Category Archives: College 2.0

Using technology to be a more productive student

Most of us would agree that technology gives us so many positive things; like all great power, it needs to be treated with respect. All too often students get sucked into technology vortex that leaves them unaware they are gasping. The National Sleep Foundation research shows sleep deprivation can impair the following brain functions that directly affect learning and school performance:

  • the ability to pay attention
  • verbal creativity and communication skills
  • creative problem solving
  • mental sharpness
  • adaptive learning and problem solving that involves the combination of new learning with previous knowledge in order to solve problems
  • overall mood and motivation, including increased irritability, low tolerance for frustration, and increased aggressive behavior.

While parent controls can help, they are easily circumvented. I like Questudio, however, as it not only blocks but inform. Here are some more tips:

1) Get your screens out of the bedrom

No Laptops, TVSs, ipads, etc. Don’t even use your smart phone as an alarm. Why? Two reasons:

a) Self control. More screens = less sleep.National Sleep Foundation polls show approximately 95% of Americans use an electronic device within an hour of going to sleep. In 2013, the foundation found that 89% of adults and 75% of children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. Source: CNN

B Turns out the blue light emitted from these devices causes us to be alert, much like we would be in daylight. 

If you really, really must use electronic devices before bedtime install this free application on your computer, phone and tablets. It progressively removes blue light as it becomes later in the day. 

2) Improving sleep resuls in higher academic performance. 

Indeed, one school district reported over 200 point average gain in the SAT. Bob Strickland explains the importance of sleep to aiding learning and Memory. He expands on the importance of sleep in this TED talk:

4) Sleep improves mood. 

Any parent would say, “well, Duh!” to that. But it goes deeper. ”There’s a big relationship between psychiatric and psychological problems and sleep. So people who are depressed or have anxiety often have trouble with sleep as part of those disorders,” says Dr. Lawrence Epstein, Medical Director of Sleep Health Centers and an instructor at Harvard Medical School. “Chronic sleep deprivation in adolescents diminishes the brain’s ability to learn new information, and can lead to emotional issues like depression and aggression. Researchers now see sleep problems as a cause, and not a side effect, of teenage depression. In one study by researchers at Columbia University, teens who went to bed at 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts than those who regularly stayed awake well after midnight.” Source: Brainpckings

Another vieo from the Harvard Sleep Center to explain:

Sleep also has a profound effect on other aspects of health, such as diabetes, obesity. 

5) Have a tech crewfew. 

Clearly, schools give homewor and good students do homework. But our teens need help. While there are parental controls on mac, thesea re easily hacked by the students. Better to have an honest discussion, set limits and have a clear time for 

a) Turning off the internet and

b) stop using electronics (see above)

Amy Smith, over at the Health Teacher, has sme straightforward tips for achieving a tech balance. 

6) Change your attitude from FOMO to YOLO

You only live once, so why are you fearing missing out, living yur life with one eye on your social streams via facebook, tumblr, texts etc. 

7) Use technology to scaffold self control in yourself.

I mentioned parent controls. There are some applications that can actually help you in a more positive way manage your time on line and educate you in how you are using your ethnology. Download these apps now and use them

a) Self-Control
What better way to exert Self Control but than by telling your computer to not let you go somewhere for a predetermined time.

Seff-Control is free, simple soultion. A more powerful solution is Concentrate

b) Download focus writer

and you will have a far more productive desktop to takle those college essays and school work. Focus Writer simply gives you a clean desktop hiding all other distractions. 

c) Schedule regular breaks.

Get Time out and force yoruself off teh computer. You put in your scheduled breaks and how long they should last and time lout will lock you out of the computer forcing you to go outside and play. Kinda like a mother back in the old days. 

Turns out we may all be suffering from Screen Apnea, so this application will help.

8) Get your homework space set up. 

Parents should not let their kids use their laptop in the bedroom (see item 1). So set up a place for you to do homework. And since laptops reek havoc on our posture, time to get the homespace set up with an ergonomic keyboard and a laptop stand

9) Set times and limits for instant messaging. 

