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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

YCMOU gets UGC nod to re-introduce PhD courses | Times of India

"The Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) received University Grants Commission (UGC) permission on Friday to re-introduce Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and and Master of Philosophy (M Phil) courses" inform Chaitanya Deshpande, Times of India Reporter.

Photo: Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University

Encouraged by the UGC's nod, the open university is in process of restarting the enrollments for PhD courses from the next academic session. According to the UGC circular, PhDs done by regular mode will be recognised and distance programmes were not.
So, the YCMOU offered the full-time PhD program at schools of YCMOU at the university head office in Nashik.

According to this new decision, doctoral research opportunities will be available for academicians across the state in various subjects at the Open University. Research opportunities are available at the university after a gap of five years. The UGC had stopped the PhD courses in YCMOU citing various reasons in 2012. 

"The UGC approval will definitely provide the higher education and research opportunities to hundreds of students across the state. The open university will follow the instructions and regulations of the UGC to run PhD as well as the MPhil degree courses according to new directives issued in 2016," said Dinesh Bhonde, YCMOU registrar said.

YCMOU's PhD course was popular among working academicians. Over 250 individuals had received PhDs in various subjects by 2012. However, the open university had to stop accepting new enrollments of the students for PhD courses from 2012-13 after the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued a circular that degrees granted for PhD programmes done through distance education will not get recognition.

Source: Times of India

Singapore university revokes second researcher’s PhD in misconduct fallout | Retraction Watch

"Last year, the fallout from a misconduct investigation at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore resulted in the university revoking the PhD of a Harvard research fellow, and a senior researcher losing his job" continues Retraction Watch.

Photo: Nanyang Technological University

In July 2016, NTU told us another researcher who could not be named at the time had also come forward and confessed to making up data.

Now, Retraction Watch has learned that Sabeera Bonala — the researcher who couldn’t be named due to ongoing disciplinary procedures last year — has also had her doctorate degree revoked by the NTU.

Tony Mayer, research integrity officer at the NTU, confirmed to Retraction Watch that her PhD, which she was awarded in 2013, has been revoked. Three papers that list Bonala as first author — two in The Journal of Biological Chemistry and one in Molecular Endocrinology — were pulled last year.

" We couldn’t find current contact details for Bonala.

Source: Retraction Watch (blog)

Profs: Math classes 'inaccessible and oppressive' to students | Campus Reform

  • A group of professors argues in a newly-published book that math teachers must “live out social justice commitments” to fight privilege in the classroom.
  • According to the authors, math classes can be “inaccessible and oppressive” for students who don’t have the “privilege and power” enjoyed by their professors

Photo: Toni Airaksinen
"A group of professors argues in a newly-published book that math teachers must “live out social justice commitments” to fight privilege in the classroom" reports Toni Airaksinen, New York Campus Correspondent.
Photo: Campus Reform

The professors made the argument in a new anthology for math teachers, jointly authored by a trio of Mathematics Education professors: Pennsylvania State University’s Andrea McCloskey, Kennesaw State University Professor Brian Lawler, and Ohio State University Professor Theodore Chao 

Math teachers, “must learn how to advocate for students, self-examine for biases, and strategically subvert the system in which they teach to counteract student oppression,” the professors argue, adding that the development of “political knowledge” is key.

To do this, the professors spell out several recommendations for math teachers, such as finding “strategies for disrupting current mathematics education norms” and developing “a critical orientation towards mathematics.”

Math teachers should also be especially critical of so-called “discourses of education,” such as claims that “schools are failing,” since these discourses can serve to reify privilege at the expense of minority and underprivileged students, the authors note.

This is especially necessary considering the state of mathematics classrooms, which they argue can be “inaccessible and oppressive” for students who don’t have the “privilege and power” of mathematics professors, for whom the subject is far less difficult.

While the professors concede that integrating social justice into a math class can be difficult, they note that even “minor” adjustments can help, adding that “any amount of connection to issues of equity, diversity, social justice, and power is better than none at all.”...

