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How To Teach Your Kids To Care About Other People – Caroline Bologna

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As deep-seated divisions, vitriol and disturbing news fill headlines, many people are wondering what happened to the qualities of empathy and kindness in our society.

In the same vein, many parents are wondering how to raise kids who will be a force for love and goodness in the face of bitterness and hate.

HuffPost spoke to psychologists, parents and other experts about how to instill empathy in children.

Talk About Feelings

“The gateway to empathy is emotional literacy,” said Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and the author of numerous parenting books, including UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World.

A simple way to foster emotional literacy is by promoting face-to-face communication in the age of texting and smartphones. “Digital-driven kids aren’t necessarily learning emotions when they pick emojis,” Borba said. “Make it a rule in your house to always look at the color of the talker’s eyes because it will help your child tune in to the other person.”

Another key aspect is teaching kids to identify their own emotions early on. “Use emotional language with kids. Say things like, ‘I see you’re really frustrated,’ or, ‘I see you’re really mad,’” Laura Dell, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati’s School of Education, told HuffPost.

“Before children can identify and empathize with other people’s feelings, they need to understand how to process their own feelings,” she continued. “Once they can identify their own emotion, they’re better able to develop those self-regulation skills to control their own emotions ― and then take the next step to understand the emotions of others.”

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Ravi Rao, a pediatric neurosurgeon turned children’s show host, believes parents should teach feelings as much as they teach things like colors and numbers.

“You’ll see parents walking through the park and taking every opportunity to ask, ‘What color is that man’s jacket?’ ‘What color is the bus?’ ‘How many trees are there?’” he explained. “You can also practice emotion by saying things like, ‘Do you see the woman over there? Does she look happy or does she look sad?’”

Rao also recommends playing a “guess what I’m feeling” game at home by making happy or sad faces and asking your children to identify the emotion. “You just get their brains in the habit of noticing the signals on other people’s faces.”

Once kids have a better sense of emotions and how things make them feel, you can ask them about the emotional perspectives of others. “You can ask things like, ‘How do you think it made Tommy feel when you took his toy?’ or, ‘That made Mommy really sad when you hit me,’” said Borba.

Use Media To Your Advantage

Watching TV or reading books together presents another great opportunity to cultivate empathy, according to Madeleine Sherak, a former educator and the author of Superheroes Cluba children’s book about the value of kindness.

“Discuss instances when characters are being kind and empathetic, and similarly, discuss instances when characters are being hurtful and mean,” she suggested. “Discuss how the characters are probably feeling and possible scenarios of how the situations may have been handled differently so as to ensure that all characters are treated kindly.”

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Borba recommends engaging in emotionally charged films and literature like The Wednesday Surprise, Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Set An Example

Parents need to walk the walk and model empathy themselves, noted Rao.

“Kids will pick up on more things than just what you say. You can say, ‘Pay attention to other people’s feelings,’ but if the child doesn’t perceive or witness you paying attention to people’s feelings, it doesn’t necessarily work,” he explained.

Rao emphasized the importance of parents using language to convey their own emotional states by saying things like, “Today, I’m really frustrated,” or, “Today, I’m really disappointed.” They can practice empathy when role-playing with dolls or action figures or other games with kids as well.

It’s also necessary for parents to recognize and respect their children’s emotions, according to Dell.

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For kids to show empathy to us and others, we need to show empathy to them,” she explained. “Of course it’s tough as a parent trying to get multiple kids to put on their clothes and shoes and get out the door to go to school in the morning. But sometimes it makes a difference to take that pause and say, ‘I see it’s making you really sad that we can’t finish watching ‘Curious George’ this morning, but if we finished it, we wouldn’t be able to make it to school on time, and it’s really important to get to school on time.’”

“It doesn’t mean you have to give in to their wants all the time, but to recognize you understand how they feel in a situation,” she added.

Acknowledge Children’s Acts Of Kindness

“Parents are always praising children for what grades they got or how they did on a test. You can also boost their empathy by letting them know it matters to develop a caring mindset,” said Borba, noting that when children do things that are kind and caring, parents can stop for a moment to acknowledge that.

“Say, ‘Oh, that was so kind when you stopped to help that little boy. Did you see how happy it made him?’” explained Borba. “So your child realizes that caring matters, because you’re talking about it. They then begin to see themselves as caring people and their behavior will match it.”

