Category Archives: Innovation

China: Taking steps to ensure academic document legitimacy

Cooperative Agreement between CDGDC and ACEI

April 18, 2013

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According to a recent IIE Open Door report “International Student enrollment increased by 5% in 2010/11, led by strong increase in students from China.” The report cites a 23% increase in the number of Chinese students of which 43% are studying at the undergraduate level.

According to the US Department of Commerce, international student contributes more than $21 billion to the US economy, through their expenditures on tuition, living expenses such as room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance and covering the financial cost of their accompanying family members.

In the same breath, a 2010 report published by Zinch states that in China “the cultural norm is that there is no harm in creating false documents.” As credential evaluation professionals, we recognize the importance of supporting the U.S. position as the number one destination for international students and are always striving to find ways we can help bolster and improve our service to complement the needs of the U.S. institutions requiring international transcript evaluations. We are also cognizant that doing our due diligence by ensuring the legitimacy of documents is, first and foremost, an integral component of evaluating academic credentials.

One step we have taken to address the growing number of Chinese student applications for college/university admission and even professional licensing is through our cooperation with the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) in Beijing. CDGDC is the legal entity, authorized by the government in China that provides verification of degrees, certificates, diplomas and other related educational document conferred by Chinese colleges and universities as well as secondary credentials.

I had the good fortune of being introduced to the CDGDC Director, Mr. Wang, through our contact Mr. Chenguan (Alex) Lu with EducationUSA in Beijing. Through this introduction, I was able to secure a meeting in San Francisco on April 14, 2013 with Mr. Wang and a delegation from CDGDC where we signed the Cooperative Agreement between our two organizations to carry out comparative studies of Sino-U.S. degrees and other educational credentials through verification and evaluation.

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For the past two years, ACEI has been referring its Chinese students seeking an evaluation of their academic credentials to the CDGDC for document verification. By signing the Cooperative Agreement, ACEI will continue to use CGDCD’s educational credential verification services in its educational evaluation work. Chinese applicants are advised to contact the CDGDC and request the verification of their academic transcripts, certificates, diplomas and/or degrees. CDGDC in turn submits its verification directly to ACEI certifying the legitimacy of the academic documents. The verification of academic documents from China will further ensure that the evaluations prepared by ACEI are based on educational documents that have been properly vetted by a legal entity.

We can continue to be the number one destination for international students and we can do so without loosening our requirements and lowering our standards.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI
www.acei1.com

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MOOCs: Game-changer in higher education? Or, trouble maker?

November 29, 2012

Question!

What are MOOCs?
The acronym “MOOC” stands for “massive open online course.” It’s “massive” because the online courses often enroll hundreds or even thousands of students per course. They are also massively open in terms of enrollment, allowing anyone interested in learning to sign up for free, which makes them openly available.

MOOCs are already a huge hit in rural communities and developing countries where access to traditional schools or education as a whole is limited or nonexistent. MOOCs are letting people educate themselves based on what they want to learn. It provides people all around the world with access to high-quality, community-based online classes without having to travel to a college campus, sit in a classroom, and, most importantly, pay tuition fees. Currently, MOOCs are being created with massive funding from participating universities and private for-profit businesses with the intent to keep the courses free to the learners.

Who likes MOOCs?
MOOCs are attracting stay-at-home parents who want to take real classes according to their own schedule. They help high school students take some college-level courses to stay challenged and business people take MOOCs to stay abreast of developments in their field which ultimately looks good on their resumes.

What do you get from MOOCs?
Some MOOCs offer certificates for course completion and there’s talk that in the near future, MOOC learners may be able to earn an entire online degree for free by completing an approved series of courses. Even employers are beginning to look at MOOCs in their hiring decisions.

Where are MOOCs?
Here’s a list of MOOCs you can check out: http://distancelearn.about.com/od/isitforyou/tp/Top-Massively-Open-Online-Courses-Moocs.htm.

An example of a successful MOOC is Coursera, a company founded by computer science professors Andrew Ngand Daphne Koller from Stanford University.[3] Coursera partners with various universities and makes a few of their courses available online free for a large audience. As of November 2012 more than 1,900,241 students from 196 countries have enrolled in at least one course.