The new anthology, “Building Support for Scholarly Methods in Mathematics,” is the same book that published a chapter by Rochelle Gutierrez, who argued that algebra and geometry can perpetuate white privilege.

As Campus Reform reported last week, Gutierrez worries that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”
Read more... 

Related link 
Geometry, developed by ancient Greeks, promotes ‘white privilege,’ U of Illinois prof claims | Washington Times - Culture.

Source: Campus Reform

Monday, October 30, 2017

More women in science stems for attitude change | ChronicleLive

Photo: Angela Upex
MARK LANE for meets some inspiring North East-based women who are at the forefront of promoting STEM as a career path for females" notes Angela Upex, Commercial Editor, Trinity Mirror North East. 

Eleanor Baggaley
Photo: Eleanor Baggaley

It is evident that if we are to encourage better female representation in traditionally male-dominated industries such as science, engineering and finance, reaching would-be candidates at a young age is not just important – it is critical. But how is the North East faring on this front? Moreover, how is the region doing with regards to younger engagement in the broader STEM agenda? 

One person who is well placed to address this issue is Eleanor Baggaley, the lead for the Great North Maths Hub. Maths Hubs have been established to help schools and colleges lead improvement in mathematics education in England and are playing an important role in raising the profile of the STEM agenda.  

We asked her, initially, about differences between young students in terms of mathematics – their abilities, attitudes and approach to learning. She told us: “In terms of what the students are actually capable of in maths, the balance is pretty much 50-50. However, the difference comes in what the students think their abilities are. Boys who have the same ability as girls are often much more confident about their ability. Girls who achieve similar marks can often lack that same confidence, so they do not see themselves as being of the same ability. 

Some of this is down to stereotyping which is reinforced from a very early age. Although my background is in secondary teaching, the ‘damage’ is often done around the age of 5-8. This is where it needs addressing and then reinforced year on year. 

“The gap between girls and boys studying maths post-16 is wider in the North East compared to many other areas of the country. Professor Sir Adrian Smith, in his report to the DFE, highlighted some of the regions where the gap was wider. The figures should be readily available online which highlight the differences.” 

Baggaley has been involved with The Core Maths Support Programme (at Education Development Trust) since 2014, trying to encourage schools to offer a new level 3 qualification in Core Maths. 

This is aimed at students who have passed GCSE maths but do not have the confidence or the ability to study A-level Maths. “It’s designed to cover ‘real life’ maths such as finance and other quantitative skills required in further study and employment,” she says.

“My experience of this course has seen more girls become interested and seeing a reason why they should study mathematics post-16 even if they haven’t got ambitions for a traditionally mathematical career. 

“Schools do make students aware of career options involving STEM but it often comes back to the confidence of the students, which girls have more of a tendency to lack.” 

Angela Harrison is a director of Green Shift Educational Service Ltd; she is a teacher, examiner, STEM co-ordinator, outreach education, and North East STEM ambassador. Green Shift delivers a variety of STEM workshops (national curriculum or non-curriculum based), after school clubs and children’s science parties to children ranging from primary school age to young adults in Sixth Form.
Read more... 

Source: ChronicleLive

Author makes science fun for kids | Good4Utah

"Making science fun for kids is important. Author Sean Connolly joined Emily Clark to show how he is doing just that, as he makes the first stop on his tour in Salt Lake City" inform Stacia Barton.
Watch the video

Connolly is the author of the award-winning series of experiment-based science books for kids. His new book 'The Massively Epic Engineering Disasters: 33 Thrilling Experiments Based on History's Greatest Blunders' went on salt in September and is the "E" installment of his wildly successful series of STEM books. It is a hands-on (and historical) approach to science for kids. Connolly helps children learn through doing. He says schools and students love it.

Arranged chronologically from ancient times to the 21st century, the book takes readers on an illustrated tour through the physics and technology of crumbling buildings, sinking ships, wobbly bridges, mud-stuck tanks, and much more.
Read more... 

