The Gates Foundation Invests in a Facebook App for College Students

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first_imgA Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Can social networking boost college completion? The education technology company Inigral believes it can. Its product, the Schools App, is built on the Facebook platform and aims to connect university students and boost their integration and involvement in campus life, increasing the likelihood they’ll graduate.And the company can now tout a major backer in that endeavor. It has received $2 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the first direct equity investment by the Gates Foundation in a for-profit company as part of its charitable mission. “We’re excited that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shares our vision for the promise of social media to enhance educational outcomes,” said Michael Staton, Inigral co-founder and CEO. “A college student’s decision to drop out creates a lot of challenges, for that individual’s future and our society at large. Our Schools App can increase a student’s sense of belonging and integration within an institution, lowering the chances of attrition.”Boosting College Completion Through FacebookThe investment will help Inigram develop and market Schools App, currently in use by eleven schools, including Arizona State University, Stetson University and The University of Texas at Tyler. Students use the application to receive and share information about the academic and social environment at their school, as well as to find other students with similar interests, experiences or course loads and to organize face-to-face meetings. The cost for colleges to implement Schools App is based on the number of students, typically running between $10,000 and $50,000 per year. Some college officlals contend that increased social and academic integration can boost student’s learning and promote college completion. “The Schools App finds students where they live – online and on Facebook,” says Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University. “Social media technology can help facilitate the transition to college life and encourage more students to earn a degree.” Speaking to NPR, ASU’s Kari Barlow says “We have some indication that first-time freshmen who opted to participate in the application were highly more likely to be retained for the next semester.”More research needs to be done, however, to establish a clear link between Facebook and graduation. Regardless, college graduation rates in the U.S. have remained stagnant for many years. According to some estimates, when today’s fifth graders graduate from high school, an estimated 63% of jobs will require an education beyond high school. But currently, only 22% of high school students go on to earn a college degree.The Gates Foundation’s investment is part of its support for ways to improve education. Last year, it launched the Next Generation Learning Challenges, earmarking $20 million to fund innovative programs to promote college readiness and completion. Tags:#E-Learning#Facebook#web Related Posts center_img The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos audrey watters Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verificationlast_img

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Dairy Federation backs dietary fats report

first_imgThe International Dairy Federation (IDF) has welcomed an FAO/WHO report, which found there was no convincing evidence that total dietary fats had a significant effect on coronary heart disease (CHD) or cancer.The report – Fats and Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition – said energy balance was the critical factor in maintaining a healthy body weight, regardless of the percentage energy of total fat. It added that replacing saturated fatty acids with refined carbohydrates had no benefit for CHD and might even increase the risk of CHD and metabolic syndrome development. “There is no clear evidence that dairy food consumption is consistently associated with a higher risk of CHD,” said IDF president Richard Doyle. However, the IDF said a recommendation on total trans-fatty acids did not reflect the difference between trans fats from animal and industrial sources.   Geoff Talbot, The Fat Consultant, said if bakers were able to replace saturates with polyunsaturates, it was a good move to make. However, he added: “Nutritionists have no idea of the problems of producing bakery products – it’s not always possible and you have to do the best you can with the ingredients available.”last_img

