Technology and Conventional Teaching Practices: The Road to Effective Learning in The Classroom





Can Educational Technology ever entirely replace actual teaching? Probably not, but that’s beside the point. What we should be striving to understand and focusing on today is not whether technology has advanced enough to replace conventional learning methodologies and even teachers, but whether the technologies at hand can complement and reinforce our existing tools and practices.

Teaching will become more efficient, measurable, and fun when technology and existing teaching methods and practices are integrated in a single approach. Picture a new era of teaching that’s decisively informed by technology but is still deeply rooted in research and proven teaching practices.

Dumbing us down or lifting us higher?

When abused, technology does not promote learning, but inhibits it. When used wisely, technology can benefit educators and students alike. Technology doesn’t dumb society down in and of itself, however. Yes, people might have every answer at their fingertips thanks to the immensely vast and chaotic Internet and its near-infinite resources, but that doesn’t mean technology doesn’t also nurture critical thinking, innovation, and imagination. Technology has a supportive role in learning. It facilitates our thinking by offering answers through computing processes and enabling us to reach conclusions faster. It doesn’t simply give us answers, but it makes the process easier.

A case for creativity

To say that technology in the classroom is dangerous and counterproductive is to lose sight of its potential to drive knowledge and learning forward.

Using technologies in the classroom – things like social media, collaborative networks, and video teleclasses – has some inherent risks, but these can be avoided and contained with proper student instruction beforehand.

Once students learn how to correctly use technologies, they have powerful tools to inspire their imagination and unleash their creativity. Technology should be viewed as the springboard for creativity and innovation. To think that technologies will make us clueless, uncritical human beings is to deny that every technological innovation from the invention of the wheel to the steam engine during the Industrial revolution contributed to our civilization’s growth, prosperity, and advancement.

Do not fear Ed Tech in the classroom

It’s understandable that even today many educators are reluctant to use technology in their teaching. They believe that their methods and practices need no updating because those methods have served them well for many years. In a sense, this is true – a good teacher does not depend on any type of technology to promote learning in the classroom.

However, considering what teachers might be missing for not making learning tech-driven is disheartening. Even if a teacher is not fond of Ed Tech practices and trends, their students already are. Students who have grown up surrounded by technology will expect to see it in the classroom as well. These “digital natives” who are growing up with a lifestyle substantially immersed in hand-held devices and Internet enabled homes find technology to be one of the most straightforward ways to communicate, learn, have fun, and live. Can teachers deprive their students of this important right, to learn and empower themselves through the means they’ve grown up learning and living with?


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A Message For The Next Generation: The 2016 Gates Annual Letter




The Rise Of Social Media Marketing As The New Customer Relationship Management




Does your company have a social media marketing plan? Social media is more than increasing brand awareness and engaging with your existing and potential customers through online discussions and sharing.

Social media marketing is the new customer relationship management model. A space where you take advantage of your customers’ online presence in order to convince them you’re a worthwhile investment.

Social media marketing, when successfully implemented, improves customer relationships by achieving the following:

– Customers feel valued, respected, and listened to – a prerequisite for repeat sales and customer retention.

– Customers feel understood – a prerequisite for gaining consumers’ trust.

– Customers’ complaints are listened to and corrected, making customers happy and more likely to continue doing business with you.

– Long-term relationships with customers are created and nurtured, driven not by short-term profit but by building a client base of loyal customers.

The relationship is equal and not promotional, allowing the client to more easily engage with you, rather than be discouraged by impersonal spam-based e-mail campaigns.

In a sense, social media marketing is another way of saying “relationship marketing.” We use social media as powerful, affordable, and effective tools for building stronger client-business relationships and forging new ones.

How do you make social media marketing really about customer relationship building and maintenance?

Join the conversation

Don’t wait for people to retweet an event you’re promoting, or for someone else to share it through Facebook. Dive into what’s already being talked about. See what things are trending that could relate to your brand, and jump in the conversation.

Joining the conversation doesn’t mean blatant, relentless self-promotion, however. Keep your focus on:

– Discussing new trends and discoveries in your industry and niche.

– Supporting and promoting like-minded entrepreneurs and individuals.

– Finding common ground with your followers to discuss their needs and learn their expectations of your brand.

For building solid customer relationships on social media you need to be proactive, approachable, and relevant. What’s more, you need to stick to a daily social media schedule.

Get rid of the “pitchy” attitude

Of course, the main idea is that you will promote your services and goods through social media — this is your ultimate goal, after all. But you don’t have to be obvious about it.
Devote a daily tweet and Facebook post to reminding your online followers about an offer, a competition, a sale, or a product. However, don’t use social media as if it’s an advertisement, use this outlet as any other user would: to interact, share, and discuss things you’re passionate about.