Source: Good4Utah

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Suggested Books of the Week 43, 2017

Check out these books below by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, TradePub and Ancient Origins.


Effective Teaching and Successful Learning - Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice

Effective Teaching and Successful Learning
Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice
The overall aim of this reader-friendly book is to enable current and prospective teachers as well as other education professionals to improve practice, leading to more successful learning for all students. Drawing on her extensive experience as both a high school teacher and a university professor, Inez De Florio provides an evidence-informed and value-based approach to teaching and learning that takes the personality and the accountability of teaching professionals into account.

Students' needs and interests are the primary focus of an evidence-informed teaching model, MET (Model of Effective Teaching), which is described and exemplified in detail. In order to allow for informed decisions and suitable applications of the steps of the MET, the book provides, furthermore, a succinct and comprehensible introduction to the main features and types of educational research, especially newer findings of evidence-based education such as presented in John Hattie's research.
  • A succinct, comprehensible overview of newer research into education is given to enable teachers to better understand important research findings
  • The potential and pitfalls of different research designs are explained in order to aid teachers make informed decisions about what may work in their special context
  • A research-based model of effective teaching and successful learning (MET) is presented and described in detail to allow teachers to choose programs, strategies, and techniques that work best with their particular students

Learning to Teach in a New Era
Learning to Teach in a New Era
Learning to Teach in a New Era prepares preservice teachers to embrace the opportunities and meet the challenges of teaching in the twenty-first century...
Students will gain an understanding of the teaching profession and the policies and laws that govern it; develop practical skills in pedagogy, technology, curriculum, assessment and reporting, planning and classroom management; and learn vital skills in communication and ethical practice. Each printed text comes with a unique access code to the interactive ebook. Fully integrated with the print book, this enhanced version houses useful assessment tools such as questions and video resources.
  • Links closely to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) and the Australian Curriculum to prepare preservice teachers for the frameworks that will shape their teaching careers
  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to key content explored in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching qualifications
  • Access to the complementary interactive ebook is provided inside the front cover of the printed book, unlocking a generous pool of self-assessment tools such as questions and video resources

A Dictionary of Media and Communication 

A Dictionary of 
 Media and Communication
This new dictionary includes over 2,200 concise, accessible, and extensively cross-referenced entries for terms regularly encountered by students and professionals working within the diverse fields of media and communication studies, including advertising, digital culture, new media, telecommunications, and visual culture.
  • The most accessible and up-to-date dictionary of media and communication available, covering the impact of the latest developments in these fast moving fields
  • Over 2,200 clear, concise, and authoritative entries, extensively cross-referenced to help link concepts from different discourses
  • Wide-ranging coverage includes advertising, digital culture, new media, telecommunications, and visual culture
  • Entries cover all of the most important concepts, theories, technical terms and key topic areas likely to be encountered in media and communication studies and their related fields
  • Entry-level web links included in the dictionary and kept up-to-date via a companion web page
  • Biographical appendix included with weblinks to key people, as well as an appendix of further reading
Read more...  

The Calculus Story 

The Calculus Story
Calculus is the mathematical method for the analysis of things that change, and since in the natural world we are surrounded by change, the development of calculus was a huge breakthrough in the history of mathematics. David Acheson charts the historical development of calculus and takes readers through the basic ideas, step by step.
  • Provides an engaging 'big picture' introduction to the nature and applications of calculus - a topic that many find daunting
  • Explains the basic ideas of calculus step by step, assuming very little prior mathematical knowledge
  • Incorporates a lively account of the characters and rivalries involved in its historical development
  • From the author of the bestselling 1089 and All That
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers - Occupational Outlook

Download now
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach basic subjects, such as math and reading.

Considering a career as a kindergarten or elementary school teacher?

