World reading habits By Stefan / in Education, India, Learning / Posted August 21, 2018 Everyone knows that reading enriches our lives in many ways. It brings countless benefits, some of which include mental stimulation, increased knowledge, improved memory, stronger critical thinking skills, entertainment, and more. Reading is also known as one of the keys to success. People that consistently read tend to be high academic and professional achievers. This usually translates into personal success for individuals, but how about countries? How about considering the reading habits of society or countries as a whole? When considering world reading habits, you could imagine how well-read nations might benefit from having a population that consistently reads. In this post, we take a look at world reading habits. Which countries read the most? The world’s top three countries that spend the most time reading per week are India (10:42 hours), Thailand (9:24 hours), and China (8:00 hours). That is far greater than the bottom group of nations. On the other end of the spectrum – Taiwan, Japan, and Korea occupy the bottom of the reading list at 5:00, 4:06, and 3:06 hours, respectively. The bottom group of countries that read the least out of this group includes three first world countries, which may be surprising. What might also surprise some (or maybe not), are other first-world countries’ reading habits. For example, the US, Germany, and Canada rank below average. These highly developed nations are in the bottom third of global weekly reading hours. People in America and Germany manage to read 5 hours and 42 minutes, while Canadians average 5 hours and 48 minutes per week. Some countries read more than others, but that doesn’t mean they are overall more literate. What countries are the most literate? While the countries in the top percentile spend the most hours reading per week, they are not considered the most “literate” countries in the world. According to the World’s Most Literate Nations (WMLN), a study conducted by the president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, John Miller, Finland tops the list as the most literate country in the world. In this case, literacy means “literate behavior characteristics”. Instead of measuring a country’s ability to read, WMLN ranks countries based on their “literate behaviors and their supporting resources”. That includes everything from the number of libraries and newspapers, to years of schooling and computer availability in each country. Nordic countries dominated the top of the list. Finland ranked first and Norway in second. The top five rounded out with Iceland, Denmark, and Sweden. Switzerland came in sixth, with the US in seventh. Germany was eighth and Canda in eleventh. The report noted that if it had only ranked countries based on their reading assessment results, the final outcome would have been very different. If reading assessment results were the only factor, Singapore would be first, followed by South Korea, Japan, and China. Finland would then be the only non-Pacific Rim country to be in the top five. Summary The World’s Most Literate Nation ranking suggests that world literacy and literate behaviors are essential to the success of individuals, and ultimately, the nations they live in. Having a well-read populace is a significant benefit. However, countries need more than that. They must also increase their literacy by providing the resources that better educate their citizens and provide equal learning opportunities. This would lead to overall more literate nations comprised of citizens with the capacity to progress our knowledge-based economies. “The most important thing is that schooling is equal. Reading and educating have been appreciated also by working class and that the profession of teaching and education is also appreciated.” said Finnish author Aki Ollikainen. He went on to say: “I’m very proud of the Finnish school system and also our libraries. They have very versatile collections available to all. Everybody has an equal opportunity to learn and to read. In Finland, we are used to keeping this obvious, but globally it is luxurious.” India’s crushing income inequality By Stefan / in Education, India, Learning / Posted August 13, 2018 In the modern world, we have a tendency to take a binary approach in the way we analyze things. For instance, countries are framed through the restrictive definitions of ‘rich’ and ‘poor’, ‘developed’ or ‘developing’; where the standard of living can be seen as either ‘high’ or ‘low’. This is a natural tendency that helps us compare and contrast complex issues from our own worldview. Fortunately, there’s usually more ‘gray’ between the black and white. However, in India, there is far less ‘gray’ when it comes to income. Simply put, India’s income inequality is shockingly vast. How bad is it? An Oxfam report underscores the dramatic increase in wealth inequality in India. Up to 670 million Indians make up the poorest half of the population. This group saw a mere 1% increase in their wealth while the richest 1% of society swallowed a whopping 73% percent of the total national income generated in the country last year. This top 1% holds 58% percent of the country’s total wealth, which