Scholar Hero is accepted into the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program!

Yay!

(from left) Technical Director Michael Butler, Founder and Executive Director Lee Ngo, and Idea Foundry Program Manager Gary Gardiner

Amazing news for Scholar Hero! On November 5th, 2013, we have accepted our invitation to join the Idea Foundry’s Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program! The Idea Foundry (www.ideafoundry.org) is one of Pittsburgh’s premiere technological and business startup accelerator programs in southwestern Pennsylvania. Their Entertainment & Ed Tech program is unparalleled in the region, and it is perfect for Scholar Hero’s current aspirations.

For Scholar Hero, this is a terrific milestone. This program provides the company with its first official investment, just nine months after its incorporation and barely a year after its initial conception during Startup Weekend Pittsburgh #2. The Idea Foundry also provides mentoring, advisement, and other standard resources that come with a prestigious, competitive accelerator. We haven’t been this excited since being selected as part of the inaugural class of the Thrill Mill Hustle Den incubator program!

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh for the Thrill Mill Thrival Innovation series.

Scholar Hero founder Lee Ngo pitching at Google Pittsburgh during Thrill Mill’s Innovation Series.

Another great perk about the Idea Foundry is its close proximity to Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, schools with students, professors, and staff that we hope will be among the first early adopters of our platform. Testing and validating our product could not be made any easier for us now, and we hope that more established partnerships might emerge as well from the improved locations.

Moreover, because of our acceptance into the Entertainment & Ed Tech Accelerator Program, we are also being evaluated early for Idea Foundry’s highly competitive Core Program as well. Potentially, this puts us in a position to receive more funding! (One step at a time…)

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

The Scholar Hero Development Team hard at work on our first prototype.

“We are truly ecstatic and grateful to have the support of the Idea Foundry as we continue to develop our platform and build our potential user base,” says Lee Ngo, founder and executive director of Scholar Hero. “Program Manager Gary Gardiner and the Idea Foundry have provided us with wonderful feedback over the course of the year, and they have been a major influence in our overall conceptual, technical, and business development. We look forward to our continued partnership over the next three months and beyond.”

We hope that this is the first of many future successes to come! Our selection into this renowned accelerator program provides further validation for our unique and innovative concept, but now the pressure is on for us to deliver! We hope to do you proud, Idea Foundry!

To learn more about Scholar Hero, visit http://www.scholarhero.com or fill out the contact form below:

Lee Ngo is the founder and executive director of Scholar Hero, Inc. All rights reserved.

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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.

Should College Campuses Ban Mobile Technologies?

Should college campuses ban mobile technologies?

Remember what universities used to be like before the onslaught of personal technology in every classroom? Wyoming Catholic College does, and they are eager to bring their university back to a simpler time. Students are now required to turn in their cell phones to student leaders at the beginning of the semester. Students may access their phone for emergencies, and their phone is returned to them when they leave campus.

In addition, television and most websites are not permitted in WCC residence halls. Many students have been surprisingly amenable to these policies, claiming that the create a culture of “true friendship, true virtue, true study.” All of this is done in the name of improving academic success, but is it an efficacious strategy?

Many studies do show that limiting mobile technology in the education domain has a positive effect. Cell phone addiction, after all, is a near universal phenomenon, with many alarming trends:

  • 30% of people admit to check their phones while dining with someone else.

  • 40% check their phones on the toilet.

  • 24% admit to checking their phones while driving.

  • 9% check their phones during a religious service at a house of worship

  • 54% check their phones “while lying in bed” — in the middle of the night, before going to bed, or as soon as they wake up.

On the other hand, implementing this policy at every university campus might be far more difficult. A study published in the Journal of Behavioral Addiction claimed that cell phone users undergo withdrawal symptoms on par with being separated from a romantic lover. Moreover, social activities are not the sole purpose of mobile technologies, and many use them for professional, artistic, educational, and other beneficial purposes.

We at Scholar Hero argue that the problem is not the technology itself; it’s the way that the technology is used. There are far too many apps and widgets for distracting, frivolous activities and not nearly enough for constructive ones. For this reason, our development team is driven to add more clarity and purpose to the IT sector before more campuses take away the means of access to our services.

What do you think? Is it better to change the technology or simply remove it altgether?

