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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

If the modern economy requires scientific thinking and work placements enable informed study and career choices, how might we combine them to empower young people? | CASCAID

Photo: Simon Gallacher
Take a closer look below at this guest blog by Dr Simon Gallacher, Head of Student Programmes, the Nuffield Foundation.

Here at CASCAID we are committed to continuously provide careers guidance to help support young people in identifying their future, education, training and career goals.


Statistics from CASCAID’s most recent careers report identifies that STEM knowledge and skills are becoming increasingly important in order to pursue that dream career. To help young people on the path of career exploration, CASCAID are pleased to introduce The Nuffield Foundation’s Research Placements to help students gain valuable experience boosting their opportunity and skills.

Make the numbers work!
Few things in life are as predictable as articles and headlines that tell us the world of work and jobs is changing. A recent article in the New York Times noted that ‘jobs that require a combination of math and social skills — like computer science, financial management and nursing — have fared best in the modern economy’.

In addition, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has stated that ‘in the context of massive info flows and rapid change, everyone needs to be able to “think like a scientist’. The Scottish Government has also been setting out its view that ‘all of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is underpinned by Mathematics, which includes numeracy’ against a backdrop that regularly reflects the UK’s need to improve the numeracy levels of its graduates and citizens more generally.

So if the modern economy requires scientific thinking (for which numerical skills are essential), and work placements enable informed study and career choices, how might we combine them to empower young people? This is a question the Nuffield Foundation has been addressing through its student programmes – Nuffield Research Placements and Q-Step.

Shaping and stretching research skills
Nuffield Research Placements are 4-6 week summer placements for school or college students who have just completed the first year (or are in S5/6 in Scotland) of a post-16 STEM qualification. Students need good GCSEs/National 5’s (or equivalent) to apply (grade B/new grade 6 or above), including mathematics, English and a science. We award bursaries to eligible students from lower-income families, as well as reimbursing travel costs for all students.

Our students tell us that the opportunity to participate in a placement really helped them to feel they had made a good choice about what to study at university and in some cases really made them re-think their choices. They also say that it gave them a chance to test out their skills and interests, meet amazing people carrying out real research projects and, in some cases, helped them review what subjects to aim for.


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Here's how you can score a tuition-free MBA |

Here's how you can score a tuition-free MBA by Ruth Umoh, Reporter for Leadership at

Photo: Shai Reshef
"Higher education can be affordable, and accessible and high quality,"  Shai Reshef tells CNBC Make It.

Photo: CNBC
The average MBA tuition costs between $55,000 and $68,000 a year, according to U.S. News. The average debt for new grads at some of the top business schools can range from $59,000 to over $120,000. But at University of the People, you can score a tuition-free MBA with little to no debt, says founder Shai Reshef.

"Higher education can be affordable, and accessible and high quality," he tells CNBC Make It.

In 2009, Reshef officially launched University of the People, the first tuition-free, accredited online university. Immediately after launching, Reshef says he was swarmed with top educators who wanted to partake in his business.

The concept is simple. The university is completely run by volunteers, from the professors all the way up to the provost, who volunteers from Columbia University, says Reshef. The school also boasts volunteer professors and advisers from notable colleges like Oxford, Harvard, Duke University and UC Berkeley. Currently, the university has more than 6,000 volunteer professors, Reshef says.

Meanwhile, the number of interested students has risen each year. When the online university first launched, the school had 500 students. In three years, the number of students jumped to 10,000 and Reshef believes that it will double by the end of this year.

The school first began offering tuition-free associate and bachelor's degrees in business administration and computer science. "We started with both of the most in-demand degrees that are most likely to help students find a job," says Reshef.

The university later introduced a health science track and then a graduate business degree in 2016. "The MBA is our fastest growing program," Reshef says. That's not surprising. According to U.S. News, a new MBA grad can earn up to $164,000.

Reshef says he founded University of the People because there are over a million people a year who are qualified for higher education but can't attend due to factors like cost.

In his 2014 TED Talk titled an "Ultra-low-cost college degree," he says that he wants to democratize higher education "from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all." His speech has since amassed over 4 million views.
Read more... 

Recommended Reading

Photo: CNBC
The 10 best universities for veterans by Abigail Hess, News Associate. 


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Monday, September 18, 2017

Making the Business Case for Going Digital | Training Magazine Network

In today’s technologically charged business world, organizations must quickly adapt to emerging technologies or risk being left behind. Technology is necessary to remain competitive and at the forefront of change. 