Should we fear MOOCs?
Many academics worry that MOOCS will diminish the traditional face-to-face interactions students have with professors and do away with the classroom experience. They question the adequacy of the learning offered through MOOCs and whether it will take away from the well-rounded liberal arts education provided in undergraduate programs by encouraging students to become more skills-based in their studies. They’re also concerned that this style of learning will create fewer scholars or experienced instructors. And though MOOCs are currently free, it is possible that the very groups which have been creating the courses may begin charging for them once the market for this alternative mode of study has been proven successful. I think the biggest fear with MOOCs is with more people enrolling in these on-line courses, the traditional options of higher education may become fewer and even obsolete.

What do you think?

(For an interesting debate about MOOCs, check out this interview on KCRW’s “To the Point.”)


The Frustrated Evaluator
www.acei1.com

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Adversity and Ingenuity: Partners in Creation

October 11, 2012

Human beings have shown amazing ingenuity in fashioning musical instruments, often in less than ideal conditions. Many of these instruments were conceived and designed by people at the bottom of the social spectrum, most of whom were slaves in the Americas. Here are four examples that demonstrate amazing creativity by people who managed to make very distinctive music:

1) Cuba: Claves
The claves, or rounded hardwood sticks, were fashioned from pegs used by slave shipbuilders in Havana and Matanzas. The rapacious Spanish had built so many ships to ferry trade (and slaves) in Seville that their forests were depleted. So they moved the shipbuilding to Havana, where the abundant forests offered superior hardwood. Hardwood supplies guaranteed ample ship production, and during construction pegs from Havana’s forests were used fasten the boat parts together (nails would have rusted and not been strong enough anyway).
Some smart slave workers picked up some pegs, hit them together, and there was the magic sound that has helped fuel the percussion section of great tropical Latin orchestras ever since. All this from discarded scraps left on the ground.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Trinidad and Tobago: Steel Drums

A similar phenomenon occurred in Trinidad and Tobago, where the big oil companies would discard large oil drums and let them rust. Sometimes the groups were named after the oil companies; a famous pan orchestra was called the Esso Steel Orchestra.
But the genesis of steel pans actually started long before the industrial revolution mandated the need for and production and distribution of oil. During the French Revolution of 1789–according to Wikipedia’s entry on steel pans–slaves working for French planters in Haiti and Martinique emigrated to Trinidad, before the British arrived. The West African slaves were not allowed to participate in Carnival, so they created their own parallel carnival festival, called canboulay. They used bamboo and other wooden sticks, beating on frying pans, trash can lids or whatever they could find. In 1880 percussion music was banned by the British colonial authorities.
Later, during the 1930s, however, finding discarded oil drums plentiful and cheap, black Trinidadians started using those. Steel bands became famous, a popular Carnival staple, and a magnet for tourists as well.
What is amazing here is that the instrument they crafted from a crude, dirty oil barrel became such a refined and sophisticated instrument. These instruments could play a three octave chromatic western scale. Today steel bands play music by Miles Davis, Beethoven, Brubeck, and Bach. I have recordings of both Handel’s and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, performed by a large orchestra of different-sized drums.
Whoever would have thought scrap metal could produce such a magical sound, one used in carnival celebrations ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Brazil: Berimbau

The distinctively Brazilian berimbau actually descended from archers’ bows used by the pygmy hunter-gathers in Eastern Congo. When slaves went from Angola and Congo to Brazil, they re-fashioned these hunter’s bows, attaching a gourd and enlarging them. It is a most distinctive twang, and has been featured in northeastern Brazilian music, in capoeira, the martial arts dance, and the great Baden Powell and poet Vinicius de Moraes wrote a beautiful and famous song named after it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Brazil: Forró: Triangle
I don’t know if the Brazilians in northeastern Brazil knew about the use of the triangle in European orchestras or as an instrument used to summon cowboys to dinner in western movies, but after the British started building railways in the 19th century, they left a lot of scrap iron around. Some enslaved blacksmith (Brazil only ended slavery in 1888, later than any other country) took some of this scrap metal, and beat it, shaped it, tempered and tuned it. The triangle has been used in Brazil ever since, especially in Pernambuco state, forming 1/3 of the rhythm section found in local bands (the other two instruments are the sanfona, or button accordion, and the surdu, or large drum).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are just four examples of human ingenuity applied to music. There are countless other equally imaginative and remarkable examples in the other arts and sciences. It’s a phenomenon that distinguishes us homo sapiens and an occasion to celebrate our creative intelligence and endless imaginations.

