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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Six things to know about network connectivity in Africa | IDG Connect

Photo: Kathryn Cave
Kathryn Cave, Editor at IDG Connect summarizes, "A special summit collocated with Datacloud Europe 2017 addressed datacentres in Africa."

Photo: IDG Connect

Since the first undersea cables began to connect Africa in the early 2000s, a network of fibre has slowly grown to surround the continent. However, what exists at the edge does not necessarily make its way to the interior and this has resulted in extremely varied internet rates and costs.

The issue of network connectivity was discussed as part of Invest in Datacentre Africa, a bespoke summit collocated within Datacloud Europe 2017, early in June. The summary below attempts to highlight the important points.

Geo-political issues always raise their ugly head. It can be hard to talk about Africa without getting lost in a minefield of mixed meanings. Sub-Saharan countries get lumped together because these are all served by the same cables. North African countries are often not included in discussions about Africa at all because they’re served by a different set of cables. And there can be tendency to ignore Francophone countries altogether and focus exclusively on English speaking ones (although, admittedly, not so much in the networking space).
Read more... 

Source: IDG Connect

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Give Teachers Credit: They Know Learning Is Social | EdSurge

Follow on Twitter as @spirrison
"The enthusiasm shared by educators who understand that social media will forever impact their lives and practice is very reminiscent of the vibe expressed by dot-commers two decades ago during the first wave of the Internet boom—this is a very good thing." says Brad Spirrison, Senior Director at Participate.

Photo: / Shutterstock
I’ve served as both a journalist and participant within each movement. My job is to interview and survey the pioneers, investors and stakeholders who drive technological change, share their stories, and collaborate with very smart people to build and distribute tools that help everyone else get involved.

The parallels between the early days of the world wide web and today’s edtech scene are surreal. First, you have your tinkerers who recognize the network potential of organizing information, resources and advice around communities. In the nineties, this included Geocities, Lycos and Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web (later called Yahoo!). More recently, communities and directories including #edchat, eduClipper and Cybraryman (AKA Jerry Blumengarten’s guide to educational websites and chats) provided voice, structure and inspiration to educators looking to connect and collaborate in ways never before possible.

As more individuals organically buy into the movement, a second layer of investors, opportunists and outright charlatans get involved. In the nineties, I literally wrote half a dozen stories analyzing the hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the online pet foods space. Virtually all of those companies, along with thousands of other venture-backed outfits during that time, turned into doo-doo.

This is also a very good thing. Railroads, telephone networks and the internet could not have been built without financial and emotional excess. Whether you are an investor, participant or observer, the key amidst these periods is to recognize innovations that remain true to the underlying cause of whatever movements they spawn within. This means approaching the very individuals and organizations you want to serve, building trust, sharing stories and identifying what problem they wish to solve.

There is a lot of noise in edtech today, mostly coming from technology and consumer marketing-oriented companies. They are trying to cut and paste solutions they built for one industry and sell them to teachers and administrators because they feel the market is hot. This approach won’t work with passionate educators who recognize that their world is changing because of technology. They don’t have time for doo-doo.

Here’s what teachers are doing with their own time...

Brad Spirrison end his article with following: "We are never going back to how things used to be. Together, we have the opportunity to frame and define what’s next."

Source: EdSurge

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This is your brain on PhD | Times Higher Education (THE) (blog)

Photo: Steven Franklin
Steven Franklin, visiting tutor in the history department and a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway, University of London lays bare the questions and doubts that go through his mind as he sits down to work on his thesis.

Photo: iStock

When you start a PhD, the first words you hear are: “It’s going to be hard.” As someone just starting out on an academic journey, your natural response “Pah! I’ll prove them all wrong, I’m the exception, not the rule.” But there's a reason they say these things – it’s because a PhD is difficult and sometime torturous too.

Thinking logically about the process, it shouldn’t be difficult at all. You have four years (eight if you’re doing it part-time), and so by my poor maths, it works out at roughly 65 words a day. Easy! We can all do that. I mean I’ve written more here already! Sadly, it’s not that simple – what a pity. That logic doesn’t factor in any time for conceptualising your idea into something achievable, the research, the manipulation of that research into argumentative prose and then the inevitable rewrites.

Still, let’s be generous and say 200 words a day for less than two years and your project will be complete. In fact, you’d have almost written two.

Of course, there are other pressures that every PhD student must deal with. There’s an expectation for us to take some baby steps into the world of academia. We must present our work at seminars and conferences. Get used to our work being criticised and come back stronger from that. After all, no piece of work is ever the finished article. No one, to my knowledge, is yet to write the last word on any piece of history – although there are plenty of academics who’d be disturbed by the thought of their word not being the last.

