Category Archives: Education

Oldest University

There have been learning centers available for students for many centuries, ever since knowledge started spreading, but not all olden learning centers can be classified as universities. A college is an institution that grants learning degrees, whereas a university is a collection of many such colleges granting various degrees. The classification and definition of a university differs from country to country. For example, in the United States, an educational institution that undertakes research work is given this title. In the United Kingdom, the Further and Higher Education Act of 1992 grants power to the Privy Council to confer this title upon an institution. Basically, it means an institution of higher education (both undergraduate and postgraduate) and research, which confers degrees upon its students.
There were two universities which came before all the old ones that are functioning today, although these two are not in existence anymore. One of these universities was Takshashila and the other one was Nalanda.
Takshashila
Location: Currently in Pakistan
Founded in: 600 BC
It prospered greatly from 600 BC to 500 AD. It is said to be the world’s first proper university. It was present during the time of the Gandhara kingdom. Students from all over, including Babylon, Greece, China, and Syria came to learn there. The subjects that were taught included the vedas, warfare, surgery, grammar, medicine, archery, accounts, politics, futurology, astronomy, music, documentation, dance, the occult, and many more. These were taught by experienced people who had mastered them greatly. It was located in the northwest of the then Bharat (now India). Chanakya was one of the students of this university.

Nalanda
Location: Bihar, India
Founded in: 500 AD
This university was in operation for 800 years from 500 AD to 1300 AD. It had a campus that was a mile long and half a mile wide. There were 300 classrooms and laboratories, and such other facilities. It also had an observatory known as the Ambudharaavlehi and a massive library known as Dharma Gunj. The entrance exam that needed to be given to get admission into this university was said to be extremely tough, with the number of students clearing it being only 3 out of 10. This institution was destroyed by invaders.
The following is a list of some of the oldest universities in the world that are functioning even today.
University of Al-Karaouine
Location: Fes, Morocco
Founded in: 859 AD
Also known as the University of Al-Qarawiyyin, it was founded in 859 AD by a woman called Fatima Al-Fihri. Located in Fes, Morocco, this is the oldest Madrassa in the world, and is revered by the Muslim world in particular. It is a great spiritual and educational center. It focuses mainly on Islamic religious and legal sciences. The Guinness Book of World Records has recorded it as the oldest continuously-operating degree-granting university.

Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) You Never Knew

Massive Open Online Course, abbreviated as MOOC, has been heralded as the next big thing in education. It offers students an opportunity to learn from some of the best professors of the top Universities around the world. Although MOOC is still at a nascent stage, the overwhelming response it has garnered worldwide can be a sign of the times to come. However, in spite of getting widespread acclaim and acceptance (The New York Times dubbed 2012 as ‘The Year of MOOC’), there are certain challenges associated with it. The lack of accreditation of MOOCs is a concern that has been raised by many skeptics. Also, it has been seen that the difference between the number of students joining an MOOC, and the actual number of students completing it, is enormous. These concerns have raised certain questions on whether it is really the future of education around the world, or just another passing trend. Before we take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of MOOCs, let us quickly see how it became the buzzword in the last couple of years.
A Brief History of MOOC
Distance learning is an alternative to people who want to acquire higher studies, but are not able to due to geographical or monetary reasons. In its initial phase, distance learning was generally carried out through snail mails. After the advent of radio and television, there was a remarkable pedagogical change. But, what perhaps changed the whole structure of distance learning was the invention of personal computers and the World Wide Web. Students could now get all the information on a real-time basis, and connect with their fellows and teachers. Realizing that the Internet had opened up new areas of imparting education, many educators began to launch free online courses to mass audiences.

Speaking strictly about MOOCs, the first contributors were Stephen Downes and George Siemens of the University of Manitoba, Canada. But what really brought MOOCs in the mainstream consciousness was the ‘Introduction to Artificial Intelligence’ course, offered by two Stanford Professors – Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. A whopping 160,000 students from 190 countries signed up for the course, and a new method of teaching and learning was born. MOOC was massive, online, and open, and it promised to present an opportunity to millions of students to learn from the most renowned names from Ivy League colleges. Thrun and Norvig streamlined the process of MOOC by creating Udacity, a website which provides information about the upcoming courses, and allows students to sign up for them. Two more companies, Coursera and edX also started their operations in 2012, each offering free online courses from some of the most prestigious Universities of America.