Tom Schnabel, M.A.
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Host of music program on radio for KCRW Sundays noon-2 p.m.
Blogs for KCRW
Author & Music educator, UCLA, SCIARC, currently doing music salons
www.tomschnabel.com

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Education As We Know It: Time to Review, Revise & Upgrade

December 8, 2011

classroom

There’s been a great deal of talk lately about the value of education whether at the elementary, secondary or college level. People are starting to wonder whether a college degree is worth the tuition required to earn one. The education system as we know it is no longer working. Some education leaders think a complete overhaul of the entire system is overdue.

According to Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation, the education paradigm needs to be changed ASAP. He sees today’s school-age children and college students as seriously doubting the purpose of education. They are hopeless and disenchanted. And for those considering a college education, many are beginning to question the value of their degree. They don’t feel that a degree offers any guarantees like it did in the past.

Sir Robinson has a point and it is cleverly illustrated in this video which shows that the current system of education was designed for a different time and age. It was conceived during the age of enlightenment, at a time where the concept of compulsory public education funded by taxation was novel and revolutionary. Prior to the 19th century there were no public schools as we know it. Only those from affluent families were able to afford education, albeit through private tutors.

Sir Robinson brings up another point which is that our educational system and even the physical design of its architecture is modeled on the “interest and image of industrialization.” He suggests that by stepping back and taking a look at our schools we can see that they are “designed to run like factory lines, ringing of bells, separate facilities, where we educate children by batches, by age group.” By dividing and isolating the students and judging them separately we are in fact separating them from their “natural learning” environment. Most great learning, according to Sir Robinson “occurs in groups through collaboration.”

He asks a very good question: why do we teach our children by age group? Since children of the same age group respond and perform differently to different subjects. What’s the logic behind this? Is it about conformity and standardization? Is the structure of our current education model compatible with the age of technology? Are we preparing our children with the skills and knowledge necessary to survive in today’s globally-interconnected economy? Are all these standardized tests really necessary? I wonder. What do you think?

The Frustrated Evaluator
www.acei1.com

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“Follow your Bliss”

“Follow your Bliss”
~Joseph Campbell
September 02, 2011

How do we find our bliss and then stay committed to following it? As the renowned mythologist, author and teacher Joseph Campbell stated in the book, The Power of Myth “… I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

How do we find our bliss and at the same time be assured that it will become a rewarding career choice and a good financial decision? The only way possible to adhere to this idea is to become fully aware and informed. We are in the historically unique position of having 24/7 accesses to global information and the latest news concerning every aspect of daily life. Given this unprecedented flow of knowledge and information, courses of study and career decisions must now be made with the understanding that all our lives and what we choose to do with them are directly linked and connected to each other.

It is all about collaboration. In order to do great things, everyone; Universities, students, governments and industry, must take to heart all that information, transform it and use it in a way that creates new paradigms for economic and social change. As a good friend who is a creative director, and formerly the worldwide director of marketing for a giant software corporation, recently said, “Higher education should be about higher thinking.”

We have to take this knowledge and transform it into the creative process of envisioning the future and achieving our full potential. In order to find and follow our bliss, institutions of higher learning must offer and guide us towards the best chances of creating and maintaining a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. We can no longer see global climate change, economic downturns and global conflicts as independent conditions that happen to be occurring simultaneously. Listen to Solomon Hsiang on Democracy Now as he discusses the link between climate change and global conflicts – “Global Warming & War: New Study Finds Link Between Climate Change and Conflict”

We must gather information to sharpen our minds, to a keen state of awareness as we listen to the presidential candidate, Gov. Rick Perry, who denies global warming as he uses a political platform to espouse his own beliefs and further his own chances of political success, claiming that, “The issue of global warming has been politicized. I think that there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.” “Rick Perry Rejects Obama Criticism, Doubts Global Warming”

Consider the link between how we design cities and the rising levels of cancer and other illnesses, and the rising ocean acidification and rising ocean temperatures. Then consider the resultant severe weather conditions currently affecting the planet, and henceforth the billions of dollars spent on the toxic side effects of the toxic clean up and reconstruction.

