Thursday, August 16, 2012

Low Cost Online Accredited Degrees Coming Soon

The high cost of college education is hobbling the economic present and future of millions of young people in the US. With over $1 trillion in student loan debt, American youth are forced to postpone marriage, family, home ownership, and many other important aspects of life in the US. Meanwhile, university officials continue to grow an expensive administrative and staff bloat throughout the US university system.

The Saylor Foundation -- in collaboration with Excelsior College and Straighter Line, is developing a way to bypass this corrupt and destructive system, while acquiring the important and varied career-advancing knowledge that youth and adults need.

Excelsior is a private, nonprofit college that offers relatively inexpensive, online degree programs. The regionally-accredited college is also one of the first to have competency-based programs, where students can take Excelsior-developed examinations in a fairly broad range of subjects – earning credits without having to take classes. The exams are worth three to six credits, and typically cost $95.

The college discovered Saylor when it was tracking down open-education material online to suggest for students to use as study guides for exams. John Ebersole, Excelsior’s president, said faculty members at the college were impressed with Saylor’s courses.

“We found ourselves at Saylor’s door,” Ebersole said, adding that the foundation “doesn’t get the cachet, but they have the quality.”

Price Wars?

StraighterLine has a similar partnership in place with Saylor, and, as of this week, with Excelsior. As a result, the group has created what is perhaps the lowest-cost set of credit-bearing courses on the Internet.

Like Excelsior, StraighterLine offers inexpensive courses online. Students pay $99 per month to enroll, shelling out $39 per course. The material is self-paced, and students can take final exams whenever they’re ready. Tutors are available to help them along the way.

...The new credit pathway between the three institutions is obviously a tad complex, and not as simple as just enrolling in an online college. But the price might be attractive to savvy adult students – already the typical Excelsior and StraighterLine student. And Saylor hopes to be an option for students, including those in developing countries, who lack affordable or quality education options.

“Online courses should be really inexpensive,” says Burck Smith, StraighterLine’s CEO. “There’s no overhead. There is no reason for costs to be what they are.”

...The foundation is the brainchild of Michael J. Saylor, an Internet entrepreneur who has had several brushes with techie fame. The founder of MicroStrategy, a Beltway-based business intelligence software company, Saylor once lost $6 billion in personal wealth amid a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry. At the time, he promised to donate $100 million to create a free online university.

That idea grew into the Saylor Foundation, which has a long-term goal of putting a lot of quality academic content on the web – as much as possible, really.

This fall will be Saylor’s launch, for all practical purposes. Although the foundation has gotten some notice among higher-education reformers, the fleshed-out majors make the concept tangible. _Highered
Saylor thinks that education should be free. And that is the direction that online educational technology is taking us.

This is good news for newer generations of learners, and very bad news for the corrupt system of indoctrination that calls itself "US higher education."


Friday, August 03, 2012

4 in 1 Survival Tool

Multi-use tools allow for the saving of space and weight, when you are packing everything in yourself. And if you like to keep a small survival kit in your car at all times, high quality multi-use tools can remain unobtrusively out of the way, while providing excellent service.
The device is a wood saw with a 15-inch (38.1-cm) steel blade. Zippo says that it makes easy work of sticks and logs up to four inches (10.1 cm) thick. It's positioned at campers that need to cut up firewood, and the saw's handle has a little secret that will help: it's a sheath for a hatchet underneath. Take off the sheath to reveal the five-inch (12.7-cm) blade; store the saw blade in the hatchet handle, and sawing lends way to chopping and splitting.

...On the flip side of the hatchet blade is a mallet designed to hammer tent stakes into the ground. When it comes time to pack up and pull the stakes out, a stake puller on the end of the hatchet handle provides some assistance. The puller is a closed loop, so it appears that it will only work with stakes that have some type of a grab point – Zippo shows it pictured pulling out a hooked plastic stake.

The 4-in-1 Woodsman will hit the market in time for the northern spring of 2013. It will retail for US$79.95. Replacement saw blades will run $12.95. _Gizmag
I can think of a few other handy tools to include in the medley, but Zippo's Woodsman appears to be one convenient compromise out of the many possible multi-tools for such use.


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