videos are available fee of charge and are provided in 23 different languages.

As an alumni of MIT & Harvard, Khan is familiar with quality education. The videos on the site are each delivered with enthusiasm and follow a systematic structure. The service also offers progress tracking tools for students, and classroom data for teachers. To date Khan academy has delivered over 242 million video lessons to students all around the world.

Why it was built
The roots of Khan Academy can be traced to Khan’s early years as a tutor. Using available internet tools Salman provided individual tutoring for family members and clients. Through the testimony of those under his tutelage requests poured in quickly and and he eventually  found the need to distribute videos more efficiently, and his search eventually brought him to host videos on YouTube. Within a few years momentum was significant enough that in 2009 Sal quit his job as a hedge fund analyst and began working full time producing content for his site.

Future of Khan Academy
With its millions of global users Khan has become the poster child for a new type of classroom. Different from the Massive Open Online Courses we have covered in the past, Khan allows for individually paced curricula and the selection of courses, or individual lectures that suit the student’s needs.

Khan’s approach has spawned some inspirational stories from students everywhere who use the site’s tools to master new subjects, revisit old ones, and move their lives ahead through the benefits of education.

According to Khan their short term goal is to build a platform where the average student can go to become proficient in subjects where he or she has trouble. And as far as the long term, he is thinking even bigger. In a 2012 interview he had this to say:

“There is an abundance of opportunity for developing The Khan Academy,” Khan said. “In the long run, we envision being able to offer kids in rural Africa access to an education better than they could ever dream of, and enabling children with chronic diseases, student athletes, actors or prisoners to receive a free equivalent to in-person tutoring.”

Khan Academy has already benefited millions of students. The organization’s integrity and passion have caught the attention of Google and the Bill and Melinda Foundation, leading to the donation of million of dollars. Khan Academy has a strong model and vision for the world of digital learning. With their impressive track record and their ever-growing network of promoters they are well positioned to continue to be a leader in the educational space.

A multimedia way of learning

Learning Ever have a difficult time learning something? A lot of students suffer every day from the “One size fits all” model used by most educational institutions in North America. Teaching is a lot more complex than people think and educators can fall into the trap where they assume students aren’t learning because they are doing something wrong. The truth is that everyone learns differently, especially in our day and age. The traditional classroom model might as well be broken, especially in a society that is becoming increasingly interconnected by electronic means, yet we are forced to attend a physical classroom with examinations to ‘measure performance.’ Children are growing up surrounded by electronics with on the spot gratification of information whenever they want. So its easy to see how sitting in a classroom for 6-8 hours a day listening to someone lecture can be counter productive. The alternative? Online resources, more specifically, video lessons.

I grew up doing horrible in all my classes. Ever since kindergarten, you would often find me in remedial math or English classes. I was told I had a learning disorder, and for a short while I beginning to believe it myself. What a lot of young students face, is the inability to learn the way that the material is presented.struggling

I started programming when I was 10. At first with some basic HTML, and afterwards I progressed to other languages.  I would download instructional programming videos in a horrible 320×240 resolution, and mimic what the instructor was doing. I would re-watch the video again, only this time I tried to understand the conceptual aspect.  At the age of 16, I had dabbled in more programming languages than I can remember, yet I was failing my basic algebra classes. I came to the realization that at the rate things were going, I had to be a self learner if I wanted to do well on school exams. When college came around, I decided that it was time for me to pause programming and test my learning skills. First semester was an adaptation period, I had 8 am classes, and a horrible 2 month cold so my grades were mostly B-.

The following semesters, I started studying for my classes the way I studied programming. I would scour YouTube for instructional videos on accounting and biology, and learn from them. Suddenly I was getting straight As and I didn’t even have to go to class. What did I learn? That the way classes are structured doesn’t take into account a students perspective of learning, and instead focuses on a standard one size fits all model, which does not work for me. I am naturally curious, so when I do go to class, I end up questioning the material that is being presented, and ultimately not learning things that I will be tested on. I want to know why A = B, not just that it does. Of course there are time constraints to go fully in-depth in a subject, which is why I find online video lessons the best. You can learn in your own time, on the bus, in bed, and even in the shower.

Alternative methods of teaching are being adopted by big educational institutions, and some are even offering degrees for an online education. MIT offers free online courses, which in comparison to the programming classes that I took at a four year University, offers a lot more in both content, assignments, feedback, and flexibility.

I would like to focus on the multimedia side of online learning, more specifically videos. Video learning has a lot of advantages on top of a traditional classroom setting:

  • Can be free
  • Choice of instructor
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Follow along with the ability to pause and skip sections.