Expose Them To Differences

“Parents have to help their children grow up and thrive in a diverse society through education about and exposure to others who are different, whether culturally, ethnically, religiously, in physical appearance and ability or disability,” Sherak said.

There are many ways to expose your children to the diversity of the world ― like reading books, watching certain movies and TV shows, eating at restaurants with different cuisines, visiting museums, volunteering in your community, and attending events hosted by various religious or ethnic groups.

“It is also important to follow up such visits and activities with open discussions and additional questions and concerns, if any,” said Sherak. “It is also valuable to discuss differences in the context of our children’s own environments and experiences in the family, at school, in their neighborhoods, and in the larger community.”

Parents can urge local schools to promote cross-cultural awareness in their curricula as well, said Rao.

“We also just have to eliminate jokes about race and culture from our homes,” he added. “Maybe back in the day making jokes about race like Archie Bunker seemed acceptable and part of what the family did when they got together on holidays. But that actually undermines empathy if the first thought a child learns about a race or group of people is something derogatory learned from humor. It can be very hard to then overcome that with other positive messages.”

Own Up To Your Mistakes

“If you make a mistake and behave rudely toward someone who messes up at a store checkout, for example, I think you should acknowledge that mistake to kids,” said Dell. After the bad moment, parents can say something like, “Wow I bet she had a lot on her hands. There were a lot of people at the store right then. I should’ve been a little kinder.”

Acknowledging and talking about your own lapses in empathy when your kids are there to witness them makes an impression. “Your child is right there watching, seeing everything,” Dell explained. “Own up to moments you could’ve made better choices to be kinder to the people around you.”

Make Kindness A Family Activity

Families can prioritize kindness with small routines like taking time at dinner every night to ask everyone to share two kind things they did, or writing down simple ways to be caring that they can all discuss together, said Borba. Playing board games is another way to learn to get along with everybody.

Borba also recommended volunteering together as a family or finding ways that your children enjoy giving back.

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If your kid is a sports guru, then helping him do arts and crafts with a less privileged kid might not be the best match, but you can find other opportunities for face-to-face giving that match their interests,” she explained. “Help them realize the life of giving is better than the life of getting.”

Families might also consider writing down their own mission statements, suggested Thomas Lickona, a developmental psychologist and author of How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain.

“[It’s] a set of ‘we’ statements that express the values and virtues you commit to live by ― for example, ‘We show kindness through kind words and kind actions’; ‘We say we’re sorry when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings’; ‘We forgive and make up when we’ve had a fight,’” he explained.

Lickona also recommended holding everyone accountable to the family values at weekly family meetings centered around questions like, “How did we use kind words this week?” and, “What would help us not say unkind things even if we’re upset with somebody?”

“When kids slip into speaking unkindly ― as nearly all sometimes will ― gently ask for a ‘redo,’” he said. “‘What would be a kinder way to say that to your sister?’ Make it clear that you’re asking for a redo not to embarrass them, but to give them a chance to show that they know better. Then thank them for doing so.”

Another piece of advice from Lickona: Just look around.

“Even in today’s abrasive, angry, and often violent culture, there are acts of kindness all around us. We should point these out to our children,” he said. “We should explain how kind words and kind deeds, however small ― holding the door for someone, or saying ‘thank you’ to a person who does us a service ― make a big impact on the quality of our shared lives.”

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How a Few Pages Can Make or Break Your Website – Jeff Baker

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A prospect unequivocally disagreed with a recommendation I made recently. I told him a few pages of content could make a significant impact on his site. Even when presented with hard numbers backing up my assertions, he still balked. My ego started gnawing: would a painter tell a mathematician how to do trigonometry?

Unlike art, content marketing and SEO aren’t subjective. The quality of the words you write can be quantified, and they can generate a return for your business.

Most of your content won’t do anything

In order to have this conversation, we really need to deal with this fact.

Most content created lives deep on page 7 of Google, ranking for an obscure keyword completely unrelated to your brand. A lack of scientific (objective math) process is to blame. But more on that later.

Case in point: Brafton used to employ a volume play with regard to content strategy. Volume = keyword rankings. It was spray-and-pray, and it worked.

Looking back on current performance for old articles, we find that the top 100 pages of our site (1.2% of all indexed pages) drive 68% of all organic traffic.

