Category Archives: Op-Ed

Guest posts and opinion pieces by writers unaffiliated with EDUKWEST.

beyond textbooks

Moving Beyond Textbooks

Textbooks have been with us since the dawn of time (or at least it feels that way). They have been researched, tested, reviewed, vetted and used for editions upon editions. But in a world where a first-year college student could have been born in 1996 – the year Derek Jeter won his first World Series – and would have been 11 years old when Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone, their expectations are that they will be able to do much more online in their courses than read PDF pages on a screen.

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Language Learning in Europe

Success starts at home: Online Language Learning in Europe

As cross-dressing sensation Conchita Wurst belted out her Eurovision Song Contest-winning tune across a room filled with Europe’s hottest tech start-ups, I knew it could only mean one thing: the Europas annual awards evening had officially begun.  From Berlin came Babbel, who have become one of the world’s leading language learning platforms. Used in 190 countries, with over 25 million app downloads to date, they swept to victory in the education category in exuberant style. However Busuu, Babbel’s nearest rival both in market and geography, reached a staggering 50m users this year, proving that Europe has truly emerged as the home of social language learning.

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Multilingualism in Britain

Multilingualism in Britain: A Snapshot From the Trenches

Great Britain is unusual. Geographically isolated, densely populated, and equally blessed and burdened with a history of “ruling the waves”. The majority of foreign nationals in Britain have always been nationals of the Commonwealth, invited guest workers from earlier in the 20th century.

The history of British power has always stood in contrast to Britain’s political need for close ties with the European Union. And over the last decade, there are two things that have really put a strain on the identity of this country: the economic crisis and the expansion of the European Union. EDUKWEST’s kick-off post on Multilingualism in Europe showed that the second language spoken on this island is now not Punjabi or Welsh, but Polish. As Britain is becoming a more multilingual place, why is education policy not following suit?

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Greek education

The Road Not Taken…Yet

When the ancient Greeks decided they wanted to teach a class, they started by simply talking to their students. It was all oral lecture. That worked for awhile, but as humanity’s understanding of the world advanced, the topics became more complicated and they just couldn’t remember it all. So they needed a way to gather together all of the different things people were discovering and talking about.

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Year of the Teacher

2015: Year of the Teacher

When I first heard that this week is National Teacher Appreciation Week my immediate reaction was, “What about the other 51 weeks of the year!” I believe that our US Teacher-force is perhaps the single most important resource that we have and we as a nation ought to be celebrating and investing in our teachers.

There are 3.75 million K-12 teachers in the US (3.1 million public school teachers, 72,000 charter, 437,000 private, 146,000 Catholic school teachers). Education Reform shows an average student-teacher ratio of 16 students per teacher. This number seems low but it is a fine starting point for my argument.

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Student Teacher Interactions

What Students Need, What Teachers Want

In their foundational work, “Inside the Black Box” Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam identify a fundamental factor that inhibits educational improvement. They suggest that policy makers and innovators often ignore what actually goes on in the classroom, a.k.a. “the black box”. According to Black and WIlliam,

Learning is driven by what teachers and pupils do in classrooms. Teachers have to manage complicated and demanding situations, channeling the personal, emotional, and social pressures of a group of 30 or more youngsters in order to help them learn immediately and become better learners in the future. Standards can be raised only if teachers can tackle this task more effectively. (William and Black)

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student data

Data, Data Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink

On April 21, 2014, Mary Jo Madda (@mjmadda) wrote in EdSurge:

“In less than two years, inBloom went from being a sort of Holy Grail for student data services to a sacrificial lamb that has brought data and privacy discussions to the forefront.”

This article, plus a host of others over the last week, examined the pros and cons of Big Business collecting a pool of student data. They asked: Is this river of data good for society? Does this sea of data invade a student’s privacy? And, most importantly, where do we draw the line — at which point do we say that the ocean of data-ostensibly required to steer our education policy, is simply not worth the potential harm to individual students? While these are valid and important issues in this debate, I found myself wondering if our national conversation was ignoring another crucial question: Is even a drop of this data being used to benefit any actual students?

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European Education Technology

The Failure of European Investors to fund European Education Technology

EdTech EuropePlanning to attend EdTech Europe 2014 on June 12th in London? Use the promo code EDUKWEST to get 20% off the ticket price!

The recent acquisition of French e-learning company CrossKnowledge by US publisher Wiley for $175 million is another example of something that we at Edxus have been charting as a trend for some time: the apparent failure of European institutional investors to recognise the strong case for investment in European education technology.

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institution-free LMS

A Quest to Create An “Institution-Free” LMS

In the summer of 2012, I was heading to Ljubljana to teach a four-week course to a group of Slovenian university students. I gathered everything that I needed to teach the course: readings, case studies, links to blogs and web videos, and more. But there was one problem. I didn’t have a good way to share these materials with the students.

This got me thinking. We are all well aware of the many issues educators and students have with the usability of many learning management systems. But this was the first time I experienced the issue of not being able to take a course I had already set up in my St. Thomas LMS with me to teach somewhere else. And it occurred to me that there are probably many educators who face this issue on a regular basis (adjunct faculty who teach at more than one institution, for instance).

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Tutoring Agencies

How Tutoring Agencies can profit from Growing Global Demand

There are lots of opportunities in the global tutoring field. Tutoring is listed as one of the top 16 industries worldwide for starting a new business, with a with a growthrate of 7% in the last year.

Besides, GlobalAnalysts, Inc. (GIA) released a study stating that the Global Private Tutoring industry will surpass $102,8 Billion by 2018, so there’s no doubt that you will benefit from market trend.

On top of that, since there are more and more students, who are willing to enter in highly rated universities as competition increases. This is exciting news for anyone involved in the tutoring industry.

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