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Introducing the Connect Thinking E-Learning Academy


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Heriot-Watt world-leader in Actuarial Mathematics

"Heriot-Watt University, which has a Malaysian campus in Putrajaya, is a world-leading centre of teaching and research in Actuarial Mathematics." according to The Borneo Post.

Students are seen during a session at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia.
Photo: The Borneo Post 

The university’s Department of Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics was the first in the United Kingdom to offer a specialised programme in the field.

Students interested in a career in Actuarial Science will find a pathway that will set them up for a successful future in this field beginning with the university’s Foundation in Science or Foundation in Business and Design Actuarial, with the latter being designed specifically for students who want to pursue a degree in Actuarial Science.

These foundation programmes are structured to equip students with skills in the relevant academic disciplines while also equipping them with other skills, such as English and study skills, in preparation for their transition to degree studies.

Upon successfully completing the foundation programme, students would then be able to progress into the university’s BSc (Hons) Actuarial Science programme, a three-year degree programme which has been accredited by the UK actuarial profession.

Similar to the university’s other programmes, it employs a mixed mode of teaching and assessments, allowing students to experience a more hands-on approach to the programme content.

Chua Han Chun, a Malaysian alumnus of Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus, said the university offered him a very flexible, industry appropriate education.
Source: The Borneo Post

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Campus News Examining use of mobile devices in the classroom

Smartphones and tablets are powerful tools for texting and tweeting. But can they transform education in the classroom? summarizes University at Buffalo Reporter.

The Digital Challenges program will include an "open mic" session during which students are encouraged to share how they're using mobile devices to improve their education.
Photo: University at Buffalo Reporter

Educators and students will attempt to answer this question during the third installment of the Digital Challenges series, a program created to provoke meaningful dialogue around the challenges of learning in the “Digital Age” and to prepare for the future generation of students.

“Open Mic: What Am I Doing in Your Classroom?” will explore ways students can use smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to enhance their learning experience.

The event will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 1 in 145 Student Union, North Campus. 

The program will be streamed live from the UB Information Technology (UBIT) YouTube account.

The event is free and open to the public. Those attending are encouraged to register online.

“Given the prevalence of mobile devices and the affordances they offer, if we, as educators, don’t embrace and exploit their use in our classrooms, we risk becoming obsolete faster than the technology itself,” says Valerie Nesset, associate professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies.

Nesset will set the tone for the program with her keynote address, “Online or Out-of-line: Mobile Devices in the Classroom.”

Source: University at Buffalo Reporter

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Distance Learning Systems Empowers Students to Achieve Success

Distance Learning Systems, one of the nation’s leading educational publishing firms, offers a variety of online education programs that enable students to acquire the knowledge and skills needed in order to reach their personal goals.

Distance Learning Systems announces several affordable online education-based programs that utilize study modules, tutoring, and the latest technologies in order to assist students with achieving their career or higher education objectives.

The programs being offered by Distance Learning Systems are a hybrid, or Blended Learning Program™, that includes an Extra Credit Project. All of these study programs deliver comprehensive educational solutions to working adults, part-time and high school students. In addition to the customized programs, Distance Learning Systems also offers supplemental courses designed specifically for degree assistance.

“Online structured classes are the new wave of education,” said N.B. a student from Fort Gratiot, Michigan. “I believe this educational trend will progress to the point where no one will have an excuse for a lack of education because of the discipline it requires.”

Although all of the programs are offered online, each program is unique and provides different E-Learning options to students. The Online Learning Program is licensed based and offers courses strictly through an online classroom. The Blended Learning Program™ is structured online or face-to-face academic options for learning. This world class preparation program is instructor lead and accelerated to allow the client to complete the maximum number of classes within a minimum period of time.

Other programs like the Independent Learning Program are a self-paced study and test program with world class academic support. The Extra Credit Project is a program offering elective courses for home school and high school students seeking credits that are transferable to over 2,900 colleges and universities.

About Distance Learning Systems

Headquartered in Greenwood, Indiana, Distance Learning Systems (DLSII) is one of the nation’s leading educational publishing firms with over 10,000 students nationwide. DLSII is the only external learning program that offers customized, structured, and instructor lead online programs that allow students to earn college credits that a transferable to thousands of US and foreign colleges. Established in 1999, the mission of DLSII is to develop, support, and deliver comprehensive educational solutions to working adults, enabling them to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to achieve their personal goals. 

