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Friday, October 21, 2016

CogniFit launches a new online platform to help educators improve quality of learning by training specific cognitive abilities

CogniFit, key vendor in the global K-12 testing and assessment market, introduces CogniFit for Education, a new web-portal for teachers to assess, train, and monitor cognitive skills involved in the learning processes.

The CogniFit for Education platform is a neurocognitive assessment and brain training program designed to help educators and teachers assess and track student's cognitive progress through fun brain games.

The CogniFit for Education platform starts with students completing a scientifically validated and gamified cognitive assessment. These brain games are specifically designed to identify the students' cognitive strengths and deficits in skills relevant for learning such as attention, memory, concentration, perception, and reasoning. Using this initial information, the CogniFit program automatically builds a personalized brain training regimen specifically for each student's cognitive needs and help improve their learning abilities. 

CogniFit CEO Tommy Sagroun explains, "Every student is different and has unique cognitive strengths and weaknesses. However, the mainstream education system groups students based on their age, rather than cognitive abilities like attention and memory, making it difficult to always ensure that the entire classroom is learning at the same pace. By providing educators with this new CogniFit for Education platform, teachers have the opportunity to assess, train and track their students' cognitive skills, and adapt their teaching strategy accordingly for each individual student. This makes a massive difference in the learning results at the end of the calendar year."

CogniFit has been working with schools and education centers around the world to develop this new solution and make sure its answers to the most pressing needs of educators. The aim is for this brain based learning platform to provide teachers with relevant information on a weekly basis in order to provide them with a tool for better learning experience. Teachers receive automatically a detailed report of their students' cognitive abilities after completing the initial assessment and the different regimen and exercises available online. The initial feedback on the platform also helps the teachers better adapt their teaching strategies during the year instead of waiting for test results to see the effectiveness of their education. This information also helps the teacher understand where each student may need extra help and personalize and humanize the relation with each student on a deeper level. For example, a student with a low inhibition or focus may have a harder time paying attention in class, or a student with low scores processing speed may need an extra minute to understand the written instructions on a test. By being aware of it, a teacher will use this information and improve the results.
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About CogniFit

CogniFit is a world leader in developing online programs to assess and train core cognitive areas such as attention, memory, coordination, perception, and reasoning. As a digital health company, CogniFit specializes in scientifically validated cognitive tests and brain training programs, all available online at

CogniFit's web and mobile exercises are designed by an international team of scientists, neurologists, and psychologists who investigate and combine the latest discoveries on the brain with advanced adaptive algorithms and big data analytics. For over 15 years, CogniFit has been developing personalized brain fitness programs through scientific validation with leading institutions and peer-reviewed publications.

Today a major vendor in the cognitive assessment and training market, CogniFit offers its programs to companies in various verticals, such as healthcare, education, research, health and wellness, driving, and human resources.

Source: PR Newswire (press release) 

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3 ways to set students up for success in an online course | eCampus News

Follow on Twitter as @JarrodMorgan

Jarrod Morgan, co-founder of ProctorU and was the company's first proctor notes, "Online learning gives students more options and flexibility and a growing number of them are taking advantage of online courses in order to pursue their degree in a way that works for them."
Photo: eCampus News

According to the 2015 Survey of Online Learning, there was an 3.9 percent increase in the number of higher education students taking at least one online course. Additionally, there are no signs that this upward trend is going to change any time soon.

For colleges and universities, as well as for instructors, this means supporting students who aren’t attending a brick and mortar classroom on a regular basis, if at all. Having served as director of technology at an online university, I’ve seen firsthand how institutions have risen to this challenge by getting creative in order to enhance the online learning experience. Below are three recommendations for setting students up for success in an online course.

1. Set Clear Guidelines
Students in online courses are learning in a non-traditional setting, and because of this a traditional set of classroom rules may not necessarily translate well.

Institutions can address this by setting clear guidelines at the institutional-level through a code of conduct specific to online courses and programs. A well-defined set of standards lets students know what is expected of them and how they can maintain their academic integrity.

Because the classroom experience has evolved, what constitutes academic dishonesty is no longer black and white and there is definitely a gray area, particularly when it comes to online learning. Identifying parameters takes the guesswork out of following the rules for students, letting them focus instead on learning course material. For example, with so much technology at students’ fingertips it’s important to note the difference between using technology as a learning tool and when it is being used inappropriately. A good code of conduct will outline when such tools can be used, such as for assignments or papers, and when they are not allowed, such as on exams.