As more training programs become virtual and learning moves beyond the event itself, a transformation to digital content delivery is essential to support today’s workforce. 

VitalSource writes in the White Paper, "According to Training Industry, Inc. research, approximately 91 percent of organizations currently use digital content in training initiatives, and 40 percent are planning to refresh or upgrade their e-book or reader platform in the next 12 months. It is little wonder why organizations have shifted toward a digital mindset. In a world where we have access to so much technology, the learner now expects every experience to be immersive, interactive, and most importantly, engaging."

Source: Training Magazine Network

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Helping Students Make the Right Call on Cell Phones | Faculty Focus

Photo: Pete Burkholder
"Much has been written, both in Faculty Focus and elsewhere, about cell phones in the classroom" says Pete Burkholder, professor of history at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  

Photo: Faculty Focus

Such pieces typically break into two categories: whether to ban or not to ban, and techniques for using devices productively for educational purposes.

As helpful as those discussions are, conspicuously absent most of the time are students’ views. Do they even want their phones available in class, or are the devices simply attractive nuisances? Is a classroom without cell phones desirable from their standpoint—and if so, what would it take to achieve such an environment? Last spring, I decided to find out.

In full disclosure, I’d been in the “ban them at all times” camp for many years, and I had stringent policies and enforcement to that effect. Past experiences did little to mollify my stance. On the contrary, a 2015 article by Berry and Westfall confirmed what I’d long suspected: private classroom cell phone use has a negative learning impact not only on the person employing it, but on those distracted by the user as well. Measurements showed this was true, even if students felt they were not affected by others’ use. The authors found that students saw direct confrontation and concrete repercussions as the key deterrents to cell phone violations, concluding that “faculty should consider adopting more assertive or punitive policies if they are serious about curtailing phone use in the classroom” (68).

Yet, even having anticipated and enacted such policies, students’ furtive texting, emailing, and surfing remained an endemic, if minor problem in my classrooms.

Fortunately, a colleague alerted me to an interesting article that turned the usual cell phone policy approach on its head. What if, instead of punishing students for bad behavior, we rewarded them for good conduct? This reversal undergirded the study by Katz and Lambert, who offered extra credit to those willing to surrender their cell phones at the start of each class. Their results looked encouraging and the protocol was simple, so I decided to give it a try.

My protocol, which was very similar to that of Katz and Lambert, ran as follows. Sheets of blank paper were laid out on a table at the front of the classroom. Students had the option—again, none of this was mandatory—of writing their names on the paper and placing their deactivated phones over their names. Devices would be in full view of everyone and easily retrieved at the end of each session. In exchange, students would receive token extra credit for each surrender date.

I enacted the procedure not knowing what would happen. Most worrisome was, what if no one took me up on my offer? To my surprise, nearly everyone in two different classes sprang to their feet and surrendered their phones the first day, even before I informed them how much extra credit was at stake.

Yes, there’s the ethical dilemma of offering an incentive for expected, normative behavior. Isn’t this simply a bribe for common decency? But I controlled the amount of extra credit, and it wasn’t much—just a fraction of a point for each day. In the end, a student could raise his overall course grade by just two percent, assuming that he attended every meeting and surrendered his device each day. And for those who chose not to give up their phones? The in-class ban still applied, with penalties being enforced, as necessary.

Source: Faculty Focus

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Smoother career re-entry with online learning | MIT News

MIT News writes, "MITx course and internships help STEM professionals return after a break from the workforce to care for family."

Ruchi Garg re-entered the workforce with an upgraded skillset thanks to an MITx online programming course and an internship program.
Photo: Office of Digital Learning
They are described as the hidden gems of the workforce: mature, skilled, and highly-motivated STEM professionals who return to their careers after a hiatus of two years or more. Often they have already navigated the complicated life experiences — marriage, career changes, children, and relocations — that still lie ahead of their younger counterparts. As a result, employers view them as stable, energized, and capable. 

Ruchi Garg was one of those people, but she didn’t feel like a hidden gem. Six years prior, she had left the workplace to become the primary caretaker for her two young children. Now she felt like many of the 216,000 women across the U.S. with computer science or engineering degrees who left their technical jobs. She wanted to get her career moving again but was worried that her skillset had grown stale in the wake of rapidly advancing technologies and evolving computer engineering practices.