Conferences are another way to introduce yourself to the academic world. Make a name for yourself. Socialise in the correct circles. These are the people that might one day examine you, become colleagues or write you a reference. We need to make the most of these exchanges. At the end of the day our future depends on it.

Then, if you’re like me, you don’t have funding, and so you must work to make ends meet. Mummy and daddy might be able to support you, but this 28-year-old would prefer some form of independence. I may be a student but I refuse to be seen as the stereotype. I work, undoubtedly more than I should, and I do my work well. One finds that if you work hard and do it to a high enough standard more doors open. People see your use. Before you know it you have an invite to the department Christmas meal. Not a bad achievement given you were employed on a short-term basis to help with some admin.

Factoring in those things, I’m now needing to write in the region of 400 words a day. Thinking about it, maybe a little less. It’s still achievable. Isn’t it? Well of course it is.

But our list does not end there. If you’d like to get anywhere in academia it’s desirable that you've taught. Published an article or two prior to thesis submission. Write a few academic book reviews. These, sadly, suck time. Time we, perhaps just I, do not have.

Let's also pause for a moment to reflect on the poker game that you play with your PhD peers. It’s an unspoken truth, but academia is essentially a game of “my fish is bigger than yours”. It’s not necessarily about quality of produced work. It’s all about quantity. The more you have, the better you are. What “have” can be anything, too. Scholarly works, academic prizes, research scholarships and media contributions are all ways of physically displaying that you’re on your way to greatness.

PhD students play the game as well as anybody else. Why blame them? The very nature of the profession dictates that you must sell yourself at every possible moment and be opportunistic, too. Don't get me wrong. I love my PhD peers but there are times when the game gets tiresome.

So, where am I left now? Ah yes, 500 words a day over 200 days and the job’s done!
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Source: Times Higher Education (THE) (blog) 

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Explore the diversification of 21st century classrooms and schools | Eduplanet21 - Learning Paths

Check these out below.

Digital Citizenship: Preparing Teachers and Students for Online Interaction 

Digital Citizenship: Preparing Teachers and Students for Online Interaction

Digital Citizenship is defined as the norms of appropriate, responsible behavior with regard to technology use by, a leading digital citizenship informational website that we will further explore later in learning path.
Throughout this learning path, you will engage in a variety of activities designed to help you think critically and actively about how to express the ideas of digital citizenship with your students and encourage them to demonstrate positive online behavior. Topics discussed in this pathway will include digital literacy, digital foot prints, social media, plagiarism, privacy, copyrights, standards, and policy

  • Develop an understanding of the responsibilities and challenges associated with being a digital citizen; 
  • Relate the elements of digital citizenship to professional practice; 
  • Explore resources designed to help incorporate digital citizenship into the classroom;
  •  Review district policy and procedures related to digital literacy and digital learning; and  
  • Recognize standards that are addressed when teaching digital citizenship.
Read more... 

Text-Dependent Analysis: An Introduction 

Text-Dependent Analysis: An Introduction

Text-dependent analysis (TDA) is a unique-to-Pennsylvania term for text-dependent questions. Text-dependent analysis epitomizes why reading and writing have been joined under the umbrella of English/Language Arts. The first module builds background knowledge, explores the instructional shifts, and takes a dive into the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s explanation of Text-Dependent Analysis. Understanding the similarities and differences of open-ended and text-dependent questions, along with exploring common myths and misconceptions, is the focus of the second module.

  • Define Text-Dependent Analysis; 
  • Explore your current understanding of Text-Dependent Analysis; 
  • Expand your knowledge base of the instructional shifts for English/Language Arts; 
  • Tackle several myths and misconceptions of Text-Dependent Analysis and provide examples of best instructional practices; and, 
  • Examine resources provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to learn the cognitive demands of Text-Dependent Analysis. 

Source: Eduplanet21

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Will Free Community College Really Help Low-Income Students? | Education Week - Opinion

Photo: Kate Schwass
"Money isn’t the only obstacle to college completion" argues Kate Schwass, San Francisco Bay Area executive director for CollegeSpring.

Photo: Getty

In the face of soaring college tuitions and skyrocketing educational inequity, many educators and lawmakers are suggesting a way to help low-income students earn degrees: Why not offer in-state students community college for free?
After years in the shadows, the idea is gaining real momentum. Just last month, Tennessee, which already had a free-community-college program for recent high school graduates, announced it will open that program to any adult in the state without a college degree in 2018. Earlier this year, San Francisco became the first city in the country to offer free community college to all of its residents, and lawmakers in California, New York, and Rhode Island introduced similar proposals to cover tuition and other costs for students.

