Category Archives: Education

ReThink: Old Books

Knowledge is power, or so the saying goes. And where does knowledge lay dormant, ready to empower minds to change the world? In books, of course! Better World Books knows that books are a key part of making the world, well, a better place, and they are doing something to make that happen. Starting from a college dorm room (because what worthwhile venture doesn’t have such humble beginnings?), Better World Books has grown to be a powerful force in promoting literacy worldwide. Through reclaiming and selling used books, donating books, recycling worn-out books, donating to literacy advocation programs, and more, the company is making huge strides towards putting books, and knowledge, in the hands of all people. Kind of makes you want to go grab a book, doesn’t it?

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ReThink: Education in Developing Nations

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Today’s UnConvention needs little introduction; basically, think Kiva for students. Education Generation aims to connect individuals with students in developing countries, enabling those students to gain the funding they need to complete their studies. Time and again, education has been proven to be the most effective catalyst for the development of impoverished countries, and Education Generation is looking to kickstart that process. Students can gain the skills, resources, and knowledge they need to change the world, one aspiring engineer, doctor, or banker at a time.

ReThink: College Textbooks

Nothing about college is cheap, except for the student discounts on ski lift tickets and quad-shot espressos at three in the morning. Tuition, room and board, lab fees, and textbooks all add up to a very expensive two or four years gaining a higher education. Thankfully, someone is doing something to help. OpenStax College, through Rice University, is offering free textbooks to five introductory courses and hopes to expand that number to twenty fundamental textbooks, with a potential savings of tens of millions of dollars passed on to students. Books can either be accessed online for free or bought as a physical book at a nominal price. Either way, a college education just got more affordable, thanks to innovative and forward-thinking people who know the true value of an educated society.

ReThink: Scholarships

Today’s crowdsourcing idea comes from Startup Weekend West Michigan, which was held this past weekend in Grand Rapids. Ideas don’t come much newer than this!

Today’s young people are faced with a double-edged sword on their way to becoming productive members of society: a college degree is necessary, and college is very expensive. Many students will take out loans to pay for college, but will be saddled with debt for years after graduation. Other students will try to earn scholarships, but even modest scholarships are extremely competitive. To help make ends meet, Fund Scholars was born. This crowdfunding platform connects generous individuals with scholars in need. Donations of any amount can be made to specific students, and once the student’s funding goal has been reached, that money is transferred to their college as a tuition payment. Through individual contributions, a scholar’s financial needs can be met, and they can be on their way to becoming the next generation of innovative, creative minds setting out to change the world.

ReThink: Foreign Language

With the reality of globalization fully upon us, knowing a second (or third) language has never been more important. Although English is fast becoming the common language, there are still over 6,000 distinct languages spoken around the world. Gaining access to the knowledge held captive by those languages is no easy feat, but Duolingo is making an ambitious effort toward that end. Their goal is to translate the Internet into as many different languages as possible, making content from any language accessible to everyone. Sound daunting? Duolingo makes it easy, utilizing language students to translate increasingly difficult sentences as their competency increases. Students learn a language and translate the Web in the process, making knowledge that much more accessible to the individual and to the world.

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