is comparatively higher than the global figure of about 50%. The top 10% have 76% of the country’s wealth, and the poorer half has 4%. According to data from Credit Suisse, the richest 5% own approximately 67% of the country’s wealth; the top 10% have 76%, and the poorer half of the country clamor over a mere 4%. This is an incredible increase from the year 2000 which shows that things are continuously getting better for the rich. That year, India’s super-rich owned just 36% of the country’s wealth. According to New World Wealth, India is the second most unequal country in the world. Millionaires control a staggering 54% of the country’s wealth, with a total individual wealth of $5.6 billion. India is one of the top 10 richest countries globally. However, it is well known that the average Indian is relatively poor. “The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system. Those working hard, growing food for the country, building infrastructure, working in factories are struggling to fund their child’s education, buy medicine for family members and manage two meals a day. The growing divide undermines democracy and promotes corruption and cronyism,” said Oxfam India CEO Nisha Agrawal.” Disastrous income inequality To emphasize the income inequality in India, here are a few more facts that demonstrate this monstrous disproportion between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’. India added 17 new billionaires last year alone 37% of India’s billionaires have inherited their wealth The number of billionaires has increased from only 9 in 2000 to 101 in 2017 The 37% of inherited wealth billionaires control 51% of the total billionaire wealth in the country It would take 941 years for a rural worker to earn what a top executive makes in a year. Based on these facts, it would take a whopping 941 years for a rural minimum wage worker in India to earn what the top paid executive at a leading Indian garment company earns in a year. Or in other terms, it would take about 18 days for the highest paid executive at a top Indian garment company to earn what a minimum wage worker in rural India will earn in their lifetime (after 50 years working). These facts show that the differences between the lives of the rich and poor are night and day. This even holds true when contrasting India with other countries. Japan, the most equal country in the world, reports that its millionaires control an equitable 22% of total wealth. India is also far ahead of the United States where the richest 1% own 37% of total wealth. However, if we take a look on the bright side, India still has a long way to go before they rival Russia, where the top 1% own a breathtaking 70% of its country’s wealth. How did it happen? Rising income inequality became a major issue in India due to an uneven distribution of gains. This took place during the last three decades, the time India’s economy reached ongoing strong growth rates. Up to the 1970s, India had socialist planning and was tightly regulated. Growth was only bubbling at 3.5% per year with weak development and vast poverty. After easing regulations, reduced tax rates, and modest reforms, India was poised for growth in the 1980s, reaching roughly 5% a year. This was followed by substantial reform in the 90s which lead the economy to grow briskly. This resulted in nearly double-digit growth in the mid-2000s, hitting a historic high of 10.3% in 2010. When rules are dismantled and the economy is free to run its course, it leads to higher growth and opportunities. However, it also creates disparities. The people that can take advantage of these opportunities are rich, enterprising, and have access to capital. Naturally, that leads to an increase in income for the upper-class. Then, an excess of labor (particularly unskilled) keeps wages low for the middle class and even lower for the lower-class. When middle and lower class incomes remain stagnant and upper-class incomes soar, income inequality is compounded. What can be done? India must promote inclusive growth, eliminate tax evasion, and increase social spending. Oxfam India is calling upon the Indian Government to act on growing inequality and create a more balanced and equitable India. India should promote inclusive growth by encouraging labor-intensive sectors to create more jobs, favor living wages over stock buy-backs, impose higher taxes on the rich (especially inheritance tax), implement policies that tackle all forms of gender discrimination, and last, but surely not least, campaign against corruption and cronyism. That laundry list of transformations is no easy task, but it has to start somewhere. Promote inclusive growth by ensuring that the income of the bottom 40% of the population grows faster than the top 10%. Have labor-intensive sectors create more jobs; increase public expenditure in agriculture and public goods and services such as education, housing, healthcare, and transport. Effectively implement the social protection schemes that exist. Take strict action against tax evasion and avoidance; tax the ultra-rich by re-introducing inheritance tax, increase wealth tax, reduce and ultimately eliminate corporate tax breaks. Increase social spending on public services such as