If you can ban skype etc, go for it. But prohibition rarely works. Rather allow your student to have set times to be available via IM. 

10) Teach, model and demand courtesy

Do you text during family dinners? Is it ok to take a phone call during a serious conversation? It strikes me as absurd how little effort is being made to show good manners when it comes to using technology and social interaction. 

a) No texting at the dinner table. Period. 

b) No texting in class. Period. 

c) Turn off your phone in class and assemblies

d) The person you are with is worth your attention. 

A more developed reasoing can be found here. While I am harping on manners: Please and thank you go a long way as does holding doors open for people. 

ANd one last video from Linda Stone on Continious Partial Attention:

May I have your attention please? – Linda Stone – SIME 09 from Ayman van Bregt on Vimeo.

Free Course on applying to US universities

UPENN is partnering with several other universities to offer a free program on Coursera on Applying to US Universities. I followed the course last spring when it was first offered and can tell you it is simply excellent. I especially appreciated the indepth interviews from current admission officers: access original interviews between Erick and admissions officers from the University of PennsylvaniaPurdue University,Santa Clara UniversityRhodes College, and Montgomery County Community College. This is an excellent course (along with detailed consultations with your high school counselor) for navigating the college admission maze. Starts August 3. 


Colleges to watch out for in the future

Jeffrey Selingo knows a thing or two about colleges. He should. He lives and breaths it as editor of the the Chronical of higher education. So when he published a book about the future of higher education, people will read it. Listen to his interview at NPR. Killer quote:

“College presidents say that students and parents want this [Climbing walls, luxory dorms and even lazy rivers]. But my contention is that if Harvard tomorrow decided to knock down all its residence halls and essentially build jail cells, do you think people would stop coming to Harvard? They’d probably keep going.”

While I have not had a chance to read the book yet (it has been just released), I have learned that he singles out 19 colleges which comprise “a short list of forward-thinking universities to keep an eye on…These are just a sampling of colleges that have adopted strategies and programs that will help prove the value of their degree in the years ahead.”

  1. Ball State University
  2. City University of New York
  3. Cornell University
  4. Drexel University
  5. Georgia State University
  6. Goucher College
  7. Lynn University
  8. Northeastern University
  9. St Mary’s College of California
  10. Susquehana University
  11. Tulane University
  12. University of Iowa
  13. University of Minnesota Rochester
  14. University of Texas at Austin
  15. Wake Forest University
  16. Wake Tech Community College
  17. Westminister College (Utah)
  18. Worchester Polytechnic University

My list is not quite complete and lacks the detailed analysis and anecdotes Jeff infuses to help capture the spirity of innovation. Check out More of Jeff in this talk

Collegeweek Live is hosting a special event for International students.

International Day

FEBRUARY 20TH, 2013 10:00AM – 12:00AM GMT (5:00AM – 7:00PM EST)

Are you intrigued by the idea of attending university abroad? Join us today for International Students Day, a free online event dedicated to helping you decide if studying overseas is right for you.

Login anytime from 10:00AM – 12:00AM GMT (5:00AM to 7:00PM EST) on Wednesday, February 20, 2013 to:

  • Live chat with hundreds of universities, including University of Florida, University of Chicago, and New York University
  • Get advice from study abroad experts
  • Hear about other students’ experiences

Register here

    “Performance is supposed to be worth something…”

    So responds a young man being sued by his university for completing his studies early. A whopping 8 semesters early. Marcel Pohl shared notes with two classmates in order to learn and presumably master the content. The university does not say he cheated. In fact, he apparently had the idea approved by the university before he started. And now Essen-based School of Economics and Management wants money for the remaining semesters…or at least a portion, arguing the degree, not the time is what the cost is.

    Read more here.

