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College

April is Financial Literacy Month

The latest national data reports that while a growing number of students graduate high school, college enrollments are decreasing. Students cite a lot of reasons for that:

  • I can’t afford it
  • I can’t get in
  • It’s too hard
  • I have a good job
  • It isn’t worth it

Whatever is to blame, the result is that students increasingly take on the complicated economics of working and raising families without the knowledge, maturity, or experience to succeed at those. High schools are attempting to fill that gap by offering financial literacy classes that teach how to balance finite income from a job against infinite needs and wants.

Since April is Financial Literacy Month, I want to share my favorite online options, all age-appropriate for high school students and financial literacy classes:

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Categories: College, Economics | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Study.com Makes the College Dream a Reality for Lots of Students

study.comIn a world where college fees go up every year, where the cost of campus-based classes invariably includes expensive extras, where the time commitment to complete college classes often can’t be balanced with work and family needs, Study.com stands out. These web-based classes offer motivated students a self-paced, self-directed path to achieving their college dreams in an affordable, flexible, quality ecosystem that prepares them for future careers in fields they love.

Study.com (formerly called Education-Portal) is a distance learning portal that provides over 70,000 lessons in fifteen subjects (including algebra, calculus, physics, chemistry, macro- and microeconomics, and more) aligned with popular textbooks. The engaging video summaries of textbook material provide access to more than a thousand full-length college courses.

Students sign up for a Study.com membership (there are three options) and take as many classes as they’d like each month. Depending upon the level of service subscribed to, students can view videos, take practice quizzes and exams, and get credit for classes passed through a proctored exam. All they need is an internet connection and a webcam (for proctored exams). Each course has about a hundred videos, each 5-10 minutes in length. In the College Accelerator membership, subscribers earn college credits that can be transferred to any one of over two thousand participating colleges and universities.

Study.com also offers a special (fee-based) Teacher Edition where educators can set up five virtual classrooms with up to 50 students in each, share class-themed videos, assign lessons and quizzes as homework, grade student work, print out worksheets, and get detailed reports on student progress.  Lessons can be pushed out to the entire class or specific students. They can be uploaded to Google Classroom, Schoology, Blackboard, and a selection of other LMSs. Students join with a free Study.com account that can be accessed with mobile apps (with the exception of proctored exams).

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Clutch Prep: When You Need Help With a Class You Must Pass

clutch prepClutch Prep calls themselves “the video version of textbooks” but really, that doesn’t give you the full flavor of what they offer. Their academic how-to videos are textbook-specific so you pick the ones used in your classes, even by your teacher. Videos cover each chapter and can be used as a preview or review. Practice questions monitor understanding to see if you’re ready for summative tests. Answers include an explanation of how to reach the correct answer. Every student is assigned a tutor who is available to answer questions if needed.

So, yes, it’s academic video tutorials–Plus.

Clutch Prep was founded on the idea that students would prefer to re-learn a concept from scratch rather than patch the holes in their knowledge. Geared for college-level classes, this also works well for high school AP classes. With over 348,000 students answering 14,5000 discrete practice problems, 90% of whom improve their grades, it seems like a no-brainer. You can sign up for free to watch a limited number of videos. The full program requires a fee that varies depending on how many classes you take and how you pay.

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How to Prepare for the SAT

SAT testTaking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has become a right-of-passage for high school students as they leave formal education and enter the next phase of learning. Over seven million will take SAT tests in 2018 in January, March/April, May, June, October, November, or December. Some will take it for the first time; some for the umpteenth time. For many, it represents a last desperate attempt to qualify for the college of their dreams.

In an earlier article, I focused on preparation for the essay portion of the SAT. This time, I’ll discuss some of the great online sites that help students prepare for the math and reading portions. I’ve based my selections on the following criteria:

  • ease of use — accounts are easy to set up with access to both the site and materials quick and intuitive
  • well-rounded — nicely differentiated tools that address varied student learning styles
  • quantity and quality of available prep materials — materials are both in-depth and in a variety of formats (written, online, video, live/chat) with explanations of answers
  • cost vs. value — free is nice but if students get good value for fee-based resources, that’s just as important
  • time commitment — students can spend as much or little time as they have on any given day

Here are eleven options for SAT preparation, from my Top Five choices to six Honorable Mentions. All are easy to use, differentiated, up-to-date on the recent changes to the SAT, and represent a good investment of both time and money:

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Categories: College, Reviews | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

UWorld’s Unique SAT Prep Site

When I first visited UWorld’s College prep site, I expected what usually is included on free SAT/ACT prep sites–questions, answers, and a lot of cheerleading.

I should have known better. UWorld is a leading provider of question bank materials for professional licensing exams like USMLE, ABIM, and ABFM, considered by many to be the gold standard in test preparation. Now, UWorld has expanded into SAT prep (as well as ACT and AP prep). The site includes over 1200 questions written by experienced educators and designed to be similar to what students will find on the real SAT. With each question is a rigorous explanation, step-by-step instructions, and helpful images about the logic behind answers.

Features include:

  • Choose your difficulty level–low, medium, hard.
  • Get hints to help you find a starting point for the answer.
  • Customize practice tests to focus on mastering specific concepts within subjects.
  • Create your own flashcards for quick review.
  • Track your time and performance to improve your pace.
  • Monitor progress with reports and graphs.
  • Compare your results to peers as a gauge of performance. This includes questions they got correct, how much time they took answering individual questions, and the types of questions they are struggling with.
  • Identify weaknesses and improve strengths.
  • Flag questions that you’d like to review later.
  • Define difficult words from within the app (for reading prep).

Registered students can access questions at the pace they’d like, take full timed tests to build test-taking stamina, pause during testing, flag questions they want more work on, save generated tests to finish or retake later, and more.

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Categories: College, High School, Reviews | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Need to Learn Moodle? Start With VerveEd

verveedMoodle is an open source free cloud-based learning platform used by over 96 million people to create over 11 million courses. These can be a simple activity or a fully-featured course. The platform offers a plethora of tools to customize courses as pretty much whatever teachers need, including:

  • Upload video, audio, and links
  • Engage students in a discussion forum or a survey
  • Create, conduct and grade quizzes
  • Assign, collect, review and grade assignments

The problem with Moodle and what stops many educators from using it has nothing to do with its flexible and scalable platform. It’s just not intuitive enough. Australia-based VerveEd’s goal is to fix that. Using an experiential, self-paced environment, VerveEd walks teachers through all the steps needed to create and use the Moodle platform in a clear, organized fashion and then provides nine hands-on ‘challenges’ that users complete to assess their knowledge in a real-world (albeit sandbox) Moodle environment.  Challenges include topics such as:

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