The Textbook Guru Guest Post

Guest Post: Colorado Middle School Embraces Technology by Handing Out iPads

This week, I’m happy to present a guest post from Stephanie VanderVelden, of Edu In Review. The site is a great resource for guides from getting scholarships to going Greek, and their blog covers news in education and how-tos. Stephanie talks about a topic I love here at TheTextbookGuru: education and technology. 

Technology dependent middle school students were the inspiration for a recent modern twist in Colorado public schools. When internet capacity was bursting at the seams in Manitou Springs Middle School the problem was found in students’ pockets. Smartphones and hand held devices connected to the internet were filling up online space meant for school computers. The discovery helped district officials to realize that schools may benefit from their students’ obsession with technology.

Instead of punishing students who are constantly online at school several Colorado public schools have responded with an alternative method; handing out iPads. To keep up with the curve, many schools are replacing traditional bound books with electronic versions and going digital on class assignments. The goal is to use cutting edge technology to streamline student learning and classroom interactions. Every student at Manitou Springs Middle School will enter the 2012-2013 year with an iPad 2 in hand.

 At roughly $500 per unit the iPad purchase seems hefty for public schools but Colorado school districts have crunched the numbers and plan to save money with their new plan. Electronic copies of books are less expensive to purchase than physical copies and thousands of free or inexpensive applications will change the way students and teachers interact. One reading comprehension application allows students to submit assignments with immediate grading which is then emailed directly to their teacher. Another application allows for the virtual dissection of frogs; easing expensive lab costs and squeamish stomachs. iTunes gift cards will be distributed to teachers encouraging them to explore the multitude of applications that will help create engaging and educational lessons.


Guest Post: Students Seek Alternatives to Traditional Tutoring As Budget Cuts Persist



At The Textbook Guru, I always want to bring the best advice, insight and tips from other insiders and money-savers. A few weeks ago, we covered some homework help options online. This week,online tutoring site gives us the benefits of using online tutoring sites. 

While budget cuts within schools around the country are showing no signs of slowing, students are turning to other resources as a substitute to traditional forms of education, especially when it comes to finding homework help.

Becoming more and more popular as a result of these rampant budget cuts is the business of online tutoring. Varied are the ways that students can receive homework help, but paying for the help is not out of the question considering so many parents are willing to pay for private “live” tutoring sessions anyway. From paying by the hour to paying by the question, students are finding ways of getting the help they need online.


The benefits of online tutoring are surprisingly obvious. First, students can find help about as quickly and easily as they can type. Not only are online tutors easy to find, but they can be targeted by the subject. With budget restraints, some schools can only afford a few well-rounded tutors, whereas online a student can find tutors for very specific subjects and even individual assignments.


Additionally, questions can be asked anytime of day. If a stumper arises during a late night study session, students would be hard-pressed to find a tutor willing to help after hours. Online, help is just a few clicks away.


Lastly, tutoring online can be a lot cheaper for students, especially when a student may only need help with a single problem. Otherwise, students are forced to face tutors that charge a hefty fee by the hour with a one hour minimum.


Many question the effectiveness of online tutoring since an online tutor may be more financially motivated. As a result, many online tutoring sites are correcting this issue by employing “expert” tutors only. Others tackle this issue by displaying a public letter grade of their tutors along with comments from previous buyers in order to curb hastily thrown-together tutorials. This strategy hopes to alert potential tutor-seekers as to the reliability of each tutor’s services, in much the same way eBay operates.


As the demand for homework help will always be present and the availability of school tutors is currently on the decline, it’s no wonder students are looking for new tutoring alternatives. But as long as students are finding ways to satisfy their thirst for knowledge, and that knowledge is just as high-quality and valuable as traditional forms, perhaps this alternative isn’t the worst route after all. Looks like the internet has saved us once again.


What do you think? Have you (or someone you know) tried online tutoring? Is it as effective? Let me know in the comments!


The search for value: Guest blog by Cheapism

The Textbook Guru wants to bring the best advice, insight and tips from other insiders and money-savers. This week, we’re happy to share a guest blog post by Sarah McClutchy at Cheapism is a consumer review site that shows you not just the best products, but the best value products.

Cash-strapped college students should always be on the lookout for deals. Why? Because textbooks aren’t the only category with money-saving possibilities. Take the time to do some online research before plunking down big bucks on furniture, electronics, or home and kitchen items and you’ll discover how to get the most bang for your dollar. After all, you want to find products that are not just inexpensive but products that will last for several years. Make it a rule to only buy products that get a thumbs-up from reviewers.

Start your research at product review sites. You can find expert reviews on sites like Consumer Reports orCnet, and user reviews on Epinions and Amazon. Then there are sites like Cheapism that pull and analyze opinions from around the web to make informed recommendations on everything from cheap space heaters todiscount eyeglasses. Cheap price tags don’t always mean cheaply made – you just need to know where to look and how to distinguish between the deals and the rip-offs. Because the bigger the bill the bigger the potential savings, we decided to focus this blog post on a couple of big ticket items.

One college essential on which you can save hundreds is a laptop. Before you spend $1,000+ on a popular MacBook, check out models costing less than $600. In its cheap laptops review, Cheapism recommends theGateway NV55C03u ($500) and Dell Inspiron 14R ($520). Each of these more affordable options is equipped with Intel’s Pentium P6100 CPU dual-core processor, runs at 2GHz, and includes the basics:  Microsoft Office, CD/DVD player, and wireless support. If you want to splurge, the Toshiba Satellite L655-S5096 boasts a 15.6-inch screen, costs about $680, and is another good option. According to the Cheapism review, many consumers are more than satisfied with these products, which are quality cheap alternatives to the trendier, but higher-priced, Mac models.