Further, 94.5% of all indexed pages drive five clicks or less from search every three months.

So what gives?

Here’s what has changed: easy content is a thing of the past. Writing content and “using keywords” is a plan destined for a lonely death on page 7 of the search results. The process for creating content needs to be rigorous and heavily supported by data. It needs to start with keyword research.

1. Keyword research:

Select content topics from keywords that are regularly being searched. Search volume implies interest, which guarantees what you are writing about is of interest to your target audience. The keywords you choose also need to be reasonable. Using organic difficulty metrics from Moz or SEMrush will help you determine if you stand a realistic chance of ranking somewhere meaningful.

2. SEO content writing:

Your goal is to get the page you’re writing to rank for the keyword you’re targeting. The days of using a keyword in blog posts and linking to a product landing page are over. One page, one keyword. Therefore, if you want your page to rank for the chosen keyword, that page must be the very best piece of content on the web for that keyword. It needs to be in-depth, covering a wide swath of related topics.

How to project results

Build out your initial list of keyword targets. Filter the list down to the keywords with the optimal combination of search volume, organic difficulty, SERP crowding, and searcher intent. You can use this template as a guide — just make a copy and you’re set.

Get the keyword target template

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to top contenders, tally up the total search volume potential — this is the total number of searches that are made on a monthly basis for all your keyword targets. You will not capture this total number of searches. A good rule of thumb is that if you rank, on average, at the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 for all keywords, your estimated CTR will be a maximum of 2%. The mid-bottom of page 1 will be around 4%. The top-to-middle of page 1 will be 6%.

In the instance above, if we were to rank poorly, with a 2% CTR for 20 pages, we would drive an additional 42–89 targeted, commercial-intent visitors per month.

The website in question drives an average of 343 organic visitors per month, via a random assortment of keywords from 7,850 indexed pages in Google. At the very worst, 20 pages, or .3% of all pages, would drive 10.9% of all traffic. At best (if the client followed the steps above to a T), the .3% additional pages would drive 43.7% of all traffic!

Whoa.

That’s .3% of a site’s indexed pages driving an additional 77.6% of traffic every. single. month.

How a few pages can make a difference

Up until now, everything we’ve discussed has been hypothetical keyword potential. Fortunately, we have tested this method with 37 core landing pages on our site (.5% of all indexed pages). The result of deploying the method above was 24 of our targeted keywords ranking on page 1, driving an estimated 716 high-intent visitors per month.

That amounts to .5% of all pages driving 7.7% of all traffic. At an average CPC of $12.05 per keyword, the total cost of paying for these keywords would be $8,628 per month.

Our 37 pages (.5% of all pages), which were a one-time investment, drive 7.7% of all traffic at an estimated value of $103,533 yearly. Can a few pages make or break your website? You bet your butt.

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10 Women Discuss The Crazy Ways They’ve Tried To Lose Weight Fast – Fizzation

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Unless by some genetic miracle you’re able to eat whatever you want and not look a pound over tweenage Victoria’s Secret angel, you’ve probably tried a special diet… or three.

Even if we’ve been down that road before — and back again — there’s something about the promise of seeing results quickly (coupled with the glamour of eating like a waif celebrity) that makes us keep wanting to test it out for ourselves.

We’re a goal-oriented society, after all. Who cares that the process sucks if it’s only temporary?

In the spirit of female solidarity and all the Blueprint cleanses we’ll be back-ordering until the first beach day (and then regretting after the first BBQ), we’ve rounded up our favorite, hilarious and horrific diet stories.

Because we all have at least that one time*…

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of contributors.

1. The Spoon Diet

“In college, right before spring break, my roommate and I decided to go on the Spoon Diet. We were literally allowed to eat anything that we could put on a spoon — soup, parfaits, yogurt, pudding.

“You’d think it would be fun (my preferred utensil is spoon), right? But it was the most miserable two weeks of my life.

“Instead of slowing down to eat, enjoying what I was eating or eating more of the right types of foods, I was literally shoveling parfait after parfait into my mouth as often as possible because I spent most of the day famished and angry at everyone.

“Plus, chugging Natty Lights every night didn’t exactly fall on the Spoon Diet, but it was a liquid so, whatever, okay?”

– Katie, 26.

