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Friday, October 17, 2014

Science Is Divided About Music In The Workplace, But It Doesn't Matter

"Whether or not we realize it on a conscious level, music is a universal language. It’s as old as time, it communicates what words alone cannot, and it speaks to each and every one of us in a deeply personal way." continues Forbes.


The tragedy of music, then, is how often it’s used casually – as background noise, as something to fill a few empty hours, or simply because we can’t abide silence. However, research on the subject of music may have revealed it to be something pretty surprising: a productivity tool.

There’s a good chance you come across so-called “productivity hacks” on a regular basis. Some of them are genuinely helpful, while others seem to require more effort than they may save.

The productivity trick I’m about to share with you is, in a word, complicated. It carries the usual “your mileage may vary” disclaimer, as well as several caveats.

Despite all these ifs ands and buts, I’m here to advocate the use of music in the workplace. After you’ve dug through the available and (in some cases) contradictory research, I feel that what you’re left with is something that offers many more advantages than disadvantages.

What does the data say?

Studies conducted as far back as the early 70’s found that music can have a positive impact on workers. One such study, conducted in 1972, discovered that factory employees did their best work when they were allowed to listen to happy or upbeat music.

To be sure: music isn’t some magical panacea. It still does make demands of us in turn. For instance, listening to music while working constitutes multitasking, which necessarily decreases our ability to closely focus on any single objective. Depending on who you ask, this may actually be a good thing; a 2012 study conducted by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that those who favor multitasking may be better at absorbing and integrating information from several senses at once. But it may not work for everyone.
Read more... 

Source: Forbes

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New Models of Higher Education

Photo: Steven Mintz
"In recent years, a succession of new educational models have been held up as the future of higher education." summarizes Steven Mintz, the Executive Director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning and a Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin.

The next-generation university, we are told, will be built around flipped classrooms.  Or competency-based education. Or, perhaps, clicks will replace bricks, with instruction moving online.
Team-based learning, mentored research, collaborative education emphasizing peer-to-peer instruction, or problem-based learning – these, too, have been called the future of a post-secondary education.

Too often, a single model is deemed the solution to higher education’s challenges: high costs, deficient student engagement, or unsatisfactory graduation rates.
Instead of embracing a single solution, institutions might consider implementing differentiated paths to a degree.  Students, then, might choose the path that best reflects their needs and aspirations.
One might object: Doesn’t higher education already have a highly differentiated model?

Source: Inside Higher Ed (blog)

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The Real Revolution in Online Education Isn’t MOOCs

Follow on Twitter as @rwmichelle
"Data is confirming what we already know: recruiting is an imprecise activity, and degrees don’t communicate much about a candidate’s potential and fit. Employers need to know what a student knows and can do." reports Michelle R. Weise, Ph.D., senior research fellow in higher education at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.


Something is clearly wrong when only 11% of business leaders — compared to 96% of chief academic officers — believe that graduates have the requisite skills for the workforce. It’s therefore unlikely that business leaders are following closely what’s going on in higher education. Even the latest hoopla around massive open online courses (MOOCs) amounts to more of the same: academics designing courses that correspond with their own interests rather than the needs of the workforce, but now doing it online.

But there is a new wave of online competency-based learning providers that has absolutely nothing to do with offering free, massive, or open courses. In fact, they’re not even building courses per se, but creating a whole new architecture of learning that has serious implications for businesses and organizations around the world.

It’s called online competency-based education, and it’s going to revolutionize the workforce.

Say a newly minted graduate with a degree in history realizes that in order to attain her dream job at Facebook, she needs some experience with social media marketing. Going back to school is not a desirable option, and many schools don’t even offer relevant courses in social media. Where is the affordable, accessible, targeted, and high-quality program that she needs to skill-up?