If your audience senses a “pitchy” attitude – in other words, if they think you’re only giving them a sales pitch – they will be discouraged from engaging with you in the future. This will damage your customer relationships as you will soon be regarded as a profit-focused company that doesn’t truly care about its clients.

Polish your language skills

You might have a social media marketing guru handling your customer relationships online, or you might do it yourself. Whichever option you choose, make sure your grammar, vocabulary, and spelling are flawless.

Your vocabulary and general choice of words reveal a lot about your brand, your mission, and your ultimate goal. Using the right vocabulary can in fact raise you in the eyes of your audience as an expert, leading company that knows what they’re doing.

Word choices should be carefully considered, even on what might seem to be the most casual of tweets. Use language your readers can empathize with and feel enthusiastic about. Lastly, always do fact-checking and spell-checking before publishing your tweets and posts!

By implementing these principles, you will ensure your social media marketing improves customer relationships and helps your business flourish.

Cross-posted on the Ultimate Spelling blog.


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5 Tips on How to Properly Write Business and Office Related Communications





Writing skills are a must when it comes to office correspondence. Most people take a casual approach to writing memos, interoffice notes, emails or anything else that their peers and managers read. This can prove to be a mistake that is hampering your chances for advancement or a raise.

This should not come as a surprise. Office communication often starts with an email or a memo and serves as a first impression in many cases. Research shows that 70% of people interact with business associates via email before they ever get a chance to meet in person.

This is why written office communications are a slippery slope. They set the tone for most of the interactions you have at work. You might feel the need to be funny or friendly, especially if you’re writing to a colleague you interact with often. Avoid doing that because office communications are monitored and you never know who else might be reading your emails.

Be clear and concise

Regardless of what type of document you are writing, make sure it is easy to understand and that it gets straight to the point whenever possible. The best way to ensure your writing is clear is to know what you want to say before you sit down to write it. If you’re not sure about what you’re saying, how can a person reading your email or a proposal be?

Use proper vocabulary

This is an important one. First off, refrain from using abbreviations or street jargon, and makes you look unprofessional. Also, consider the audience. You can get technical with your peers and colleagues if they are working in the same department and have the same background as you. However, refrain from using technical terms if you’re uncertain that everyone who needs to read it will be able to follow. If they are absolutely essential, make sure to include an explanation of terms in an appendix.

Also, make sure to proofread everything. Frequent grammar and spelling errors will start hurting your credibility and, while your colleagues might get a laugh out of them, you’re hardly doing yourself any favors in front of your boss.

Also, you can check out some of these online writing tools. Using them will help you communicate more effectively and even teach you a thing or two.

Grammarly – Use Grammarly to check your grammar, spelling and punctuation. Bad writing skills are a sure way of undermining your authority so make sure you’re sending out proofread and spell-checked writing. This free tool will make all that easier for you.

Thesaurus – If you’re writing a lot of emails, chances are your writing is drab and boring and that you’re using the same words all the time. Using this online tool will help you expand your vocabulary and find the right words for your content.

Gorgias – Gorgias allows you create email templates and works with Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. If you’re losing time on writing, essentially, the same stuff, kick up your productivity with Gorgias and start sending out emails written in just a few keystrokes.

AussieWriter – Sometimes, your writing skills just won’t be good enough. Whether it’s an extensive business plan, a speech or a client pitch, you will have to enlist someone to help you out. AussieWriter is a reputable writing service that can get the job done affordably and quickly.

Enloop – If you need some help with writing a killer business plan, this online tool will prove to be a great asset. It automates the process, and gives you a step-by-step plan to follow that will eventually result in a great business proposal.

MailMentor – MailMentor is a free online tool you can use to check the readability of your emails. It will let you know if your writing is too long, too complex, or too difficult to read and offer actionable advice on how you can improve it.

Stick to the point

When writing an email, think of a single point you want to communicate and stick with it. If you need to have a lengthy discussion with someone, either schedule a meeting or set up a call, don’t write a mile-long email. This is because busy people don’t have time to read your musings. When you start veering off the topic, they start losing interest.

Include a clear call to action

Sometimes you want people to react to an email or an internal memo a certain way. Most people assume others will know how to react. Don’t bet on it. Include a clear call to action, specifying what the next steps are and are there any deadlines to be respected. Removing guesswork out of the equation gets things done much faster.

Be courteous but professional

Don’t allow your emails to saw discord and start office-wide hostilities. Always maintain a professional and courteous tone throughout your written communication. If you have some bad new to deliver, think about doing it in person or in a call. If you have something unpleasant to write to a colleague or a subordinate, make sure to do it in a tactful and unaggressive way.