Source: eCampus News

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Are snow days a thing of the past? | Shelbynews

"Spending snow days outside building snowmen and sledding down steep hills will only be a memory for Shelbyville Central Schools students." summarizes Ross Flint /The Shelbyville News.

Shelbyville teachers and administrators have been working toward developing eLearning, which allows students to get school work done from home on days that school days are canceled, possible. 

Assistant Superintendent Mary Harper said the school corporation has been working on making this possible after completing the Indiana Department of Education application. The corporation completed a survey to make sure families had internet access at home and found that 78 percent do.

That, combined with the corporation’s plan of providing lab days on Wednesdays and Saturdays to complete assignments, led them to decide to go for it.

Students will be able to participate in virtual discussions with their classmates, work remotely in small groups or with another student, watch a video and work on class projects.

Many teachers use Google Classroom and other Google sites, which can be utilized with eLearning.

Harper said it’s an opportunity to prevent the disruption of a student’s education because of bad weather.

Students will make up lost hours during a window of time following a missed school day. During that time, schools will be in their regular schedule and students are expected to complete their assignment through the eLearning Module. That allows students who might not have Internet access at home or have special needs accommodations to use the open labs.

Elementary school students will have access to the eLearning Module starting at 1:30 p.m. each Wednesday, and at 2:30 p.m. at the middle and high schools. It will close at midnight the following Monday.

Source: Shelbynews

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SA University’s drop in international rankings, may be forced to adopt e-learning as #feesmustfall protests rage on | Technology Zimbabwe

"In recent weeks the highly publicized and controversial South African “#feesmustfall” protest reached a peak with widely reported incidents of students facing off with police and school leaders at multiple campuses across South Africa. There have been reports of students being arrested, shot by rubber bullets, teargassed and beaten." continues Technology Zimbabwe.

Students forced their way into the parliamentary complex.
Photo: BBC

Many of the prestigious African academic institutions have failed to contain the unrest caused by the protests leading to lectures being called off as campuses have been deemed unsafe for both academic staff and students, these include UCT, WITS, UKZN, NMMU, UP to name but a few.

So what has caused the protests? 
This is the second year running of the #feesmustfall movement. Sometime late last year the South African Government greenlighted an increase in tuition of 10.5% for the 2016 academic year which sparked outrage from student bodies across SA leading to widespread protests forcing their government to freeze any tuition increase for 2016. But in a surprising turn of events, the SA government recently greenlighted a fee increase of 8% for the 2017 academic year, hence the new wave of protests that have.

What do the students want? 
#feesmustfall movement is advocating for “free, quality and decolonised education”. According to a report by BBC, students are fighting against a system that discriminates black students who come from poor families robbing them of opportunities to study and pursue formal careers. The movement wants free education for all starting with the poor and “missing middle class” a section of a growing population in African where parents have jobs but cannot afford tertiary education.

What the Universities have been forced to consider 
With the calendar academic year in SA closely coming to an end the protests have caused up to a month of disruptions of lectures and learning. The Universities have continuously reiterated their stance on lectures having to commence with students asked to attend lectures this past Monday but that only escalated the protests with the VC of UCT on the receiving end of a few punches whilst attempting to address a group of students on the need to resume lectures.

The Universities have been caught between a rock and a hard place. There is a need for the academic year to be concluded but then there is the element of unsafe campuses for both students and lecturers. 
The only option the “brick and mortar” Universities have left is to adopt e-learning solutions effectively making students distance learners.

Source: Technology Zimbabwe

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Scouter who completes 1 millionth eLearning module will win free Philmont conference registration | Scouting Magazine (blog)

Photo: Bryan Wendell
"The lucky Scouter who completes the 1 millionth eLearning module will win a free Philmont Training Center conference — up to $540 in value." according to Bryan Wendell, Eagle Scout, and senior editor of Boys' Life, Scouting and Eagles' Call magazines as well as the lead blogger at Bryan on Scouting, an official blog of Scouting magazine for BSA's adult leaders.
Photo: Scouting Magazine (blog

Getting trained for your Scouting position is its own reward.

But the Scouter who completes the 1 millionth module in the BSA Learn Center will get an additional reward: free registration for a conference at the Philmont Training Center — up to $540 in value.

The BSA Learn Center’s web-based training courses, created in response to feedback from leaders saying they want position-specific information delivered on multiple devices, went live in September 2015. They were an instant success, especially among busy parents.

As of this writing, more than 975,000 modules have been completed. In other words, the 1 million mark is just around the corner.

The free courses, available at, deliver high-quality online learning experiences tailored to your specific volunteer role or roles. You can complete them on any device from the comfort of your couch or home office...