Source: http://www.dailytoreador.com/news/article_88e61ac8-16a8-11e3-9913-001a4bcf6878.html

http://news.yahoo.com/wyoming-college-bans-cell-phones–televisions-180318452.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/29/cell-phone-addiction-instant-messaging-impulsivity-_n_2213086.html?ir=Technology

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/21/americans-are-addicted-to-smartphones_n_1615293.html

 

Returns On Education: Should Schools Be Evaluated on the Financial Success of their Alumni?

In the latest US News Ranking of the Top 100 universities from a previous blog, there was actually a missing variable: the expected income of graduates. One website, Payscale.com, measures the rank of school on this metric, but what are the repercussions of valuing education strictly in terms of monetary advancement?

The New York Times critiqued this measurement, noting that Ivy League and engineering-oriented school receive more value while schools that specialize in liberal arts, humanities, and the social sciences suffer in PayScale. Ultimately, while economic security is important, the emphasis on contributions to humanity and student fulfillment is lost.

Caltech, third on Payscale’s List (Photo Source: Tobin http://www.flickr.com/photos/tobin/)

It is very possible that students who choose their universities based on their career projections will suffer the same problems as students who choose “fashionable” schools. These students will find themselves in classes they have no interest in and struggling with coursework that is outside their aptitude.

Washington & Jefferson College, a liberal arts college ranked 437 on Payscale’s list. (Photo Source: Jon Dawson http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmd41280/)

It is not just students who suffer either. A shift of enrollment towards career-geared degrees robs academia of the bright minds that perpetuate and advance enlightenment that cannot be anticipated through strictly profit-driven incentives..

Does the estimated value of PayScale’s top schools somehow make up for that loss? Can that loss even be fully quantified? Let Scholar Hero hear your thoughts!

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Leaving the Literary Past Behind

The importance and timelessness of literature is currently being overlooked in some universities. As these schools try to redevelop themselves to fit a modern age, they focus too much on the contemporary and not enough on the classics.

According to Ashley Thorne of The Guardian, this trend is a detriment to the time-honored tradition of the “summer reading assignment.” This practice ensures that the entire student body has something in common to share and discuss.

Rebecca Skloot was one of the “top common reading authors” last year.

The Effect on Students

There is nothing inherently wrong with the use of contemporary literature in universities. However, Thorne believes that the unwillingness of schools to assign literature pre-dating 1990 fails to challenge and engage students beyond their own bubble. In addition, the importance of recent works is often dependent on the knowledge of previous works. Students lose the significance of the social issues being presented when they are unaware of their history.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma is commonly chosen for its “trendy themes.”

The Reason for Modernized Literature

The two prevailing explanation for this trend are accessibility and relevance. Universities seem to think that the subjects in modern literature are better understood by today’s college students. Moreover, the authors are capable of giving on-campus lectures regarding their own works. However, is that enough to abandon the great words of the past?

Universities are in an era where tradition is in a tug-of-war with a new age, further complicated by the explosion of information that students can access through current technologies. Colleges should not abandon tradition in favor of the future. Tradition should be the basis for such visions of progress.

Nathan Repp is a writer for Scholar Hero, Inc.

Of Sight and Sound: How Technology Helps Impaired Students

Technology in universities have an overall positive effect on accessibility, and for some students, that means more than just having fewer books to carry.

  • 1/3 of disabled youth attend some kind of postsecondary school in the United States.

  • People with hearing or visual impairments were more likely to attend college.

  • About 1/4 of disabled students receive no accommodations from their university.

Many technologies respond to the needs of the impaired, offering university textbooks with a variety of tools on common handheld devices. While some books are scanned images of the pages, others are fully digital text with variable font size and text-to-speech capabilities.

Google's app store is adding academic books in addition to their already popular ones. (Photo Source: Wesley Fryer http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/)

Google’s app store to add academic books in addition to their already popular selection of literature. (Photo Source: Wesley Fryer http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfryer/)

In spite of all this technologies, problems of inaccessibility still persist. Recently, a blind student in Louisiana was unable to access the online materials for a course and was forced to withdraw. Fortunately, the Justice Department ruled that universities cannot buy material that is not available to all students.

We at Scholar Hero only hope that both technology and policies continue to move towards total accessibility for all students. Nothing should stand in the way of an equal education for all.

Powerful tools for the disabled student. (Photo Source: Yutaka Tsutano http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivyfield/)

Powerful tools for the disabled student. (Photo Source: Yutaka Tsutano http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivyfield/)

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2013/08/09/google-play-adds-digital-textbooks-for-rent-and-purchase/

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2005/07/29/disabled

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/07/26/settlements-put-colleges-duty-ensure-blind-students-access-materials-under-new

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.