Camera

There are free and paid services, including Khan Academy which makes use of Youtube, and Lynda.
Khan Academy has more than 3,000 Youtube videos, allowing you to “learn almost everything, for free.” Some colleges have explored recording the lecture and putting it online for students to review, or for those who couldn’t come to class. I have had a few classes that took advantage of this, and my experience was fantastic.

Walter Lewin, a famous MIT professor has become a YouTube sensation with his wacky, but very entertaining teaching method. Check out the video and judge for yourself. By searching Walter Lewin on YouTube, you can view his full physics lessons.

https://www.khanacademy.org offers thousands of video lectures.

Here is a list of popular Youtube educational channels:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MIT

http://www.youtube.com/user/khanacademy

http://www.youtube.com/user/tecmath

http://www.youtube.com/user/TheBadAstronomer

http://www.youtube.com/user/ResearchChannel

30 Things Every High School Student should know before going to College

oie_transparentBeing a Senior in College, there are things I wish I knew before I had even clicked the dreadful submit button on the application.  There are decisions that I would like to have made during freshmen year and foreknowledge that would have helped any student to better prepare for the days after graduation. So I compiled a list of 30 things a student should know before leaving mom and dad for College. Items in bold are the ones I found to be the most important.

  1. Start putting some cash away in a emergency fund for rainy days.
  2. Learn to Cook nutritious meals that do NOT consist of pasta.
  3. Form an exercise plan and get into a routine.
  4. Learn to wash clothes!
  5. Learn some basic car maintenance such as checking tire pressure and oil level.
  6. Go to a school that YOU want to go to, not your parents, or your friends.
  7. Student Loans: STAY AWAY IF POSSIBLE. If you can’t afford college, try to fill out scholarship applications, financial aid, and perhaps even get a part time job. It’s easier to pay for your education as you g,o rather than paying off a $40,000+ bill accruing interest.
  8. If you can, choose your roommates VERY CAREFULLY! Living with someone that are incompatible with your personality/habits might not seem like a problem at first, but it can ruin friendships/relationships, and cause a lot of stress.
  9. Always carry some cash. I always try to keep $10-$20 dollars with me at all times. It can really come in handy if you need to grab a cab at 2am or get some quick grub from mike in the hotdog stand.
  10. Pepper spray. You don’t have to be a girl to carry some spray. Most college campuses allow Pepper spray to be carried for self-defense. There are a lot of creepers that roam campus specifically because they know young students are more oblivious to their surroundings around campus  coupled with the fact that campus P.D. isn’t always around. A simple “I have Pepper Spray and will use it. Stay away from me.” is enough to deter most would-be assailants.
  11. Befriend your professors during office hours. College professors typically devote more time to being around school grounds than your High School pre-calculus teacher.  If you have any difficulty, they will usually spend hours with you to help you get through the course.
  12. Join a club as a freshman. In doing so, you get exposed to new people that can teach you the ropes and make some friends.
  13. Live on Campus if possible. It will be cheaper than paying rent + utilities elsewhere and you are constantly around other students.
  14. Pick a hobby not related to school. Sometimes you will want to get as far away as possible from school, so it helps to have some disassociation between the things you enjoy and school.
  15. You are human, so give yourself a brake once in a while. Go to the beach, golfing, etc..
  16. Choose your major based on what you want to do rather than the expectations of your peers.
  17. Simultaneously do an internship or community service based around what you want to do. This will open up doors when you graduate and will also help meet some cool people who share the same interests as you.
  18. Call mom and dad at least once a week.  They raised you for 18 years, the least you can do is give them some comfort in knowing you are alive. Plus, mom may send you a fully cooked lasagna once in a while.
  19. Be responsible with alcohol. Peer pressure drives a large amount underage teenagers to consume unnecessary amounts of alcohol to fit in. This in consequence promotes rash decisions such as driving under the influence.149362_Party[1]
  20. You are a child with little to no experience about life, and need to recognize this. You have no tolerance for alcohol, and you have no experience to assess the consequences resulting from your actions. So take it easy.
  21. Learn to manage your money, because the world is full of schemes to take it away from you.
  22. School may or may not be your thing, but it is important to maintain an attitude of being a life long learner.
  23. Do NOT get a pet (a fish is OK) . The idea may seem cool at first, but quickly you realize that you will be neglecting your pet due to your studying and social habits.
  24. Travel as much as possible. Unless you expect to end up working for a big international corporation that requires constant travel, you will find your self strapped for time to travel to new places.
  25. Related to the previous point, learn a new language. Most Colleges have study abroad programs with scholarships that cover your tuition costs and more.
  26. Be sure that going to College is something you want to do in the first place. It’s at least 2-3 years of your life that does not guarantee you will get a job.  Some companies such as Google, value your experience a lot more than the paper you hang on your wall.
  27. There is nothing wrong with going to Community College for a year or two.
  28. Avoid Technical schools like the plague. Technical schools sound good in the TV commercial which usually shows a student with a 25-30 thousand dollar car in the background, but the truth is that credit hours are usually non-transferable to accredited Universities, and they may actually cost thousands MORE in a place like ITTTech.
  29. Free Food everywhere!!! If you are tight on a budget, keep an eye out for school events as they will usually be accompanied by free Subs,Pizza and etc..
  30. Enjoy your experience to the fullest. This is a point in your life where you have a kind of freedom that is associated with “youth.” You have all your life to go to bars and hang with friends, so why not go hiking, skydiving, or even mountain climbing while your limbs still work without needing Advil twice a day!