Although the concept of MOOC looks absolutely fascinating, there are certain challenges that need to be addressed if it has to truly become the next big thing in the education sector. In the following paragraphs, we will understand the viewpoint of the opponents and proponents of MOOCs, and get a hang of its pros and cons.
Pros
Free
Student taking notes from internet
One of the most important factors for a lot of aspiring students is whether or not they can afford the high tuition fees required for embarking on a course. With MOOCs, all you need is a PC with an Internet connection. Most of the MOOCs don’t charge a single penny for their courses, although one may need to pay a small fee for getting the completion certificate.

Teaching Strategies for Reading

It simply means attainment of language, sharing of information, communicating, and comprehending it the right way. It is an individual activity, and has to be done on your own for better comprehension. Literacy, in the true sense, is the ability to absorb the content that has been read. Such is the importance of reading in one’s life. With the invasion of technology, today, it’s more of electronic display, in the form of computers, tablets, television, mobile phones or eReaders that have been a part of people’s lifestyles. But thankfully, technology hasn’t yet taken over the traditional method of learning through books. It’s important to imbibe in children at a relatively tender age the fruits of embracing books. Now, if you find it boring, difficult, or simply tough to channelize and motivate your kids, here are a few tips.
Effective Strategies
To start with, one must know the language relatively well. Phonics are very important, as they help you connect with the sounds of every letter or group of letters, hence, clubbing them together to produce the correct pronunciation of the unknown words. The instruction begins with phonics, and kids learn to read simple text even before they complete the phonological knowledge. Composition of sentences, phrases, pronunciation of words, spelling and punctuation follows the phonological study. Prefixes, suffixes, compound words, and other parts of speech come in next. You need not master the language, but at least get the basic crux of the language to make it interesting. The comprehending part is the most tough, because you cannot expect anyone to comprehend certain things in the way you comprehend them. Some people, or kids for that matter, read for the heck of it without proper comprehension. At a very early age, if students are given suitable tips and instructions, it is helpful for them to monitor their comprehension. The last being summarizing, that is remembering what is read and being able to connect to the main ideas and central plan.

Top-Down Method
A top-down approach is essentially very basic and for beginners. In this approach, you are supposed to break down the task into sections and sub-sections. These sections and sub-sections should then be given greater focus and concentration. This aims at reducing the entire process to absolutely specific and basic elements. For example, a chapter is cut down into smaller chapters and then focused upon. One can then monitor his comprehension and is able to review content. It makes it easier to know where lies the difficulty and when does he actually lose interest, hence, making it easy to fix these problems. It also makes them think and search. Reading small portions and identifying with the main idea does not tax them, and kids may find it interesting and would want to involve themselves more in the process.

Elite universities U.S.A

If you are American, chances are you don’t believe that there is such a thing as an academic elite in the United States. This is because Americans strongly value the idea that the United States is a meritocracy – a society where anyone can get ahead based on their talent and hard work alone. For this reason, Americans tend to deny any kind of nepotism or elitism, since it shatters the idea that everyone in the United States is equal.

What Does the Ivy League Mean to the Americans?
In one word, precious. Located in the northeastern corner of the United States, the Ivy League is an athletic conference, comprising teams from eight private academic institutions. These include-
Brown University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Dartmouth College
Harvard University
Princeton University
University of Pennsylvania
Yale University
Seven of these institutions were established during the colonial times, and have consistently ranked among the best colleges in the world ever since.

Besides athletic tussles and an exemplary academic tradition, these colleges carry quite the reputation for being nitpickingly selective and elitist.

Power and Elite Universities
Consider this one question: How many high-power politicians and businessmen do you know of that did not attend Harvard, Yale, or another big-name school in the Ivy League or on the West Coast? It’s likely that the answer is zero or nearly zero. You might claim that this is because only society’s brightest and most talented people are suitable for those roles, and the brightest and most talented people usually attend elite universities. On the surface, this argument makes sense, but if we dig a little deeper, we’ll see that it’s not quite that simple.

The High Cost of Success
The common assumption that society’s super-intelligent members all attend Ivy League schools ignores one very important factor: money. It’s true that a very small number of outstanding students receive scholarships and grants to attend big-name universities, but not everyone can get a scholarship to Harvard. In fact, most Harvard students pay staggeringly high tuition fees. Including room and board, books, and other expenses, a Harvard undergraduate might pay $60,000 per year to attend the school.
Who are Ivy League Students?
Not everyone can afford to go to elite universities, and not all smart, talented students can get scholarships. These aren’t exactly wild claims, but they point directly to the existence of the academic elite I mentioned earlier. People without the means to attend big-name schools are excluded from what many have called the most important aspect of an Ivy League education: the network. It has been remarked many times in the past that, while an Ivy League education is good, the opportunities afforded to students simply by being part of the exclusive “club” of Ivy League graduates is much more valuable than the quality of the education. It is not too surprising then, when we see that Ivy League schools have an acceptance rate that hovers anywhere between 6 to 16%.