A bit of courtesy will get you a long way, but avoid getting too personal or friendly in written communication, regardless of how well you might know someone. It gives an impression that you cannot separate your personal from your professional life and reflects poorly on you.

These tips will help you communicate better in both your professional and personal life. They will also go a long way in making sure that everything is communicated in a clear manner so to avoid any misunderstandings.  


Author’s Bio
Being a coach, Amy Cowen has a great experience of work with students  and young people – from providing assignment writing help at Galaxyessay to giving career advice. She often writes for different blogs in her free time.

The Sociable’s Tim Hinchliffe In An Exclusive Interview With Typesy Team





Tim Hinchliffe


Have you ever dreamed of traveling the world as a freelance writer? Top-notch typing and vocabulary skills will help you achieve your dream, as well as an interest in your chosen topic. Journalist and freelancer Tim Hinchliffe knows how skill, interest, and luck can all play a part in any media specialist’s career.

You’ve traveled to several countries in pursuit of interviews and article material. How did you do those interviews? Were you recording the session on audio or video, or were you typing notes on your computer during the interview?

The interviews are quite varied in approach. In Ghana, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with former President John Kufuor at his home in Accra, and we talked a little about tribal land rights (photo attached). I was an intern at the time, working for free, and I was in for a big surprise when I arrived at the office that morning and was told to go see the former president. I have to admit I was somewhat star-struck and didn’t take any notes as it was a little distracting with 20 Zongo chiefs dressed in tribal garb with golden staffs all gathered around, but I remembered everything and later wrote it all down as soon as I got back to the office and wrote the article.

Usually, though, I bring along my digital tape recorder, especially in Latin America. Although I’m quite fluent in Spanish, I still have difficulties with some dialects.

How much of your time do you spend at the computer keyboard these days?

It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m in front of the computer probably about 8 hours a day. On weekends I like to completely unplug when I can, and I love hiking in the Colombian Andes while hunting for wild mushrooms.

You’re currently based in Colombia, and you write in both Spanish and English. Do you use a standard QWERTY keyboard for both languages?

I use a standard QWERTY on my little notebook-tablet hybrid. When I have to use Spanish accent marks and tildes, I either copy/paste or use quick keys. I just can’t get into the flow of writing with a Latin keyboard; the backspace key has seen a lot of horrors and abuse.

Back in the days of print-only media, there was a fairly clear line between “news” publications and “social or entertainment” publications. With everything being posted on line these days and shared on social media sites like Facebook, do you think that journalists need to try to make news articles more “like”-able?

If journalists want to get both paid and have a far-reaching audience, then making news articles more “like”-able is essential. If you’re writing just a personal blog for things that interest you and maybe a handful of other people in the world, then owning that small niche can be advantageous as well – people will look to you as an expert or thought leader.

The thing about sharing on social media, and SEO in general, is you have to play by “their” rules. Knowing what keywords Facebook algorithms will pick up or catering to what is trending can drive a lot more traffic to your page. The downside is that you have to gather quite the following before you are popular enough to start breaking some of these rules to produce truly original content.

Being “like”-able sometimes means compromise and catering to what is more popular and not necessarily what is more important. When I wrote for the online news site Colombia Reports, my articles on FARC guerrilla activities would get some traction, but if I wrote a quick article about Shakira or Sofia Vergara, it would immediately spread like a virus while bringing more readers to the site. Hopefully they read about the Peace Process as well, but who knows?

If you could interview three people, who would they be? (You can pick one person who’s not alive today.

I would love to interview mycologist Paul Stamets, his work on using fungi to cure cancer, clean-up toxic waste, and save the bees is something that I truly admire with the utmost respect.

Another one would be Henry Kissinger. There are few people in this world with as much influence or a more clear personification of pure malice and evil, without empathy or regards to human dignity, save perhaps one of the Rothschilds. I probably wouldn’t live to tell about afterwards, though.

As a younger, less-sober man, I would have killed for an interview with Hunter S. Thompson, but as I get older I’m finding that indigenous spiritual leaders and shamans have a wealth of knowledge to offer, so for the dearly departed, I would like to pick Abd’el Hakim Awyan’s brain for his astonishing insights towards the understanding ancient Khemitian (Egyptian) wisdom and cosmology.


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Ergonomic Keyboard Types Every Keyboarding School Should Know About





Ergonomic keyboards are a must for students and professionals, or anyone who spends a lot of hours touch typing.