Source: HBR Blog Network 

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Development focus: Why e-Learning is far from boring

Photo: Mark Jones
Mark Jones, business development director at Unicorn Training writes, "By 2020, eLearning will make up 95 per cent of the learning market – that is the prediction of Craig Weiss, one of the world’s leading authorities on online learning."


His assertion is that face-to-face learning methodology has been the same for 400 years but in 20 years eLearning has transformed the learning space.

Yet if asked for their perception of eLearning, most advisers would probably have a similar response. The words “boring” “dull” and a “necessary evil” would likely feature heavily and with some justification, given firms’ traditional predominantly regulation-driven relationship with eLearning.

Most advisers’ experience of eLearning is mandatory compliance training; working through typically lifeless “click next” page-turner courses at your desk, courses you just want to get finished as quickly as possible, pass the test and get back to work. 

Yet when you consider how online people’s everyday lives have become, isn’t it common sense that professional development is taking the same course?

eLearning is now a catch-all phrase for the online platforms, tools, Apps and courses that can help advisers and firms not just tick the compulsory regulatory boxes but do so as part of a whole managed career and business development opportunity.

Source: Money Marketing

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E-learning to revolutionise teacher’s role

"One of the biggest challenges to South Africa’s future success is overcoming obstacles in education. One promising approach, being tested out in schools across the country, is to take advantage of technology trends and institute educational models based on e-learning." according to Independent Online.

From textbooks being brought to life with video enhancements and augmented reality, to apps that allow pupils to test themselves, the forms of e-learning are multitudinous. 


Via Afrika chief executive Christina Watson says these new solutions

“represent a seismic shift in education, particularly the teacher’s roles”. Via Afrika is one of the country’s leading educational publishers with more than 60 years’ experience. It has recently invested in digital education initiatives. 

Kirsty Chadwick, founder of the e-learning design and development company, The Training Room Online, said: “E-learning can help the teacher to stay on course with their teachings and at the same time help the students by granting them access to the material whenever and wherever they need it.”

The Training Room Online specialises in creating innovative, cost-effective and customised digital learning solutions. It strives to provide online and computer based e-learning material to suit any requirement.

As increasing numbers of schools go digital, many teachers are witnessing a change in their roles. “In the classroom of tomorrow, the teacher is no longer the lone transmitter of information, standing in front of a class giving 30 minute long lectures to pupils, but assuming a new role as facilitator, coach and guide,” said Watson.

For effective e-learning there has to be a constructive overlap between content, pedagogy and technology. “In terms of technology, we not only require the device, but also the infrastructure to support the device.

“We also need to ensure the competency of pupils and educators to use the device and what it can and cannot do. We often harp on about the need for e-learning content to be engaging, while forgetting the importance of it remaining relevant to the curriculum.”

Watson said for e-learning to be effective, teachers will have to change their ideas on how lessons are presented, and pupils assessed. 
Read more... 

Source: Independent Online

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jean Golding: a tale of illness, adventure and statistics

Follow on Twitter as @soozaphone
On Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) - Tuesday 14 October 2014) , Suzi Gage shares an extract from a book chapter.

To find out the rest of Jean’s story, the ebook (also featuring chapters on Dorothy Hodgkin, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Joan Feynman, and a host of other amazing women) is available here.

Last year, Ada Lovelace Day produced an ebook, for which I wrote a chapter about Jean Golding, the woman who set up Children of the 90s, the dataset I use for my PhD.

Photo: Portrait of Ada by British painter Margaret Sarah Carpenter (1836)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

I’m very lucky, when it comes to research. Not only is my PhD on something that I find really interesting, but to do it I get to use one of the finest epidemiological resources that currently exists in the UK. Children of the 90s is a huge dataset containing biological, psychological, social and medical information about a group of children, their parents, and soon their siblings and their own children as well. The dataset is world renowned, with hundreds of papers published using the data, from researchers across the world.