2. The South Beach Diet

“I just moved to Miami for work and was having trouble making new friends (Miami is cliquey like that). Between that, everyone around me walking around half-naked and having amazing bodies, and I was going through a breakup when I just moved to Miami. I was a prime diet candidate (Did I mention I was dating someone I worked with long distance to only have him break up with me when there was no distance?).

Needless to say, it was a rough time, and I dived deep into working out EVERY DAY.

“My diet of course was the South Beach diet. There are three phases to the South Beach diet: Phase 1 is mostly lean proteins, low-sugar vegetables, and nuts in moderation. No carbs or added sugar whatsoever. Phase 2 adds some grains back in, and Phase 3 shows you how to eat like a normal human being, but I never got this far. I told myself I’d make more of an impact if I stayed in Phase 1 forever.

“This diet was super easy to follow in Miami, as everyone is super healthy, but if I ever left Miami, I’d have to explain my psychotic substitutes when eating out.

“I recall coming back to NY for a work trip with a co-worker/best friend who was also on the South Beach diet. We went for a morning coffee at Starbucks together and both ordered our sad, nonfat cappuccinos. We started to add the cinnamon into our coffee when we saw it appeared unusually shiny.

“Turns out the barista put cinnamon sugar in the cinnamon containers, and we were having a tachycardia in the Starbucks at the thought of consuming sugar in our coffee and were desperately trying to scoop it out. The baristas and customers on line were looking at us like we were crazies.”

– Melissa, 32.

3. The Weekend Diet

“I go on a new cleanse/diet every week, then the weekend comes, and I blackout eat mac and cheese. Every time. All the time. I have no shame.”

– Ashley, 25.

4. The Bee Pollen Diet

“I took bee pollen pills in college before going on spring break. They were amazing, and I lost 10 lbs, so I eventually started taking an extra pill… then I started blacking out randomly midday and having vertigo, and my mom found my pill bottle and the fact that it was made in China and made me swear to stop so I did.

– Karen, 26.

5. The Mono Diet

“It’s definitely not a fad, but anyone looking to drop half of his or her body weight in a matter of hours should definitely acquire mononucleosis.

“When I got mono in 11th grade I dropped three pants sizes. It’s really effective, and it doesn’t cost any money. All you have to do is make out with a bunch of people.”

– Sam, 27.

6. The Dukan Diet

“One year after moving back home to NYC I gained like, 20 pounds. I turned to the Dukan diet, which was created by this French doctor, and supposedly, Kate Middleton had followed it. Between my love of France and Kate Middleton, I figured why not give it a try?

“This diet has multiple phases, which have fun names like “Attack” and “Cruise” phase. The Attack phase had you eating lots of lean protein and 1.5 tablespoons of oat bran a day. I’d have the oat bran in fat-free Greek yogurt with as much cinnamon to make the yogurt palatable. My coworkers were really grossed out with the amount of Greek yogurt that I was consuming.

“I definitely lost weight and looked great, but with summer approaching and all this amazing tasty fruit around like strawberries and watermelon, I had to forget about the diet. Another after effect of Dukan was that I couldn’t look at yogurt for at least an entire year afterwards.”

– Dana, 24.

7. The Gummy Diet

“One time I tried taking these gummy diet supplements. I thought they were too innocent and cute-looking to ever cause me any harm. You were supposed to take two shortly before each meal, but they just made me feel jittery and on edge.

“I’m not sure if they worked because after almost a week on this gummy bear binge, I decided I felt too weird and stopped taking them cold turkey. The next day I woke up at 3 am and vomited about once every half hour for the rest of the day.

“‘First they’re sour, then they are sweet’ is just a myth; those things are straight evil.”

– Caroline, 23.

8. The Homemade Juice Cleanse

“About three summers ago (before it was cool, OBVI), I read about juice cleansing and tried to do one.

“I didn’t have a juicer, and I just used my mom’s old blender. The kale and spinach never ground up quite right, so I ended up half drinking/half chewing nasty green mush for a week.

“I did lose weight, but that could have been because my juices were so disgusting I didn’t touch them.”

– Emma, 23.

9. The No-Diet Diet

“Dieting… it’s really not a part of my vocabulary. I try to do the whole gluten-free thing for health purposes. Back in high school, I tried taking garcinia cambogia, but that stuff made me feel strung out.”