At first glance, it’s hard to see why free community college (specifically, free tuition for two-year schools that grant associate degrees) would be anything but helpful for students from low-income backgrounds. Students who graduate from community college have lower rates of unemployment and earn $6,600 more a year than those who have a high school diploma. Remove the cost of earning an associate’s degree, and you’ll put its benefits within reach of any student who wants one—right?
It’s clear that the prospect of free tuition will likely motivate more low-income students to enroll in community college. But those students still face considerable obstacles having nothing to do with money once they arrive on campus. What’s more, free tuition could deter low-income students from pursuing four-year colleges and universities.

Until educators account for these truths, we could be inadvertently pushing large numbers of students away from their best educational path in four-year colleges or universities.

One challenge for low-income community college students is that they are more likely to be needlessly placed in remedial courses than their wealthier peers and those at four-year colleges. Most colleges require that incoming students take standardized placement tests to see if they need remedial reading, writing, and math courses. About 70 percent of low-income community college students are placed in remedial courses, compared with about 50 percent of their wealthier community college peers.

Despite the good intention, remedial courses are a significant barrier to graduation. A 2012 report from the nonprofit Complete College America found that fewer than one in 10 students who begin in remedial courses graduate from community colleges within three years. This is in part because remedial courses don’t count toward a degree—a discouraging prospect for many students. What’s more, the standardized tests that typically determine remediation decisions are often not accurate—as many as a third of all students are forced to review content they already understand well.

Source: Education Week

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LBCC program to help adults return to school | Albany Democrat-Herald - In brief

A free program designed to help adult learners go back to school is being offered through Linn-Benton Community College starting June 27.

Classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. starting June 27 through Aug. 31. Classes cover computer skills, time management, communication skills, critical thinking skills, employment skills, learning styles, how to identify strengths and more.

The Empower Program is a strength-based, supportive learning program designed to help with transitioning into LBCC and being successful in college.

Empower classes are free, with a focus on college and career readiness, self-development, self-assessment, goal-setting and planning, support network development, and overall well-being.

Participants learn to increase their ability to succeed, realize potential, develop a network of college and community support, and become empowered in lifelong success in college, professional and personal development.

For more information, contact Malinda Shell at  email at

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Scholar Documents Economic War on Chinese Restaurant | Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

"New research reveals another level of the United States’ exploitation of and discrimination against Chinese Americans. University of California, Davis law professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin and research assistant John Ormonde have uncovered evidence of economic bias over the years against Chinese restaurants through a search of digital archives." notes Gia Savage, Journalist.

Photo: Gabriel “Jack” Chin
Chin has been conducting research on race and the law and Asian Americans and the law for over 20 years. He discovered the restaurant bias years ago, but was not completely sure of how it connected to a broader historical point. He and Ormonde, the study’s co-author, decided to dig deeper.

“We spent some time to see what else we could find out about the treatment of Chinese restaurants in this period,” said Chin.

By using digital archives, Chin and Ormond were able to find a disadvantageous pattern of jobs and economic growth being withheld from Chinese restaurants.

“It shows an unfortunate tradition of good jobs being reserved for Whites,” said Chin. “The unions that approached the Chinese restaurants frankly and explicitly argued that Whites should patronize 
White restaurants, and give their business to White people, and Chinese shouldn’t have these opportunities.”

Though once inaccessible because their existence was limited to paper copy, archived newspapers, records of city council proceedings and outdated state codes are what led to the discovery of a “war” on Chinese restaurants that lasted over 30 years. These documents have been digitized, which makes them more accessible to those interested in viewing.

As Chinese food and restaurants became popular in the United States, traditional American restaurants were suddenly at risk of losing business.

Source: Diverse: Issues in Higher Education 

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Companies must move fast to take advantage of digitally skilled population in the mainland and Hong Kong | South China Morning Post

Photo: Gianfranco Casati
"A high level of digital readiness displayed by both male and female undergraduates is the new weapon of choice to foster growth, according to several shining examples on mainland’s corporate horizon" says Gianfranco Casati, Accenture’s group chief executive.

Executives should act quickly to tap digital skill set of their staff 
Photo: Nora Tam

Hop on a mainland-bound train in Hung Hom station and you are likely to see the same thing you would see on any other MTR commuter train: people sat hunched over their mobile phones, engaged on WeChat or playing Honor of Kings, one of the mobile games by Tencent Holdings, listening to music or reading work emails.

Herein lies a weapon for corporate growth – digital readiness.

