World without Internet

Posted on June 12, 2012

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The internet has evolved the way we all live. Everything can now be done in the comfort of your own home - from doing some grocery shopping to getting an education. For busy people who don’t have time to go to the mall or the grocery store, they can easily order their goods online and have them delivered to their door. For working parents, the internet has allowed them to get a degree in practically any field without having to sacrifice family time or work stability. Even for countries where there are no institutions of higher learning, as long as there is an internet connection, there is a access to education.

Now think about what were to happen if the internet never existed. People from around the world wouldn’t have the access to the unlimited amount of information the internet holds. Obtaining a degree while balancing family and work would be that much more difficult. Let’s take a look at how the world would be without the internet.

Why America's Education Isn't Worth the Money

Posted on March 02, 2012

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America spends a lot of money on education, and the announcement of the 2013 budget plan is no exception. With a projected $1.7 billion increase from last year’s education spending plan, the U.S. government will continue to have the priciest school spending on the globe, outranking every other country in price-per-student costs. From specialized classes for lagging students to sophisticated technology in kindergarten classes, the U.S. government is committed to spending whatever it takes to give kids a top-notch education.

But despite this spending, American students just don’t seem to be measuring up. Outscored by nations who spend far less, public school students in the U.S. don’t seem to be making any headway. Test scores, graduation rates, and general student achievement have all stagnated in America since the 1970s, and ACT scores have begun to decline. So when American students fail to achieve year after year, the question arises: Exactly what is that money doing for America’s education?

Can Tech Save Education?

Posted on January 19, 2012

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Apple recently announced three new applications that will effectively revolutionize education around the world: iBooks 2, iBooks Author, and a new and updated iTunes U. For America, the world's largest economy, this means great things -- especially considering that the country's current educational practices are in deep water. Of 30 developed nations around the world, the United States ranks 25th in math and 21st in science: a disparity that has politicians and educators baffled. Every 26 seconds a student drops out of high school in the States, but there is hope.

Studies from places like Maine and Ohio have shown that technology can save education. Students who have access to iPads and laptops in their classrooms perform substantially better than their peers without this technology, and with Apple's new platform for spreading free education to its products the real question we should be all be asking is: Can Apple save education?

This graphic attempts to answer that question.

Facebook and Grades

Posted on December 09, 2011

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Facebook has taken a beating in the media over the last few years for what three studies have found to be the dire toll it takes on the academic lives of students. The most frequently cited of these studies, from Ohio State University in 2009, found that Facebook users often had GPAs up to one full point lower than non-users. The publication of this study caused a brief media whirlwind, as outlets from MSNBC to Time published stories on the study with sensational headlines, drawing dramatic conclusions.

But it turns out that none of these studies of Facebook's impact on academics, including the OSU study, has been rigorous enough to draw the conclusions that the media has drawn. The OSU study, for instance, surveyed just 219 students - a relatively small sample size. The other two studies used comparable samples. Further, these studies used simplistic models of what it meant to actually 'visit Facebook,' usually just looking at overall time spent on the site per day. The results were significant, sure, and as the first studies in a very new field, they were doing the good work of breaking new ground. But the bad reputation with the media and educators that the studies lent to Facebook use was, in all likelihood, incommensurate with its actual effects on grades. And, worse, there has been no study that contradicts this data at all - until now.

Leading social media researcher Reynold Junco has published a new study on how Facebook affects grades, and it's the most thorough study to date on the topic. Using a sample size of more than two thousand university students, and employing a complex model of Facebook use which broke it down into the individual activities performed on the site, Dr. Junco found that the claim of Facebook's hampering of grades is partially true - but very, very, partially, and even insignificantly. If you use Facebook for many hours a day, a tiny drop in GPA can occur. But very few people can or will use it often enough to make that difference. The real story is that there are bigger effects depending on how you use Facebook - both for good, and for bad. Posting status updates, for example, predicts grades negatively. But checking up on friends and sharing links with others actually positively predicted grades. Yes, you heard that right - Facebook may actually be good for grades, depending on how you use it. Dr. Junco collaborated with us on this infographic, the very first to present this game-changing data.

Textbook Shakedown

Posted on November 05, 2011

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Though the exorbitant cost of textbooks has become a staple of any discussion about the costs of college, it's a shame that this is now simply taken as a matter of course. "Yeah, textbooks are expensive," students say, "but there's nothing we can do about it." Unfortunately, that is exactly the position textbook companies want to keep students in - feeling that they're powerless to change the way the system works. For decades, students really have been in that position. Because of the way publishers have kept professors in the dark about prices, students were unable to exert any power of consumer choice - all while publishers jacked up prices (a staggering 186% since 1986). With plenty of new options, however, including e-books, book rentals, open books, and online book sellers, students are finally taking some of the power back. None of these solutions is perfect, but by using a combination of them - and with the helpful restructuring the government is imposing to keep publishers in check - students can shrewdly save a few hundred bucks each year. And in college, that's big.