The woman behind it, Jean Golding, is a quietly spoken lady. Although no longer directly involved in the running of the cohort, she still conducts research using the data, and is often seen at talks and events in the department. In 2012 she was made an OBE for her role in setting up and developing the cohort. But her journey to this point was far from straightforward, involving illness, personal hardship, hard work, and even smuggling (for a good cause)!

Source: The Guardian

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E-Learning and Blended Learning

Photo: Shaik Abdul Wahab
"It is difficult to find one simple solutions for a complex issues." according to Shaik Abdul Wahab, EduNirvana Training Solutions.

The expectations with regards to performance at work place or at home are complex; we need a blend of various learning solutions to resolve these complex issues. In such a scenario, Blended learning offers a greater chance of success.

Blended learning is not new concepts. In fact, it is an age-old concept that existed for several centuries. In ancient India, the pupil leave with their teacher or guru for years in Ashrams. The pupil was imparted theoretical knowledge, in the presence of the guru, sitting under the tree. The requisite physical training took place in open places. The pupil would also help the guru in the preparation of food. And, many such areas of learning were available under a single roof under the aegis of a single teacher. Blended Learning is akin to the form of pedagogical practice such as the Gurukul where there exists a blend of various training or learning strategies.

Today, the needs and challenges of learning have changed. Enlisted below are a few such challenges:
  • Time constraint
  • Total number of students that can be reached
  • Learners being distributed at far different places
  • Complexity of tasks to perform
  • Complexity of content
  • Forms of content (Audio, Video, Text etc.)
  • Infrastructure
  • Cost
All these factors necessitate a unique learning strategy; a strategy that constructs a learning environment that has the following features.
  • Ease of access of content to remote learners
  • Platforms to deliver various types of content anywhere and anytime.
  • A learner-centric Learning Module/Design.
  • Easy tracking
  • Multiple delivery of learning content
  • Regulatory or supervisory control over content, trainer performance and learner’s understanding.
The above learning environment is a blend of technology and traditional learning strategies.

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How Office Mix is a powerful tool for blended or flipped learning

Photo: Peter West
Peter West, director of eLearning at Saint Stephen’s College in Australia writes, "15 features that make the free Office Mix software a resource for any teacher involved in flipped or blended learning."

Office Mix is a free addition for PowerPoint 2013 that lets you turn PowerPoint documents into interactive online lessons or presentations. It takes any existing or new PowerPoint presentation to a whole new level, making it easy to create resources for flipped or blended learning. Here are 15 reasons Office Mix should be part of your “teaching toolbox.”

1. You can leverage existing resources.
Many teachers have existing PowerPoint presentations on a variety of topics. These presentations can be revisited and reused by quickly converting them to a Mix. With little time and effort, an existing teaching resource that is only moderately effective in a flipped or blended learning environment can become a much more effective learning resource. The difference between these two types of resources is outlined in the article “It’s called blended learning (not blended teaching) for a reason.”

Source: eCampus News

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Build Your Teaching Business Online

Online education platform WizIQ announced that it is hosting a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) entitled 'Build Your Teaching Business Online.' The course begins on October 24, 2014.
Course Highlights
  • Live sessions with established online teaching experts
  • Class recordings available after each session
  • Learn to develop and market courses
  • Create and present your own online course
  • Extend your reach in social media
About the Course
Language of Instruction: English

Course Description 
Build Your Teaching Business Online is a free and open course (MOOC) created and facilitated by Jason R. Levine and Sylvia Guinan. This course is for tutors, test prep institutes, training programs, and individual teachers who wish to expand or launch their online teaching business.

In the first part of the course, you will learn from guest presenters in live sessions on WizIQ.