The mainland’s digital readiness, internet technology expertise, use and investment will serve as a powerful base to spur growth. For example, by harnessing the power of digital, China stands to grow its gross domestic product by 3.75 per cent by 2020, the equivalent of adding US$527 billion to the economy during that time frame.

Consider the fundamentals. Earlier this year, we commissioned research on women in the workforce with an eye to see what skills are needed to help women attain pay parity with men.

One of the ancillary insights the research yielded was that in many emerging markets, particularly the mainland, women tended to be as schooled in IT as men, creating a much larger potential pool of candidates for such work.

We found that the digital capabilities of male and female undergraduates in the mainland were fairly equal – 96 per cent of the undergraduate women surveyed said they had taken computing/coding module classes (against 100 per cent of the surveyed men), and 73 per cent of the women students said they thought they adopted new technologies fast, as compared with 79 per cent of the men. A graduate base of nearly universal tech savviness is an essential building block for future ready businesses and nations that can rotate to the new world order.

Managers need to harness this digital strength. Offering corporate training on mobile phones, to be finalised when an employee chooses, gives staff the option to use their commuting time for continuous learning. It makes retooling and refining skills more flexible.

Source: South China Morning Post

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Malvern International PLC Launch Its First Digital Learning Technology | Malvern International plc - Education

"Malvern International plc (AIM: MLVN), the provider of educational services in the UK, Europe and Asia, is pleased to announce, that following the strategic plan announced in November 2016 and as part of its collaboration with Playware Studios Singapore (announced in January 2017), the launch of its first digital offering in the area of Learning Technology." continues Malvern International plc.


Malvern and Playware Studios, are offering the platform and relevant service to allow potential customers to create customised mobile based games that can be used for learning and corporate training. The product is not only useful for schools but also can be used by all industries with training needs.

The mobile games produced through the platform can increase user engagement and enhance knowledge retention, with a practice-based learning experience that is fresh, interesting and effective. The platform can also be used to create virtual labs, simulations and interactive case studies, and direct training and testing games where learners can experiment with different scenarios through their mobiles.  

The product has a proven record of success in improving training engagement and efficiency within the classroom or workplace. As an innovative technology platform has been recognised internationally with awards such as: the Brandon Hall Group Awards for Excellence in Technology and Excellence in Education (2015), Microsoft Partner of the Year (Public Sector Education 2013), BETT Asia and IDA Award for EdTech Innovation (2014) and the Innovplus Flame Award from WDA Singapore (2016).

The platform and series of sample games have been tested with a few large and small organisations in Singapore. Malvern has commenced marketing the product in East Asia, India, Nepal, and the UK. It will continue the expansion to cover other countries through a strategic distribution model. This initiative forms part of the expansion of Malvern’s Learning Technology division which is seeking to position itself as a global learning technology partner. More information can be found through Malvern International’s website.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

UAB scholars study in Japan, Cuba, and France | Birmingham Times

Follow on Twitter as @TiffanyWestry
"Four University of Alabama at Birmingham students are among 1,200 undergraduate students from 354 colleges and universities across the United States selected to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship" inform Tiffany Westry Womack, Education; anthropology; language and communication studies; government; history; philosophy; social work; sociology; computer and information sciences; justice sciences; exercise science.

University of Alabama at Birmingham

The Gilman Scholarship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program aims to make study abroad experiences accessible to a more diverse population of students and to encourage students to choose less traditional study abroad destinations. It also gives students the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles in government and the private sector.

Students are selected for the Gilman Scholarship through a highly competitive application process. The program receives more than 10,000 applications each year and awards about 2,500 scholarships. Gilman scholars are awarded up to $5,000 toward their study abroad or internship program costs. The program aims to support students who traditionally have been underrepresented in education abroad, including, but not limited to, students with high financial need, first-generation college students, students in STEM fields, students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and students with disabilities.

Kenneth Davis, a sophomore double-majoring in chemistry and mathematics with a minor in Japanese, is studying in Japan. Davis is a native of Selma, Alabama, and is in the UAB Honors College’s Science and Technology Honors Program. He is also a recipient of the Freeman-ASIA Scholarship to study abroad. Davis plans to obtain a master’s degree in mathematics before applying to medical school to become a neurosurgeon.

“Spending the summer in Japan is fulfilling a curiosity about Japanese culture that I have fostered since I was a child,” Davis said. “Now that I am able to actually live and interact with native Japanese speakers in Tokyo and surrounding prefectures, I have learned that I am becoming more aware of the subtle differences between my home and Japan. It is my hope that proficiency in Japanese and a mathematics degree will make me a more marketable job candidate.”

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