Findings from the 2012 Education Summit

 International Summit of Teaching

For the last several years there is a large annual gathering of the leader representing the education system of countries around the world. This summit is known as the International Summit of Teaching and is a joint effort between three groups:

the U.S. Department of Education, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Education International (EI). This year participants at the Summit focused on the issue of improving teacher preparation and the development of school leaders to better address the world’s future education needs. Surrounding that topic was a wealth of statistical data and testimony from around the world. Included in this was significant insight into the current state of U.S. education.

Signs of Trouble

From that summit a report was released showing the U.S. to be ranked “average” among the 34 participating nations. By the scoring metrics on a scale of 1,000 U.S. scored 502 in science (17th out of 34), 500 in reading (14th out of 34) and 487 in math (25th out of 34). As the world’s super power and role model these numbers are a distressing indicator. Our rankings do not reflect our decades of effort towards education reform.

It’s Not the Money

A common propped solution is to increase the amount of spending on education. It should be noted that last year the U.S. spent over $800 billion on education, more than five times more than the second highest spender (Japan). Canada spent $65 billion, just 8% of U.S.’s education budget. The U.S. has also fewer college graduates relative to other leading nations. We fell from second place in 1995 to 13th place in 2008. Looking at the contrast between our mediocre scores and our incomparably high spending, it appears obvious that in this country we have a largely inefficient system, and this issue cannot be solved by money alone.

Teaching Incentive

Another issue to come up at the summit is that despite America’s high spending, relatively little of it goes to the teachers themselves. The majority of teachers in the U.S. go into debt in order start their careers, and on average only earn 60% of the average income of college graduates employed in other fields. Additionally, teachers who end up working in poorer communities typically make less than teachers in more affluent areas while also having to pay for many of their own supplies. Evidence was also given that America was more willing to lower standards than to raise salaries, and many teachers have little opportunities to collaborate with one another, making sense of the fact that a third of U.S beginner teachers leave within their first five years of work.

This is to be contrasted by countries such as Finland, Norway, and Singapore where the situation is radically different. In those countries teaching ranks among the highest paying careers, in some cases matching that of doctors.  Teachers also work in collaborative teams.

The Way Out

The overall atmosphere at the International Summit of Teaching was very positive as nations from around the world committed to make reforms needed to empower future generations. Owning up to the situation may be tough, but the good news is that it isn’t too late for a turnaround. If it can be agreed that we are facing a problem in our education system then I see at least two solutions. One is to observe and emulate the educational systems in other developed countries, places where spending is exponentially lower and results are dramatically better. The other solution is to champion the new emerging forms of learning, such as the MMOCs mentioned in our earlier articles.

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What’s lacking from today’s new hires

Business ManThe job market is getting saturated every day with new hires while the number of undergraduates is through the roof. This increase in undergrads in the job market does not always correlate with an increase in the general skill level, but it does increase the amount of competition.

Just like in business, increased competition requires an increased competitive advantage to survive, and new employees have been reported to be lacking certain basic skills that could put them ahead of the curve.

Presentation

The majority of new hires are found to be lacking presentation skills. Colleges do not usually require more than one presentation classes, and students who do not have work experience are usually trying to complete miscellaneous requirements that do little to improve these skills. The problem with the presentation is the ability to research and convey useful information. A tip for students, do an internship or two during; Internships usually have the intern go through a process of researching and presenting data that will that needed advantage.

Communication

Hand in hand with presentation, future hires are strongly lacking communication skills. From the first interview to the day to day job environment, the basic ability to effectively communicate is essential for the employees and companies success. Companies depend on the daily interaction and exchange of information to thrive, and when a future hire shows up for the interview, first impressions can be everything.

1. Maintain eye contact  – 93% of the emotional meaning of our messages is communicated through nonverbal channels, so maintaining proper eye contact and not staring can show confidence.

2. Effective business communication requires an understanding of the proper channels.

Growth

Companies take into account the new hires ability to grow and adapt. Company culture is important day to day operations. Although it is not required to be molded into the culture, the ability to work side by side and adapt is a must for any new employee.

“Many companies hire based on the candidates ability to grow. Employers undergo rigorous interviews and know that the new hire that will be joining the company has the basic skills to complete his/her role. Additionally employers understand that the new hire will continue to develop new skills as they develop in their career.” Kellogg’s

Presentation, communication, and growth are just three skills that recruiters generally agree is lacking from job seekers. There are a lot of things you can do to stand out, and you can start with a resume. A great resume can be the difference when job seekers have hundreds of equally qualified applicants.

For more help, Universities and Community Colleges usually have one-on-one resources for resume building. So if you don’t already have a resume, or just need someone to review it, give that a try. Additionally you can check these links for tips on building your resume:

A student in their finals years of school should be preparing for the challenges ahead. A good internship goes a long way for improving communication and presentation skills. If possible, students should take as many electives as they can which involve practicing conveying information by means of presentations. Keeping an open mind to company culture is also a must as working for a company with no identifiable traits to the employee may lead to poor work experience.

Chosing a major and highest paid careers

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A big question often seen with Freshmen and Sophomores at the University level, is which major to chose.

In today’s economy, picking the right major is important for a healthy living both emotionally and financially. Students struggle with this important decision as our society pushes them to chose quickly and before any experience is acquired.  Today we’re going to focus on the financial aspect of the careers of tomorrow.

