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Pushing My Comfort Zone #4

16 Apr

Event: Helping a blind guy navigate to where he needed to go

What did you do?: As I was walking down the street one night, a blind man asked my friend and I how to get to where he needed to go. We figured that the easiest way to help him would be to walk him to where he needed to go, and talk him through the directions.

How did this break what you normally would have done?: Before this, I never experienced such an incident and before it actually happened, I would probably just have explained the directions to him and been on my way, whereas this time, I actually led him to where he needed to go.

What were the results of your behavior?: The man was very grateful for what we did, and couldn’t thank us enough.

How did it make you feel?: It made me feel really good about myself. Helping a handicapped person is always very helpful to them and they are always very thankful, and it made me feel great knowing that I probably just made this mans night.

Pushing My Comfort Zone #3

16 Apr

Event: Going to a foreign country (Greece)

What did you do: Going to a foreign country that speaks a completely different language than you do is hard and I had to learn to adapt to the language. After just a few days I learned the main phrases I needed to navigate around.

How did this break what you normally would have done: If it were America and others were just speaking another language around me, I wouldn’t try to understand what they were saying or communicate with them. I would just let it be and move on with my day, whereas in Greece, I had to learn the language to communicate and get around and do the things that I wanted to do.

What were the results of your behavior: It made me feel much more comfortable in the country, and the people were a lot more friendly and accepting, seeing that I was actually trying to learn the language instead of blowing it off.

How did it make you feel: It made me feel very good about myself, and accomplished that I learned how to navigate around a foreign country and learn the language as best that I could.

Push Your Comfort Zone #2

16 Apr

Event: Participating and talking in class

What Did you Do: Actually spoke in class for once, and participated in the class discussion

How did this break what you normally would have done: I would usually sit quiet and keep thoughts to myself, thinking that what I had to say was wrong, or I was just too shy to actually say what I was thinking.

What were the results of your behavior: I actually felt accomplished for once while in class and I found that what I had to say wasn’t actually a dumb thought, or wrong at all, and positively contributed to the class conversation.

How did it make you feel?: It actually made me feel very good about myself and that my thoughts about the discussion weren’t completely worthless. It made me more apt to talk in class more often.

Pushing my Comfort Zone #1

16 Apr

Event: Freshman year in the dorms, going to the caf and eating alone.

What Did I Do: I went to the cafeteria alone, and sat very awkwardly by myself

How Did This Break What I Normally Would Do: I would usually find somebody to go with me, even if they weren’t hungry, and sit with me while I ate.

What Were The Results Of My Behavior: Finding out that going alone really isn’t too bad, or irregular, as many other students did the same thing as I did. It made me more comfortable to do that more often.

How Did it Make you Feel?: At first I felt very weird, and like a loser, but then as time went on it actually made me feel more independent and it wasn’t too abnormal

Textbook Summary and Implementation Plan

16 Apr

Summary:

During our research and brainstorming on lowering the cost of textbooks, we thought it would be most efficient and effective to create an MSU-based website where professors can review textbooks and their prices from different sites as well as being able to consult with other professors about what textbooks they have used that were the most cost-efficient but still useful and valuable for the class.  To implement this idea we would need to create the website design and meet with MSU administration to present the site and get the approval to have it be an MSU based website.  We may also need to ask for some sort of grant for money to get the website started but we believe the benefits of this site will far outweigh the cost in the end.  Once we work on the site and fully create it, we’ll need to create awareness of the site for professors to use it.  Finally, once the site is fully created and hopefully widely used by professors, we would begin the next phase of our plan, which would include making the site usable for students to find prices of textbooks from different stores and sites, as well as communicate with other students about buying/selling textbooks.  Once all of this is established, we would ideally reach out to other universities and encourage them to use the site to build a network of professors and students from across the country.

Steps:

 Phase 1:

1.     Meet with web designer to create mock website

·      A good example of this sort of mock website can be seen above.  We would need this to be able to show off our ideas for the site in the next step of the implementation.

2.     Meet with MSU administration to present ideas for the site

·      We would have this meeting to show the administration the functions of the website and the costs of benefits of it (and show them how these benefits will outweigh the costs in the long run).  We might also ask them for some sort of grant to get the site up and running and get approval for the site to be MSU based.

3.     Begin working on creation of the actual website

·      In working on creating the website, we would implement our ideas of creating a place for professors to compare prices of textbooks from different textbook stores and textbook sites as well as a place for professors to communicate with one another about textbooks.

4.     Create awareness of the site to professors

·      Once the site is fully created, we would need to create awareness of the site to professors either via social media, e-mail, or even encouragement from department or college heads.  We might continue this encouragement of usage of the site at end of each semester, the time when professors are likely choosing what books they’ll use for the upcoming semester.

Phase 2:

1.     Make the site accessible for students

·      Once the site is successful and widely used by professors to efficiently find cheaper textbooks for their classes, we would expand the site to make it usable for students as well.  Students would be able to use the same price comparison tool as professors, to look at the prices of their textbooks from many different stores and sites.  They would also have their own network of students to communicate with and be able to buy/sell their textbooks from one another.

2.     Create awareness of the site to students

·      We would then want to let students know about the site and what benefits it might have for them.  We might do this via e-mail, social media, and flyers/posters around campus and in book stores.  There might be increased encouragement to use the site around the time when students are most likely to be buying/selling books, at the beginning and end of each semester.

