FocusEduVation's Blog

July 31, 2009

Security Threats to Schools

Filed under: e-learning — Focus EduVation @ 11:46 am

e-learningThe Internet has become an intrinsic component of education. As of 2007, among U.S. public schools, nearly 100% had Internet access, with 94% providing access into instructional rooms. Of those, 45% used wireless. The ratio of students to Internet-connected instructional computers was 3.8 to 1.
At the same time, academic applications of the Internet have become more sophisticated. Schools host their own Web sites. Teachers use e-mail when communicating with students and parents. Shared instructional material and e-learning tools are being delivered online to satellite classrooms, homes and computer-based training (CBT) centers. Administrative functions such as assignment boards, activity boards, applications
and scheduling services are now hosted online by third-party providers. Districts employ point-to-point or virtual private networks (VPNs) between schools. Students, teachers and parents routinely access the Internet from a growing number of increasingly mobile device types, including laptops, PDAs, and smartphones.
The revolutionary pace of technology has exposed schools to security breaches, bandwidth piracy, automated denial-of-service attacks, and regulatory liability associated with access to unacceptable or illegal
materials. Critical and sensitive data is prone to illegal access, loss or alteration, often in violation of privacyregulations.

Yet while academic Internet access has expanded rapidly over the last decade, budgets have only gotten tighter. In order to protect academic and administrative resources, IT needs to apply limited funds more strategically and intelligently than ever.

Source: eschoolnews

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July 23, 2009

US Divided – Educational Outsourcing

Filed under: Focus EduVation — Focus EduVation @ 11:22 am

apr05_outsourcing

Welcome to the latest trend in the world of outsourcing. With the students in the US increasingly relying on overseas tutors, online tutoring has become the newest industry to be outsourced to other countries.

The US demand for overseas tutors is creating such a thriving industry in India that about 80 per cent of India’s 5 million dollars online tutoring industry is focused on students in the United States, according to a report in the Washington Post on Monday.

It said that thousands of US students rely on tutors, especially in India and China, to boost their grades and SAT scores. The tutors, who communicate with students over the Internet, are inexpensive and available around the clock.

Tutoring companies contend that if low-paid workers in China and India can sew your clothes, process your medical bills and answer your computer questions, why can’t they teach your children, too?

Educational outsourcing, as it has come to be known, has become even more contentious as companies try to tap into the millions of dollars available under the ‘No Child Left Behind Act’ — a program set up by the Bush administration to ensure education for all. Funds under this program is made available for tutorials (remedial tutoring as it is known in the US).

Studyloft.com, a Chicago-based tutoring company with more than 6,000 clients, and a California-based company — Growing Stars, hope to qualify for those funds. More than 400 students have enrolled with Growing Stars, whose 50 tutors, most of them with master’s degrees, work in an office in Cochin.

Most of the US students are very happy getting help from their overseas tutors. They say they got A grades in mathematics and Statistics and also have high Sat scores because of the tutoring they got from Indian teachers.

However, educational outsourcing, like the rest of the outsourcing business, has come in for severe criticism in the US.

The Post quoted Rob Weil, deputy director of educational issues at the American Federation of Teachers: ‘We don’t believe that education should become a business of outsourcing.

‘When you start talking about overseas people teaching children, it just doesn’t seem right to me.’

Teachers unions are vigorously lobbying for legislation that would make it more difficult for overseas tutors to receive ‘No Child Left Behind funds’.

Weil, of the American Federation of Teachers, said after-school tutors should be required to pass the same rigorous certification process as public school teachers.

When Studyloft.com, a Chicago-based tutoring company with more than 6,000 clients, advertised in Bangalore for tutors with master’s degrees, more than 500 people applied for 38 spots, according to Bikram Roy, the firm’s founder and chief executive.

‘There is just a huge hotbed of talent there in math and science,” he said. ‘India has the best tutors — the best teachers — in the world.’

The Indian teachers also work hard on their pronunciation skills.

Some of them, who have master’s degrees in business administration and mathematics, went through two weeks of accent reduction and cultural training. They also learned for the first time about baseball and ice-skating and had to memorise strange-sounding American holidays.

But the effort was worth it because they make $300 a month, much more than what teachers earn in India.