For more information visit, or email

Source: (press release)

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Embedded Assessment Upgrades Personalized Learning for the 21st Century by Amanda Opperman

Photo: Amanda Opperman
"While some may feel that personalized learning is all the rage, others may be asking “What is personalized learning? writes Amanda Opperman, Institutional and Program Effectiveness Specialist at Wonderlic.


In its most basic form, personalized learning refers to any training approach that is learner-centered, and it includes such methodologies as differentiated instruction, competency-based education, and blended learning, just to name a few. In the 21st century, these learner-centered training approaches have become increasingly high-tech and software-based, which is why it has garnered the attention and endorsement from figures like Bill Gates. 

Currently, adaptive learning is the most high-tech and sophisticated form of personalized learning available. These programs are comprised of computer-based or web-based training environments, where every decision a learner makes is captured and considered in the context of learning theory. According to the DreamBox Learning white paper “Intelligent Adaptive Learning: An Essential Element of 21st Century Teaching and Learning,adaptive learning programs use the learner’s decisions to guide subsequent training, adjust the path and pace of learning, and provide formative and summative data to the trainer. 

Mehrdad Fatourechi concurs in the VentureBeat post, "How Machine Learning Will Fuel Huge Innovation Over the Next 5 Years.” By using intuitive algorithms and sophisticated “machine learning,” adaptive learning modules can modify the presentation of training materials in direct response to the learner’s performance, thereby meeting them at their individual level of need, explains Fatourechi.

While adaptive learning is an effective and streamlined method to deliver appropriate content and assess whether that learner has mastered the content, it may not always be the most desirable training tool because it does not require the presence or facilitation of an actual trainer. The modularized training environment can easily adapt to the learner’s level of need, but it cannot pick up on cues such as frustration, confusion, or confidence in the way that a flesh-and-blood trainer can. 

Indeed, the presence of a trainer during the learning process can be beneficial in identifying where the learner seems to be mastering the content with ease—and where the learner may be struggling. This information can be useful when placing that learner in future positions or assigning tasks and duties. 

What, then, is the trainer who wants to streamline the training process to do? Is there a way to incorporate high-tech training modules into a program, while still maintaining the valuable human element? Enter the embedded assessment.

Source: ATD (blog) 

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

The challenge of primary education by Rasul Bakhsh Rais

Photo: Rasul Bakhsh Rais
"We need to have a robust and modern curric­ulum design develo­ped by the best educat­ionist­s in the countr­y" according to Rasul Bakhsh Rais, professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.


Primary education, the first few years of schooling, is the most critical phase in the learning process of a child. It provides the foundation on which the pupil, the school and the education system build higher layers. It is at this stage that the child enters the world of learning, knowing the people around him or her outside the family for the first time and gets some basic ideas about life, relations and the broader social world. Primary education is thus the formative level, where the teacher is trusted with the great responsibility to develop young minds. For this reason, many of the countries that have progressed in science, technology and human sciences have invested the best of their resources in education in general and in the elementary tier in particular.

With this comment on the importance of primary education, I wish to explain which types of ideas have guided primary educational planning in industrial societies. Most of these ideas that I am going to mention have universal importance, across different cultures, national boundaries and civilisations. These ideas are essentially about how to develop a human mind and embed it with values of personal success and a stronger society with a sense of community and solidarity, which are all applicable to Pakistan.

First of all, primary education has to be enjoyable for children. Learning for children can come from playing and doing things that create natural interest among them. What will attract a child to learning has been a subject of research for child psychologists, educational philosophers, curriculum designers and authors of children books around the world. The common thread among all of them is how to get the child’s attention and get her or him involved in learning. One of the methods that has been proposed and which is religiously followed in progressive schooling is interactive instruction. The teacher, more than an instructor, is a facilitator and a guide to students. This lets students think for themselves, as they try finding solutions on their own rather than expecting a perfect answer from the instructor. The instructor may lead them to what might be the right answer but before doing that, he lets students try, make mistakes and get there without his or her help.
Read more... 

