Tag Archives: education

Though There is Much To Be Desired, Online Schools Have Come a Long Way

In today’s guest post, Estelle Shumann explores the recent advances made in online education and the steps still needed before online education will be a viable and secure platform.

imageOnline education has taken enormous strides in 2012. If progress continues at this pace, there may soon be a low-cost, high-quality alternative to traditional education widely available to students of every stripe. In fact, free learning may become a possibility for everyone with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) and computer or mobile device.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the big milestones reached, as well as the areas that need improvement before learning becomes completely democratized.

Why was 2012 such a groundbreaking year? Firstly, Internet connection speeds have increased, so most people can stream video easily and without interruption. This format allows professors to speak directly to students, even if they are thousands of miles apart.

As studies and experience have shown, there is simply no decent alternative to watching and listening to a real person discuss a topic. Tone of voice, gestures, and demeanor are crucial to the successful transmission of complex ideas. Moreover, recent experiments have demonstrated that classes are more successful when offered in real-time segments. Lectures may be recorded, but are released on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The past decade has allowed institutions to gain experience with online class environments, making them more efficient and effective.

The University of Phoenix and Khan Academy are no longer the only entities trying out new ideas. There are now a vast number of traditional universities experimenting with online education. Stanford University has been a pioneer in this arena offering online classes for over a decade. MIT started offering open courseware in 2011, which gave anyone interested access to video-lectures, assignments, tests, and quizzes. In the fall of 2012, MIT and Harvard will join forces and offer a combined platform, called EdX.

Also in 2012, a team of Stanford professors came together and went live with Coursera, a collaborative approach to online education that allows any university to join and offer free classes through its website. Thus far, 16 universities have joined, including Stanford University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Michigan. Institutions in France, Canada, and the United Kingdom have also joined what is now an international effort. These universities are adding their prestige and pull to Coursera and online education in general.

Despite the advances in online education, there remain some large problems to solve before it will become universally useful to consumers. One major issue involves certification and assessments. Many classes on Coursera, for example, offer certificates signed by professors, but the value of these remains dubious.

The reputation of these certificates is hampered by the possibility of hacking and cheating. It would be impossible for these universities to monitor individual students and ensure fairness. Until there is a secure way to know that students have completed their own work without external help, online classes will not mean very much to prospective employers.

Also problematic is the limitation of single-course offerings. In order to prepare for a profession in the real world, students need to earn some type of certification or degree, which requires a prescribed set of completed classes. Thus, students may still need to attend traditional university programs if they want to significantly improve their earning potential.

Online classes fail to meet the goal of democratizing the education system, but they are progressing rapidly.

Author Bio:

Writing for the education resource OnlineSchools.org, Estelle is familiar with the benefits and drawbacks of both online and traditional schools. Estell’s article builds on a December 2011 post from Bill Mullins’ Weblog, which suggests that online education resources like Khan Academy are proof that the content of online course offerings remains more important than the method of delivery.

2 Comments

Filed under Connected Devices, Education, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Online Learning

Free LiberKey Version 5.5 – A Computer Toolbox On A Stick

image LiberKey (which I’ve reviewed previously – version 4.1 – March 2010), is a compilation of freeware, and open source  portable applications, offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Additionally, the application can just as easily be installed, and run, from a Hard Drive. In fact, for this updated test and review, that’s exactly what I choose to do – installing LiberKey to my F: drive. You might consider a similar solution – an install to a Flash drive and a further install to your HD.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Basic suite: 13 Applications, Installed size: 120.51 MB

Standard suite: 83 Applications, Installed size: 561.61 MB

Ultimate suite:  144 Applications, Installed size: 711.47 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have the option of building your own LiberKey platform.

There have been major changes since I first reviewed LiberKey. This time out, on launching the application, you will find that you are presented with a blank  LiberKey menu applet. I’m not convinced that this

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You will then have the opportunity to select the most appropriate suite for your needs as per the following screen capture. I’m not convinced that this process is instinctive, but……

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I choose the Ultimate edition adding (144 applications), which took approximately  11 minutes to download and install (in a single seamless process), to my Hard Drive. The same install to a Flash Drive, ate up roughly 30 minutes.

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Following installation, you’ll notice that the Menu has been populated.

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The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates. In this example, simply clicking on FastStone Image Viewer, brought up the application.

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With so many applications to choose from, finding the right tool for the job could be a bit of a hassle. But, the developers have anticipated this and provided a pop out description of each application – making it easy to put your finger on just the right tool.

image

Fast facts:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

The developers have put up a short install demo video you might find worthwhile viewing.

