Using Action Research To Change The Future Of Education

Learning in online environments is no longer a new idea. Around the world, in classrooms and in homes children and adults of all ages are learning in both structured and non-structured environments online. People from three to 73 are successful online learners. People who predict disruptive innovations have said that by the year 2025 over 50% of all the education in the world will be done through computers. Changes present problems. If you change too early the new idea may prove to be a bust and there you are, having invested in an idea that quickly deteriorated. I remember the man in charge of technology at Columbia telling my class in the early 90′s that online learning was not paying off – putting the content materials up online was too costly and too quickly out of date to ever be profitable. Of course you know now that these challenges were overcome. Universities with online platforms are the fastest growing anywhere in the world, and online schools for younger children are quickly gaining in importance, especially for children who live in remote areas, speak a language different from the country in which they live or who have difficulties socially with other students.

This article discusses how action research might be used to help parents, educators or concerned citizens design the successful integration of “new paradigms” of educational ideas (online or other), materials and content with traditional schooling- making the ideas of change within education less of a trauma and more of a seamless, integrated process. As I have written in other articles, it often seems challenging to average people to take on ideas that come from research, nonetheless the three steps in action research of discovery, action and reflection will seem familiar as indeed they are. What may be new will the unique blend of how they interact in the process to make seemingly difficult things become simple. This allows us to move ahead and make changes in your educational design that may not have previously been considered.

Discovery

During the discovery phase you learn about the attributes of both the paradigm or model that you are currently using and the one that you are considering for adoption. To use the redesign of schools as an example you might ask the following questions then go to the web, other people, professional journals and books, etc to find a range of ideas as answers. Notice that in the following list you look for both the positive and the remaining outliers who still may not be served by the known models.

  • What type of student learns best online? In the classroom? In a blended environment?
  • What type of student is not likely to learn in any of these?
  • What are the implementation costs of each model? Who pays?
  • How do these costs amortize over time? How does that compare to how the content becomes outdated?

Armed with answers to these and other questions that you feel are important for schools in your community, you set up a graphic organizer to help guide your decisions as to what changes you want to make to improve your schools. Across the top of your table you put the styles of education (both those that you are doing and those that you are considering). Down the left edge you list the attributes you are looking for in your ideal educational type. The end result will look like many lists that you may come across comparing the features on a product – and just like when shopping you chose the model that best suits your needs.

Measurable Action

As you were listing the attributes of your current schools against the ideals you were interested in striving for you were also establishing a baseline of what you currently do and don’t have. Armed, with solid ideas of what is working elsewhere that you want for your own community you are now ready to take the first actions toward making change. Remember three things are almost always true about change: it takes longer, costs more and is more frustrating to implement that we think will be true when we start – that is where the second two steps take of action research help. In the measurable action step you keep good records and twice a week you jot down what you have done and what the results were. As an example for a school reform project you likely need more partners to help you succeed. The first actions may include going to see important people, discussing your ideas and the discoveries you made in the discovery section. Before you leave you will ask for their help.

Twice a week (often enough you won’t forget the details) you make note of what you did and the outcomes. Pretty soon you will see patterns in the responses you get and you will refine what it is you are doing, also increasing the likelihood of success. Your bi-weekly notes give you some advantages: First they keep you on track, making it hard for a week to go by and nothing happens. Second, you find success faster because your note-taking ensures you notice the details that help. Third, you lose your fear of trying new strategies as they all become just more data about what worked and what didn’t. Finally, and without necessarily noticing it your notes will give you a sense of satisfaction that you have really tackled this hard problem and are making progress.

Reflection

It is likely that your ideas will not completely change education as you know it in your area. Our systems are doggedly conservative because all the people involved come with their own history of how things were done before now, defaulting to that easily. The more complex the system, and education is one of the most complex and the harder for sweeping change to take hold in a sustainable fashion. That doesn’t mean your reform steps won’t make a great impact, only that but both your new ideas and those that you want to replace will live side by side. What is required is for leaders to be able to do this type of analysis in order to bring new ideas to their organizations without losing the stability created by the more familiar ones.