Continue your training adventure — and give yourself a shot at the big prize — at
Good luck!

Source: Scouting Magazine (blog

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Yardi eLearning Improves Online Course Creation | Business Wire

"New feature enables clients to build custom online courses quickly and easily by converting existing media." inform Business Wire.

Yardi eLearning clients have a new tool to create branded courses for online staff training. The latest version of Yardi eLearning allows clients to convert their existing learning materials into a digital format with minimal effort."

“We’ve made it faster and easier for users to cut, paste, and copy pre-existing documents into Yardi eLearning. With minor formatting such as defining page breaks, users can set-up a new course in a matter of minutes,” said Terri Dowen, senior vice president of sales for Yardi.

Quick course setup means users have more time to make courses engaging for learners, and can convert existing in-house content libraries with ease. “They can work with videos, insert links to practice software, and create spaces for class discussion and quickly drop those into the course,” said Dowen.

The Yardi eLearning platform is especially popular with Yardi clients, who appreciate its intuitive format, authoring functionality and reporting capabilities.

Log on to to learn more about online staff training solutions 
integrated with the industry-leading Yardi Voyager® mobile platform.

About Yardi
Yardi® develops and supports industry-leading investment and property management software for all types and sizes of real estate companies. Established in 1984, Yardi is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., and serves clients worldwide. 
For more information, visit

Source: Business Wire

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Recognizing and Combating Cybercrime | EDUCAUSE Review

Marcia L. Dority Baker, assistant director for academic technologies in Information Technology Services (ITS) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln inform, "Can You Spot the Scam?"

Scams make great stories. Tales of Internet crime or other fraud make up some of Hollywood's most exciting thrillers. While cybercrime blockbusters are fun to watch on the big screen, cybercrime is a serious problem on campuses globally.

How many people do you know who are the victim of a scam (Internet or phone)? According to the FBI, cybercrime is a growing threat that affects individuals and businesses around the world. A recent Washington Post article reported that cybercrime cost the global economy $445 billion in 2014. 

What Is a Scam?
A good way to understand what something is is to know how it is defined. This post will use the Wikipedia definition of Internet fraud:

The use of Internet services or software with Internet access to defraud victims or to otherwise take advantage of them; for example, by stealing personal information, which can even lead to identity theft. A very common form of Internet fraud is the distribution of rogue security software. Internet services can be used to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme.

We need to think of scams, fraud, and cybercrime as synonymous. There are many words to describe this topic but each have at their core the sense of financial deception and all refer to the same concept: to take advantage of someone or — to use an old verb — "to swindle."

Who Is on the Other Side?
Remember the New Yorker cartoon, "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog"? This is one of my favorite cartoons and a perfect example of how a picture is worth a thousand words. While this cartoon came out in 1993, it holds very true today. On the Internet, it is easy for users to hide behind an alias, to share half-truths on a product, or to push a false service to gullible users.
Too Good to Be True

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is! 

Our ever-changing technology makes gathering information easier, especially as Internet users readily share personal information online. The challenge to outsmart the bad guys is a struggle for all organizations and individuals. We must stay informed of current trends in cybercrime to educate our campuses (faculty, staff, and students) on best practices for sharing content online and protecting valuable information. The FBI maintains a resource list of common fraud scams including examples of each type of scam and tips for staying safe online. This is not an exhaustive list of scams — as technology evolves, so will fraud. 
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Source: EDUCAUSE Review

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Online education – the way forward for 10 million hungry Indian minds |

Photo: Ashwin Damera
"Today, we have blended learning, online courses and Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs)." summarizes Ashwin Damera, Executive Director, Emeritus Institute of Management. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Education is the key to inclusive growth in any society. India is a young country with nearly 300 million people in the 19-35 age group. Based on the recent FICCI–EY report, currently India’s gross enrolment at 22 percent (30 million) is one of the lowest in the world, compared to 90 percent in the US, 62 percent in the UK and 31 percent in China. If we need to push our ratio even high enough to match China’s, then that amounts to educating an additional 15 million students – which seems like an overwhelming task, especially through our traditional brick-and-mortar education system.

The traditional education throws two major hurdles our way – accessibility and financial affordability. Business education is very expensive in India, especially considering the ROI on them. The tuition fees for premier B-schools in India are very high and they spike periodically. This situation pushes a majority of applicants to the lower tier schools, which have a mixed track record with respect to their placements. A working professional who is evaluating going to a business school in India may be extremely discouraged when (s)he takes into account the tuition costs, living expenses and most importantly the loss of pay during the period of education in a full-time programme. Of course, the lucky few who bag a great placement after the course may get a strong ROI for their time and money invested in a top tier B-school.