– Natalie, 31.

10. The Organic Juice Cleanse

“I had done the occasional Blueprint cleanse and thought it tasted great. It didn’t bother me that the first day my mind would crash, and I couldn’t process simple decision-making. By the time the three days were over, I’d feel great and get so many compliments on how glowing my skin looked that it didn’t matter.

“When I was about to purchase another juice cleanse, I bumped into my uber-holistic, healthy sun salutation friend. We were chatting, and she insisted that I try Organic Avenue instead of Blueprint because it was way better.

“I took her advice and got the juices for the following day.

“Organic Ave is just plain gross. I don’t mind green juices — provided that they have LOTS of apple or some sort of fruit. Their juices tasted like straight-up vegetable, baby food puree. I told myself to hang in there.

“Second day comes along, and I had SoulCycle planned with String at 6:30pm. He’s notorious for flipping out if anyone is “not on point” or riding “janky.” I had taken his class for a couple months and was finally in a good place.

“This second day on the juice cleanse, however, was a different story. Midway through the class, the dumb candles they had lit were moving, and the room started to spin.

“He kept calling me out for not being on point. I could barely function. No idea how I got through that class.

“The next day, when I had the shakes around midday, I threw in the towel and got a chicken wrap across the street. Last time I juice cleansed.

“When I started to eat carbs again I realized I was such a nasty person before carbs. Carbs make me happy.”

– Erica, 28.

If everyone who read the articles and like it, that would be favorable to have your donations – Thank you.

7 Benefits Of Publishing eLearning Articles – Christopher Pappas

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Why To Publish New eLearning Articles

eLearning content curation gives you the ability to stretch your budget and improve knowledge retention. However, there won’t be anyone to enjoy all that carefully chosen and well-organized information if you don’t market your product or service online. But how do you build credibility and brand awareness with limited resources?

Publishing new eLearning articles can help you spread the word about your eLearning products and services for a fraction of the cost. Someone else may even curate your eLearning articles, guides, and videos for their eLearning course, which further enhances your market reach, as they’ll need to give credit where credit is due. That’s just the tip of the eLearning content publishing perk iceberg though. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider publishing new eLearning articles.

1. Build Learner Loyalty

Publishing new eLearning articles gives you the power to maximize your online exposure and raise brand awareness. Potential online learners get to know your eLearning organization and what it has to offer, thanks to knowledgeable tips, insights, and advice that you feature in your eLearning articles.

Your current online learners also more likely to be interested in additional eLearning courses, given that the eLearning articles keeps your brand fresh in their mind and emphasizes that your company cares about their ongoing development. For example, your latest tip sheet helps them achieve a goal or solve a common challenge.

2. Establish Yourself As An Industry Expert

Your eLearning article published on eLearning Industry also features the URL to your Top eLearning authoring profile, which gives readers the opportunity to learn more about your background, expertise, and organization. High quality eLearning articles speaks volumes about your professionalism and knowledge base.

As such, you can establish yourself as an industry expert in your niche. For instance, you post a carefully crafted how-to article that walks readers through the process of setting realistic goals. This not only promotes your upcoming negotiation skills online course or webinar but shows off your unique expertise.

3. Improve SEO

Every eLearning article you post should feature keywords or phrases that bring more traffic to your page and increase your rankings. You’re also able to include links that drive more visitors to your site or landing page.

Thus, you improve your SEO and conversion rates. The key is to choose the right keywords and use them sparingly to avoid overstuffing. It’s also wise to incorporate them into your title to gain more exposure.

4. Expand Υour Online Presence

The online world is saturated with content marketing articles. However, by publishing through eLearning Industry you have the opportunity to reach a broader market. Not only does your eLearning article have the potential to be read by over 600,000 eLearning professionals, but it’s also published to all eLearning Industry’s social media networks so that you expand your online reach rapidly.

5. Offer Your Niche Audience Value-Added eLearning Content

Publishing articles allows you not only to promote your eLearning organization, but also to give readers information to help them improve their lives. For example, tips on how to create more meaningful eLearning experiences for their employees. This value-added eLearning content is geared toward your niche audience, as it gives them the insights they need to improve ROI and develop more effective online training programs.

It also enables you to promote your eLearning products or services that might benefit them and their bottom line. People who visit eLearning Industry are already interested in what you have to offer. Therefore, you’re able to attract your target audience and improve conversion rates.