An ergonomically designed keyboard takes into account natural hand and finger position to optimize comfort and reduce health issues related to repetitive keyboarding to a minimum. That’s why every keyboarding school or class should offer ergonomic keyboards: so that students can improve their touch typing skills without putting their wrists and fingers at risk.

Split Keyboards

Split keyboards and the more recent adjustable split keyboards can be split apart in the middle so that each hand rests more naturally on its natural curves.

The split keyboard lets you do two things. First, you can adjust the distance between the two halved keyboards and adjust the key angle from flat to up to 30 degrees. This position is far more comfortable for your wrists which are naturally facing each other.

This 15 to 30 degree “tent” your split keyboard assumes means your wrists and arms can be in a natural line, minimizing the uncomfortable experience associated with most flat and integrated keyboards in laptops.

This is what’s called keyboard tenting and it’s about finding the sweet spot for your wrists. As a result, your touch typing will be faster and with less typos and your wrists will be at maximum comfort. For many people split keyboards also translate into many hours of pain-free touch typing. Some split keyboards with adjustable design allow anywhere from 9 to 20 inches distance between the two halves, too.

While there are several fixed split keyboards, we recommend adjustable ones with independent pieces since these allow you to get used to the new hand position incrementally.

Contoured Keyboards

contoured

Kinesis Advantage Keyboard

The science behind this type of ergonomic keyboard is that their design is based on the body’s anatomy. They aim to make touch typing as comfortable as possible by offering a layout that feels more natural to your arms and wrists as possible.

They’re called “contoured” because they’re take up the shape delineated by the anatomy of your fingers and wrists.

How to spot a good ergonomic keyboard

There are several features that will help you decide if a keyboard is ergonomic, and more importantly if it’s suitable for your needs.

1) Well-designed wrist pad with sturdy yet soft support for your palms that can be adjusted further for optimum comfort.

2) Tactile and silent keys are another feature. These keyboards require very little keystroke power alleviating most of the stress associated with touch typing on cumbersome previous-generation keyboards.

3) Price matters. Ergonomic keyboards, especially state-of-the-art ones that look like they’ve jumped out of a sci-fi movie, tend to be on the pricey side. However, keep in mind they contribute to your personal comfort and health.

With every ergonomic keyboard there’s usually a learning curve to go through, so keep this in mind when introducing a new ergonomic keyboard to your class or school. It will take some time before students feel comfortable with the new layout. With consistent practice, students will be able to resume their touch typing efficiency in a matter of days.

Which Is The Strongest: App or Web Tools?





When you’re using technology for work, pleasure, and communication, do you prefer using apps or web tools? A new infographic by Edudemic shows that apps win by a wide margin for many people. Let’s have a look at the numbers.

If you combine the apps on the Google Store and Apple store then you get over 2 million apps. This is a mind-blowingly gigantic number, especially considering how recent a phenomenon mobile apps truly are.

More than 50 million apps have been downloaded through the Apple store. Google’s apps come second with about 48 million apps being downloaded so far. It is also estimated that out of all these app downloads only 75% of them are actually used. Some are not used even once after they’re downloaded.

Estimates suggest that by the year 2017 there will be more than 4.4 billion users of mobile applications. So where does that leave web tools usage?

When it comes to Ed tech, students and their educators seem to opt for a combination of the two. Web tools offer more feature-rich content, enhanced capabilities, and the advantage of being more reliable. On the other hand, mobile apps provide variety and easy access, and they tend to be, well, mobile.

As many major web tools, platforms, services, and communication tools already have corresponding mobile apps, it is becoming evident that the future belongs to the app world. Apps are irresistible, handy, powerful tools. By contrast, people often find that web tools are more burdensome and inflexible.

Given that popular services like Google Maps, Pandora, YouTube, and a wide range of games dominate both the Apple and Google stores’ top downloads, it comes as no surprise that web tools will slowly morph into apps and our access to Internet tools and resources will eventually be primarily app-based.

Care to weigh in? Tell us which you prefer – web tools or apps?

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Typing Software: Enough To Teach Kids Keyboarding Skills?





Typing software and apps are super smart these days – and super fun. For example, who wouldn’t like to learn how to touch type while having fun playing a game with friends? I know I would!

Typing software teaches you how to touch type correctly so that you can gradually improve your typing speed. Before you know it, you can touch type without looking constantly at your keyboard, and without wasting so much time fixing typos.

So much is done on line these days, starting in grade school, that children need this skill even earlier in life than ever. Today’s schools now put the emphasis on teaching children how to touch type with the correct technique and appropriate speed.

As more and more people take on careers and jobs that include touch typing in one form or the other, it is more urgent than ever that students learn from the best, and today’s software and apps are very good. But are they good enough?

