Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What Can't Be Standardized in Higher Education?

Higher education is going through radical changes and struggling universities are moving online to increase their reach and balance their budgets. A number of studies have shown that standardization doesn't lessen educational quality and provides consistency in course instruction. Despite standardization there are two things that still need qualified faculty to complete effectively.

Grading papers and engaging in conversation require a guiding hand to fully function as intended. Both of these course activities are based in qualitative measurements that are very difficult for automated algorithms to calculate. It takes considerable experience and human insight to understand the student's current vantage point and propose new information to push their knowledge.

Each paper comes with a blend of course information, learned experience, thought processes and communication abilities. Professors must try and follow the train of thought and make judgments on the students understanding. For example, the understanding could be high and the writing skills low. The professor can make proper recommendations.

The same thing occurs in grading participation in discussion questions. The individual exists within an online conversation and it is beneficial to determine course understanding by assessing the student as an individual in a group discussion. This requires following complex group ideas and how those ideas build off of each other and create meaning for the student.

Professors ability to effectively grade and further knowledge among students is difficult to assess automatically. Someday this may not be the case yet as of now the qualitative assessments are too difficult for mechanical understanding. Professors skill in assessment and development of their courses is a learned skill that is enhanced over repeated focus and practice. Seasoned online professors are worth their weight in gold bring a human touch to the virtual learning world.


Eating Spinach for Internal Health

Spinach is a food that every household should have on their dinner menu. Popular spinach salads, cooked spinach, and spinach recipes do more than simply taste great as they also encourage greater health. They also have health benefits for those who want to work on their insides as much as their outsides. Incorporating a little spinach into your diet will do wonders for your general health.

According to Medical News Today spinach offers benefits for improving blood glucose levels, reducing cancer risks, improving blood pressure, preventing asthma and strengthening bones. The benefits of spinach move far beyond its tastes and encourage greater blood control and lower the risk of developing cardiovascular issues.

Developing health eating habits is about knowledge, habit, and practice. It is not enough to know about healthy eating without implementing the practice and habituating that practice to formalize a habit. As we become familiar with what foods are healthy and which ones are not we begin to naturally seek out and purchase certain types of foods.

For many people cooking healthy food is something that can be difficult do because of time and money constraints. It is just easier for people to buy a microwavable box of their favorite food or stop by their local restaurant; worse to even buy fast food. So creating a habit around eating healthy food is as important as buying that food.

An advantage of spinach is that it is also a source of protein which means those who are trying to build their muscles can find a source of protein in something leafy. It isn't a huge amount but most of the calories within spinach are made of this protein so in augmentation with other sources there is a benefit. It is better to consume protein in a low calorie meal than a protein bar.

Spinach is only part of a healthy diet. Exercise, variety, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy all contribute to health. The process of living healthy requires you to spend time thinking about the alternatives for your diet. Spinach is a good augmentation for salad and can be used to develop some low fat dies. Boil it and use it as a side dish on a regular basis.


How Might the "Rich City" of San Diego Impact Talent Recruitment?

Is San Diego a Rich Person's City? According to the article The 10 Richest Cities in America San Diego is in the top 10 cities in the nation for households that earn over $150,000. The only problem is that you have to earn $101,000 to live comfortably while that number is $75,0000 in other cities; much lower in other areas of the country. The high quality lifestyle has an advantage for living but can be prohibitive for young professionals who want to move to the area.

Business thrives when motivated young adults move to the area, invest their time, and spend their money at local restaurants. The price of living certainly is impacted by demand and supply. One of the most expensive aspects of living in San Diego is housing. For those who are young they are more likely going to be paying rent.

In either case, the cost is prohibitive and the higher income is justified if trying to recruit young people to the area. The problem is when companies must pay this higher amount to attract talent and still compete with businesses that have lower wage and building costs.  New businesses that attract young talent may find other places to set up shop.

There are no easy solutions as demand economics has taken precedence. The charm of San Diego is its relatively clean environment, sunny beaches, outdoor activities, and trendy lifestyle. People pay a lot of money to live in places like that. If you want to eat the worlds best fish tacos while sitting over the ocean go for a walk along the beach.

Despite its charm there are a few things that could detract from talent recruitment. The higher taxes are prohibitive and anyone who moves to California should consider the tax rate when compared to other states. The difference can be substantial leaving long-term residence more likely in other places.