education, health, and social protections. Produce and manage high-quality data on income and wealth to ensure data transparency. Regularly monitor government measures to tackle rising inequality. Should India manage to reach these ambitious but necessary goals, their economic and social stability will become sustainable. Even now, by stopping income inequality from rising further, it could eliminate extreme poverty for 90 million people by 2019. However, that figure is still far from the 300 million Indians, or 25% of the population, that live below an already terribly low poverty line. Those facts leave little room for interpretation about what is the right thing to do for the country. Sources Indian income inequality, 1922-2015 From British Raj to Billionaire Raj Inheritance Tax & Inequality: Global experience & lessons for India Global Wealth Report 2017 by Credit Suisse Research Institute Tackling Extreme Inequality in India The World Bank Summer learning By Stefan / in Academic Tutoring, Education, Learning / Posted July 10, 2018 The summer slide This phrase was coined by educators to describe an unfortunate outcome of summer vacation for school-aged kids. Also known as the summer (learning) loss or summer set back, the summer slide is when students’ lose educational progress during summer breaks. Students that lack access to summer learning opportunities are even more negatively impacted. This loss of learning compounds throughout their school years. Researchers of the famed Baltimore university, Johns Hopkins, tracked Baltimore students from 1st grade to age 22. They found that economic status drastically impacted how much their educational standing suffered during the summer months. Low-income students generally were at the same reading level as their peers at the end of the school year, but when they came back to school in the fall they trailed them significantly. The researchers concluded that two-thirds of this reading achievement gap among low-income students is due to the lack of learning and enrichment opportunities in the summer during their formative years. Needless to say, money matters. Fortunately, there are ways to beat the summer slide regardless of income. Learners have tons of options of things to do throughout the summer. Staying active and learning can help them keep up with (or pass) their peers. All you need to do is to take a little action. READ, READ, READ Reading improves memory, concentration, and stimulates the mind. Reading is a must. It is one of the best ways to improve overall communication and speaking ability. Studies show that reading improves memory, concentration, and stimulates the mind enough to fight degenerative brain diseases. Have your child or teen student choose books to read. The best thing to do is set aside 30 minutes to an hour each day for reading. Daily reading is surely attainable, but at the very least, have them finish one book each month. Make sure your Learner practices active reading. You could also read to them, correct them, and encourage discussion about the book. This is a great time to make reading a habit. It will help them get better grades and improve overall learning. Reading brings life-long benefits. Stay active Exercise is also a critical value to promote to young Learners. Even just 30 minutes a day makes a big difference. Staying healthy is, of course, good for the body, but it also boosts learning ability! By increasing blood flow to the brain and body, exercise can improve cognition and memory. Participating in team sports is a great way to stay physically active and social throughout the summer. Nowadays, it’s very common for organizations or companies to offer many kinds of free activities for kids. Be on the lookout for free summer activities in your area. Here’s a great list of free things to do with sources! Learn a new skill Learning life skills, academic skills, and digital skills are a must for all students. Pursuing personal interests and productive hobbies are always a good thing. Encourage your Learner to get better at the things they are already good at, but also be sure to seek out new skills. Make sure your young Learner has the necessary life skills before entering high school. These life skills can be practiced when opportunities inevitably present themselves. For older Learners, learning life skills, academic skills, and digital skills are extremely important. Take time over the summer to commit to learning a new skill. Make a schedule so they practice it throughout the week. Apple often has free activities at their store locations – find out what’s happening at a store near you. They give short camps introducing kids to design, coding, movie making, and more. Be entrepreneurial Reading, staying active, learning skills, and being entrepreneurial help a ton! Kids and young adults would greatly benefit from the experiences entrepreneurship can provide. School and traditional education have their benefits, but they also have their counterpoints. School is not where creative or entrepreneurial thinking is bred. Following directions and eventually pursuing traditional career paths are what’s promoted. Getting your Learner to start developing entrepreneurial traits will work wonders for their sense of