Learning Disabilities

I totally agreed with Scott Hamilton when he said that the only disability in life is a wrong attitude. I strongly believe that disability is not a curse or punishment from God for some wrongdoings. No, I feel these people can live a normal life just like any normal person. In fact, people with disabilities are more determined to overcome this barrier and do not want to gain sympathy from people. I remember watching a video clip of a differently abled person who didn’t have hands but was writing with the pen held in his mouth. These people really inspire us to work harder and convert the weaknesses into strengths.

While choosing a college there are certain points which a differently abled person should evaluate before applying to the desired college.
Easily accessible campus and 24×7 buses available with special needs.
Offices having full-time staff for answering the queries of differently abled persons.
Help available in form of attendants or nurses for people with severe disabilities.
Course curriculum and extra tutoring for those who lag behind in class.
Extra curricular activities designed for people with disabilities and coaching for these people who are capable of entering into paralympic Olympics.
After considering these factors the next step is choosing from the list of best colleges which have great programs for differently abled persons.

University of Arizona,Tucson

The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center popularly known as SALT has been the oldest in rendering best programs for people suffering from ADHD and other learning disabilities. This institute offers world-class workshops with well equipped computer labs. The tutors in this program are well experienced and many hold doctorates in their respective fields. The tutors are CRLA (college reading and learning association) certified and render expert services in Maths, Science and other courses. The fee structure for undergraduate lower division and upper division varies from $1000 to $2500 per semester. The tutoring fees is extra $20-25 per hour.

Wayne State University, Detroit

This University located at Detroit offers best facilities in off campus programs, pre – enrollment counseling, ASL interpretors and volunteer note takers. The average tuition fee for undergraduate lower and upper division ranges from $450 to $6000. Known programs like business administration and fine arts are rendered through the campus. The institute also offers excellent placement opportunities and has efficient staff in tutoring and career counseling.

University of Connecticut, Storrs

One of the top ranked public university this institute offers world-class program B.O.L.D (Building Opportunities for students with Learning Disabilities). This program is specifically designed for psychiatric, ADHD and LD disabled students. Through this program students are encouraged to improve their skills in order to gain employment. The average tuition fees for first semester is $1600 and for rest of semesters it is around $1100. The tutoring fees are extra $45 to $51 for a course. The college also provides SEAD program specially designed for autistic students. Through this program the student is encouraged to make transition to college level courses and instill positive attitude among students to achieve their goals.

Creating a Reader-friendly Home

Somewhere in the rush to keep up, all of us have forgotten about reading. I see a lot of you disagreeing with me because I know a lot of avid readers too. But there is this other lot that has long-forgotten and probably even misses the joy of reading, so the idea of passing it on to their little ones may be out of the question. While our lot may be able to revive this habit at some point in the future, it is important that it at least be inculcated in children. The benefits of reading have been experienced by us adults at some point in time or the other. So that these benefits are availed by the younger generation too, here’s how we can encourage kids to read, by creating a suitable environment home.

Creating a Desirable Reading Environment at Home

Before we discuss the importance of developing a good physical environment to read, you ought to understand that forcing this habit on kids is going to yield nothing. In fact, it may lead them to despise reading. No one likes to be forced to do something, even if they secretly enjoy it. So coax them into it, don’t nag them to do it. And here’s how you can go about it.

The Reading Room/Area
Don’t you love a little area where you can snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa and your favorite book? Don’t you want to create that same little haven for your child? Some kids are resistant to reading, so you have to lure them with other elements that will get them to pick up that book. Here’s what you can do:
If not a whole room, you can definitely designate a small area that becomes a reading zone in your house.
This reading area should be well-lit, naturally and artificially.
Add color to the area so that it becomes appealing. The color should not be jarring, but bright enough to attract someone into the zone. If you are doing this specially for kids, keep the colors bright, but don’t overpower with color. Let books, posters, rugs, and lamps add to the color, rather than painting a wall in a loud color or having a bright-colored bookshelf.
Maintain comfortable seating; a desk, a chair, a bean bag, a rug with floor cushions, or a recliner – anything that will make your child comfortable enough to read without badly affecting her/his posture is a good choice.
Keep seating for at least two people. The joy of reading together is greater than that of reading alone.

