Thank you, Idea Foundry! (Scholar Hero Forges Ahead)

Idea Foundry (www.ideafoundry.org)

Idea Foundry (www.ideafoundry.org)

At the end of February, Scholar Hero will come to the end of its term in the Entertainment and Ed Tech Accelerator Program hosted by Idea Foundry, one of the leading investing entities in innovation and technology in southwestern Pennsylvania. The experience was a truly blessed one.

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo and Idea Foundry Entertainment and Education Initiatives Program Director Gary Gardiner

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo and Idea Foundry Program Director Gary Gardiner

Under the mentoring of Gary Gardiner, director of this selective program, we were able to accomplish what once seemed impossible: virtually complete Scholar Hero’s minimally viable product (to release for private beta within the next few weeks!)

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Our page in the Idea Foundry Entertainment and Ed Tech Sector – 2013

We now realize the importance of accelerators in communities that hope to stimulate their regional economies and encourage ambitious people to forge something real and sustainable. Pittsburgh is truly lucky to have so many of these entities (a lot of them not-for-profit, no less), and we are more than honored to be a part of them.

A little preview of Scholar Hero: Version One!

A little preview of Scholar Hero: Version One!

Our hope is that Scholar Hero has met the high expectations of the Idea Foundry and will want to continue this fruitful relationship in the future. Without their boost of confidence, funding, and networking, our company would certainly be in a very different place. For more information about the Idea foundry, and their Entertainment and Ed Tech Accelerator Program, visit www.ideafoundry.org or follow this link.

Lee Ngo
Founder
Scholar Hero, Inc.

Dishonesty in Higher Education: A Look at Cheating

The integrity of a university education is something that should be celebrated. Unfortunately cheating does happen, even at the most prestigious of institutions. A recent survey reveals an increase in exam cheating and homework dishonesty among students at Harvard University. These results are particularly disconcerting, as they come in the wake of a 2012 cheating scandal at the very same university that saw dozens of students guilty of exchanging exam answers. The reaction from the school administration has been to institute new anti-cheating policies, while reactions from the public have varied between shock, dismay, and cynicism. However, the fundamental issue is not being addressed: why are students cheating?

Knowing the reason that students cheat, and being able to address it, could very well be the most effective way to ensure that students succeed with honesty. Here are a few symptoms of the cheating mentality:

·      Pressure to excel

·      Heavy course load

·      Time constraints

·      Unsupportive professor

·      Lack of motivation

While solving a trend of cheating is far from simple, the reasons behind it are understandable and approachable.

One approach is to deter students’ need to use each other for answers by giving them the means to rely on each other for support. Students need a reliable system that can work on their own schedule. The internet and mobile technology seem to be the best means to ensure that students have infinite and easy access to networks in which they can share their course work, give each others feedback, and connect without adding additional pressure to their lives. Cheating can never be condoned, but technology’s helpful, easy answer could prevent pressured students from looking for easy answers of their own.

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Broadening Narrow Studies: Interdisciplinarity For University Students

Collaboration solves problems and creates new ideas. However, students are being pushed into overly-specific fields of study. Professor Don Nutbeam, vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton, explores this issue and the benefits of a interdisciplinary research.

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Left: Don Nutbeam. (Photo Source: Foreign and Commonwealth Office http://www.flickr.com/photos/foreignoffice/)

Broader studies are gaining importance as potential employers demand flexibility from graduates. Career fields of the future will likely look very different from the ones today, and these graduates will have to navigate a large network of employment paths. It is the university’s role to provide as many paths for success as possible..

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Southampton University. (Photo Source: John Goode http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnnieb/)

Fortunately, universities are beginning to embrace interdisciplinarity in addition to traditional programs. Professor Nutbeam’s own school started introducing courses developed for adaptability.The University of Manchester created the University College For Interdisciplinary Learning to properly prepare students for less subject-intensive fields.

While a full transition for traditional universities will be difficult, great things usually happen when intellectuals come together.

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Universities Chosen By Trend: The Problem with Fashionable Enrollment

Are universities more dedicated to the pursuit of prestige over knowledge? One article from the Telegraph thinks students enroll in universities considered “socially significant.”

While elite colleges in the UK such as Oxford, Cambridge Durham, Edinburgh, and Bristol are undoubtedly good schools, much of their attendance may be based largely on trendiness. IIt is  not hard to imagine the American schools such as Columbia, Yale, and Harvard in the same comparative sentence.

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Durham University: one of the “Favoured Few.” (Photo Source: Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier http://www.flickr.com/photos/jepoirrier/)

By focusing on more fashionable schools, incoming students focus on getting admission into the “Favored Few” rather than consider the possibility of getting an even better education elsewhere. This leads to undergraduates who are uninterested, unprepared, and unhappy with their academic life because they picked a school based on the opinions of others and not on their own enthusiasm.

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Seen here: representation of a “fashionable” college student. (Photo Source: D. Sharon Pruitt http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/)

This general perspective among college students on academia needs to shift towards a more pragmatic framework. Students must factor in direct variables to their college experience, such as social scene, proximity to family, professors of interest, school resources, even the weather. The sad reality is that many realize far too late into their college tenure that college glory fades, but education is forever.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/10187953/Universities-are-hubs-of-academia-not-finishing-schools.html

 Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Why I Became A Scholar Hero: An Anecdote from Nathan Repp

When asked to introduce myself, I wondered what I should say:

  • I’m excited to be enlisted by an outstanding startup.

  • I’m an English graduate from the University of Pittsburgh.

  • My favorite band is someone you’ve totally never heard of, or

  • I sometimes cry during the third act of The Last Samurai.

While all of that is true (except the last one…), it says little about me or how I fit into Scholar Hero’s mission. The best thing to do is to provide an anecdote that first sparked my interest in changing academia:

The English Room at The University of Pittsburgh. (Photo Source: iris http://www.flickr.com/photos/irisphotos/)

The English Room at The University of Pittsburgh. (Photo Source: iris http://www.flickr.com/photos/irisphotos/)

As an English major, sharing work was an absolute necessity. When peer review was a course requirement, the method of distribution and response was archaic: e-mailing, printing, and physical circulation. Good responses were valuable but limited by the size of the class and the number of assignments.

For all of my other pursuits, there were few collaborative options, such as workshops for my other classes, and a commuting student like myself struggled to attend everything.

A common view for a commuter at Pitt. (Photo Source: Desiree Williams http://www.flickr.com/photos/buddhakiwi/)

A common view for a commuter at Pitt. (Photo Source: Desiree Williams http://www.flickr.com/photos/buddhakiwi/)

Since then, I’ve found circles to share my work, but after a year out of the university, I often get the impression that it’s “me vs. world.”  If any environment should have accessible support for scholarly pursuits, it’s academia.

Am I alone in my sentiments? Please share your own academic experiences in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero. The views and opinions expressed of this particular blog belong solely to those of the author and not of Scholar Hero, Inc.