These professionals teach young students basic academic skills, such as reading, writing and arithmetic, in order to prepare them for middle school and beyond. This guide provides all the necessary information and resources to get started. Find out everything you need to know about this occupation, including qualifications, pay and standard duties. 
The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution

The 10,000 Year Explosion:
How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution
Scientists have long believed that the “great leap forward” that occurred some 40,000 to 50,000 years ago in Europe marked end of significant biological evolution in humans. In this stunningly original account of our evolutionary history, top scholars Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending reject this conventional wisdom and reveal that the human species has undergone a storm of genetic change much more recently. Human evolution in fact accelerated after civilization arose, they contend, and these ongoing changes have played a pivotal role in human history. They argue that biology explains the expansion of the Indo-Europeans, the European conquest of the Americas, and European Jews' rise to intellectual prominence.
Read more... 

Enjoy your reading!  

Source: Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, TradePub and Ancient Origins  

12 New Books We Recommend This Week | New York Times - Book Review

Editors’ Choice

The millions of fans of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy have something to be very happy about this season: the start of a new trilogy, companion to the first, called “The Book of Dust.” 

Photo: New York Times

Pullman’s invented universe is a wonder to behold, but so is the meticulously drawn world of New York City in Julia Wertz’s graphic homage, “Tenements, Towers & Trash.” Speaking of garbage, Joe Ide’s new mystery starts in a junkyard with evidence that points to murder; can his charismatic leading man, Isaiah Quintabe, crack the case? Books about Russian history and current events round out our list this week, from biographies of Lenin and Stalin to Masha Gessen’s study of post-Soviet life, “The Future Is History.”

TENEMENTS, TOWERS & TRASH: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City, by Julia Wertz. (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99.) 

Wertz has become a cult favorite for her graphic memoirs, which take on serious themes — her alcoholism and chronic illness — while leaving room for silly stoner humor. Her new book is a departure, focusing on her great love, New York. “It’s a passionate anatomy of the city,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes, “a book of dramatic streetscapes and hidden histories — mostly of infamous women, like the 19th-century celebrity abortionist Madame Restell, who catered to socialites and built her Fifth Avenue mansion a block away from a Catholic church, supposedly to taunt the faithful.” 

THE RED-HAIRED WOMAN, by Orhan Pamuk. Translated by Ekin Oklap. (Knopf, $27.95.) 

In his latest novel, Pamuk traces the disastrous effects of a Turkish teenager’s brief encounter with a married actress, elaborating on his fiction’s familiar themes: the tensions between East and West, traditional habits and modern life, the secular and the sacred. Larded throughout the novel are references to two ancient and opposite tragedies of fathers and sons.

LENIN: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror, by Victor Sebestyen. (Pantheon, $35.) Sebestyen has managed to produce a first-rate thriller by detailing the cynicism and murderous ambition of the founder of the Soviet Union. Lenin foreshadowed a thoroughly “modern political phenomenon,” the author writes: he was the “godfather…of ‘post-truth politics.’”

Source: New York Times 

Geometry, developed by ancient Greeks, promotes ‘white privilege,’ U of Illinois prof claims | Washington Times - Culture

Photo: Rochelle Gutiérrez
‘On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness’ says Rochelle Gutierrez, Maths Ed Professor.

Teaching the Pythagorean Theorem or pi in geometry class perpetuates white privilege by giving the “perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

Building Support for Scholarly
Practices in Mathematics Methods

That’s what Rochelle Gutierrez argues in her new anthology for math teachers, “Building Support for Scholarly Practices in Mathematics Methods.”

The University of Illinois professor says teachers must become more aware of the “politics that mathematics brings” to society.

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness,” Ms. Gutierrez writes in the book, reported Campus Reform. “Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White.”

Mathematics also perpetuates white privilege because the economy places a high value on abstract reasoning.
Read more... 

Recommended Reading

Photo: Rochelle Gutiérrez
UI defends professor after book chapter draws attention by Debra Pressey, Reporter at The News-Gazete
"A book chapter written by a University of Illinois education professor who contended that mathematics operates as an unearned privilege in society, "just like Whiteness," is attracting a flurry of attention." 