Leadership Activities for High School

The school is a place where a child can learn much more than the structured courses included in the curriculum, provided the right training is given. There are many leadership ideas for high school students which can help develop their confidence and make them assertive. As self-awareness is the key to development, leadership activities help in self assessment and personality development. Developing these skills in children from the high school days is very important.

Various leadership activities for students can inculcate personal assessment, and help develop potential leadership skills along with a sense of responsibility and identifying their leadership style.

Defining the term leadership is a difficult thing to do. However, it could be described as the process by which one influences people in order to get them enlisted in an activity for achieving a particular objective.

The participants for this activity could be from a minimum of 4 to 20 at the most. It takes around 1 hour to complete this activity. The objective of conducting this leadership activity is to help the participants identify their development needs and work towards the path of personal development. The activity is started with a group discussion on self assessment followed by a questionnaire to be completed by the participants. The questions included in the questionnaire could be such that they test a person’s behavior. One can prepare his own list of questions for the test (for example, which thing holds more importance to you, self-esteem or power). The questions may or may not be provided with multiple-choice options. The participants should be asked to work in pairs and carry out the assessment of their peers. This leadership activity enables the participants to identify their strengths and weaknesses. It is necessary for a leader to understand his strengths and weaknesses before thinking about leading a group or a team. The ‘Learning to Lead’ activity thus, proves to be the first step in the development of leadership in students.
The students are divided into groups of three in this activity. Objective of the activity is to enable the students to share their experiences and build rapport. A list of situations is provided to the students and they have to think of an experience similar to these situations. Here is a list of some of the situations provided to the participants:
Something that generated a great deal of excitement.
A pleasant surprise.
A creative twist on a situation or issue.
An ‘Aha’ moment.
A clever improvisation.
A really tough situation.
A breakthrough insight or solution.
A conflict resolved.
An emotional situation.
A blindside experience.

Activities High School Students Will Really Enjoy

High school students have a mountain size ego which shatters to pieces, if you do not treat them well. Hence, you have to be extremely careful while interacting with this group. You have to inculcate a strong feeling of ‘belongingness’ in them. Given below are some ideas and games for high school students. These activities can provide a basis for inculcating team spirit in young students.
Games and Activities for High School Students
Set Your Own Rules
It is customary for teachers to hand out lengthy, printed sheets of rules and regulations, which the students are supposed to abide. Since, students are not involved in the entire process, they pay marginal attention at the printed sheet they receive. Instead, if you ask your students to pen down the set of rules and regulations which they are expected to follow, then it’ll be a lot more effective option.
Divide the class in teams of 4-5 students and ask each group to write down the set of rules. You can later hold an open discussion with the entire class to shortlist the rules, and of course you can add some of your own ‘absolutely essential’ rules as well. Ask a student to write the shortlisted rules on a paper and stick it on the classroom wall. Since, students drafted their own rules, they are more likely to adhere to them.
Blind Builders

Divide the class in teams of 3 students each, with 1 leader per team. Every team gets a copy of building structure they are supposed to be constructing, along with the building material. Only leader has the access to the structure, but he cannot touch the building material. The leader has to direct his teammates to replicate the structure from the provided building material. This helps the class to understand the importance of giving precise instructions and executing them to the word.

Tic-Tac-Toe

This is a usual tic-tac-toe game, but with a difference. Divide the class in two teams, X and O. Arrange 9 chairs in three rows and three columns. Now start asking questions, either from academics or general. The group that gets the answer correct gets to sit on the chair. Whichever group finishes first, either diagonally, horizontally or vertically, wins.

Obstacle Course
Get a few items for the students to ‘step-over’, ‘walk around’ or ‘duck-under’. Divide the class in teams, with 3 members per team. One of the team member starts the race, blindfolded, while his team members instruct him appropriately to overcome the obstacles in his path. The blindfolded student has to entirely rely on the instruction of his teammates to successfully complete the course. This fosters the feeling of trust within the team members.

Studying Astronomy and Astrophysics in the U.S.