creativity, responsibility, and competency. This will help them develop their problem-solving skills, improve communication, and possibly, even make money. The combination of skills, benefits, unique experiences and learning opportunities can’t be gained anywhere other than in entrepreneurship. Connect with others to learn together, improve your skills, or work on a project! All students are at risk of falling victim to the summer slide. Summer vacation is coveted by all students. It’s their time to relax, enjoy themselves, and have fun. All those things can still happen, just be sure to take action and fight the summer loss. Our suggestions will give short and long-term benefits – reading, staying active, learning skills, and being entrepreneurial, will all further develop their confidence and ability! The LearnX team engages in each of these things every day and we can attest to their huge benefits. We will spread these positive values in the LearnX community! See you there. Online learning vs Offline learning By Stefan / in Education, Learning, Technology / Posted April 19, 2018 Onlinе lеаrning iѕ a mеthоd оf dеlivеring еduсаtiоnаl infоrmаtiоn viа thе intеrnеt, inѕtеаd оf in a рhуѕiсаl сlаѕѕrооm. Thеrе аrе numerous options for оnlinе lеаrning. They rаnge in ѕсоре frоm ѕimрlе dоwnlоаdаblе content tо ѕtruсturеd рrоgrаmmеѕ thаt inсludе weekly class hours, assignments, аѕѕеѕѕmеnt аnd certifications. This form of learning has gained popularity only within the last few years. This is to say online learning is in its infancy with already global adoption numbers. Offline learning includes traditional forms of education such as public education, private education, tutoring, or teaching that happens face to face. Onlinе lеаrning hаѕ ѕtrugglеd tо find ассерtаnсе in асаdеmiс сirсlеѕ. It’ѕ diffеrеnсеs frоm traditional еduсаtiоn hаѕ rаiѕеd ԛuеѕtiоnѕ оvеr thе ѕuрроrt оffеrеd tо ѕtudеntѕ аnd thе mеrit оf thе аwаrd. However, fоr ѕоmе реорlе, аn оnlinе еduсаtiоn won’t work. Thеу might find it hаrd tо mоtivаtе thеmѕеlvеѕ оr diffiсult tо ѕtudу аt hоmе, which is finе. Everyone has their own learning style. Online learning isn’t fоr еvеrуоnе and people should learn in a way that fits them best. We believe traditional education blended with online learning is the best solution overall. Anуоnе thinking аbоut аn оnlinе dеgrее оr соurѕе must соnѕidеr whаt it will rеԛuirе frоm thеm in tеrmѕ оf timе аnd соmmitmеnt. Pros of Online Learning Hоwеvеr, if уоu’rе lооking tо gеt аhеаd, сhаngе уоur саrееr раth, оr obtain a certification, online learning is an excellent option. Onе rеаѕоn tо gо the оnlinе rоutе iѕ thаt уоu’rе аlrеаdу wоrking аnd juѕt dоn’t hаvе thе timе tо аttеnd сlаѕѕеѕ in реrѕоn. Yоu wаnt tо рiсk uр nеw ѕkillѕ, but уоu саn’t tаkе timе оff wоrk. Onlinе еduсаtiоn iѕ a convenient wау оf асhiеving thiѕ withоut ѕасrifiсing уоur lifеѕtуlе аѕ muсh аѕ a саmрuѕ-bаѕеd еduсаtiоn wоuld rеԛuirе уоu tо. Learn whenever and wherever you want with online learning. Online learning is also undeniably efficient. You can access the information whenever and where ever you want. Lеаrning оnlinе mеаnѕ thаt уоu save timе, gas, or other transportation costs of gеtting tо аnd frоm сlаѕѕеѕ. Ultimately, it’s more eco-friendly. When уоu аrеn’t limitеd bу уоur lосаtiоn, you can access courses from top universities around the world. Onlinе lеаrning iѕ оftеn сhеареr thаn lеаrning in a сlаѕѕrооm. You can enroll in courses at Harvard, MIT, and Stanford for free. Onlinе lеаrning iѕ within thе rеасh оf реорlе whо might nоt nоrmаllу bе аblе tо afford a college education. Additionally, this level of accessibility extends to ѕtudеntѕ with diѕаbilitiеѕ who mау find it more fitting tо take сlаѕѕеѕ оnlinе. Oldеr ѕtudеntѕ might also fееl mоrе аt еаѕе learning оnlinе over аttеnding сlаѕѕеѕ оn саmрuѕ. Althоugh оnlinе lеаrning hаѕ bееn сritiсizеd fоr itѕ lасk оf fасе tо fасе intеrасtiоn, ѕurрriѕinglу, оnlinе diѕсuѕѕiоnѕ саn gеt еvеn mоrе invоlvеd thаn in thе сlаѕѕrооm. Studеntѕ whо nоrmаllу wouldn’t ѕреаk uр in frоnt оf thеir сlаѕѕmаtеѕ mау jоin in оnlinе discussions аѕ it is less intimidating than speaking in class. The wide availability of lеаrning online iѕ a major benefit – you can do it 24/7 because it’s nоt limitеd tо ѕсhеdulеd сlаѕѕеѕ. Cons of Online Learning Thе mоѕt соmmоn соmрlаint аbоut оnlinе lеаrning iѕ thаt thеrе’ѕ nо fасе-tо-fасе intеrасtiоn. Lеаrning оnlinе саn lасk thе ѕроntаnеоuѕ еxсhаngе оf idеаѕ thаt уоu саn оnlу gеt with сlаѕѕmаtеѕ аnd a tеасhеr in rеаl timе. Althоugh уоu саn ѕtill intеrасt bу сhаtting аnd еmаiling, it iѕ not the same as real life interaction. For example, if there is uncertainty on course content, it could bе mаdе сlеаr in a minutе in реrѕоn. However, it might tаkе thе еffоrt оf ѕеvеrаl messages or еmаilѕ to help a Learner understand. Onlinе lеаrning is generally tесhnоlоgу dереndеnt. Yоu might nееd high-ѕрееd intеrnеt ассеѕѕ tо bе аblе tо wаtсh course vidеоѕ оr dоwnlоаd nесеѕѕаrу filеѕ. If ѕоmеthing gоеѕ wrоng with уоur соmрutеr, it becomes thаt muсh еаѕiеr tо miѕѕ оut оn a сlаѕѕ оr assignment dеаdlinе. Thе drор-оut rаtе fоr оnlinе сlаѕѕеѕ iѕ асtuаllу ԛuitе high. Bеing аblе tо gеt thrоugh аn оnlinе сlаѕѕ rеԛuirеѕ diѕсiрlinе and time commitments. Pеорlе аrе mоtivаtеd bу bеing аblе tо ѕосiаlizе, соmреtе, аnd