San Diego may be a rich city but it also costs a substantial sum to live within city limits. Understanding these costs helps in determining recruitment policy and helping people find affordable housing in the area. Doing so may tip the scales toward successful recruitment versus loosing qualified talent to someone else. Companies will need to consider these benefits and detractors when designing their recruitment and compensation packages.




Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Intuition and Science that Lead to Solutions



Science and Intuition seem like they have been at odds with each other but the more we learn about intuition the more we understand its knowledge base. There are two ways to gain insight into particular problems that can lead to a path of discovery and knowledge. Science and intuition are not opposed to each other and are based in some of the very same methodologies. 

Intuition is a blend of logic, experience and subconscious (Robinson, 2007). It is a fast paced analysis that leads to a better understanding of the environment as well as those “awe” inspiring moments that create insight. As a logic, experience and subconscious process it cannot be discounted as a valid method of understanding the world. 

The process of intuition offers a way of seeing and experiencing the world that some people call the “sixth sense”. This is not a third eye as common folklore states but is similar to sensing and perceiving the world around us (Hales, 2012). It is an understanding of a solution without having the knowledge of where that solution came from.  

Intuition is seen as a higher form of knowledge through instant cognition. That instant understanding cannot occur unless there has been enough background knowledge to make such insight possible. The subconscious connects the information and puts forward a solution without our conscious awareness. It is quick and many times very accurate.

Immanuel Kant discussed intuition as something derived without direct observation while Benedict Spinoza thought of it as understanding of the world as an interconnected whole. The latter is a knowledge that takes the big truths and breaks them down into individual insight. The greater concept leads to the truth of smaller elements. 

Intuition and science can actually work in tandem. Intuition, like innovation, requires a deeper understanding of product purposes before a new solution can be found. This means that someone must have the education, experience, or skill to create the pieces of information that lead to a new idea. When that initial insight occurs it must be explored and tested to become something tangible. The scientific method can be an enhancement to self-generated knowledge.

Hales, St. (2012). The faculty of intuition. Analytic Philosophy, 53 (2). 

Robinson, L. (2007). Trust your gut. Business Book Summaries, 1 (1).

Should Reversing QE Come Before Raising Interest Rates?

As the economy improves changes in Fed policy is likely but what action the Reserve will take is open to debate. The question was proposed by Tim Worstall in an article entitled, Should The Fed Raise Interest Rates Or Reverse QE First? It is an important one as policy makers decide what they are going to do with this long-term debt while still trying to support America's re-emergence.

It should be remembered that the purpose of QE was to stabilize the banking system that found itself without capital reserve not too long ago. As a crisis aversion tool the goal was to increase government debt through the buying of securities thereby putting more electronic cash, hence reserves, into the banks to avoid major defaults that could have dragged the economy down.  It became a crisis averted by transferring risks from the private sector to the government.

As a policy stabilization made sense during a bank crisis but makes less sense as the economy recovers. The need to keep the liquidity of money flowing throughout the economy has dissipated and QE has stopped. According to the Heritage Foundation debt moved from $870 billion to $4.4 trillion in 2014. The nation must now deal with this debt and find ways of pushing it back into the private sector.

Sustained debt has an increasing risks to a nation that seeks to enhance its economic position. As debt levels rise, the cost of servicing that debt also increases which has an impact on growth rates (Turner & Spinelli, 2012). In comparison, European nations have experienced a flatter growth rate due to unsustainable debt levels. Maintaining such high debt  not only causes a drag on the economy but also increase risks of impotence when and if future crisis occur. 

Higher amounts of debt ratios, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product, eventually raises interest rates (Hsing, 2010). Higher T-bill rates also caused inflation to move upwards over the long run. Debt levels, interest rates, and inflation seem to have a connection that creates the right framework for economic growth. 

Raising interest rates helps fight against inflation. By making money less available the government can ensure that growth stays within its target rate and doesn't heat up too quickly. By returning the debt back to the private sector it will fight against inflation by soaking up extra electronic currency that stimulates short-term demand.

Instead of officially raising interest rates it may be better to start unloading the debt in adjustable chunks giving the Federal reserve an opportunity to gauge the economy and its momentum at each stage. This will give more control to the government, raise interest rates, and work toward better debt management processes. Moving debt off of the balance sheet may just help us out in the future if another economic crisis rears its ugly head.

Hsing, Y. (2010). Government debt and long-term interest rate: application of an extended open-economy loanable funds model in Poland. Managing Global Transitions, 8 (3).

Turner, D. & Spinelli, F. (2012). Interest-rate-growth differentials and government debt dynamics. OECD Journal: Economic Studies.