The IRS Wants to Know, Are You Running a Business or a Hobby?

Being a small business owner brings with it a whole host of challenges. Not only are you concerned with taking care of your client’s needs, getting paid and paying your vendors. You also have to be concerned with staying compliant with federal and state laws as well as local guidelines. Small business owners, especially sole proprietors, are at an increased risk of audit. The federal government believes that self-employed people are grossly under-reporting their income and over-reporting their expenses. According to the website Tax Help Online, “You might be shocked to learn that 20% of all small business audits involve disallowing deductions because the IRS reclassifies the small business as a hobby under the so-called ‘hobby loss’ rule.” Internal Revenue Code Section 183 (Activities Not Engaged in For Profit) limits deductions that can be claimed when an activity is not engaged in for profit. IRC 183 is sometimes referred to as the “hobby loss rule”. As a small business owner, it is your responsibility to make sure your business is viewed as a legitimate business in the eyes of the IRS and not a hobby.

Below, I have listed some smart business practices that will not only help you define and grow your business, but will also help you document that you are running a real business and not just performing a hobby.

1) Write a business plan. There are lots of local small business support centers that can help you to put your plan in writing. For example, the Small Business Administration has both local and online resources to assist you.

2) Determine your legal structure (LLC, Partnership, C-Corporation, S-Corporation, Sole-Proprietor).

3) Obtain an Employee Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS.

4) Open a separate bank account for all of your business transactions (deposits and expenses). You need to keep your personal and business transactions separate.

5) Establish a separate line of credit or credit card to use with your business. Put personal expenses on a personal card and put business expenses on a business card.

6) Keep your business documents organized. The National Federation of Independent Business recommends keeping business records and receipts for at least seven years.

7) File completed tax returns on time. This would include all required schedules and signatures. Depending on the type of organization you have, you or your CPA will be filling out forms like 1020, 1065, 1040 Schedule C, 1096, 1099, 940 along with calculating your self-employed tax. I highly recommend finding a local Certified Public Accountant (CPA) that is familiar with your industry to help you determine which forms you will be required to file and making sure they are submitted on time and to the right government office.

8) Hire a support team: A lawyer can help you with your legal structure and a Certified Public Accountant can help you keep your finances in order as well as keeping you compliant with local, state and federal government.

9) Create industry standard business documents and forms to include: logo, letterhead, business cards, and website.

10) Advertise in your local media along with appropriate trade periodicals.

According to IRS document, FS-2008-23, below are some of the questions that the IRS may ask when determining if your business is engaged in for-profit activity. You will need to be prepared to answer these questions and provide documentation.

1) How many hours a week do you work in the business?
2) Do you depend on income from this activity to pay your bills?
3) Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
4) Have you made profit in similar activities in the past?
5) Does the activity make profit in some years?
6) Do you expect the activity to make a profit in the future?
7) Are there elements of personal pleasure or recreation?
8) Has your business made a profit in 3 of the last 5 years?

According to IRC 183, “If your business activity is not carried on for profit, allowable deductions cannot exceed the gross receipts for the activity.” The result is that your business deductions will now become itemized deductions and be limited to your hobby income.

For more information and assistance in helping your company maintain their position as a legitimate business, please contact a local CPA. Each state has its own independent licensing board. If you are located in North Carolina, you can contact the NC CPA Board website and click on their “Licensee search” button to locate a CPA near you. All licensed and active CPAs in North Carolina will be found on this website.