Presenters include:
Jack Askew, Drew Badger, Dr. Nellie Deutsch, Joss Frimond, Sylvia Guinan, Kerstin Hammes, Sunita KadianPeter Lahiff, Jason R. Levine, and Vicky Loras

Topics for these sessions include:
  • Planning and creating courses
  • Materials design
  • Building your website
  • Creating and managing a blog
  • Pricing and marketing courses
  • Promoting your courses in social media
  • Strategies for recruiting students.
In the second part of the course, you will apply what you have learned to creating your own ‘demo’ course on WizIQ. The course facilitators will first show you how to use the virtual classroom and course creation software. They will then guide you in developing a plan to run, market, and manage your course. Finally, you will have the opportunity to present your course to your peers.

Participants who successfully create and present their demo courses will receive Certificates of Completion for Build Your Teaching Business Online.

Course Timetable:
Link to Class Schedule
October 24: Opening Ceremony
October 27-November 16: Guest presentations (Complete list published soon)
November 17-23: Learning to use the virtual classroom
November 24-30: Learning to create a course
December 1-7: Course creation
December 8-21 Course presentations

About the Instructor  
Jason R. Levine
NEW YORK, United States

Jason R Levine (Jase, for short) is Ambassador and Knowledge Entertainer at WizIQ, where he recruits teachers and develops online courses. He has fifteen years of experience as an English teacher, teacher trainer, and materials writer. Jase is the creator of ColloLearn, an approach to English language learning based on the songs he writes and performs as Fluency MC. He has led teacher training programs in fourteen countries in Europe, the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East.

Jase writes songs and chants for several publishers, including Oxford University Press. He is chair of TESOL’s Video and Digital Media Interest Section and works as an English Specialist with the U.S. Department of State.

After earning an MA in TESOL from Hunter College in 1999, Jase taught at several schools before becoming the director of curriculum development for Embassy CES. In 2002, he co-founded a TOEFL preparation school for international students in New York City.

Jase maintains the ColloLearn YouTube channel and the Fluency MC Facebook page. He is an active administrator of over a dozen Facebook groups for English language teachers and learners, including How to Improve Your English, Jason R. Levine Fans,Innovative Teachers of English, and Teachers Teaching Online.

About the Co-creator and Designer
Sylvia Guinan
Community Builder and Edtech facilitator

Sylvia Guinan is Community Builder and Edtech facilitator at WiziQ.
She has a BA in English Literature, a Diploma in Higher Education and twenty years experience as a teacher.

She reaches out to teachers around the world through:

Creating and running the new Build your Teaching Business Online course with Jason R. Levinemoderating and presenting at online conferences,blogging,community building through social media, empowering teachers to work online, supporting them in using educational technology and encouraging creative use of technology for pedagogical purposes.

Apart from presenting at conferences online, she has helped run, organise and moderate the ELT MOOCs on WiziQ, promote and blog about The Reform Symposium, and moderate Shelly Terrell's EVO eperfect ebook writer's initiative.

As an online English Teacher she specialises in exams preparation, creative curriculum development and business English .She does this through a focused, creative multi-media approach that allows students to excel on multiple levels.The goal is never just the next exam or the next business meeting. The ultimate goal is personal and professional development for students and clients through setting challenges that develop strong linguistic and cognitive skills.Learn more at her website, blogs, Linkedin, google + and facebook page.

Source: WizIQ and Fluency MC's Channel (YouTube)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Math Program Offers Teachers Hands On Tools for K-5 Classrooms

"For teachers who may be struggling with teaching math effectively in their K-5 classrooms, a new two-day online seminar may be just what they need." according to Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld.

Photo: EducationWorld

Staff Development for Educators' (SDE) Math Academy: Building Your Mathematical Toolkit is a “a hands-on two-day Academy for teachers of grades K-5, designed to ease the difficulties teachers have with math instruction. It presents teachers with the necessary tools to help them attack tough math concepts, set anchor tasks, and develop meaningful math centers and guided practice strategies,” according to SDE's press release.

The toolkit is led by math experts and former teachers, and the academy is “intended as a unique opportunity for teachers who are struggling with how to make math instruction doable and successful in the classroom.”

Source: EducationWorld

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