    Free tuition for life

    Cardiff University has a contest with the winner receiving free tuition for life–as many courses and degrees the student wants. It is unclear how the contest will work, but there will be challenges:

    To earn this once-in-a-lifetime prize you’ll really have to show you’re capable of setting the world alight by thriving in various challenges. Each one, more difficult than the last, will test you for the type of qualities we expect our students to have, such as passion, commitment and intelligence.

    Could this have anything to do with the fact that applications are down a whopping 15% over last year?  True, Welsh student applications are down only 10%, but still the university wants to thrive-which happens to be the name of the competition.

    The Ivy League College Passion Rankings

    Although passion owes its origins to suffering, it has come to mean strong feelings, both positive and negative. Any person who will sit down to write a review of a product clearly has feelings for it? Consumers have come to trust reviews on sites like Amazon or Yelp. A growing number of sites are offering up reviews of colleges written by the students themselves. My personal favorite is Unigo. While scoping out some information there, I got curious about which universities actually inspire the most passion. Note, this is not which university is best, or which has the highest ratings, but simply how many students took the time to register a review. Of course, this should favor the colleges with the largest student body. So to control that, let’s just weight them by dividing the number of reviews by the undergraduate student population. So if a university had a student population of 1000 students, but only 500 wrote reviews, we could say they have a passion rating of 50%. I know, not scientific, but we got to start somewhere. So the first ever International Counselor College Passion Ranking:

    1. Princeton 665 /5142=.129
    2. Brown 526 /6318= .083
    3. Columbia 476/7950=.060
    4. Cornell 792 /13,510= .059
    5. Harvard 596/10,265= .058
    6. Dartmouth 230 /4248= .054
    7. Yale 246/5311= .046
    8. UPENN 195 /10,345= .019

    So does this sound like the right order? Does Princeton inspire more passion in its tigers than Brown does in its bears? Is the college that Ben founded really generate so little interest in its Wall Street wannabes? Let compare to some schools famous for spirit:

    • Duke = 381/6697=.057
    • USC = 399/17,380 = .023
    • UMich = 543/27,027 = .020
    • Wisconsin =392/30,170 = .013
    • Colgate = 569/2800 = .203

    So the big football and basketball powerhouses simply fail while duke fits with Cornell and Harvard. Colgate shows exceptional level of passion. Maybe I will play around with some combos and get back to you.

    Guide to online learning

    I have posted in the past some great podcasts and open source college level courses. Now Anya Kamenetz has written

    The Edupunks’ Guide to a DIY Credential

    which is a free 94 page ebook that covers the following topics:

    • HowTo 1: Do Research Online
    • HowTo 2: Write a Personal Learning Plan
    • HowTo 3: Teach Yourself Online
    • HowTo 4: Build Your Personal Learning Network
    • HowTo 5: Find a Mentor
    • HowTo 6: Get a Credential
    • HowTo 7: Demonstrate Value to a Network

    She has all the topics covered and the book is available in just about every format you can think of. Check it out at Smashwords.

    neat tool

    Are you getting ready to pick your college now that your colleges have picked you?

    Sometimes the choice is obvious. Other times…what a hard decision. Some of you will flip a coin. Others will go with the highest rank. But many, will agonize trying to figure out which one really is the best one for them–and you should. If you are analytical, you will like this neat tool. A first year college student has created an online spreadsheet called CollegePick.Us in which you enter your colleges, pick your criteria, add the weights, and rate each college. This is basically a standards based rating sheet.

    Congratulations Open U

    20 Million downloads at itunes U:

    This impressive feet includes:

    • over 2,286,704 visitors downloaded files
    • currently averaging* 491,000 downloads a week
    • 89.3% of visitors from outside the United Kingdom
    • 1 in 16.5 downloaders go on to visit the OU website (to 30 June 2010)
    • 314 albums containing 2,727 tracks (1,231 audio, 1,496 video)
      250 of the albums contain audio visual material taken from 146 courses currently in presentation with the Open University
      64 of the albums contain non-course specific material
      96% of the tracks have transcripts (in PDF format)

    and the top 10 downloads?