Resident assistants adjust to impact of coronavirus on residential life

first_imgAlysa Guffey | The Observer Senior Jack Harness is a resident assistant in Duncan Hall, pictured above. Harness oversees 39 Highlanders in his section, responsible for their health, safety and community building.Senior Jack Harness said he accepted the offer to be a resident assistant in Duncan Hall this year before spring break. This was before the March 11 announcement in which all Notre Dame students were told not to return to campus as the threat of the coronavirus spread across the country.“When I accepted, it was still normal school so I had no idea what [the fall] semester would look like,” Harness said.Now Harness is directly in charge of managing the 39 students in his section — as well as overseeing the health and safety of the roughly 215 members of the residence hall during his weekly nights on duty — in the middle of a pandemic.Director of residential life for residential education Bre Tornifolio said in an email that the primary role of resident assistants remains the same.“They are responsible for forming community and building relationships and, even in the midst of the pandemic, they do so remarkably well,” Tornifolio said in an email.According to Tornifolio, one student backed out of the resident assistant position due to personal health concerns.“I fully support the decision and we were able to hire and train the new RA before the first week of classes,” Tornifolio said.Harness said he feels that his role as a resident assistant has evolved to not only include enforcement of rules but also advocacy —  to focus on the bigger picture.“What I’ve tried to do is just communicate to the best of my ability to people in the section the gravity of the situation,” Harness said. “Obviously when I signed up to be a [resident assistant], I didn’t envision having to go around and tell people to put masks on and things like that, which obviously is now part of the job. But I think the more important part for me has been trying to be a leader and role model and try to communicate why it’s so important to follow the rules and why it’s a personal responsibility thing for everyone.”Every year, newly hired resident assistants are required to complete training in the spring and a formation process upon returning to campus in the fall. This year, Tornifolio said resident assistants went through additional virtual training and informational sessions.“We then brought the staff back to virtually participate in a week’s worth of training sessions and spent the first day discussing our adjustment to a COVID world and the racial injustices that are happening around us,” Tornifolio said. “We also went through the health and safety guidelines and operational procedures for the position.”Senior Killeen McCans applied to be a resident assistant because she found her place in the Notre Dame community as a member of Flaherty Hall. In her current position as a resident assistant, she said she feels blindsided by the University since the rule changes regarding socializing within halls were announced.“We have been given a lot of extra rules to enforce and a lot of extra situations to handle, and I don’t think we’ve been given a lot of extra social, emotional or practical support,” McCans said. “And we don’t have any increased compensation. There’s no hazard pay received, no information about what campus will look like if we get sent home, if we will get any reimbursements, and that is nerve-wracking.”The current residential life protocol is that only residents of an assigned room may enter that room — a rule announced a week before undergraduates returned to campus. McCans said living in a single as a resident assistant has been difficult emotionally with the situation constantly changing.“We don’t have a household so there’s nowhere in my dorm where I can go in private and speak with another [resident assistant] about how I’m doing or about stressful situations,” McCans said.In addition, students living on campus have been told to limit non-essential off-campus travel, making connecting with peers that have moved off campus a challenge.Elizabeth Lauer, a senior resident assistant in Pasquerilla East Hall and former resident of Breen-Phillips Hall, said she is grateful for the support system of hall staff.“I was new to the hall so I didn’t really know anyone before I came in, but I get along with everyone else super well, and we’re all going through the same thing,” Lauer said. “Since we’re not supposed to interact on and off campus, it’s good to have each other to be friends with and spend time with. I’m really grateful for those relationships I’ve gotten to make over the last couple weeks.”Prior to University President’s Fr. John Jenkins’ Tuesday announcement that gatherings would now be limited to 10 people, residence halls were able to host outdoor programming for the community. Harness said it was good to see all of the dorm members gathered safely this past week.“One of the coolest things we’ve done so far is we had hall council outside in our courtyard,” Harness said. “We had a big projector set up with a big screen and speaker system and we were all spread out. And we had an incredible turnout, so that was really cool to see us all together.”With the updated restrictions, resident assistants must once again come up with new ideas to foster community, especially with the first-year students, Lauer said.“It’s tough just because like everyone’s kind of sick of Zoom after doing ‘Zoom University’ last year,” Lauer said. “They’re less eager to do it, but we’re finding ways to be creative.”Tags: COVID-19, Resident Assistant, residential life, University President Father John Jenkins Notre Dame prides itself on its long history on the communities built within its residence halls, placing an emphasis on the tradition of resident assistants — seniors who lead residence halls in community and relationships.last_img

Tough times

first_imgFood prices are up, and gasoline costs more than ever. Most paychecks have stayed the same, but there are ways to make them seem like they too are growing, says a financial expert with the University of Georgia. “You can increase the amount of money you have to spend each month by as much as 20 percent by paying more attention to where your money goes and developing an action plan to target problem-spending areas,” said Michael Rupured, consumer economic specialist with the UGA Cooperative Extension. “Paying more attention to the family budget can also go a long way toward preparing your children to be good money managers.”To find out where your money goes, track it. Record everyday purchases for a few weeks to determine spending habits. Costs associated with daily activities like smoking, eating out and buying coffee to go can add up in a month. And the longer you keep track, the more you will learn about where your money goes, he said. Another way is to see how low you can keep your expenses for a few months. For example, pretend your income has been cut in half, Rupured suggests.“Stripping away all but essential spending can be an eye-opening family activity,” he said. “At the end of the trial period you can make decisions about which of your normal expenses you want back and which you are happy to live without. The best part of this option is the opportunity to save as much as half of your income for several months.”With both approaches, the idea is to really think about where your money goes. “Spending is such a routine part of life that it’s easy to lose track,” Rupured said. “You can’t know what you should do differently until you know what you’ve been doing with your money.”To identify where you are spending the most, group regular expenses into categories. Combine similar expenses into one category. For example, add up the total spent on utilities such as water, electricity, gas, cable and phone bills. Required monthly payments for credit cards and non-mortgage loans can be lumped together into a debt category. Once spending habits have been identified, work to change areas where you are spending more than you’d like to. Encourage everyone in the family to get involved. Talk about the budget and ways to cut spending. It is often better to find cheaper alternatives than to cut something out all together, he said. For example, eliminate the weekly trip to the movie theatre, and rent a movie and make snacks at home. Or, borrow a movie from a friend or check one out from the library. “Whatever the family decides, write it down and have everyone sign it,” he said. Put the plan where the whole family will regularly see it. It may help keep them focused. Review spending habits every couple of weeks and discuss the status with the whole family. “It is a good idea to decide upfront what you will do with the money your family saves by reducing spending,” Rupured said. “Family members will be more committed to the task if they know what the reward will be and how the savings will be used. Be sure some of the money saved gets put in the bank for emergencies or family goals.”last_img

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