реrfоrm in frоnt оf оthеrѕ, which might add to the benefits of traditional education. Withоut thеѕе fасtоrѕ tо рuѕh уоu, уоu mау еnd uр wаѕting уоur money bу nоt finiѕhing thе сlаѕѕ. Pros of Offline Learning Offline learning involves traditional forms of education. They are centered on people teaching and learning together face to face. Traditional education environments have been the dominant form of education for generations, making them well practiced but in need of improvement and modernization. The benefits that come with offline learning are ones that technology has trouble replacing. Learning face to face promotes participation and active learning. Being face to face allows for more participation and active learning. Learners can gain an understanding of the subject content and make connections between them in real time. If a student doesn’t understand what is being taught or has a question, they can immediately gain clarity by asking their teacher. Questions also provide learning opportunities for the others. All of this adds to the communication ability of these students, which can only be gained in social settings with many different people. Traditional education requires students to develop a sense of discipline and responsibility. They learn how to behave in class and follow directions. Teachers assign tasks, homework, quizzes, projects, and more. All of these require students to take personal responsibility to prepare for or complete. Offline learning has irreplaceable social benefits. Being at a school is going through a chapter in life with a large group of your peers. This is where diverse lessons are learned and where friends and memories are made. These social benefits are critical to a person’s overall development. They are often the times that one is influenced by their friends and people around them. This can lead them down different paths in life, for better or for worse. Cons of Offline Learning Blended learning brought students significant gains in math and reading. The downsides of offline learning have a major affect on students’ overall learning experiences. Their performance and results are a product of the input they receive throughout their long careers in traditional education systems. Research shows that large batch education (one teacher, many students, low personalization) is less effective than small batch learning and personalized learning. “A new report commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has found that students in schools using personalized learning strategies made greater academic progress, over the course of two years, than a comparison group of students with similar academic performance and from schools with similar demographic profiles.” – Continued Progress, Promising Evidence on Personalized Learning. This significant progress was made in mathematics and reading in elementary and middle schools in the US. That’s all thanks to personalized learning. Traditional education is also very expensive. This becomes glaringly obvious at the university level. The average debt held by an American college graduate is $37,172, up six percent from the previous year, and a $20,000 increase from 13 years ago. That puts the national debt at nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt among 44 million Americans. Finally, offline learning lacks digitization. For a world centered on technology and using it to improve processes, environments, and ultimately, peoples’ lives, the lack of technology in traditional education is alarming. Whatsmore, there is excellent proof of the positive impact adding technology or blended learning models (online learning + offline learning) have on student performance. Matchbook learning, for instance, ‘is a non-profit charter management organization that targets underperforming schools with a competency-based, technology-enabled turnaround model.’ They introduced a blended learning model in the bottom 5% of K-12 public schools in the US by providing a netbook, online curricula, and a personalized path to learning. They also train teachers on how to use the data to personalize and improve their teaching. The results speak for themselves. Schools that digitized and personalized recorded stellar increases in reading and math among their students. According to the non-profit’s data, the majority of Matchbook Learning Schools’ students made more than one year’s growth in reading and math (71% and 63%, respectively). Conclusion Learning is at the crux of how we as humans sustain and progress. It is in our nature to advance ourselves and the means of doing that is gaining knowledge. Online and offline learning educate people in an effort to help them become productive members of society. While traditional education brings vital social experiences, it lacks in overall effectiveness. This is especially true when compared to its counterpart, online learning. Regardless, they are both here to stay but will continue to develop and advance. This is why LearnX believes in blended learning models. Taking the best of these two core systems and combining them. This brings the modern digital learning solutions and personalization people need to become effective learners, but more importantly, effective people.