Source: Washington Times

Which Assessment Strategies Do Students Prefer? | Faculty Focus

Photo: John Orlando
"While most faculty stick with the tried-and-true quiz and paper assessment strategies for their online courses, the wide range of technologies available today offers a variety of assessment options beyond the traditional forms. But what do students think of these different forms?" reports John Orlando, PhD, Associate Director of the Faculty Resource Center at Northcentral University.  

Photo: Faculty Focus

Scott Bailey, Stacy Hendricks, and Stephanie Applewhite of Stephen F. Austin State University experimented with different assessment strategies in two online courses in educational leadership, and surveyed students afterward on their impressions of each one. The students were asked to score the strategies using three criteria: 1) enjoyment, 2) engagement with the material, and 3) transferability of knowledge gained to practice. The resulting votes allowed investigators to rank the various strategies from least to most preferred by students.

Interestingly, scores for the three criteria were remarkably consistent within each strategy. Students who found an activity highly enjoyable normally found it engaging and with a high degree of transferability of knowledge and vice versa. Moreover, traditional forms of assessment tended to score near the bottom.
The rankings provide a guide for any faculty member looking to develop engaging online content. 

Below are the different strategies grouped from lowest to highest in preference.

  1. Quizzes were by far the lowest-ranked assessments on the list. Very few students found the information transferable to other environments.
  2. Traditional papers between two and eight pages long scored higher than quizzes, but were still near the bottom of the list.
  3. Group projects were also ranked low on the list. Students were asked to collaborate on a series of tasks and submit a written paper on the outcome of their efforts. While faculty assign these to teach collaboration skills, students often see them as creating additional coordination work and the free rider problem.
  1. Audio recordings fell into a middle category. Students created recordings of themselves explaining course concepts as they would to parents, faculty, or other groups. While some students were initially hesitant about the technology, they quickly picked up the systems and generally enjoyed the activity.
  2. Open discussion involved students posting to the traditional course discussion forum on their LMS. Students generally valued open discussion, but it is important to structure it in a way that provides interesting and thought-provoking questions.
  3. Paired discussion was a variation on the traditional discussion in which students posted messages on course room boards in groups of two to five. The ratings for these group discussions were similar to those for course-wide discussions.
  1. Response to video was at the top of the list. Here students watched a video documentary and responded with a written analysis. Students found the video documentary inspiring and moving. They connected with it on a more emotional level than they would a reading, as it provided a real-world connection to the material. An instructor can find a wide range of excellent documentaries to include in courses from sites such as Free Documentaries TV.
  2. Twitter summaries came in as the second most preferred form of assessment activity. Students were required to summarize in a tweet each of the chapters that they read. By being limited to 140 characters or fewer, the exercise helped students distill main points down to central themes, which is important for synthesizing points in the material.
  3. Screencasts were the next most highly ranked types of assessments. The students created mock presentations that they would give as new administrators to the faculty of a school. The screencasts included both the presentation material and a corner webcam video of the students themselves delivering the narration. Free systems such as Screencast-o-matic are ideal for creating screencasts that combine computer display with webcam videos. The basic format can be applied to a variety of subjects and assignments, such as students in a history course doing a mock presentation to a local historical society on a famous event.
  4. Field experiences involved students taking part in an experience related to the course content. This serves as a reminder that even online students can be given assignments that require some sort of fieldwork. It might be to catalog fauna in a local park for a biology class, or to report on local bridge structures for a civil engineering course.
  5. Interviews of local school administrators were also popular. Students interviewed two administrators and created a reflection on what they learned about the positions. Once again, these interviews connected the course material with practice.
  6. Work samples provided students with an opportunity to take a given data set or scenario and produce a document similar to one they would create as practitioners in their field. These could be professional development plans for their faculty, campus needs assessments, etc. These provided an opportunity for students to apply what they learn to a professional situation.
The student preferences suggest a few principles that can guide an instructor in choosing assessments for an online course. 
Read more... 