But some tutoring companies in the US worry that outsourcing could be bad for business. Francesco Lecciso, a director of New York-based Brainfuse Online Tutoring, said only 70 of the firm’s 1,000 tutors live abroad, in India and Chile.

‘It’s used as a pejorative weapon by our competitors,’ he said. ‘It such a hot-button political issue. ‘

Yet some companies are thinking of educational outsourcing on a much broader scale than just tutoring. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System is outsourcing the grading of some papers to Smarthinking, a district-based online tutoring company that works with 70,000 students at 300 schools across the country and has both tutors in the United States and abroad.

The Post quoted Burck Smith, the firm’s chief executive and co-founder to say that ‘Essentially we are acting as the teaching assistant. We can do better service, more consistent service, and at a better price.’

Smith says he believes that eventually schools will outsource their office hours, review sessions and other aspects of instruction to teachers that might be located anywhere in the world. Right now, about 20 per cent of Smarthinking’s 500 tutors are in countries such as India, the Philippines, Chile, South Africa and Israel.

About Focus EduVation: Focus EduVation based just outside of Boston, MA and are an Education Management company. Focus EduVation is in the space of writing Items for formative assessments, standards alignment, Media development, test scoring, grading services and curriculum design. Including writing lesson plans with differentiated instruction, PowerPoint Lessons (for in-class use) for the teachers and guided practice and application activities for the students.

Source : Rediff News

Seven e-learning Resources

Filed under: e-learning — Focus EduVation @ 11:05 am

With the growing virtual schoolrooms, publishers, schools and teachers are finding innovative resources to engage their students. According to Read Write Web, the seven great technologies are (Focus EduVenture seconds the opinion)

  1. Scitable: Nature Education launched Scitable to provide free online access to more than 180 overviews of key scientific and genetics concepts. The tool consists of a 220-article content library (often cited from members of the Nature Publishing group, more than 200 virtual classrooms set up by teachers across the globe, and a mentor network of experts poised to answer student questions.
  2. Edutopia: The George Lucas Educational Foundation launched Edutopia which includes online polls, curated blogs, assessment tools and a dedicated magazine for educators at the K-12 levels. The 2009 Webby Award winning site’s best content is in its library of high-production videos for teachers and educators.
  3. Learnhub: LearnHub is a network where members can create their own communities, share lessons, chat, create tests and tutor each other online at no cost. One of the great features of this site is that the site’s report generator allows teachers to track users’ progress. While the content is not as in-depth as Scitable’s, this is a good site for standardized test preparation and basic K-12 education exercises.
  4. Moodle: Moodle is a free open-source course management platform designed to help teachers create better online resources. Microsoft Education Labs recently announced a new Live@edu plug-in for Moodle. Now in addition to providing lesson plan, assignment and quiz-making tools for teachers, schools also gain access to Outlook Live for e-mail, Office Live Workspace for document sharing, Windows Messenger for chat and Windows Live SkyDrive for 25 GB of storage.
  5. Edmodo: Edmodo is a private micro-blogging service for schools that allows teachers to edit privacy options within their virtual classrooms. Educators generate a join code and students log-in to chat, link to files, share notes and check their collective calendars for upcoming exams, quizzes and Pro-D days.
  6. YouTube Edu: YouTube Edu allows students and educators to access lectures from leading educators across the country. For example, Yale and Brandeis University professors upload their lessons for public enjoyment. One of the most popular Channels is the National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning – a collaboration launched by the Indian Institutes of Technology and Science in Bangalore.
  7. ESL Video: ESL Video allows language educators to create quizzes from virtually any video on the internet. From here they can embed their quizzes into their classroom sites or redirect students to the ESL Video domain. Teachers tailor their video quizzes to specific learning units or create simple vocabulary quizzes like the one I made below using YouTube videos. While this tool may not be as sophisticated as some of the above services, its merit comes from the fact that teachers can incorporate pop culture products into their lesson plans with very little effort.newgui

About Focus EduVation: Focus EduVation based just outside of Boston, MA and are an Education Management company. Focus EduVation is in the space of writing Items for formative assessments, standards alignment, Media development, test scoring, grading services and curriculum design. Including writing lesson plans with differentiated instruction, PowerPoint Lessons (for in-class use) for the teachers and guided practice and application activities for the students.