Additional resources 
Rasul Baksh Rais (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) 
Rasul Bakhsh Rais | IGC  

Source: The Express Tribune   

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VIDEO: Atlantic High student speaks out on gender gap in science, math

Follow on Twitter as @AMarraPBPost
"When Palm Beach County School Board members recognized March as National Women’s History Month on Wednesday, they decided to recognize several high-achieving women." summarizes Andrew Marra, Education reporter. 

Among them: Meera Radhakrishnan, a 17-year-old standout student at Atlantic Community 
High School in Delray Beach.

Student takes on gender gap in STEM studies 

But Radhakrishnan didn’t just want to stand and be recognized. She had a message to deliver.

In a brief speech to school board members and the audience, the National Merit Scholarship finalist called attention to the stubborn gender gap in math, science, technology and engineering fields.

Not just an issue at the professional level, she suggested that the problems may start as early as high school.

“Although this disparity of interests doesn’t seem to exist in students’ early years in elementary and middle school, it is clearly apparent in high school and onwards,” she said.

Related links  
March is Women's History Month
Women's History Month (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Source: Palm Beach Post (blog)
and Extra Credit (Palm Beach) Channel (YouTube) 

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NUI Galway launches Strategic Plan with ambitious aims for 2020

"NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne, today unveiled Vision 2020, the University’s new Strategic Plan 2015–2020." reports National University of Ireland, Galway.

NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne. 
 Photo: National University of Ireland, Galway 

Over the next five years, the ambitious plan aims to catapult NUI Galway into the top 200 universities worldwide while securing €100 million in competitive EU research funds.

For students, Vision 2020 promises work-based learning experiences across 80% of undergraduate programmes. Students will also benefit from new accommodation and enhanced facilities for field and water sports.

Internationally, NUI Galway will maintain and grow the global spread of its student population, the five-year plan intends to have 25% of the student body coming from outside Ireland.
Locally, the University plans to develop a major Industry and Innovation Hub and lead Galway’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2020.

NUI Galway will also continue its key agenda of achieving gender equality and empowering staff to reach their full potential.

At the unveiling of the plan to all university staff, Dr Browne spoke of the approach to the University’s 175th birthday in 2020 and how all present could be truly proud of recent successes: “The past decade has been a period of transformation and rapid growth especially in terms of our campus - with the development of new buildings, facilities and research laboratories. We have invested €400 million in our capital development. Now it’s time to build on the strengths of our people - to invest in and support our organisation as it becomes recognised locally and nationally and internationally as a university of choice, relevance and renown in the eyes if the world.”

Catapult NUI Galway into the top 200 universities worldwide
Bucking the national trend and consistently increasing its position over recent years in the most respected and competitive world rankings, - the Times Higher Education (314) and QS ranking (284) - NUI Galway was the only Irish university to increase its position in these two main international rankings. The European Commission’s U-Multi-rank system in 2015 scored NUI Galway the highest ranking of 4 A grades. NUI Galway also ranked in the Top 100 most international universities in 2015 in Times Higher Education’s indicator for international outlook.

With its growing profile, NUI Galway will push its pursuit of an ambitious internationalisation agenda. It will commit to, and focus energy on being a top 200 ranked university by 2020. With this aim of becoming one of the world’s top-tier universities, it will build on relationships of substance that span the globe. This ambition will be driven by the University’s focus on internationally recognised achievements in specific areas of teaching, research, and community engagement.

NUI Galway will maintain and grow the international nature of its student population. Vision 2020 commits the University to attract 25% of the student body from outside Ireland.

Source: National University of Ireland, Galway

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CompTIA to help people become network technicians through intelligent e-learning technology

"CompTIA, the IT industry association and a player in vendor-neutral skills certifications for the global IT workforce, will enable to train as network technicians on smartphones and Tablets through CompTIA CertMaster, an 'intelligent' e-learning platform that uses Artificial Intelligence to adapt to each student in real-time." according to IT Reseller.

Photo: IT Reseller
The new course will enable people to study for the newly-released CompTIA Network+ exam (N10-006) with a learning algorithm that monitors every student's memory capacity, confidence and aptitude and regulates dopamine levels in real-time.

The technology could help students learn how to build, manage and troubleshoot networks up to 75% faster than traditional courses. In early trials, the CertMaster platform helped students achieve 80% knowledge retention.

The learning platform could help address the global IT skills gap by enabling industry bodies, schools, IT departments, and government agencies to train a new workforce of networking technicians remotely through fast-track e-courses.

The new CompTIA CertMaster course maps to new exam content training students in the latest technological innovations, from 'software defined networks' to virtual network segmentation and digital forensics techniques.

CompTIA Network+ is the world's leading vendor-neutral certification for networking professionals and demonstrates that an individual has the knowledge and skills to configure, manage and troubleshoot today's networks. Over 400,000 industry professionals are now CompTIA Network+ certified.

CompTIA CertMaster is an online, confidence-based learning solution that helps individuals learn information faster and retain information more effectively for the long term. The pioneering platform combines key principles of brain science, neurobiology, cognitive psychology and game study to help learners master – not just memorise – the information they need to know.

Source:  IT Reseller

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Friday, March 27, 2015

My life as a tech teacher, part 4: Would more women in IT make it less Dilbert-like?

Freelance technology journalist Alex Cruickshank continues from here. "Third lesson. It should be easy by now, but the butterflies hadn't disappeared entirely."


I gave the children 15 minutes to come up with their own programs then asked them to use the overhead projector at the front of the class to demonstrate what they'd done. And, crucially, to explain the steps they'd taken.

We had everything from rotating lobsters to colour-shifting unicorns, a cat dancing to a drum-beat and, in a “here's one I prepared earlier” moment, a boy who'd written a simple but impressive computer game at home, based on what he'd learned in the lessons so far. That earned him a deserved round of applause.
There's currently a focus in the media on women in IT, the general view being that there aren't enough of them. I don't have an opinion on that. If my daughters decided to be programmers when they grew up, I'd be neither delighted nor disappointed. It's a job, but it's often awkward, annoying, stressful and managed by idiots. In other words, it's fundamentally Dilbert. Whether that would change with increased numbers of women present I don't know. Nor do I know the effect it would have on any women who might try to change it.

One of the arguments against increased female participation in IT is that the mind-set for programming is representative of the 'male brain'. It's the idea that programming is a logical, mathematical, rigorous vocation that's best suited to socially inhibited, borderline autistic minds. Which apparently means men. Hmm... thanks for nothing. Such people might be over-represented in the IT industry, but correlation does not imply causation.

Source: IDG Connect

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Stereotypes lower math performance in women, but effects go unrecognized

"A new study from Indiana University suggests that gender stereotypes about women's ability in mathematics negatively impact their performance. And in a significant twist, both men and women wrongly believe those stereotypes will not undermine women's math performance—but instead motivate them to perform better." according to Phys.Org.

Photo: Phys.Org

The research, led by IU social psychologist Kathryn L. Boucher, appears early online in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

"This study's implications go beyond the classroom into the many other social environments where negative stereotypes about women play a role," said Boucher, a postdoctoral research associate in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. "They force us to ask whether people not affected by similar stereotypes can effectively recognize and find ways to reduce their impact. It also puts into perspective the enormous challenge of eliminating the effects of stereotypes despite growing awareness about their harm to women and society."

A recent example of "stereotype threats" Boucher and collaborators point to is the current lawsuit in California brought by venture capitalist Ellen Pao alleging years of discriminatory practices and attitudes based on gender that she says prevented her advancement at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

"This study has major implications for women in technology and business environments, where women's abilities are regularly impugned by negative stereotypes," said Mary C. Murphy, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington, who oversaw the study. "These are the places where women are most likely to experience stereotype threat—and if their supervisors and co-workers cannot anticipate how these threats interfere with performance, that's a serious problem. It's one of the ways women end up underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math."

The study's main goal was to find out whether observers could recognize the anxiety and underperformance experienced by women when judged under negative stereotypes. In the IU study, over 150 study participants, split nearly evenly between men and women, were given 10 minutes to solve seven difficult math problems on a computer with no scrap paper.

Additional resources 

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology… ii/S0022103115000037 

Source: Phys.Org

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