Astronomy is defined by the Oxford dictionary as the branch of science that deals with celestial objects, space, and the physical universe as a whole. Basically, it deals with the study of celestial objects like stars, planets, asteroids, and the like. Astrophysics is a branch of astronomy that deals with the physical nature of celestial objects, and the application of various physics theories and laws to understand astronomical observations. To study astronomy or astrophysics, a student needs a sincere liking for the subject, and a flair for physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Having an educational background relative to what you want to study may or may not be needed. Every college has its different set of entry requirements, so students should carefully assess what requirements they fulfill, and apply accordingly. Several colleges all over the world offer undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate courses in astronomy, and even provide different electives that give students a well-rounded education.

Whether you’re a high-school student exploring options or an undergraduate student thinking of going to grad school, it can be very difficult to zero in on one particular place where you’d want to study. There are several things you need to consider―the location of the school, the tuition fees, the cost of living in that area, availability of scholarships and assistance, and obviously, the faculty for your choice of subjects. If you’re looking for the best schools in the United States where you can study astronomy or astrophysics, look no further. This list compiles the fifteen best colleges, and tells you all that you need to know along with the basic entry requirements and the kinds of programs offered.

Top 15 Colleges For Astronomy and Astrophysics

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Even though MIT does not have a conventional department of Astronomy, it does offer different programs in astronomy and astrophysics at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels through its Department of Physics as well as the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

2. Harvard University
Harvard University offers courses in astronomy and astrophysics both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate students largely prefer pursuing the astrophysics concentration, or a joint concentration with the University’s Physics Department, or the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. At the graduate level, no separate master’s degree is offered. The research-oriented and experimental program leads to a PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics.

3. Stanford University
Courses for undergraduate and graduate students in astronomy and astrophysics are offered mainly through the Department of Physics. Stanford does not have a separate degree in astronomy or astrophysics at the undergraduate level, but students can choose either subject while majoring in physics or electrical engineering. Graduate students can study astronomy and astrophysics through the Department of Physics, the Department of Applied Physics and the Department of Electrical Engineering.

4. University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley, is renowned for its Department of Astronomy that offers courses in a variety of areas relating to astronomy and astrophysics. Courses are offered at the undergraduate and graduate level and range from observational astrophysics to radio astronomy.

Graduate Programs in Bioarchaeology

The quality of curiosity is evident throughout the history of humanity in the form of scientific discovery and inventions. It is this very quality that not only leads us to our future but also to our pasts. Humans, as a whole, are curious regarding their ancient origins and ancestral cultures. The field of science that can help sate this curiosity to a certain extent is bioarchaeology. It involves the study of human remains, that are found at archaeological sites, to reconstruct the lifestyles, health concerns, and day-to-day activities carried out in the past. Due to the emergence of this branch of science, scientists have been able to figure out and piece together various aspects of our ancestors’ lives. This helps us gain an insight into the path that the course of evolution took and what events occurred along the way.
Schools Offering Graduate Programs in Bioarchaeology

Arizona State UniversityBrown University
Harvard UniversityYale University
Stanford universityMississippi State University
New York UniversitySonoma State University
Illinois State UniversitySan Francisco State University
Western Michigan UniversityCity University of New York
University of California, Los AngelesEast Carolina University
Temple UniversityCalifornia State University, Chico
Texas A&M UniversityUniversity of Georgia
University of TennesseeUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
University of North Carolina at Chapel HillUniversity of Kansas
University of HawaiiGeorge Mason University
Louisiana State UniversityOhio State University
Wisconsin Lutheran CollegeVanderbilt University
San Jose State UniversityBoston University
Dartmouth CollegeSouthern Illinois University
Northwestern UniversityPurdue University
University of PittsburghUniversity of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Massachusetts, AmherstPennsylvania State University
University of North FloridaUniversity of South Florida

Most of these universities offer M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology with a core approach of bioarchaeology. The program offered by the Arizona State University is quite sought after, as the department there boasts of the presence of Dr. Jane Ellen Buikstra, a visionary pioneer in this particular field.
While choosing a particular graduate program from any of these universities, one must first acquaint oneself with the faculty and their profiles, in order to gain an idea of the type of research that’s carried out in that department. Likewise, you should find out about the funding situation, policies regarding field visits, and collaborations, if any, with other research institutes. Also, simultaneously one must familiarize oneself with the application process and the eligibility criteria. It is also a good idea to converse with the faculty, alumni, and the seniors of that department to understand the benefits associated with graduating from those universities. These interactions will also help you discover the employability scenario of that particular degree. Be sure to choose a university that meets your career interests, and one that will help you advance further in your field of study.