Top Paying Jobs

Surgeons – $219,770

Chief Executives – $167,280

Lawyers – $129,020

Computer & Information Systems Managers – $120,640

College Professors – $109,150

Most of the Top paying jobs reside in the medical field, and if that is a path you chose, that is great! Although medical school is no walk in the park, the financial rewards start as low as $39,000 during residency, but will quickly escalate past $80,000 with experience and certifications.

If you have your heart set in a field other than medicine and you worry about making ends meet, don’t worry! There are several well paying jobs that don’t require 8+ years of school to start making money. If you are tech savvy you can follow an IT path or web administrator and start out at $50,000.

The problem many students face is misinformation and pressure. Before even graduating High School, the expectations are raised for students by their parents, friends, and society.  Some families who are not native to the United States and unable to find jobs due to the language barriers rely on their children after graduation. In other cases, roughly 34% of teen students before the age of 20 get pregnant early on and end up having to support a family before getting an early chance at education.

In the end, choosing a major should be something that makes you feel good,  but also one that can be financially sustainable. Regardless of the major, having a plan ahead of time goes a long way for sustainability. We will be touching up on Internships on a future article, but its worth mentioning that employers look highly upon them. It can show several things including work ethics and experience.

Online courses in higher education

online-educationTraditionally having a college degree is viewed at as the definitive gateway to high paying jobs and intellectual development. It is meant to provide an equal opportunity to all students yet there are some well known barriers that prevent this from being true for all people, two of the biggest barriers are acceptance to the school and ability to pay the costs of enrollment. Over the last 5 years a new approach has emerged that promises to address those issues. All around the country students are participating in massive open online courses (MOOCs learn more). These MOOCs are free courses designed to accommodate very high volumes of students, with some courses containing tens of thousands of people. The promise of MOOCs is that it equalizes the playing field of education, enabling anyone with an interest in a selected topic to study and learn alongside others who share those interests.

Who provides these courses

Online-only education is viewed as a new model and providers are rushing to it without having clearcut business models or even a consesus as to why they’re doing it. Despite being free, MOOCs are known for having exceptionally high quality content from big name instructors. Most interestingly, many of the free courses are being provided directly by some of the most prestigious universities in the country. In fact, 22 of the 25 schools listed in US News’ top 25 colleges offer free courses online including the following:

Yale

Stanford

Columbia

Cambridge

MIT

Carnegie Mellon

Duke
Among the top and middle tiers, Universities not previously interested in open coureses are As quoted from a New York Times article:

“There’s panic,” said Kevin Carey, director of education policy at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. “Whether it’s senseless panic is unclear.”

Some online offerings are funded through venture capital, some directly from the pockets of the institutions, and others through philanthropy.

Third Party Platforms
Independent sites have emerged that arrogate course listings available from many different universities, providing learners a single location from where they can participate in lectures regardless of school. The most popular of these is Coursera, Udacity, and edX.

COURSERA

Originally a Stanford project, Coursea now has 33 university partners, including many Ivy Leauge’s , Duke, California Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Berklee College of Music.

Courses: 197 in 18 subjects, including computer science, math, business, humanities, social science, medicine, engineering, education.

Assessment: Software grades quizzes, homework, problem sets; five other students grade written responses. Many instructors allow quizzes to be taken multiple times, with highest grade counting (a different quiz each time).

Academic integrity: Click a box agreeing to an honor code.

Social interaction: Online forums and study groups, meet-ups organized by students in about 1,400 cities.

Pacing: Most courses have start and end dates, though it’s possible to join a course after it has begun, as long as it is before the registration cutoff date.

What you get: Some instructors offer signed certificates of completion, but not from the university. Beginning next semester, Antioch University students can get credit at the Los Angeles campus for approved courses.

UDACITY

For-profit with Stanford roots but no university affiliation.

Courses: 18, in computer science, mathematics, physics, business.

Assessment: Software grades tests, problem sets, programming assignments.

Academic integrity: Proctored final exams at Pearson testing centers, for $89.

Social interaction: Online forums and study groups, meet-ups organized by students in over 450 cities.

Pacing: Courses taken at own speed.

What you get: Certificates according to academic performance: completion, distinction, high distinction, highest distinction. Colorado State’s Global Campus accepts transfer credit for a course in building a search engine. In a free job-matching program, résumés are sent to partner companies, including Google, Bank of America, Twitter, Facebook and TrialPay, based on their job openings and student’s analytics (grade, participation level).

EDX

Profile: Nonprofit run out of M.I.T. and Harvard; with the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Texas system.

Courses: 8, in chemistry, computer science, electronics, public health; plans for 20 to 30 in the spring.

Assessment: Software grades tests and homework.

Academic integrity: Some final exams are proctored, at Pearson testing centers for varying costs. To prevent copying, users get different, randomly generated numbers in their problem sets.

Social interaction: Rudimentary; only one course, given by the Harvard School of Public Health in quantitative methods, has regional get-togethers.

Pacing: Courses have start and end dates. Registration closes two weeks after start date. Students may miss a week but lose points if they don’t make a deadline for turning in an assignment.

What you get: Two certificates available, one designating an honor code, one a proctored exam. Both bear the edX and campus name — for example, MITx, HarvardX, BerkeleyX, UTAustinX.

Where does it go from here?

While MOOCs have captured the imagination of many, it is still a rapidly evolving concept. Some see it as a potential replacement for the traditional educational system, incompatible with the current model, while some see it as a supplement. The full range of possibilities remain to be seen, but as the level of public intrest continues to grow the one thing that seems clear is that this isn’t going to go away any time soon.