It was during this period of uncertainty that Garg came across Carol Fishman Cohen’s book, “Back On the Career Track. Cohen is co-founder and CEO of iRelaunch, a company that specializes in helping women and men re-enter the workforce. In partnership with the Society of Women Engineers, iRelaunch created the STEM Re-Entry Task Force in 2015 and established internship programs with Booz Allen Hamilton, Caterpillar, Cummins, General Motors, IBM, Intel, and Johnson Controls.
Jennifer Abman Scott of the Society of Women Engineers says that, upon re-entry, “women often encounter a landscape that demands new technical skillsets and levels of expertise.”

“While they often have management or executive experience, they may lack updated technical skills and struggle with feelings of inadequacy. By investing in training to get re-entry candidates up to speed, firms can attract mature and vetted employees,” Scott says.

The internships caught Garg’s eye, but she knew that to be a viable candidate she’d have to revitalize her skillset. She understood that the best way to get back into the engineering groove was to take a class on a current programing language that employed the latest engineering techniques, but while colleges and universities near her offered computer science courses, they were either too basic or didn’t provide the curriculum she needed.

Then Garg found 6.00.1x (Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python), an MITx online course taught by professors John Guttag and Eric Grimson and lecturer Ana Bell.

“I looked for courses at institutions near me but couldn’t find what I needed. Online learning brought resources from around the world to my door, and I was able to find the course I was looking for,” she says. “Without online learning, I’m not sure how I would have closed the gap in my knowledge base.”

After completing the Python course, Garg returned to iRelaunch with an upgraded skillset and soon landed a position in the inaugural cohort of the IBM Tech Re-Entry program. Upon completion of the 12-week paid internship, she was hired as a data analyst at The Weather Company, an IBM subsidiary that runs The Weather Channel and Weather Underground.
Read more... 

Source: MIT News

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Young: Massachusetts’ slow embrace of virtual learning | Wicked Local Medfield

Photo: Julie Young
"For two years running, Bloomberg’s State Innovation Index has hailed Massachusetts as the country’s most innovative state economy" summarizes Julie Young, deputy vice president of Education Outreach and Student Services at Arizona State University (ASU)

Photo: Via

Looking at such metrics as research and development; concentration of science, technology, engineering, and math employment; and numbers of science degrees, it’s no wonder that the commonwealth placed first.

But it’s not just postsecondary education that makes Massachusetts a leader in innovation. Its K-12 public schools also boast some of the most dynamic and thoughtful approaches to brick-and-mortar education, providing a model for the rest of the country.

Despite these successes, Massachusetts struggles to keep pace with innovative online educational offerings that have helped students thrive throughout the nation. The commonwealth is home to digital learning experts Paul Peterson, Clayton Christensen, Michael Horn, and John Flores, yet it has been unable to establish a strong virtual learning ecosystem.

Several years ago, Massachusetts passed virtual school legislation. Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning, advised the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on regulations to accompany the new law. She recalls making three basic recommendations: don’t put any geographic restrictions on the schools, don’t impose an enrollment cap on them, and let the money follow the student. Unfortunately, the department largely ignored her advice.

I know why those recommendations were not followed. Massachusetts knows what good brick-and-mortar schools look like, and they look different than good online schools. Liberating education from schoolhouse walls takes boldness — the willingness to mingle with the gray areas of learning, to refocus on the student of 2017. It’s hard to take a chance on digital learning when what you’ve got is working.

When implemented well, digital learning helps students in much the same way as other pioneering educational models do. More and more families are seeking educational opportunities beyond their local school; they’re looking for a school of one, always with an eye toward what’s best for their child.

For some families and students, it’s best to learn at a pace and time that works for them. Some students seek a head start on college, others need to revisit concepts for mastery. Digital education handles both of these students with ease, without holding one back academically or pushing the other ahead before foundational concepts can cement.

Source: Wicked Local Medfield

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Cox Digital Academy offers free online resources to make learning fun | Coast News

"Cox Digital Academy, designed with the entire family in mind" continues Coast News.

Since 2012, more than a quarter million people have been connected nationwide to the internet via Cox’s Connect2Compete program.
Photo courtesy of Cox Communications
Cox Communications has launched the Cox Digital Academy, a website that gives families access to free online resources such as educational games, social media safety, do-it-yourself science projects, and computer basics.

Whether it’s homework help and a “making it rain in a jar” activity for students, or computer and internet basics to financial literacy for parents, families can take advantage of a host of resources to improve their digital literacy skills...