The Role of Technology

At first, it was thought that touch typing software would soon replace teachers, or that students would learn on their own how to touch type. But typing software and apps were never meant to replace teachers. Instead, the best of them are designed to make a teacher’s life easier and a student’s learning more efficient.

It turns out that the best teaching method is a combination of human instruction and intelligent technology. Combining the two gives children everything they need: the necessary encouragement and overseeing of a human being and the efficiency and structure of a touch typing program or cloud app.

Touch typing is 99.9% technique and 0.01% speed training. If you get the principles of touch typing right, speed will come naturally the more you practice.

When should children start learning keyboarding?

Millennials learned how to touch type in their high school computer science classes, or sometimes in a business-related class after they graduate, or perhaps at college later.

Today, with computers and other technologies introduced in the classroom in the first and second grade, it’s no surprise that students need to learn early on how to use these technologies. What we need to do is make sure we help them implement the right keyboarding techniques.

Getting children to improve their cognitive automaticity means that handwriting is no longer an impediment to how fast they can think. The faster children type the more they can think, in a sense. But that’s not all. Getting children to improve their motor skills early on is no longer an extra, optional skill for students. It’s a precondition for creating tomorrow’s efficient, talented workforce.

The moment students no longer have to think where each finger goes or which key is reserved for which hand, their intellect is freed from this cognitive burden. Their brains are able to think, experiment and learn ever more quickly.

Bringing teachers and technology together

Good typing programs are intuitive and user-friendly. They’re also equipped with essential features that make student monitoring and progress optimization easier than ever. The teacher can save the time they used to spend creating typing exercises, and instead focus on helping students to learn at their own pace, while the typing software automatically reports on every student’s progress, and provides challenges and opportunities for learning further.

Something that would take a lot of resources, money, time and effort before – teaching kids keyboarding skills – can now be done efficiently with a bit of help from touch typing programs.

Marianne Vanderkolk of Design Your Homeschool Talks About Technology and Homeschooling In This Exclusive Interview





Marianne Vanderkolk


The decision about whether to homeschool can be a difficult one for many parents, as Marianne Vanderkolk knows. At her website www.design-your-homeschool.com, she shares her experience and her knowledge, and has created a resource for current and future homeschooling parents.

As a homeschooling parent, you had to invest in educational tools yourself, from simple things like pencils and paper to larger items such as computers and printers. How did you fit this into the family budget?

We were aware, as all parents are, that educating our children will cost money. However, since we were not paying for school fees, we were able to channel those funds directly into learning resources in our home. We always set aside money for those expenses and the beauty of homeschooling was that whatever books or materials including programs, computers and printers – they would be beneficial to our whole family.

Is it important to keep up with changes in educational technology if you’re following a homeschool curriculum?

I am sure that children can be educated easily with excellent books, pen and paper. However, I love the opportunity that technology has opened for our children. There are so many wonderful online programs, courses, webinars, podcasts and instructional materials out there. In fact, it becomes a challenge to work out what you might choose as the options are amazing for online learning and more wonderful tools are being developed all the time!

In public schools, many students are required to use computers in the classroom by the time they’re 12 years old, and many schools are adding keyboarding classes to their requirements. How did you teach your children to type?

I think touch typing is an important skill for children to learn and we used typing courses which were interactive and fun to do as they taught skills in accuracy, speed and correct placement. I believe Typsey is a wonderful tool that many homeschooling families would love to use.  Each child can work through the courses, video lessons to become excellent typists and increase their own skill level on the computer. Personally what I think is amazing that you can import documents or use webpages as materials to build your own typing skills. Homeschooling families recognize the benefits of dictation and modeling great literature, so this is an excellent way to combine literature with improving touch typing skills. It is a fantastic  individualized program for the whole family!

Every family is different, and therefore so is every course of study. One great resource of your site is a set of tools that help parents design the curriculum that works for their children. Can you talk more about how this works?

My site has been developed as a guide for families to use. Since each family is unique, my aim is to help families work out their own goals in home educating their children, view their children as individuals with different talents and gifts and then work out materials that may suit them and their own particular home environment.  My hope is that my site will give families the courage to create their own style and enjoy the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling gives.  It takes courage to step out and be different and parents also need to be reminded of what John Holt says, “children learn from anything and everything they see.”  

I hope parents are encouraged to share the wonderful journey of home education, teaching, walking beside, cheerleading and enabling their children to become self-directed learners.

You live in Australia, which may have different regulations about education that homeschooling parents have to follow. What is your advice for parents who need to find out what rules apply where they live?

As each state varies in requirements, it is important that those who are looking to register their child for home education should contact the correct body in their own state.


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