Source: Faculty Focus

Teacher Retention and Turnover Research: Interim Report | The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)

New NFER research recommends that policymakers urgently look at identifying ways in which more and better part-time working can be accommodated in secondary schools. The ‘Teacher Retention and Turnover Research' interim report, published on Tuesday, suggests greater flexibility may help to retain current teachers and attract former teachers back into the profession.

Recruiting and retaining enough teachers to serve growing numbers of pupils is one of the key challenges currently facing England’s education system. This interim report is the latest paper in a programme of major research funded by the Nuffield Foundation to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics within the teaching workforce in England.

Jack Worth, Giulia DeLazzari and Jude Hillary
Research Report, October 2017 

Using data from the School Workforce Census, the report explores factors associated with teacher retention and turnover and offers recommendations for policymakers with an emphasis on retention.

Key findings and recommendations from the report include:
  • The Government and stakeholders in the secondary sector need to urgently look at ways of accommodating more part-time working in secondary schools to help alleviate teacher supply challenges in these schools across England.
  • The Government should explore why the rate at which older teachers have been leaving the profession increased between 2010 and 2015 and explore whether they could be incentivised to stay in the profession longer, particularly in subjects with specialist teacher shortages.

Additional resources  
Worth, J., De Lazzari, G., and Hillary, J. (2017). Teacher Retention and Turnover Research: Interim Report. Slough: NFER.

Jack Worth discusses key findings from the latest Teacher Retention and Turnover Research

Source: The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and NFERTV channel (YouTube)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Power of Integrated AV Experiences in Higher Education | OEB Newsportal - Opinions

Pam Taggart of AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association™, discusses how integrated AV experiences are transforming universities from just places to get a degree into thriving learning communities that set the course for sustained innovation.  
Co-written by Pamela M. Taggart, who is a Senior Director of Development Europe at AVIXA

"A new generation of students has arrived. They’re glued to their smartphones and grew up experiencing the world through multiple screens" says Pam Taggart
Photo: OEB Newsportal

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they want something more than the traditional education experiences like the well-worn classroom lecture or the stately campus library. Students use mobile devices to socialise, handle their finances, keep in touch with parents, and much more. They communicate face to face — even when they’re miles away from each other. They expect brilliant high definition everywhere they look and a soundtrack that fits in with their lives. Using new technology throughout higher education represents a natural progression for a generation that favours digital platforms.
Today’s connected students are looking for meaningful, immersive experiences that impact their learning and their lives. They’re used to consuming audio and video information at the swipe of a finger or touch of a button, and they want that in their physical world, from classrooms to public spaces. Students seek interactive learning with peers and faculty members — simulations, games, audiovisual (AV) collaboration — that will help them solve problems and retain vital information. Research bears this out.
The American Cognitive psychologist Richard Mayer of the University of California, Santa Barbara has explored the link between multimedia exposure and learning. His experiments prove that students who get information in multisensory environments do better than those who perceive information through one sense. Mayer found that recall through multisensory stimulation is more accurate, detailed and longer lasting — even 20 years into the future. One’s problem-solving ability improves, too, helping students generate up to 50 percent more creative solutions.
The growth of online degree programs and distance learning has also contributed to heightened expectations. 

Source: OEB Newsportal

Where Are You on Your Journey to Digital Maturity? | Training Magazine Network

Take a closer look at this white paper below.

Where Are You on Your Journey to Digital Maturity?
Maturity can be defined in many ways for a training organization... 

Download the White Paper

But what about your digital content program? There is a path to maturity that will let you progress nicely along without getting overwhelmed with all the options—shiny, fun new technology—available to you. There is a way to plan a digital content maturity path that will eventually lead to impactful and engaging training methods.

To begin you need to take stock of your current training efforts. Some key questions to ask yourself include:

• Are you still using print manuals?
• Do you have a learning management system (LMS) but only use it to assign certain people certain training?
• Can your learners gain access to their content offline?
• How much of the of the digital functionality that is available today have you incorporated into your training?