The Cox Digital Academy offers:
  • Computer and internet basics, teaching users how to conduct web searches, create and manage email accounts, and how to navigate search engines.
  • Educational games and resources for students and teachers, providing homework help, teaching strategies, and more.
  • Job skills, enabling parents to easily navigate job search engines, create resumes and fill out online applications.
  • Social media and online safety, giving parents and children the tools to help prevent cyberbullying, learn about social media basics, and protect social media privacy.
  • Online financial literacy, such as setting up or managing a checking account online and managing an online budget.
For more information, or to sign up for Connect2Compete visit

The Digital Academy is available at

Source: Coast News

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Free tuition draws Minnesota students to University of the People | Minneapolis Star Tribune

Photo: Maura Lerner
Maura Lerner, higher-education reporter says, "At a time of mounting anxiety over college costs and student debt, the online school is doing its best to smash the mold." 

Jeanette Oehlers of Willmar despaired of ever finishing college. By her account, she was already deeply in debt and at least two years away from earning her degree.

That’s when her father-in-law decided to search the internet. “Hey, I found a university for you,” he told her.

“How much money?” she asked.

The answer, she admits, was hard to believe.

Now, she’s one of some 10,000 students from over 190 countries enrolled in the University of the People, an online school where tuition is zero.

At a time of mounting anxiety over college costs and student debt, UoPeople, as its known, is doing its best to smash the mold. Billed as the world’s first nonprofit, tuition-free accredited university, it relies mainly on volunteer instructors and course material that is freely available online.

The University of the People isn’t completely free. Students pay an assessment fee at the end of each course ($100 for undergrads, $200 for grad students), plus a one-time $60 application fee.

In all, a four-year bachelor’s degree would cost $4,060 — compared to, say, $50,000 at the University of Minnesota, or $210,000 at Carleton College, based on current sticker prices. And for now, the California-based initiative offers degrees in just three fields: business administration, computer science and health science.

While some wonder how much clout a University of the People degree will carry, the school is slowly gaining a foothold around the world, including on the Minnesota prairie. As of August, the school reported 111 students in Minnesota...

Influential TED Talk
The school was the brainchild of its president, Shai Reshef, an Israeli businessman who once ran a for-profit education company and gained a measure of fame from a 2014 TED talk outlining his vision for a tuition-free university.

“We set out to build a model that will cut down almost entirely the cost of higher education,” he said then. His prescription: no bricks and mortar; no textbook fees, and little payroll: “Even the professors, the most expensive line in any university balance sheet, come free to our students,” he said. Thousands of professors, graduate students and others have volunteered their time, according to Reshef, to design the curriculum and teach classes.

After selling his education company, Reshef plowed $3 million of his own funds to start University of the People in 2009, with dreams of serving massive numbers of students. It would, he predicted, “open the gates to higher education for every qualified student.”
Read more... 

Recommended Reading
Shai Reshef - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
University of the People

Shai Reshef is the President of University of the People (UoPeople)—the world’s first tuition-free, non-profit, accredited online academic institution dedicated to opening access to higher education. 

The World's First Tuition-Free Online University - How does it work? 

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"What Are the Arts and Sciences? (A Guide for the Curious)," edited by Dan Rockmore | Santa Fe New Mexican

In the introduction to this collection, Dan Rockmore, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Dartmouth College, reports about reading W.H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World with his eight-year-old son

What Are the Arts and Sciences?
Dartmouth College Press, 2017.

“It made me think about how most of us — if not all of us — irrespective of age, don’t really know what the big subjects of inquiry are about,” he writes. Gombrich, an acclaimed art historian, published his volume in 1936 with the aim of presenting the vast sweep of world history — events, inventions, ideas, beliefs — in a way young readers might grasp. The book proved popular in its original German and in many other languages, though it was not issued in English translation until 2005. Writing in Vienna in the mid-1930s, Gombrich (who fled to Britain in 1939) tried not to sound entirely despondent about things, but neither did he whitewash reality. “The history of the world is, sadly, not a pretty poem,” he wrote. “It offers little variety, and it is nearly always the unpleasant things that are repeated, over and over again.”

So much has changed since then, and perhaps so little. One change, for sure, is that fields of inquiry have grown ever more specialized. The possibility of an individual person mastering the world’s knowledge with both depth and breadth has grown increasingly remote with passing years. Still, colleges are in the business of helping people acquire insights to how the world thinks, and Rockmore’s book could serve as a stimulating guide not for eight-year-olds but rather for college-bound students examining what roads of discovery lie open to them.