If we consider the distance learning method in India, it lacks the quality to deliver desired results. Of the 30 million higher education students, approximately five million are distance learning students. This means they receive self-study materials and enroll for end-of-term examinations. The system seems scalable and eliminates the need for additional infrastructure, but the students barely learn anything, have no professional guidance and lack the skills to tackle real-world problems. These students often end up in the lowest rung in terms of employability.

Technological disruption in education – our only ray of hope
Technology has disrupted industries across the globe and even in India, especially the retail, information accessibility and communication sectors. Now a fundamental change driven by technology has entered the education sector.
The latest developments in technology offer competitive and effective alternatives to traditional teaching. Today, we have blended learning, online courses and Massive Open Online Course (MOOCs). Each leverages IT infrastructure in varying degrees. Online learning is sweeping away the ground beneath us as we know it and replacing it with globalised, technology-enabled world of teaching and learning.
The year 2015 alone has witnessed nearly 591 edtech startups in India.

The annual increase in the edtech startups indicates that Indian students are voracious online learners. Class Central indicates that nearly 35 million students across the world have enrolled for online courses in 2015, as compared to 15 million in 2014. And nearly 10 percent of these students are Indians! Over the last few years, online learning has shown impressive growth numbers, thus drawing investors’ attention. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife's, Priscilla Chan, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, made its first investment in Asia in Bengaluru-based Byju’s, a mobile-based online learning company. This company is already backed by Sequoia Capital and Sofina, among others – and this is a clear indication of how this sector is being perceived.


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How the digital age changes literacy education | Deseret News

Follow on Twitter as @ChandraMJohnson

"In most U.S. schools, it used to be that children were expected to arrive at kindergarten ready to read — mastering the alphabet and beginning to sound words out on their own." according to Chandra Johnson, Utah transplant who has covered the justice system, education, social services and politics. 

For both parents and teachers trying to lift the dismal U.S. literacy rates, the “new literacy” is a delicate problem, requiring parents and schools to strike a balance between time spent on a screen and time spent with printed materials.
Photo: Adobe Stock

But if a child arrives at school with just their ABCs and 123s, it might not be enough, says University of Nevada literacy professor Diane Barone.

“It creates a double disadvantage for kids if the home doesn’t have a lot of books in it and they don’t have computers or internet access,” Barone said. “It’s hard if they don’t see a lot of technology before they come to school because other kids have seen it since they were 2 or 3. It’s worrisome.”

Literacy used to mean the ability to read and write, but in recent years, that term has become an umbrella for reading, writing and digital skills that run the gamut from typing to intuitively understanding how to interact with both computers and other devices, as well as an early grasp that everything online must be vetted.

“We now have a new definition of literacy where we’re trying to bring the ideas of digital literacy and print literacy together,” said Julie Todaro, president of the American Library Association.

Today, a child who arrives in class ready to read might actually be considered “behind” if they don’t also know how to interact with tablet or computer activities teachers increasingly employ in classrooms.

American kids have struggled with literacy for years. According to the National Education Association’s Nation’s Report Card, literacy rates for kids have plateaued over the past few years. In 2015, the NEA found that reading proficiency changed little from previous years, with just 36 percent of American fourth-graders and 34 percent of eighth-graders reading at or above their grade level. Among adults, literacy rates have changed little over the past decade. Between 1992 and 2003, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy reports that the number of American adults who can’t read hovered at 14 percent.

“This is a crisis,” said Reading is Fundamental president Alicia Levi. “Technology should enable learning for kids, but it shouldn’t replace the fundamental foundation of literacy, which is putting a book in a child’s hand.”

For both parents and teachers trying to lift the U.S.’s dismal literacy rates, the “new literacy” is a delicate problem, requiring parents and schools to strike a perfect balance between time spent on a screen and time spent with printed media —favoring one or the other too much may inadvertently put them at a disadvantage in school. The problem, experts say, is that the focus is too often on the digital aspect of literacy.

“Instead of focusing on what’s on the screen, we’re focused on whether or not they can work the device. Those are two very different things,” Todaro said. “Computers deliver print content. They’re not worth much if kids can’t read and understand what’s on the screen.”

Finding the best tools
Given the rates at which young children interact with a screen today, the number of children who are first exposed to written language via a screen has undoubtedly increased. In fact, Northwestern University found in 2013 that more than a third of parents gave tablets to their children ages 0 to 8, while the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that children 8-18 spend almost eight hours a day in front of a screen. Critics of children being introduced to language in electronic format say technology has limits to its success.