3.     Make the site accessible to other professors and universities

·      Once our site is successful at MSU, we would it expand it to make it accessible to other professors and universities across the country.  This way, MSU might be able to make some additional profit from and site and also build a larger network of professors who can give their input on the best textbooks to use.

S.W.O.T. Analysis for Textbook Project

16 Apr

Strengths  

An online option for textbooks has great strength. Customers can compare the books around the area and find lower rates, enabling them to actually buy the textbook. That way students can still sell the books back to the various bookstores. Professors would find it easy and accessible, simply viewing other Professors success rates about books used in their classes and deciding on whether or not that is the right book for their course. There will be a “search by topic” option so Professors can read those specific testimonials without having to scroll endlessly to find the book. The website will be powered through MSU with student and teacher log-in. An online database is also a more eco friendly option. If this idea is successful, other universities can buy into it, placing MSU at the beginning of a revolution.

Weaknesses

With any good idea comes weaknesses, but identifying those weaknesses makes it stronger. It will take time to build a network of Professors who are willing to search and compare topic books. It’s very dependent on those Professors who are willing to better their class. Professors often write their own books and require them for their course while collecting royalties. Some local bookstore may lose money if books are bought online from other sources. Professors may be comfortable with a book they already use and not want to change. These are all small effects that can be easily fixed once popularity is gained. With effective advertising awareness will be built and the base of this database will thrive.

Opportunities:

There are many opportunities that may arise if Michigan State University were to implement this idea of a database to compare the prices of college textbooks to local bookstores and online prices specific to MSU. With this idea of a database taking effect, an opportunity for the student is that it gives them options to find the book at a cheaper price.  Another opportunity is that it can help toward getting books along with knowing what books are more important to purchase hopefully reducing the cost. The most important opportunity for the university to implement this idea is that if this particular idea is a success, our particular university could sell the idea to other universities across the country or over the world making a profit from it.

Threats:

The threats that would rise from implementing this idea of a database to compare book prices would be that local businesses would lose money because business might not come to them if there are more inexpensive options or easier accessible options that students can turn to when purchasing college textbooks. There would also be a problem with professors because they would have conflicting views about the use of the course material that they require students to use for their particular class, making it difficult to make a general straightforward database that is reliable for so many different teaching styles that professors use making it difficult to determine the book for a class.

High Price of Textbooks: Problem Analysis

16 Apr

For many college students and their families, buying expensive textbooks is one of the most stressful events of year. According to Liz Weston, personal-finance columnist for MSN Money, between the 2010 and 2011 academic year, the average full-time college student spends about $534 on textbooks each year. This current sum actually decreased from the 2005-2006 academic year which was estimated to be around $632 at that time. This is because local bookstores and publishing companies offer more available options for students such as book rentals, e-books, etc.  Liz Weston also stated that 49% of students actually buy new books, 38% buy used books, 10% rent books, and only 2% buy e-books. The new textbook customers are mostly freshmen because they do not realize there are other options such as purchasing used book or rentals. According to a survey done by U.S. Public Interest Research Group, seven in ten college students said that they intentionally did not buy a at least one textbook because of the expensive price.

 

Then why are textbooks so expensive and make students afraid to purchase them? The cost of the books is determined by many variables. First of all, about 20% of the money earned goes to pay the store to cover miscellaneous expenses. About 15.4 cents of every dollar of textbook costs goes to marketing the textbook, 11.7 cents goes to the author and about 32.2 cents goes to actually making the book including the supplies needed.James Koch is an economic professors at Old Dominion University, and he believes textbook prices will not go down without university professors’ cooperations. He believes that many professors do not pay too much attention on how their textbook considerations will influence over students. Also, universities tend to earn more from their bookstore contracts when students are spending more on textbooks, so they do not help control prices.  Another economic professor at Michigan State University, Byron Brown believes publishers and authors have monopoly power and marketing strategies such as marginally improved new editions of textbooks. New editions of textbooks are put out approximately every 3.9 years, and most professors require the newer version of textbook even if there are not many changes. Also, e-books are not the best option for both publishers and authors because compared to traditional textbooks, e-books have no value for resale.

 

There were several previous attempts to reduce textbook costs. In 2010, New York Times reported that publishers started to unbundle textbooks so students can separately purchase workbooks or CDs at a lower price. Recently, the government  regulates textbook publishers to inform the university faculty about how much their textbooks actually cost, so the professors understand how much students will pay when they buy them. Also publishers must provide additional information of revision histories and a list of alternative formats. However, these attempts have been insignificant in helping to reduce the price of textbooks. Dr. Koch said many professors do not care too  much about the costs of textbooks, so they do not spend much time reading publisher’s provided information. Also, there are no direct financial disadvantages or regulations for publishers and authors to sell expensive textbooks. Many students voluntarily seek for alternative ways to buy cheaper textbooks. According to the survey done by Liz Weston, 61% of students compare prices online before they make an actual purchase. It is estimated that buying textbooks from Amazon saves money from 20 to 40% of their total cost. Another option could be to rent textbooks from various websites such as Chegg.com. It is estimated that students can save up to 50% on the rented books, however average rental websites only offer about 25% of required texts students need for classes. Students understand there are cheaper textbooks available online, but they do not often  purchase them them because of delivery issues, financial privacy, etc.