Rockmore roped in 27 Dartmouth professors (including himself) to write 10 or 12 pages each on what kinds of questions their respective fields address and how they go about examining them. They present basic definitions and boundaries for their study, they suggest some of the specialized avenues of scrutiny their disciplines embrace, and most of them provide an interesting case study or two that reveal how a master of such-and-such a field might go about examining a problem. I began reading this volume with the mistaken idea that the scholars were setting out to convey what’s hot in their areas right now, but on the whole these essays look in the direction of fundamentals rather than toward the cutting edge. How could it be otherwise? If your last brush with math was high-school trigonometry, there’s no way you can comprehend whatever got the PhDs exercised at last year’s convention of the American Mathematical Society.

The essays range in quality, but many of them very successfully frame these disciplines — classics, geography, linguistics, political science, theater, and many others — in ways that would make a person want to dig deeper. “Chemistry is the science of understanding the properties of matter and how matter forms from the basic elements that make up our universe,” writes Rockmore’s colleague F. Jon Kull. “Although chemistry is often called the central science, I think of chemistry as occupying an arc in a great circle of disciplines that help us understand that world we live in. To one side, chemistry is flanked by physics, beyond which is math; and I think many would agree that math edges up against philosophy. On the other side, chemistry blends into biology, beyond which is physiology, and, for humans, psychology, sociology, and you guessed it, philosophy. … You can start your journey of understanding our world at any point on the circle.” Maybe you hadn’t thought of things quite that way.
Read more... 

Additional resources  
“It’s not a polemic, but if you sample from this buffet of ideas, it will feed your curiosity about the liberal arts,” says Professor Dan Rockmore.
Photo: Robert Gill
What Are the Arts and Sciences? 27 Professors Give Answers by Charlotte Albright.
"In a new book of essays, Dartmouth faculty write about their work."

Source: Santa Fe New Mexican

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Friday, September 15, 2017

At St. Cloud State: Harry Potter and the philosopher's class | St. Cloud Times

St. Cloud State University professor
Carolyn Hartz sits at her desk with
materials for her philosophy course
focused on the Harry Potter stories
on campus, Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Photo: Nora G. Hertel
Nora Hertel, Government Watchdog Reporter at St. Cloud Times Media notes, "It's the season when students gather their textbooks — and their magic wands and cauldrons — to return to school at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

The non-magic students, or muggles, at St. Cloud State University can mix the magical world of Harry Potter with lessons on philosophy courtesy of  professor Carolyn Hartz

On St. Cloud State Professor Carolyn Hartz's desk sits a potion puzzle she recreated from the first Harry Potter book for her philosophy students.
Photo: Nora G. Hertel
Her class applies Aristotle's 2,500-year-old writings on friendship to character relationships in the J.K. Rowling books-turned-movies about boy wizard Harry Potter. 

"Most of the students in the class are Harry Potter nerds. That's why they sign up for it," Hartz said. "I tell them: 'You can bring your wands, but you can't use them on exams.'"

Hartz's class covers ethics, logic, love, the human soul and the nature of time through the lens of the Harry Potter stories. Students consider the philosophy of education too, because, after all, the stories all take place at the school Hogwarts. 

"These are fundamental human concerns," Hartz said. "Philosophy is, in my view, critical thinking about fundamental areas of human concern."

Miles Nelson, a second-year St. Cloud State student, took Hartz's Harry Potter course last spring and it inspired him to pursue a minor in philosophy. His major is mass communications in TV broadcasting.

"This class really solidified how much I love thinking about hard problems and questions with hard answers," Nelson said.

Hartz's class made Nelson a bigger fan of the Harry Potter series as well. Nelson took the course with Hartz in Alnwick Castle as part of a British study-abroad program. Filmmakers shot some scenes for the early Harry Potter movies there. 

Rowling's stories provided understandable examples for the tough concepts in philosophy, Nelson said. And the class showed the depth of Rowling's work.

"If you read (the Harry Potter series) through as a kid, you probably didn't see the elements of the story that are really deep and profound," he said.

Hartz's sunlit office has Harry Potter-themed trinkets in every corner, and she wears a Time-Turner around her neck, a necklace used by the character Hermione Granger to go back in time (and take more classes). 

On her desk Hartz has a recreated logic puzzle from the first book, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." To students she hands out red stones, known as philosopher's stones in the British version of the book. 

Using principles of ethics, they consider which magical spells should be allowed. They talk about how author Rowling views a human soul, as the dark magic in the story includes dementors, which can suck out a soul, and horcruxes, which are made to hold part of a desecrated soul. 

Hartz has taught her course for a few years and it usually fills up, she said. It's the third week of the semester and she has about 20 students and room for more.

She's not the only college professor to tap into students' enthusiasm for Harry Potter. 

Source: St. Cloud Times  

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