6 Comments

Filed under Application Launchers, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Free LiberKey Version 5 – Now With Up To 306 Portable Applications

image Previously, I’ve reviewed a number of applications which will allow you to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications, including – Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

LiberKey (which I’ve also reviewed previously – version 4.1), is a compilation of freeware, and open source  portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive. Additionally, the application can just as easily be installed, and run, from a Hard Drive. In fact, for this updated test and review, that’s exactly what I choose to do.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

LiberKey Basic 5: 12 Applications, Installed size: 141.58 MB

LiberKey Standard 5: 89 Applications, Installed size: 535.54 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 5: 164 Applications, Installed size: 701.47 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform.

There have been major changes since I first reviewed LiberKey. This time out, on launching the application, you will find that you are presented with a blank  LiberKey menu applet.

image

You will then have the opportunity to select the most appropriate suite for your needs. Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

image

I choose the Ultimate edition adding (164 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to download and install (in a single seamless process), to my Hard Drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

image

image

Following installation, you’ll notice that the Menu has been populated.

image

Fast facts:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates. In this example, simply clicking on HD Tune, launched HD Tune – Hard Disk Utility.

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With so many applications to choose from, finding the right tool for the job could be a bit of a hassle. But the developers have anticipated this, and provided a pop out description of each application – making it easy to put your finger on just the right tool.

image

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Open Source, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities

Why It’s Important For Adults To Become Educated In The IT Field

Guest writer Lisa Darning takes a look at the need for the older workforce to stay current, in an ever changing technology landscape.

imageEvery day we are more and more submerged in the technological world. It is ever growing and changing, and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. The more that technology becomes an everyday staple of life, the more important it is for us to be knowledgeable in the field.

Communication is done through email, text, social networks and IM. Some offices are based entirely on the Internet, and this makes for a new breed of employees and employers.

The older you are, the more foreign this new wave of knowledge may seem, and getting in the job market may seem frightening and overwhelming. The good news is, there is no reason to feel alarmed; you, just as the younger generation, are more than capable of handling technology and using it to your advantage.

There are hundreds of online, and brick and mortar schools, that offer programs in IT education. The availability of information and training programs make jumping on board this technological train increasingly easy.

The importance of being educated in technology is growing right alongside the industry. As an older individual having some knowledge puts you in the same running for jobs as those who grew up with a technological force field.

Earning an education in IT may be for your own general knowledge; may be to climb the corporate ladder, or even to get started at a new career. Whatever your reasons, there are tons of advantages to taking steps toward a continued IT education.

Advantages of Having Knowledge in the IT Field

The biggest advantage, in my eyes, is having the same skills as younger individuals. To be competitive when entering into a new job market, or climbing the ladder at your current employer, having IT experience makes it so much easier.

When it is time for promotion or hiring, there are plenty of people who are passed over because of out-dated skills, This can be avoided with a little extra focus on the technological aspects of your job.

Taking a little extra time to teach yourself  new programs for work, new ways to market your company and yourself, taking a general computer course, or even learning the ways of social interaction through the Internet, can give you a leg up on the competition.

Equipping yourself with knowledge is so important. Not only for the growing world of technology, but for our growing world in general. The saying “knowledge is power” holds so much truth, and this is another advantage to furthering your education, in any field.

The mind is an amazing thing and can take you many places in life, exercising this great human tool is not only rewarding but can produce many successes. A curiosity can turn into a career with the right education. Employers today, technology aside, are looking for credentials. There aren’t many companies who will hire someone without an education, making it so much more important for adults to take steps in furthering their educations.

The more the technological world grows and changes, the more the need for technology minded individuals. There are no boundaries to learning and furthering you education, and it can earn you many different successes, whether they be business or personal. People have the option of getting a degree at an online university.

The world of technology is showing no signs of slowing and we are responsible for keeping up – look at it as a challenge, and keep it interesting.

Lisa Darning is a twenty something Internet consultant, and freelance writer. She has two degrees – marketing and creative writing. She loves traveling the world, watching sports, golfing and supporting the arts. In her free time, she designs jewelry.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Education, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Older Adult Computer Users, Point of View

Portable Apps To The Max With Free Liberkey 5.0

I’m a big fan of image applications which will allow users to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications. Applications like Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

LiberKey is another great application that has also been designed to save the user time. The emphasis here though, is on portable applications. I previously reviewed this application in March of this year, but with the release of Version 5.0, even more choices are available.

LiberKey (302 applications available in a few clicks), is a compilation of freeware, and open source, portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

LiberKey Basic 5.0 12 Applications, Installed size: 113 MB

LiberKey Standard 5.0 89 Applications, Installed size: 468 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 5.0: – 164 Applications, Installed size: 618 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform. Neat idea!

At a glance:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

I choose the Ultimate edition adding (164 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to install to my USB drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

LiberKey 3

Following the installation, I reviewed the application’s “Stat” screen to ensure I had a seamless install.