Future environmental designers, architects and engineers can choose to follow new paths, to think differently and realize that they must design collaboratively, keeping in mind that what they do directly affects many aspects of life on our planet. They can create new, thoughtfully and environmentally conscious cities, roads, and buildings, which deal directly with the increasingly urgent problem of urban runoff. Urban runoff dumps so many bacteria and so many toxic chemicals into our ocean waters that it is making the oceans, our waterways, as well as animals and people very sick. An article on the Environment California website addressed this; “… To catch and filter runoff from roads before it hits storm drains, the cities of Portland and Seattle have conducted several studies and are poised to launch citywide ‘Green Streets’ programs that will retrofit roads with green spaces that allow storm-water to filter into the ground rather than run into storm drains.   Pilot projects in these cities have been so successful that neighborhoods are calling, unsolicited, with requests to join the program.” “California’s Bays and Beaches: A Precious Human, Ecological and Economic Resource”. How about that for creating entirely new job sectors, and recognizing that the health of our oceans and rivers directly affects our very own health, now and in the future.

How many times have many of us said to ourselves: “If I had only known then what I know now…” Well there is no longer any excuse. Again to quote Joseph Campbell ––“If you want to change the world, change the metaphor.”

Jeannie Winston Nogai
Owner / Winston Nogai Design
http://www.jeanniewinston.com / E: jwndesign@me.com

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What happened to innovation?

August 25, 2011

As our dependence on fossil fuels continues to persist compounded by demand from the emerging economies of China and India, you would think our universities would be encouraging their graduate students to enter research programs in search of alternatives to oil. But that is not the case. In a recent August 24, 2011 interview on American Public Media’s Market Place, I learned that the high price of oil is spurring demand for petroleum engineers. “Students flock to college programs in the field with six-figure starting salaries as incentives,” reports Nathan Bernier from KUT in Austin, TX.

A second year doctoral student in petroleum engineering at the University of Texas is excited about the prospects of landing one of these six-figure starting salaries which will station her in Western Canada to look for oil in the tar sands. I wonder if she is aware of the over 160 people who have been arrested in ongoing civil disobedience against Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline? There has been an ongoing protest of concerned citizens who have held sit-ins in front of the White House since last week and will continue for the next two weeks to call on the Obama administration to reject a permit for the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline project, which would deliver Canada tar sands oil to refineries in Texas, rather than focus resources on developing clean energy.

The same doctoral student interviewed said that she was aware of the stigma facing her profession as a petroleum engineer, given the “link between fossil fuels and climate change.” However, she said “until an alternative becomes widely available, people will continue to rely on gasoline cars.” But, aren’t our graduate research degree programs intended to encourage innovations in search for alternatives? The purpose of a doctoral thesis is to present findings on an “original” body of research. We are not contributing anything original by supporting a field of study that propagates a way of life that only perpetuates our addiction to oil.

In fact, alternatives to fossil fuels do exist. What the burgeoning alternative energy industries need is public awareness (which leads to demand), academic support by our research universities (fosters innovations), and the backing of government and political leaders (provides economic incentives, encouraging new industries and creating jobs).

After seeing a screening of the documentary “Freedom” (check out www.thefreedomfilm.com) I, along with others in the audience, was inspired to learn of the slew of alternatives available. One is ethanol. But scientists hired and supported by oil companies quickly fed us science claiming that producing corn for the production of ethanol harmed the food supply and food prices. In fact, food prices are linked to petroleum prices. Check out another informative documentary “Save The Farm” (www.savethefarmmovie.com) to learn about localizing our food source. “Freedom” proves that the science brought out against ethanol as an alternative fuel source was a myth, but it succeeded in even convincing the avid environmentalist to turn its back on this form of energy that would help localize production and free us from dependence on foreign oil.

I only wish that more of our young bright scientists entering doctoral programs would be less seduced by Big Oil and instead be the leaders of a new and more evolved approach to our energy needs. It’s time to innovate. The old way is about to expire just like the dinosaurs!

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI, Inc.
http://www.acei1.com

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