Forex Education Tips – 5 Steps to Successful Forex Trading

Close to 95% of all Forex traders will lose money. We’re not just talking about novices, either. Whether you trade Forex for a living, as a hobby or just for fun, odds are against your success. That’s a simply astonishing fact. However, the remaining 5% of Forex traders somehow manage to break even and there are those lucky few that actually make money in the currency market – consistently!Like the TV show says … “How’d they do that, anyway?”That’s the million dollar questions, isn’t it? Countless books, seminars and expos have been hosted to answer this very question. That sad fact is that thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer the magic questions. The reality of the situation is that there is no magic formula; no one single Holy Grail of Forex trading.So what do the successful traders do that the rest of us have simple not comprehended. They have mastered a process of winning where they combine and customize several factor to produce consistent results. They have mastered the Process of Trading.The Process of Trading is:Strategy > Money Management > Self-MasteryHere are some simple Forex Education tips to help you master the process of forex trading:Success Tip #1 – You’ve Got To Have a PlanYou must have a written business plan that will detail all aspects of your trading. When are you going to trade, how much to risk, strategies for entries and exits are just o name a few. To become a consistent (profitable) Forex trader you have to plan your trade sand trade your plan.

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Simplicity rules! Don’t make this plan too complicated. One sheet of paper for you mission statement and another for your trading plan should suffice. Anything more is probably too complicated.Success Tip #2 – Focus on Your Personal PsychologyKnowing yourself will allow you to master the discipline necessary to execute high quality trades with solid money management techniques. Lack of discipline is fatal in Forex trading. Go on a personal journey to identify you attitudes towards risk and money. Get intimate with your strengths and weaknesses as a trader and build in to your trading plan strategies to minimize those weaknesses and maximize your strengths.Different personalities lend to different trading styles. Get familiar with all the different styles and over time you will begin to gravitate towards one particular style. Don’t fight the urge like I did. I insisted I was a day trader, but had only limited results. I found my winning percentages were much higher when I entered swing trades. Guess what’s my bread and butter strategy now!Success Tip #3 – Be Realistic About Your ExpectationsThis is a hard one, I know! I am on the internet every day and the amount of advertising is staggering. Brokers are offering free education (fox in the hen house if you ask me), forums of all different trading styles and points of view. Gurus pushing their system as “the one” that will make you the big bucks. How do you get through all that noise?Let me tell you loud and clear right now – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. You have to make a personal commitment to become a successful trader, find a trading style that works for you and expect a slow and steady approach to wealth building through Forex.What works for me may not work for you. Expect to go through an exploratory period where you are learning and at the same time exploring yourself as a trader. Keep an open mind and don’t pay attention to all the noise out there.Success Tip #4 – Exercise PatienceRome was not built in a day and neither will your trading account. In fact, I tell all of my students that while they are studying to become successful Forex traders they should not look solely at their account balance as an indication of success or failure.By tracking and increasing your percentage of high quality trades you execute is a far better barometer of your progress than your account balance. Cause and effect rule here. Over time when you increase your probabilities through the execution of high quality trades your account balance will respond accordingly.Keep the focus on the process and with time your results will blow your mind.Success Tip #5 – Money Management Is Top PriorityI would rather have a shaky strategy and excellent money management techniques than the other way around. This topic warrants its own blog post to do it justice. Limited your exposure (read “risk”) allows for you to stay in the game and allow the laws of probability to work.

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Let’s take a casino for example. They need gamblers to frequent their slot machines to make money. Why? They have a game that has a greater than 50% chance of making money for the house. The more people that play the slots, the greater the casino’s profits.The casino controls risk by payout tables (always favoring the house!) and increases their probabilities by keeping gamblers at the slot machines (read “free drinks”). As a trader you must limit your risk by committing only 1% – 3% of available capital to a single trade. When you execute enough trades with a high probability strategy you too can clean up like the casinos – but only by staying in the game long term.In conclusion, Forex trading is not easy. It’s hard work and will test the limits of your patience and perseverance. If anyone tells you otherwise .., buyers beware! It can be a very rewarding and profitable venture if done correctly. In the end it is a profession that requires a learning curve and practical experience, no different than an airline pilot or engineer. Understanding how to approach and learn this game will allow you to reap all the benefits advertised. It is your Forex Education that you will master the Process of Forex Trading.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.