Download the White Paper 

Enjoy your reading! 

Source: Training Magazine Network

Digital Collaboration in the Age of Online Training | Training Magazine Network

Check out this white paper below.

Improving Outcomes in the Age of Online Training
If there's one challenge every corporate trainer faces, it's this: Creating a collaborative online experience is hard. The benefits of in-person trainings don't always translate well into virtual environments.

Download the White Paper

This white paper will help you gain a greater understanding of the complexities facing corporate trainers today and the steps you can take to achieve better outcomes online.

AirClass writes in the conclusion, "As the proclivity for online corporate learning grows, the need for on-demand, collaborative virtual environments will continue to increase. Trained, engaged employees are driving the growth of businesses today—and are increasingly relying on technology to improve job-related knowledge.
AirClass offers a unique new solution that solves many of the inherent limitations of web and video conferencing, opening doors to better corporate learning, longer-lasting business relationships and greater returns on training investments."

Download the White Paper   

Enjoy your reading! 

Source: Training Magazine Network

Reading, writing and empathy: How Denmark is a leader in teaching social skills | Christian Science Monitor

A PATH TO PROGRESS - The country's status as a leader in teaching social skills is one reason it’s often ranked as the world’s ‘happiest’ country. Do Danes know something the rest of us don’t?

Jennifer Larsen teaches social learning...
Photo: Christian Science Monitor
Jennifer Larsen, a soft-spoken Danish teacher, strides into the classroom undeterred. She tells the 12- and 13-year-old students to put away their cellphones and fidget spinners. Some continue to goof off. But as she starts her weekly lesson in “social learning,” which begins with a “check-in” to gauge how each child is feeling, they quiet down. Ms. Larsen’s main lesson of the day involves taping two signs to different ends of the classroom with the words “I agree” and “I disagree.” She then reads a series of personal statements: “I want to be better at solving problems with my friend.” “When I get angry I want to hit someone.”

The students in the sixth-year class at the Møllevang school in Faxe, a municipality in rural Denmark southwest of Copenhagen, have answered these questions before. But that exercise was done anonymously: Their heads were down and they responded by raising their hands. This time they are told to move to a side of the room that best characterizes their answer, publicly staking positions that even some adults might find hard to be candid about.

“I have friends who help me when I’m sad or mad,” Larsen continues. The children shuffle around the room, but, in the end, only one boy stands at the “I disagree” wall. With a nervous laugh, he notes his solitary position. “But you are very honest – that is very good,” Larsen says. “It doesn’t mean you don’t have any friends.”

As rudimentary as it is, the lesson in this kinetic classroom of students in hoodies and track pants is designed to teach social awareness and instill empathy – and in the process make Denmark and perhaps even Europe a more civil place to live. It is part of a mandatory course added to the curriculum in this municipality in the hopes of teaching students to care for one another at a young age, a quality that school leaders worry is being increasingly lost in modern society.

Around the world, the importance of empathy as a character trait is garnering increased attention in an age of rapid technological change that experts worry is breeding narcissism and physically cutting people off from one another. This is to say nothing of the polarized politics that has deepened a sense of “us” versus “them” in many Western democracies, including the United States.

At its deepest level, encouraging empathy is seen as a step toward moving away from the ethos of individualism that characterized 20th-century societies toward a greater tolerance of other cultures in the interconnected world of the 21st century.

Numerous pilot programs are under way in the US to foster emotional intelligence in students, including an $11 million experiment in Kentucky called the Compassionate Schools Project. Other initiatives are taking root from China to Finland.

In Denmark, empathy has long been a part of the zeitgeist of the nation, taught and valued everywhere, from preschools to corporate suites. Many parents consider their children’s kindness in the classroom just as crucial as their math or science scores.

But here, too, pressure is mounting for the country to do more. Debates about immigration rage domestically and across Europe amid the refugee crisis and a wave of terrorist attacks. At the same time, access to the internet is increasing the chances of cyberbullying and the isolation of young people. As a new school year starts in Denmark, teachers and academics are refocusing attention on some of the country’s oldest methods of empathy education, and establishing new programs such as the one in Faxe, which they say is crucial to countering all the negativity and division.