“Youth is wasted on the young.” George Bernard Shaw

Education is more than just a degree, learning is more than an action, it is a state of mind. Remember to always be open to new things and to not take things at face value.

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If you enjoyed our list of tips, follow us on twitter for more.
Have any tips we didn’t cover that could be useful for new students? leave us a comment down below.

How to get a free .edu email account

EDIT: It seems that the email account creation isn’t working for many people. If it *is* still letting you through please leave a message in the comment area to help out everyone else.

.edu email addresses give you access to discounts on all kinds of things including software, tickets, and online services. Normally you have to be a student to access those perks, but there are a few ways to get it for free:

California Colleges     homepage

California Colleges is a state website that provides information to students to help them discover more about California schools. They happen to also give free email addresses!

https://secure.californiacolleges.edu/newuser.asp

email portal


South Mountain Community College      
homepage

South Mountain Community College is a large school based in Phoenix, Arizona. Check them out and sign up for their free email account.

https://eims.maricopa.edu/MAW/MAW.html

Once you have your edu email adress here are some of the awesome things you can do with an .edu email address:

•   Free 1 year membership to Amazon Prime for Students. www.amazon.com/gp/student/signup/info

•   Free Microsoft software through Dreamspark https://www.dreamspark.com/

•   Free Prezi upgrade

•   Free AutoCad

•   Discounts on Adobe software

•   Double space allocation for Dropbox referrals

•  And possibly discounts on your phone bill.
There are a ton of additional free perks. Do you know any particularly good ones we missed? If so, list them in the comments!

Coursera receives approval for course credit

Coursera, one the leading providers of free online courses has announced that this week they have recieved approval to provide actual college credit for students who are taking some of their online courses. This marks the first time that a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) has won approval for credit equivalency, which means that those classes can count towards a college degree. Approval came from the American Council on Education (ACE), and of now it applies to five courses:

  • Pre-calculus from the University of California, Irvine.
  • Introduction to Genetics and Evolution from Duke University.
  • Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach from Duke University.
  • Calculus: Single Variable from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Algebra from the University of California, Irvine (but only as a vocational credit).

To be eligible for the credit, Coursera students must sign up for the course’s Signature Track, which requires is an extra validation step that attaches their user information to their real identity. Additionally  Signature Track students take an online proctored exam prior to completion. The Signature Track costs $60 to $90 and the proctored exam costs $30 to $99, bringing the cost of these credited courses to just under $200.

So far the partnering universities have been very forthcoming about promoting this announcement, and each of the schools have made announcements online and in the local press, echoing sentiments similar to this from Duke Provost Peter Lange:

“We are excited by this opportunity to experiment with new ways of using our MOOC  courses to extend our educational reach and provide credit for students who would not otherwise have access to our faculty.”

And, giving insight into the larger plan of the accredited course offerings, Andrew Ng, Co-Founder of Coursea had this to say:

“Ever since we launched Coursera, we’ve known that university degrees are important. We wanted a more systematic way for students to earn academic credit… This is just a step in that direction.”

ACE approval means that Coursera classes could be eligible for credit at approximately 2,000 U.S. colleges and universities. There are still many hurdles remaining, and schools are by no means required to accept the credits, but the possibility now exists, whereas before it could not even be attempted. This approval is a very significant milestone and it signifies that schools are in fact looking to embrase new means of learning, and that MMOCs are becoming more widely accepted and recognized.
Read More about the announcement here: