Monday, November 29, 2010

The Open Education Resources Movement

By Caitlin Dwyer, Sales and Marketing Assistant

A recent New York Times article discussed a growing movement in which colleges and universities are putting lectures and course materials online for anyone in the world to access. Lectures by professors from Yale, MIT, and UC Berkeley, among others, are available on sites such as YouTube and iTunes for no cost as part of the "open educational resources" movement. Though originally intended as a tool for educators, the vast majority of people accessing these materials--43 percent at M.I.T. and 69 percent at Yale--are independent learners from across the globe. While these students do not receive grades or degrees, they are afforded the chance to pursue an education that may lie beyond their financial means--on their time and their terms.

Though this method of education is a stark contrast to the traditional classroom-based methods, the New York Times reports that students learn a full semester's worth of material in half the time when online coursework is added. The online classroom certainly has its pros and cons. It allows students to participate in the course while maintaining a full-time job or other obligations, but it can leave certain students craving the four walls of a classroom, where discussions with peers and educators flow naturally, and professors are readily available to discuss difficult texts and assignments.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Standardized Testing Reform in Massachusetts

By Alecia Eberhardt, Intern

I didn't grow up in Massachusetts, so when I began tutoring elementary and high school students after I moved here three years ago, I didn't understand why the number one thing on their mind was the MCAS test.

The MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) tests are so important to these students because not only do they take these tests every year from third to eighth grade, the high school level tests actually determine whether or not students are allowed to graduate. There is controversy surrounding these and many other standardized tests; there is always the fear that when education is based solely on numbers, teachers begin "teaching to the test," and students lose out on educational opportunities that fall outside the realm of the exam (art, music, etc.). On the other side, however, is the fact that there needs to be a system in place to ensure that students are learning the fundamentals of education: reading, writing, and arithmetic. And, in the case of the MCAS, science and technology too.

So when the issue of scrapping the MCAS tests was raised recently by state education officials, I was intrigued. If any changes are made, it doesn't look like they'll be substantial. Massachusetts is considering working with about a dozen other states to create a test that represents a "national standard," as pushed by the Obama administration. So the tests will still be there, they may just be slightly altered. This doesn't alleviate concerns about the tests, but it would ensure that all students (at least in these twelve states) are held at equal standards--just as long as those standards are as high as or higher than the ones at which Massachusetts students are currently held.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Audio Production is on the Rise!

By Lori Becker, President & CEO

PSG offers professional audio recording, editing, production, post-production, and engineering services for all your voice-over, dubbing, captioning or interactive components. With professional voice talent, scriptwriters, and audio engineers at the ready, we have the resources, personnel, and expertise to professionally write, record, produce, edit, and mix your audio content.

What can PSG boast as your audio production partner?

  • Experienced audio engineers and producers
  • Professional voice talent, including bilingual artists
  • Professional script writing and highlighting
  • Quality review and remediation resources
  • Flexible session scheduling
  • Multilingual translation specialists
  • Multiple digital delivery system

Spanish-Language Market Focus Expanding your presence in the Spanish-language marketplace goes beyond the printed page.

Dynamic content, including audio, is in demand in today's interactive world. Are you producing audio projects with native-speaking voice talent and taking advantage of the explosive growth in demand for Spanish-language content? Whether you have existing Spanish that you'd like to re-purpose or want to translate print, Web, or interactive components to produce new Spanish assets, PSG has the resources and expertise to help you to produce and deliver your localized content. Give PSG a call today. We're here to help.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Excellent Customer Service is Just a Call Away

By Ken Scherpelz, Vice President of Sales and Business Development

Does great customer service really make a difference? If you ask Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an online shoe retailer, he would most likely say "Absolutely!"

Known for outstanding customer service, Zappos was purchased by Amazon last fall for $1.2 billion. When asked in a recent Newsweek interview about the value of customer service, Hsieh responded: "Great customer service is expensive, and the payoff is two or three years down the road. If all we wanted was to maximize our 2010 profits, we'd fire everyone and stop answering the phones. But I think we're at an inflection point where we're seeing companies that do it well start to win. I think that's only going to continue."

When asked about the most effective means of communicating with customers, the Zappos CEO was pretty old fashioned in his approach: "We live in a hyper-connected world. Information spreads like wildfire through social networking. But I still say the telephone is best. You have the undivided attention of customers. And if you get it right, they really remember."

At PSG, we look at customer service as important as the content we create. We encourage our project managers to got on the phone and talk to our clients. For every project we schedule a weekly status phone call to check up on progress and solve problems. It brings a more personal touch to the project than a constant flow of digital words and numbers, and it gives the client and our staff the opportunity to get to know each other, which can result in a trusting relationship. And you can be sure our staff will respond promptly to your requests.

We have all complained at one time or another about not being able to talk to a real live person when we require some help from a business. If you need help from us, we're only a quick phone call away.

In fact, call me right now at 614.760.8855, and I'd be happy to talk with you about PSG's great customer service.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Knitting and Nintendo

By Lori Becker, President & CEO

Busy, busy, busy. That's how my friends and family describe me so it wasn't a big surprise when I announced that along with my business, dance classes, the gym, volunteer work and a handful of little projects, I was also going to learn to knit. And I did. I took my first class in November thinking that I would be able to make some holiday gifts as I progressed. Well, that did not happen. I sorely underestimated how long it would take to make my first scarf (it's purple tweed) along with all of my other projects - not to mention starting additional knitting projects before I finished the first scarf!

I was finally settling into a nice, comfortable rhythm with needles clicking and the scarf growing longer when along came a shiny new Nintendo DS Lite. It was a Christmas gift. At first I was a little surprised to get one but as soon as I turned it on, the 80s gamer inside me was back in action. Back then I was all about Ms. Pac Man (yes, I was a high-scoring gamer geek) but now I've matured and moved on to collecting coins and 1-up mushrooms and squashing Goombas in Super Mario Bros.

Now I have two more passions -- one new and one revived. I'm sure that several of you are knitters and crafters or gamers, or are married/related to one of us, so you'll understand how I ended up knee-deep in three knitting projects at one time while trying to rack up an even higher score with my new friend Mario.

Where am I now? I am multi-tasking and finding room for both of my new crushes. The biggest challenge is, of course, deciding which pattern to follow and which yarn to dig out of my over-flowing "I'm sure I will use this yarn for something" basket while wondering if I am ever going to make it to the next course and rescue Princess Peach?