“Empathy is very important for democracy,” says Mette Løvbjerg, Møllevang’s headmaster. “You can’t have a democracy that is functioning if nobody puts themselves in another one’s shoes.... If we don’t teach our children that, then we don’t have a democracy in 50 years. It’s under pressure already.”

In Denmark, the tension between academics and well-being is less pronounced, even if it is growing. Developing the “whole child,” not just good students, is a mantra heard from the Ministry of Education on down. Teaching is understood to entail both uddannelse and dannelse, the first being the classical concept of academic training, the other the formation of good citizens and their ability to morally relate to the world.

“What comes first, academic skills or well-being? We can’t answer,” says Jonas Borup, who works on the inclusion team at the Danish Ministry of Education in Copenhagen. “You have to feel good in school to learn something. For us, you can’t have one without the other.”

Recently some academics in the US have proposed that schools should integrate such instruction into daily teaching, rather than offer weekly or monthly SEL classes.
In other words, do what’s de rigueur in Denmark. 

On a recent morning, first-year teacher Helle Eskesen at the Øster Farimagsgades school in Copenhagen receives a visit from a young student who has injured her eye. The girl tells her instructor she is concerned that other students will make fun of her because of the swelling. 

So Ms. Eskesen makes a quick decision: She calls a “class meeting” to talk it through to prevent any teasing.

Later in the class, the teacher spends time with each student before they break for recess, going over what activities they plan to do and ensuring that no one is left out. Both moves are classic Danish empathy education, moves fused into normal instruction and going beyond just holding an occasional class on the subject.

“It’s not Empathy 101 in Denmark,” says Jessica Alexander, an American writer who co-wrote “The Danish Way of Parenting,” which looks in part at how empathy is taught in schools, with Danish family psychotherapist Iben Sandahl.

Danish schools are staffed by “AKT” teachers (the initialism stands for behavior, contact, and well-being in Danish). Larsen, the teacher at Møllevang, is one. Like her, other AKT teachers often have their own classrooms, as well as the responsibility for addressing social conflict as it arises. They help students work together and engage those who feel lonely or left out.

Klassenstime further buttresses character education. It is an hour traditionally set aside for teachers to deal with the social side of their students. The concept has recently been revamped, but it is so ingrained in the culture that there is a cake named after it.

Sometimes klassenstime works almost like mediation to tackle a problem. Girls and boys might be separated to deal with specific issues. Other times instructors teach emotional awareness with programs such as Cat-KIT, a communications tool to help students navigate many different situations – for instance, when a child gets angry during recess, says one of its founders, Annette Nielsen...

At the Hedegårdenes school in Roskilde, west of Copenhagen, one-third of the 400 students, from the first year of school through the ninth year, come from immigrant backgrounds, and another third from what administrators call troubled homes. The school has received 50 Syrian refugees as well. As a result, says Thomas Brinch, vice principal, “the work with empathy is more important than ever.” 

“The kids need to treat each other with respect no matter where they are from, what their religion is.” But it’s also important, he says, that children from other countries learn how to fit into Danish society. 

Schools see empathy as a way to deal with another challenge as well: the saturation of social media. The impact of technology on young people’s behavior is being carefully monitored in Denmark, simply because it is one of the most connected countries in the EU, says Camilla Mehlsen, who writes about education and technology (and whose 9-year-old has an iPhone). According to EU Kids Online, an international research network, 81 percent of Danish children use the internet daily, compared with an average of 60 percent in Europe overall. 

Social media is the subject of klassenstime on a recent day in the classroom of Ida Nielsen, a fifth-year teacher at the Hedegårdenes school. The class has drawn up social media user guidelines together and is now discussing what they mean in practice. One of the first rules sounds simple enough: Don’t say anything mean.
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Source: Christian Science Monitor