July 17, 2009

“Porting Content” Is Critical For Today’s Businesses And Involves A Strict Pre-Planning Process

Filed under: Content Porting — Focus EduVation @ 10:00 am

cportingPorting Content may not seem a lot of work but the process is very essential for businesses as in some cases it may require large migration. Content porting alias Content Migration is multi-dimensional and requires a lot of pre-planning to understand:

  • Information needed to be compiled
  • Technical support needed
  • Inter-connect departments
  • Centralization needed
  • Menu options needed
  • Site freezes required and many others

The process is initialized by understanding the content, tracking down the content and auditing them. To audit content, one will need to understand what is the objective of porting and this opens up an avenue of building templates that help one audit and organize content to start planning the porting.

In most cases, businesses would need a single knowledge platform to which content should be migrated to make access easier and faster even if done remotely.

With the use of images, flash, powerpoint and word documents, spreadsheets and other objects, content porting may get challenging. In such cases, it is very necessary to estimate the effort of porting and ensure that the complexity of the process is addressed. The pre-planning process should cover to know if the object is a document, thumbnail, metadata or other. What is the count of these objects and is the object placed in the header, footer or main page? It would be easier if certain objects are given a standard convention.

Delivering Results

Predicting all the activities and workstream necessary for porting is a daunting task. It’s almost inevitable that something will get left out. However, much of the processes and tools developed on early migrations can greatly reduce the risks associated with future migrations. The key is to focus on “quick hits”: short, manageable projects that can deliver consistent results in a limited timeframe

Focus EduVation offers Content Porting as a service to convert roprietary based documents into multi-platform (Mac and Windows) enabled XML, SGML, and HTML standard file formats. Our content porting suite provides an interactive UI platform with built in features that verifies the quality of the content at every stage.

About Focus EduVation: Focus EduVation based just outside of Boston, MA and are an Education Management company. Focus EduVation is in the space of writing Items for formative assessments, standards alignment, Media development, test scoring, grading services and curriculum design. Including writing lesson plans with differentiated instruction, PowerPoint Lessons (for in-class use) for the teachers and guided practice and application activities for the students.

July 15, 2009

Building High Stakes Assessment System Support For Successful Learners – An Introduction

Filed under: High Stakes Assessment — Focus EduVation @ 7:01 am

advncdHigh Stakes which a term was used for high-rolling gambling game is now a common phrase in education. The idea of High Stakes Assessment is purely to have a authentic assessment conducted to know the student’s achievement and thereby improve instruction.

With the advent of the No Child Left Behind federal legislation, the demand for high stakes testing has surfaced and is mandated to check a student’s progress from one grade to a higher. The pros of High Stakes Assessments are evident and have been widely adopted by states and districts. High Stakes testing has a neutral standard for assessing the effects of state policies

High Stakes Research by National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) suggests that the tests are suitable for the middle graders (ages 9 -13). Also, assessing middle graders is felt important by the legislation as their progress for the future grades can be charted well. Assessing high stakes between states is also adopted wide as the comparison is obvious to know the appropriateness of the assessments among students.

There is a lot of debate over High Stakes testing among schools, states and districts as it is noticed that the complexity of the tests can de-motivate students and they may not be able to perform well in their regular tests. It is also shown that “Just 23 percent of states posted gains on NAEP higher than the national average after high stakes were introduced”

However, High Stakes Assessment adoption is necessary and in response to it publishers, schools and states have been refining the assessments to make it authentic and fairer, so as to measure a student’s academic ability only.

Focus EduVation conducts High Stakes Assessments and help standardize the test in its most efficient way to measure a child’s performance. We deliver the NCLB-required high stakes testing including test development, scoring, processing and reporting.

About Focus EduVation: Focus EduVation based just outside of Boston, MA and are an Education Management company. Focus EduVAtion is in the space of writing Items for formative assessments, standards alignment, Media development, test scoring, grading services and curriculum design. Including writing lesson plans with differentiated instruction, PowerPoint Lessons (for in-class use) for the teachers and guided practice and application activities for the students.

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