A child begins to read through a process Barone calls “decoding,” or learning to associate words with the real-life things they describe and sounding words out on the page. Decoding is where e-reading and apps shine because they have built-in tools to aid with the process, like reading highlighted words to kids or helping them sound a word out. But that’s about the extent of its usefulness to children learning to read, Barone said, likely because that’s what the majority of such apps are designed for — beginning literacy, nothing more.

“It’s about what these apps can do,” Barone said. “Right now, they’re doing a great job with early literacy, but they don’t do a great job on vocabulary and they don’t do a great job with comprehension.”

That’s why literacy experts say modern children need a healthy mix of reading material to boost both their reading skills and their digital skills. Books need to be worked into the mix, they say, because they require someone to read to the child and it's a different way for kids to familiarize themselves with language. Tablets can help with decoding and they definitely boost children's digital skills, but when children are left alone to read or use tablets, they're less likely to understand what they're absorbing.

“We’re great at giving them technology and they need it," Todaro said, adding that it's difficult to do anything in life without knowing how to interact with a computer or tablet. “But we’re so focused on digital literacy and getting them technology that we’re not as focused on what they really need, which is information literacy — being able to understand and think critically about what they find on the devices.”

Yet some literacy experts say it’s easy to overlook the power of technology for combatting illiteracy. Steve Vosloo, head of mobile learning with Pearson education company's South Africa branch, says for developing countries like South Africa or India, being able to read on a screen is often the only option. Where many communities Vosloo works with have few books, smartphones are fairly prevalent. Speaking via Skype from Cape Town, Vosloo chuckled at the idea of teachers or parents in America worrying about children learning to read on a device vs. a book.

“It’s not about paper or pixels, it’s about reading,” Vosloo said. “Technology isn’t a silver bullet, but if you don’t have access to printed books at least this way you do have access to reading.”

Vosloo says he prefers books as tools for literacy, but he says there’s no hard and fast rule that makes them “better” for learning to read, especially in countries where print books are scarce.

Vosloo has studied the impact of technology on literacy and from his perspective it’s minimal. The biggest example is a study Vosloo conducted on so-called “text speak,” a trend in the U.K. where students increasingly turn in homework and interact with common text abbreviations. But the concerns about “text speak” being a sign of eroding literacy are overblown, Vosloo said, mostly because kids in the developed world learn to read and write in English before they adopt “text speak.” But even in Cape Town, where Vosloo says many children speak a blend of English and Zulu, text speak is actually a sign of literacy.

Children there learn to speak English in classrooms where writing isn’t done, so children learn text speak using mobile phones before they know how to write it. It’s corrected as the children learn how to read and write English. It’s remarkable, in a way, that they’re learning to write phonetically correct English without having seen much written English.

To Vosloo, that’s potential that can’t be denied.

“There’s a potential for communities of readers that wouldn’t be here otherwise,” Vosloo said. “For countries and communities anywhere where there aren’t many printed books but there are digital alternatives, we should be open to that.”

Source: Deseret News 

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Winnipeg students learn about 'unknown' Ukrainian genocide aboard mobile classroom |

"Mobile classroom teaches students about Holodomor genocide, extermination by hunger" continues CBC.

The Holodomor Mobile Classroom can fit 33 students at once and has an 8½-metre long video wall inside that plays historical programming about the genocide. 
Photo: (CBC)

A group of Winnipeg students just got a chance to learn about an "unknown" Ukrainian genocide in an interactive classroom on wheels.

The 12-metre-long Holodomor Mobile Classroom rolled up to Sisler High School Tuesday. Students from two history classes were invited inside the mobile learning centre, where they took part in an hour-long interactive lesson about the Holodomor genocide, or extermination by hunger.

"It's 'unknown' in the fact that it's been covered up, it's been denied and it hasn't been recognized throughout the world," said Roma Dzerowicz, executive director of the tour.

"Our goal is to create awareness amongst Canadians of the Holodomor, and at the same time bringing to light a genocide where people were killed for who they were.... In today's world, we do not stand for intolerance, injustices; we stand for democratic and human rights."

More than four million Ukrainians died during the famine between 1932 and 1933, according to the Canada Ukraine Foundation. The Holodomor genocide was engineered by Joseph Stalin to starve Ukrainians and crush the country's independence movement, the foundation says.

Inside the bus, students had a chance to follow lessons projected onto an 8½-metre long video wall while following along on iPads.
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