LiberKey 4

The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates.

LiberKey 5

A cool feature that caught my attention was, the application launcher icon sitting in my taskbar. A small, but important, feature.

I already had a ton of portable applications on the USB drive I installed LiberKey to; but free and easy have always appealed to me. Perhaps to you as well.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Application Launchers, downloads, Freeware, Open Source, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Free LiberKey – Installs 180+ Portable Applications

image In the past few days we have talked about a couple of applications which will allow you to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications – Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

It never rains but it pours, right? In some cases that can be a good thing – like now. Regular reader David W. has pointed out another great application that has also been designed to save the user time.

LiberKey is a compilation of freeware, and open source, portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

LiberKey Basic 4.8: 12 Applications, Installed size: 120.02 MB

LiberKey Standard 4.8: 90 Applications, Installed size: 442.27 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 4.8: 168 Applications, Installed size: 586.97 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform. Neat idea!

At a glance:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

I choose the Ultimate edition adding (168 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to install to my USB drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

LiberKey 3

Following the installation, I reviewed the application’s “Stat” screen to ensure I had a seamless install. It turns out the total number of applications installed numbered 184, and not 168, as advertised. The developer needs to update the relevant documentation to reflect this variance.

LiberKey 4

The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates.

LiberKey 5

A cool feature that caught my attention was, the application launcher icon sitting in my taskbar. A small, but important, feature.

I already had a ton of portable applications on the USB drive I installed LiberKey to; but free and easy have always appealed to me. Perhaps to you as well.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

11 Comments

Filed under downloads, Freeware, Portable Applications, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary – Helps You Say What You Mean

It would be hard to argue, that a picture is not worth a thousand words. On the other hand, there are times when the appropriate word will convey the intended message far better than a picture. I can think of a few words that have the power to do just that, and I’m sure you can as well. Even words that mean the same thing, can covey very different messages.

If  you’re a writer, a student, or you just want to find the right word to get the right message across, then the free WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows application will be invaluable.

WordWeb is a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program.

It works off-line, but it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in any web reference encyclopedia. The data base in WordWeb includes over 150,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets.

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Features of the free version include:

Definitions and synonyms

Proper nouns

Related words

Pronunciations

150,000 root words

120,000 synonym sets

Look up words in almost any program

There are tools within the program for changing the database to one of nine different variations of English: British, Irish, American, Canadian, Australian, Indian, and global English.

I have used this neat little application for many years, and I find it invaluable. If you’re serious about improving your communication skills, installing this free application will be a positive step in that direction.

I was quite surprised to see that this small application averages over 33,000 weekly downloads at Download.com. It looks as if proper word usage might be coming back into style after all. Now that would be a pleasant and positive step.

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some very interesting ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

System requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

Alternatively you may go to WordWeb’s online international dictionary and word finder, which can handle more than 300 000 possible lookup words, and phrases.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

7 Comments

Filed under dictionary, downloads, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Student Help, thesaurus, Utilities, Writing Aids

Tip – Be a Better Writer with WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows – Free

WordWeb is a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program.

It works off-line, but it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in any web reference encyclopedia. The data base in WordWeb includes over 120,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets.

image

Features of the free version include:

Definitions and synonyms

Proper nouns

Related words

Pronunciations

150,000 root words

120,000 synonym sets

Look up words in almost any program

There are tools within the program for changing the database to one of several English variations, including nine different variations of English, including British English, Irish English, and American English.

I have used this neat little application for many years, and I find it invaluable. If you’re serious about improving your writing skills, installing this free application will be a positive step in that direction.

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some very interesting ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

System requirements: Windows 98/2000/Me/XP/Vista

Download at: Download.com

1 Comment

Filed under dictionary, Freeware, Productivity Software, Software, Student Help, thesaurus, Windows Tips and Tools, Writing Aids

WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows – Free Version

wordweb5_free2.png

WordWeb is a one-click English Thesaurus and Dictionary for Windows that can be used to instantly find definitions, synonyms, and pronunciations for words in virtually any Windows program.

It works off-line, but it can connect to the Internet enabling you to look up words in any web reference encyclopedia. The data base in WordWeb includes over 120,000 root words and 120,000 synonym sets.

Features of the free version include:

  • Definitions and synonyms
  • Proper nouns
  • Related words
  • Pronunciations

There are tools within the program for changing the database to one of several English variations, including nine different variations of English, including British English, Irish English, and American English.

I have used this neat little application for many years and I find it invaluable.

Note: The author is a concerned environmentalist, so this free version of WordWeb comes with some ecological restrictions; read the license agreement for details.

Download at: http://wordweb.info/free/

4 Comments

Filed under Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools