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Thursday, September 28, 2017

5 Ways to Help Employees Keep Up with Digital Transformation | Harvard Business Review

"Ideas from the consumer products industry" according to Deb Henretta, senior advisor to General Assembly and Anand Chopra-McGowan, leads General Assembly’s global Consumer Product & Retail practice.
Photo: Harvard Business Review

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) landscape is in the midst of a significant shake-up. Coca-Cola recently reshuffled its leadership team to focus on growth, innovation, and digital. Unilever has acquired Dollar Shave Club, a young startup, for $1 billion in a move to introduce a new model of subscription sales. L’Oréal has made a strategic investment in Founders Factory, a digital startup accelerator. And at Greycroft, a venture capital firm, investor Teddy Citrin has laid out a veritable map for the further disruption of every consumer products category.

From our view and experience, what underpins the success of these new ideas and approaches is the abilities, skills, and mindset of the company’s workforce. In our work with leading consumer products companies around the world, we’ve identified clear practices and investments that bring a greater chance of success in organizing a workforce around the expectations and needs of the connected consumer. Here are five:

Commit from the Top
The rallying cry for new ways of working in the digital age must start at the top. At L’Oréal, CEO Jean-Paul Agon signaled the company’s digital transformation when he recruited Lubomira Rochet to be the chief digital officer and a member of the executive team.

One of Rochet’s first tasks was to create a leadership development program that equipped executives with the knowledge, mindset, and ways of working the company would need to grow in the digital age. The top 1,000 executives at L’Oréal have participated in a range of learning experiences, enabling them to build digital road maps for their regions and businesses and to model the behaviors that their team members must embrace to execute on these plans, such as a willingness to experiment, an openness to external partnerships, and more autonomous team structures. “A clear, easy-to-memorize digital group strategy is now vocally championed by leadership across the company,” Rochet says.

Another way to signal commitment from the top is if CPG leaders actually engage with the tools their consumers use. Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital & Social Media at Nestle, advocates for CPG leaders to personally embrace the use of emerging digital platforms and channels in order to make this new paradigm real to employees, agency partners, and suppliers.

“I’m constantly using and testing new platforms — live video, posts on Facebook, Instagram stories, and more. Experiencing this for myself gives me that extra edge to ask the tough questions and challenge some of the sales pitches from agencies and tech companies trying to sell me that big campaign,” Blackshaw says. “Personal experience makes me a more effective marketer.”

Give Employees Direct Access to Consumers 
Fast-growing consumer products companies such as Warby Parker, Glossier, and Dollar Shave Club are upending the traditional retail model, which depends on a manufacturer selling to a retailer that then sells to the end consumer. Plug-and-play e-commerce technology, search engine optimization, and other distribution solutions are making it ever easier for products to directly reach consumers. 

This shift gives CPGs an opportunity to gain rich insight into the tastes and habits that drive their sales. Gaining this insight, however, requires a simultaneous shift in organizational structure to bring internal teams much closer to consumers. New and emerging tools such as social media listening, user research, and journey mapping can be powerful enablers to guide CPGs digital transformation.
One such example is Connected Home, a unit set up by British utility company Centrica to build “smart home” appliances. The team was structured to operate like a startup, with a particular focus on user research, feedback, and a commitment to lean operations. This approach helped Connected Home’s Hive “smart thermostat” device become a market leader in just a few years. Kassir Hussain, former director of Connected Home, told us: “In a space that can often be confusing and frustrating to consumers, our focus on regular user interviews, meetings, tests, and demos allowed us to build a product that was simple, easy to use, and addressed real consumer needs.” In a competitive energy market, the Connected Home unit has now become a major differentiator and profit driver for the parent company, Centrica.

Help Employees Embrace Agility 
Agility is key to success when undertaking digital transformations. Today’s technologies and consumer needs change faster than traditional business road maps can deliver, and employees need to be ready and empowered to move at this pace. The best way to drive this shift is to establish a set of tangible day-to-day activities and behaviors that enable employees to act quickly.

One such activity was introduced by Deb Henretta while leading P&G Asia. She pushed her teams to move to 24/7 monitoring of all digital assets — owned sites, customer sites, and social media channels. She introduced a set of live dashboards and frequent reports that helped the team keep a constant pulse on consumer behavior and activity. This was a pace far faster than the quarterly and annual reviews they were used to when all products were sold in a physical environment. But the team learned to keep a close eye on everything from page load times to consumer reviews to social media sentiment.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It’s the end of the university as we know it | Quartz - Science of Learning

This is the last in The Vanishing University, a four-part series exploring the tech-driven future of higher education in America. Here are parts one, two, and three.

"“Not enough people are innovating enough in higher education,” gripes Larry Summers, the economist who served for five years as president of Harvard. “General Electric looks nothing like it looked in 1975. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford look a lot like they looked in 1975" insist Amy X. Wang, reporter at Quartz and Allison Schrager, economist, writer, and pension geek. 

Your eduCloud storage is almost full.
Photo: Harry Tennant for Quartz

They’re about the same size to within a factor of two; they’re about the same number of buildings; they operate on about the same calendar; they have many of the same people or some number of the same people in significant positions.”

But is Summers right?

Think of the college library. A musky, magnificent space—rooms topped out by cathedral ceilings, golden light angling in with otherworldly might, illuminating rows of students camping out amongst shelves or hunching over at wooden tables riddled with decades of frustrated pencil marks and the thuds of limb-tearing textbooks.

That is what it was. No longer. Over the last several decades, the university library has become less vital, its books getting dusty with disuse, its edge-worn card system replaced by digital catalogs and powerful scanning machines that could put entire tomes online in minutes. Some schools, like the University of Chicago, heavily downsized their library collections. Others, like the University of Texas at San Antonio, rethought the idea of a library, opening study spaces without physical books at all. Instead of going to libraries for resources and information, most students these days congregate there mainly to toss ideas back and forth, write essays together, work on group projects.

A massive transition is underway in the global economy right now that will soon obliterate the need for such a space, entirely. Future workers need—ironically enough—education that is both available at a mass scale and intensely specialized. Universities are facing a seemingly impossible crisis over how to offer accessible teaching, to several times the number of people as in years past, that is individualized, yet affordable.

Shocking as it might seem, there is one catch-all answer that could be the remedy to many of these concerns: Cut the campus loose. Axe the physical constraints. The library? Classrooms? Professors? Take it all away. The future of the university is up in the air...

The authors end their article with following, "There will always be some professors on campus. Perhaps just fewer of them. Educating undergraduates and graduate students is only one service universities offer, after all: They also produce research and scholarship, and AI can’t yet publish in top journals or conduct groundbreaking lab research. That’ll put a large premium on soft skills, of course, because in-person learning will be a more valuable, scarce commodity. As University of Illinois economics professor David Albouy points out, “AI might be better—it is better—at lots of things, but I have a comparative advantage when it comes to teaching because I am good at the mushy human stuff.”"

These days, college education is almost a necessity for employment. Universities and students alike have to come to terms with the fact that those who can pay the most will also receive the most scarce and valuable skills. In college education, as is the case with many other goods and services in the modern economy, technology has radically broadened the world’s access—at the price of heightened inequality.
Read more... 

Source: Quartz

New Nottingham music initiative to help adults with learning difficulties | West Bridgford Wire

"For the first time, the Nottinghamshire-based charity Music for Everyone – is to hold a series of singing sessions for adults with learning difficulties" continues

“Music for Everyone” has teamed up with two other local charities – Southwell-based Reach UK and Sherwood’s Open Wings. They already have long experience of helping adults with learning difficulties and their carers.

The first “Open Voices” event is being held this Friday (Sept 29) at St Martin’s Church, Trevose Gardens, Sherwood, Nottingham, from 1000am – 12noon.
“The idea is to provide specially designed singing sessions for adults with learning difficulties,” said Angela Kay, Music for Everyone’s Artistic Director.
“Singing in a group can have a real positive impact for well-being, and we are delighted to be pioneering this approach.

“The music chosen will be varied with everything from pop songs to some of the classics. Our ambition is to create a whole network of Open Voices groups throughout Nottinghamshire”, added Angela.

Source: West Bridgford Wire 

Music professor reaps rewards after enrolling in CTLL academies | News at UNG

Photo: J.K. Devine
"After Esther Morgan-Ellis enrolled in the Faculty Academy on High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) and the Faculty Academy on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) at UNG, she and her students have reaped the rewards" notes J.K. Devine, Communications Specialist.

University of North Georgia (UNG) assistant music professor Esther Morgan-Ellis, left, enrolled in the Faculty Academy on High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) and later the Faculty Academy on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). Mary Carney, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Leadership (CTLL), co-founded and directs the SoTL with Laura Ng.

University of North Georgia (UNG) assistant music professor Esther Morgan-Ellis wanted to pair composers with students in her music history class. She also sought to improve her students' writing skills.

"I was looking for a superior alternative to the research paper," she said.

When Morgan-Ellis enrolled in the Faculty Academy on High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs) at UNG in spring 2014, she found a solution. She devised a new project melding her two ideas — connecting students directly to contemporary composers and requiring them to present a paper at its conclusion — because it was a requirement for her own class. She then developed a survey — a skill she learned in the Faculty Academy on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) — to measure the project's success.
Three years later, the single assignment has reaped rewards. Morgan-Ellis has a new project for her music history class. A few students have presented their papers at national conferences for undergraduate research in 2016 and 2017. And Morgan-Ellis' article about her project and its results will appear in the Journal of Music History and Pedagogy in March 2018.

Mary Carney, director of the Center for Teaching, Learning and Leadership (CTLL) at UNG, said that kind of success is the purpose of her department and its professional development programs. Carney and Laura Ng co-founded and direct the SoTL Academy as part of CTLL’s mission to foster UNG’s community of scholars as they pursue research-based design and implementation of significant educational experiences.

UNG's HIP Faculty Academy provides tools and peer mentoring so faculty can refine skills essential to their own and their students’ success in the classroom by:

Designing (or redesigning) a service-learning or undergraduate research assignment that uses selected quality dimensions.

Applying educational taxonomies to be intentional about student learning outcomes...

For more information about HIPs, SoTL and Write Now, visit the CTLL website.

Source: News at UNG  

Academic success could involve music to your ears | The Philadelphia Tribune

Chanel Hill, Tribune Staff Writer says, "Here’s an idea many families may be wise to note: Research shows letting your kids learn music can help them do better in other subjects and enhances skills they’ll need in other areas."

For families looking to buy a piano, experts advise: Get the best one you can afford; it will sound better and last longer. — NAPS
Photo: Chanel Hill, Tribune Staff Writer

Lend an ear to expert advice

“The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music,” explains Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine. “Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”

What’s more, a study by E. Glenn Schellenberg at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, as published in Psychological Science, found an increase in the IQs of 6-year-olds who were given weekly voice and piano lessons.

Another study, led by Ellen Winner, professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, found children who had just 15 months of weekly music instruction and practice had improved sound discrimination and fine motor tasks.

According to many music teachers, the piano can be a great first instrument. There are several reasons. First, pianos are simple to play; children can begin their music studies as soon as their fingers can reach all the keys. In addition, a piano can help students learn to read music because it’s easy to see the relationships between pitches in both melodies and chords and the way they look written out on the staff.

Regular piano playing sharpens fine motor skills and improves hand-eye coordination in the young. Plus, studying piano has been shown to improve memory and build good habits such as focus and perseverance, diligence and creativity.

Keys to piano success

If you’re considering investing in music education for your child and purchasing a piano, there are three things you should learn first.

Source: The Philadelphia Tribune

Friday, September 22, 2017

THAILAND - Drastic population drop to hit higher education funding | University World News

"Without reforms to the higher education sector, Thailand’s drastic population drop in recent years could affect funding and quality of universities, education experts are warning after the latest round of university central admission exams saw a declining number of applications" writes Suluck Lamubol.

Some 80,000 Thai students nationwide applied for the central admissions examination compared to 100,000 last year. Some 110,000 places are available in the higher education system this year – already reduced from 156,000 available places two years ago.

Rapid expansion of universities, increased competition among education institutions and population decline are being blamed the gap between higher education supply and demand, experts say. One expert has even warned that three quarters of Thai universities are at risk of closure, particularly as the decline in the number of school leavers has coincided with a government policy of allowing in foreign branch campuses in special economic zones.

Arnond Sakworawich, a lecturer in actuarial science at the National Institute of Development Administration in Bangkok, told the English-language Bangkok Post newspaper that the policy would put many Thai universities in danger of shutting down.

Declining births
Higher education expanded rapidly during 1980s due to an increase in population where over one million babies were born each year. However this has dropped to an average 600,000-700,000 babies born each year in recent years. Currently, there are total of 170 higher education institutions in Thailand.

According to 2015 statistics from the UN’s population division, Thailand ranks seventh in the world in terms of rapidly-aging population. The country’s economic planning agency the National Economic and Social Development Board also estimates that by 2040 the school-age group will drop to 20% of the population, compared to 62% in 1980.

The central examination acts as a clearing house system with universities considering students this year based on their exam scores. However, the exam has become less popular as fewer universities are involved.

The decline in central admission system numbers was expected as it is also attributed to the direct admission that took place earlier, said Suchatvee Suwansawat, head of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand. More students were applying directly to universities, which have their own criteria for recruitment that is often considered to favour more privileged students, rather than through the central exam.

Private providers could be hit
Nonetheless, the drop in central exam applicants has been very high. Private universities have voiced a concern that they could be wiped out from the market if trends continue. Private universities have been lobbying the Education Ministry to ease regulations so that they can set up branches in neighbouring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, for example. With the exception of Vietnam, Thailand’s Association of South East Asian Nations or ASEAN neighbours all have rapidly growing youth cohorts.

Saowanee Thairungroj, Rector of the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce and president of the Association of Private Higher Education Institutions of Thailand or APHEIT said that since public universities receive subsidies from the state, private universities – which currently account for 20% of national education provision – are at a disadvantage.

“If you do not have well-established funding sources for the education business, it is possible that you would have to be shut down or downsized,” Saowanee told Prachachart Thurakit, a Thai language business newspaper, last October, adding that already 120 staff have taken up the university’s early retirement programme brought in to reduce the budget spending.

Source: University World News

Music students learning the beat at WRD | Davie Enterprise Record

"Music students at William R. Davie Elementary have been tapping, clapping, and stamping to the steady beat as the school year got under way" reports Mike Barnhardt.

Photo: Pexels
Kinders enjoyed singing with their animal friends in “Good Day” as they learned what the animals really say when they get up in the morning. They added their own verses, experimented with high and low voices, and played rhythm sticks to the repeated patterns in the song. They were also jamming to 
“Bluegrass Jamboree” as they found new ways to make sounds with their rhythm sticks.

Lou Wilson’s first grade students tuned up their listening ears as they played “Step the Beat” while following all kinds of silly rhyming directions. They moved to the polite game, “How Do You Do?” while comparing steady beat to a repeated rhythm pattern.

Second graders reviewed quarter note, eighth note and half note rhythms with the poem, “I Had A Loose Tooth.” They loved adding instruments to specific word patterns in the poem and figuring out which rhythm pattern they were playing.

Third and fourth grade students have been busy with rhythm reviews. Working with partners, they tested their knowledge of note values, and their movement skills as they played and sang a “Welcome Back to School” game. Using these skills, they moved on to following a musical score and creating their own movements to “Give It a Rest”. Rhythm rounds started the year for the fourth grades as they performed “School, School” as a two-part round with movement, then with unpitched percussion instruments. Each line of the poem used note values that were a review to the students and challenged them with new 16th notes.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

DSU professor Phyllis Edamatsu shows off her musical side | Dover Post

"It can be said that Phyllis Edamatsu is a tiny woman with a very large presence, particularly when she’s playing music" according to

Photo: Phyllis Edamatsu

Edamatsu is director of Delaware State University’s research, planning and analytics office, and an adjunct mathematics professor at the school. However, she sheds her scholarly mien whenever she takes up her favorite instrument, the accordion. 

She’s been playing since the age of 8 and is a member of several professional groups.

Edamatsu, who always had a fascination with music and musical instruments, began learning the bellows-driven instrument because her family, living in Spokane, Washington, didn’t have room for a piano. 

“At the time our living room was too small for one,” she said. “Later on, my dad built onto the house and so my sisters were able to take piano lessons. 

“By that time I was pretty comfortable with the accordion and didn’t want to switch.”

“The parents of one of my closest friends in grade school had a nightclub, and they had a friend who was an accordion player with her own band, the Gay Rancheros,” Edamatsu recalled. 

At the time, the band leader, Lucille Taylor, was just starting to teach the accordion, she said. Edamatsu saw Taylor perform at a school PTA meeting and was hooked. 

“My friend and I became Lucille’s first students,” she said. Because Taylor could not carry the accordion during her pregnancies, she switched instruments and ended up teaching Edamatsu’s three sisters when they learned the piano. 

As her confidence grew, Edamatsu began playing at school meetings, churches, and talent shows. At one time she played duets with a partner whose appearance and choice of instrument was just the opposite of her own. 

“We were teased a lot,” she recalled. “She was a big farm woman who could pick up bales of hay, but who played the piccolo. And there I was, barely five feet tall, carrying around an accordion.” 

When Edamatsu went off to college, her accordion made the trip as well. 

“In the dorms, my house mother would let me practice in the luggage storage room,” she said.

Learning lessons
Even though Edamatsu has been playing for years, she still works to hone her skills, making the 90-minute trip almost weekly to take lessons at the Acme Accordion School in Haddon Township, New Jersey. 

The school was founded in 1948 by Stanley Darrow and his late wife, Shirley.
Read more... 

Source: Dover Post

UK mobile trends: Smartphones now twice as popular as PCs for going online | Netimperative

"Twice as many adults now use the internet on a smartphone than do on a desktop computer, as smartphones have become the most popular device for going online at every hour of the day, according to new research" continues Netimperative.

Photo: Verto Analytics

Verto Analytics, a research company that tracks which devices nearly 5,000 UK adults use to go online, showed that smartphones account for 57% of people who go online, whilst traditional PCs account for 27% and tablets 16%.

Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, Verto Analytics’ CEO, said: “Mobile’s dominance at every hour of the day is a change from recent years when desktop PCs tended to be the most popular device for going online during the middle hours of the day and in the middle part of the evening.”

Smartphones are at their most dominant between 8am and 11am when they account for 63% of people online – three times as many as are on a PC. PCs tend to have the largest share of the online audience between 1am and 3am (38%) but their highest share during normal waking hours is 29% between 6pm and 11pm. Tablet’s share of the online audience is greatest between 10pm and midnight when it accounts for 19% of people online.  
Read more... 

Source: Netimperative 

Carbon dating finds Bakhshali manuscript contains oldest recorded origins of the symbol 'zero' | Bodleian Libraries - University of Oxford

"Ancient Indian mathematical text at Oxford's Bodleian Libraries revealed to be centuries older than previously thought" says Bodleian Libraries - University of Oxford.

Photo: Bodleian Libraries - University of Oxford

The origin of the symbol zero has long been one of the world's greatest mathematical mysteries. Today, new carbon dating research commissioned by the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries into the ancient Indian Bakhshali manuscript, held at the Bodleian, has revealed it to be hundreds of years older than initially thought, making it the world’s oldest recorded origin of the zero symbol that we use today.

The surprising results of the first ever radiocarbon dating conducted on the Bakhshali manuscript, a seminal mathematical text which contains hundreds of zeroes, reveal that it dates from as early as the 3rd or 4th century - approximately five centuries older than scholars previously believed. This means that the manuscript in fact predates a 9th-century inscription of zero on the wall of a temple in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, which was previously considered to be the oldest recorded example of a zero used as a placeholder in India. The findings are highly significant for the study of the early history of mathematics.

The zero symbol that we use today evolved from a dot that was used in ancient India and can be seen throughout the Bakhshali manuscript. The dot was originally used as a 'placeholder', meaning it was used to indicate orders of magnitude in a number system – for example, denoting 10s, 100s and 1000s.

A Big Zero: Research uncovers the date of the Bakhshali manuscript 

While the use of zero as a placeholder was seen in several different ancient cultures, such as among the ancient Mayans and Babylonians, the symbol in the Bakhshali manuscript is particularly significant for two reasons. Firstly, it is this dot that evolved to have a hollow centre and became the symbol that we use as zero today. Secondly, it was only in India that this zero developed into a number in its own right, hence creating the concept and the number zero that we understand today - this happened in 628 AD, just a few centuries after the Bakhshali manuscript was produced, when the Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta wrote a text called Brahmasphutasiddhanta, which is the first document to discuss zero as a number.

Although the Bakhshali manuscript is widely acknowledged as the oldest Indian mathematical text, the exact age of the manuscript has long been the subject of academic debate. The most authoritative academic study on the manuscript, conducted by Japanese scholar Dr Hayashi Takao, asserted that it probably dated from between the 8th and the 12th century, based on factors such as the style of writing and the literary and mathematical content. The new carbon dating reveals that the reason why it was previously so difficult for scholars to pinpoint the Bakhshali manuscript’s date is because the manuscript, which consists of 70 fragile leaves of birch bark, is in fact composed of material from at least three different periods.

Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, said:
'Today we take it for granted that the concept of zero is used across the globe and is a key building block of the digital world. But the creation of zero as a number in its own right, which evolved from the placeholder dot symbol found in the Bakhshali manuscript, was one of the greatest breakthroughs in the history of mathematics...

Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian, said: 
'Determining the date of the Bakhshali manuscript is of vital importance to the history of mathematics and the study of early South Asian culture and these surprising research results testify to the subcontinent's rich and longstanding scientific tradition. The project is an excellent example of the cutting-edge research conducted by the Bodleian’s Heritage Science team, together with colleagues across Oxford University, which uncovers new information about the treasures in our collections to help inform scholarship across disciplines.'
Read more... 

Source: Bodleian Libraries - University of Oxford and University of Oxford Channel (YouTube)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Follow-me piano learning strip smartens up any 88-key piano | New Atlas

"China's One Music Group hit Indiegogo back in 2015 to get its smart piano learning system over to the US. By following app-controlled LED lights, the company promised to have students playing a tune in minutes" notes Paul Ridden, dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for New Atlas.

The One Piano Hi-Lite LED learning strip has been designed to sit at the back of any 88-key piano
Photo: One Music Group

But if learners already had a piano at home, the One system meant that they'd have to stump up for another. That potentially expensive issue has been solved with the launch of the Piano Hi-Lite, an LED light strip that can sit at the back of any 88-key piano keyboard and light the way to learning.

The year after the successful Indiegogo campaign, we got to try out the portable version of the One Piano system for ourselves. We found that though it did get us off to a flying start with the basics, learning to play with any proficiency would still require hard work and a good deal of commitment.

Where the original systems illuminated actual keys on the keyboard itself, the Hi-Lite is a blocky strip that's laid across the keyboard of any 88-key piano that students already own or have access to and LED light points lined up with keys – much like Ken Ihara's PianoMaestro in fact.

"Through the great successes of our product line and classroom program, we identified a large group of potential customers that already owned a piano at home but wanted to experience the modern instruction The One provides," said the company's Ben Ye.

Like the original One system, the Hi-Lite strip is controlled by an app. It's connected to a smartphone or tablet running The One iOS/Android app over micro-USB and includes sheet music, video lessons and games.
Read more... 

Additional resources  
Introducing The ONE Piano Hi-Lite and Start Playing in Minutes - YouTube

Source: New Atlas

What is Blended Learning? The Guide to Everything You Need to Know | eLearning Mind

Photo: Jack Makhlouf
"You’ve likely heard of a lot of buzzing in the corporate world about Blended Learning and aren’t quite sure how or where to start with this concept. A vast majority of the research done with Blending Learning pertains to the K-12 educational space" according to Jack Makhlouf, Founder / Chief Learning Architect at ELM.

Photo: eLearning Mind

In the past decade, lower education has led the trend, which is only recently catching on in the corporate space as more millennials enter the workforce. What we’ve done is reframed Blended Learning in a corporate context and basically given you a link-rich document with everything you need to know about Blended Learning. 

The Blended Learning Definition and Debunking Some Common Misconceptions
Blended Learning is the method of effectively combining online teaching with traditional offline, face-to-face instruction in order to provide the learner with a deeper, more meaningful learning experience. This sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly complex. To harness the power of Blended Learning, we have to challenge all of our assumptions about the educational environment and re-architect it in a novel way for the modern learner.   

Supporters of Blended Learning believe that Blended Learning helps learners go deeper into the material, and gives them a more meaningful and transformative learning experience. Blended Learning lends true transparency to the learning process by opening up communication between the learner and instructor. Rather than crudely sticking two different methodologies together, the entire system has to be picked apart and blended together homogeneously into something novel.

Those against Blended Learning think learning should be extreme: devoid of technological distractions or absent of face-to-face interactions. For them, technology is a distraction and isolates learners or conversely, face-to-face learning is boring and redundant. Common misconceptions about Blended Learning are based on a failed understanding of just how flexible and new it really is. One right media for eLearning doesn’t exist (more on that below). By offering a wide range of options on the online learning side and having full engagement on the offline learning side, where instructor and learner alike are interacting with the technology, Blended Learning becomes a powerful tool.

Why Blended Learning Has Everyone Talking: Top 3 Benefits of Blended Learning
In the past decade, teachers at higher and lower educational institutes have organically adopted Blended Learning as a meaningful learning tool in and out of the classroom, really modeling what is just now catching on at the enterprise level. Blended Learning’s success is owed to three main benefits:
Read more... 

Source: eLearning Mind

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

If the modern economy requires scientific thinking and work placements enable informed study and career choices, how might we combine them to empower young people? | CASCAID

Photo: Simon Gallacher
Take a closer look below at this guest blog by Dr Simon Gallacher, Head of Student Programmes, the Nuffield Foundation.

Here at CASCAID we are committed to continuously provide careers guidance to help support young people in identifying their future, education, training and career goals.


Statistics from CASCAID’s most recent careers report identifies that STEM knowledge and skills are becoming increasingly important in order to pursue that dream career. To help young people on the path of career exploration, CASCAID are pleased to introduce The Nuffield Foundation’s Research Placements to help students gain valuable experience boosting their opportunity and skills.

Make the numbers work!
Few things in life are as predictable as articles and headlines that tell us the world of work and jobs is changing. A recent article in the New York Times noted that ‘jobs that require a combination of math and social skills — like computer science, financial management and nursing — have fared best in the modern economy’.

In addition, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has stated that ‘in the context of massive info flows and rapid change, everyone needs to be able to “think like a scientist’. The Scottish Government has also been setting out its view that ‘all of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is underpinned by Mathematics, which includes numeracy’ against a backdrop that regularly reflects the UK’s need to improve the numeracy levels of its graduates and citizens more generally.

So if the modern economy requires scientific thinking (for which numerical skills are essential), and work placements enable informed study and career choices, how might we combine them to empower young people? This is a question the Nuffield Foundation has been addressing through its student programmes – Nuffield Research Placements and Q-Step.

Shaping and stretching research skills
Nuffield Research Placements are 4-6 week summer placements for school or college students who have just completed the first year (or are in S5/6 in Scotland) of a post-16 STEM qualification. Students need good GCSEs/National 5’s (or equivalent) to apply (grade B/new grade 6 or above), including mathematics, English and a science. We award bursaries to eligible students from lower-income families, as well as reimbursing travel costs for all students.

Our students tell us that the opportunity to participate in a placement really helped them to feel they had made a good choice about what to study at university and in some cases really made them re-think their choices. They also say that it gave them a chance to test out their skills and interests, meet amazing people carrying out real research projects and, in some cases, helped them review what subjects to aim for.


Here's how you can score a tuition-free MBA |

Here's how you can score a tuition-free MBA by Ruth Umoh, Reporter for Leadership at
Photo: Shai Reshef
"Higher education can be affordable, and accessible and high quality,"  Shai Reshef tells CNBC Make It.

Photo: CNBC
The average MBA tuition costs between $55,000 and $68,000 a year, according to U.S. News. The average debt for new grads at some of the top business schools can range from $59,000 to over $120,000. But at University of the People, you can score a tuition-free MBA with little to no debt, says founder Shai Reshef.

"Higher education can be affordable, and accessible and high quality," he tells CNBC Make It.

In 2009, Reshef officially launched University of the People, the first tuition-free, accredited online university. Immediately after launching, Reshef says he was swarmed with top educators who wanted to partake in his business.

The concept is simple. The university is completely run by volunteers, from the professors all the way up to the provost, who volunteers from Columbia University, says Reshef. The school also boasts volunteer professors and advisers from notable colleges like Oxford, Harvard, Duke University and UC Berkeley. Currently, the university has more than 6,000 volunteer professors, Reshef says.

Meanwhile, the number of interested students has risen each year. When the online university first launched, the school had 500 students. In three years, the number of students jumped to 10,000 and Reshef believes that it will double by the end of this year.

The school first began offering tuition-free associate and bachelor's degrees in business administration and computer science. "We started with both of the most in-demand degrees that are most likely to help students find a job," says Reshef.

The university later introduced a health science track and then a graduate business degree in 2016. "The MBA is our fastest growing program," Reshef says. That's not surprising. According to U.S. News, a new MBA grad can earn up to $164,000.

Reshef says he founded University of the People because there are over a million people a year who are qualified for higher education but can't attend due to factors like cost.

In his 2014 TED Talk titled an "Ultra-low-cost college degree," he says that he wants to democratize higher education "from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all." His speech has since amassed over 4 million views.
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Photo: CNBC
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Making the Business Case for Going Digital | Training Magazine Network

In today’s technologically charged business world, organizations must quickly adapt to emerging technologies or risk being left behind. Technology is necessary to remain competitive and at the forefront of change. 


As more training programs become virtual and learning moves beyond the event itself, a transformation to digital content delivery is essential to support today’s workforce. 

VitalSource writes in the White Paper, "According to Training Industry, Inc. research, approximately 91 percent of organizations currently use digital content in training initiatives, and 40 percent are planning to refresh or upgrade their e-book or reader platform in the next 12 months. It is little wonder why organizations have shifted toward a digital mindset. In a world where we have access to so much technology, the learner now expects every experience to be immersive, interactive, and most importantly, engaging."

Source: Training Magazine Network

Helping Students Make the Right Call on Cell Phones | Faculty Focus

Photo: Pete Burkholder
"Much has been written, both in Faculty Focus and elsewhere, about cell phones in the classroom" says Pete Burkholder, professor of history at Fairleigh Dickinson University.  

Photo: Faculty Focus

Such pieces typically break into two categories: whether to ban or not to ban, and techniques for using devices productively for educational purposes.

As helpful as those discussions are, conspicuously absent most of the time are students’ views. Do they even want their phones available in class, or are the devices simply attractive nuisances? Is a classroom without cell phones desirable from their standpoint—and if so, what would it take to achieve such an environment? Last spring, I decided to find out.

In full disclosure, I’d been in the “ban them at all times” camp for many years, and I had stringent policies and enforcement to that effect. Past experiences did little to mollify my stance. On the contrary, a 2015 article by Berry and Westfall confirmed what I’d long suspected: private classroom cell phone use has a negative learning impact not only on the person employing it, but on those distracted by the user as well. Measurements showed this was true, even if students felt they were not affected by others’ use. The authors found that students saw direct confrontation and concrete repercussions as the key deterrents to cell phone violations, concluding that “faculty should consider adopting more assertive or punitive policies if they are serious about curtailing phone use in the classroom” (68).

Yet, even having anticipated and enacted such policies, students’ furtive texting, emailing, and surfing remained an endemic, if minor problem in my classrooms.

Fortunately, a colleague alerted me to an interesting article that turned the usual cell phone policy approach on its head. What if, instead of punishing students for bad behavior, we rewarded them for good conduct? This reversal undergirded the study by Katz and Lambert, who offered extra credit to those willing to surrender their cell phones at the start of each class. Their results looked encouraging and the protocol was simple, so I decided to give it a try.

My protocol, which was very similar to that of Katz and Lambert, ran as follows. Sheets of blank paper were laid out on a table at the front of the classroom. Students had the option—again, none of this was mandatory—of writing their names on the paper and placing their deactivated phones over their names. Devices would be in full view of everyone and easily retrieved at the end of each session. In exchange, students would receive token extra credit for each surrender date.

I enacted the procedure not knowing what would happen. Most worrisome was, what if no one took me up on my offer? To my surprise, nearly everyone in two different classes sprang to their feet and surrendered their phones the first day, even before I informed them how much extra credit was at stake.

Yes, there’s the ethical dilemma of offering an incentive for expected, normative behavior. Isn’t this simply a bribe for common decency? But I controlled the amount of extra credit, and it wasn’t much—just a fraction of a point for each day. In the end, a student could raise his overall course grade by just two percent, assuming that he attended every meeting and surrendered his device each day. And for those who chose not to give up their phones? The in-class ban still applied, with penalties being enforced, as necessary.

Source: Faculty Focus