6. Reduce Your Marketing Spending

Promoting your online course or eLearning services can be a tricky task, especially when you’re working with limited resources. Fortunately, posting new content allows you to reduce your marketing spending while achieving the desired results. There’s no need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on traditional marketing techniques.

Content marketing is the gift that keeps on giving, as it remains online for years to come. You can further maximize your marketing potential and stretch your budget by launching a PPC ad campaign, or register your company to be featured in a popular online directory.

7. View Detailed Analytics To Improve Your Promotional Strategy

Another way that posting new eLearning articles can help you stretch your budget and allocate resources more effectively is that it comes with detailed analytics. You can view how many online learners access your eLearning course, how may visitors read your eLearning article, what online training sources give you the most traffic, and reader demographics. This allows you to adjust your promotional strategy accordingly so that you achieve maximum impact from each post.

While content curation is absolutely fine, it’s also good to give back by publishing your new eLearning content. Want a step-by-step guide on How to Publish an eLearning Article on eLearning Industry? Publish your article today to reap all the benefits and become a Top eLearning Author.

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5 Changes Shaping The Future Of Learning Technology – Steve Lowenthal

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What Changes Are Shaping The Future Of Learning Technology

A perfect storm of disruptors is leading us all into uncharted territory. Given this uncertainty, it’s not surprising that Ambient research [1] has forecast negative 14% growth for the US LMS market over the next 5 years.

The LMS Is DEAD Or Is It?

But don’t panic, it’s not that we’re heading back to the dark ages of Excel spreadsheets and manila folders. Rather, we’re entering an era of integrated best-of-breed technologies that in the best case will work together seamlessly to deliver personalized, just-in-time learning experiences.

If you aren’t already in the process, check the following 5 changes that will help you prepare for the future:

1. Compatibility With New Learning Technology

Over the past 5 years, new learning technology products are entering the market at a record pace. This includes social tools like Yammer, AR/VR solutions, gamification platforms, and more. These products are often “self-contained solutions” that control how the user experiences them, what data is collected, and how new experiences are created.

The positive is that we now have an expanded toolset to create the best learning experience based on the content, audience, and goals. The downside is that, in the worst-case scenario, learners are logging into multiple systems, learning paths are disjointed and cumbersome, and data is spread across multiple systems. The future organization needs a guide that supports the ability to combine these disparate technologies into a unified learning experience.

2. Data Is The New Currency Of L&D

The L&D market is quickly approaching a tipping point around data analysis. We’re moving from tracking consumption—e.g. how many people finished a course—to business intelligence or BI. BI refers to technologies, applications, and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to support better business decision making.

BI requires data that matters—data from an LMS, from work systems—e.g. a CRM, from social apps and from all of the new learning technologies mentioned above. The future organization needs the capability to integrate and analyze data from multiple systems and sources.

3. User Experience Is King

Content is king used to be a commonly heard phrase in our industry, but today User Experience has muscled its way to the top of the list. LMS is too often an inhibitor to the great User Experience. Historically, LMS was designed as an aggregator of learning resources with the main purpose being to gatekeep, assign, and track learning.

This outdated perspective too often is at odds with providing great experiences and outcomes. The future learning organization needs to create great User Experience—this means easy-to-use, available at the point of need, and connected to other resources and people.

4. Amazon And Google Have Changed Expectations

If I have a question, I google it and expect to get the best possible matches to my query. And that simple experience has changed expectations for every one of us. At the same time, we, as learning professionals, have matured in our thinking too.

We’ve moved from thinking of learning resources as a closed loop system—if we haven’t built or vetted it we don’t want you to see it—to a realization that there’s great content available from many sources. The future learning organization needs tools that facilitate the finding and sharing resources as well as social features for users to highlight the gems and call out the lemons.

5. Make It Personal

The final change driver is personalization. Making learning personal has 3 significant benefits:

  1. It reduces the time it takes to complete training and in turn that reduces the opportunity cost of spending time on unneeded learning.
  2. It increases the impact—spending the most time on the most important things that I have the largest knowledge gap produces a better result.
  3. Finally, it makes our learner happy by respecting their time.

Check out the Personalized Learning, by Filtered (full disclosure: they are a Kineo partner and have received investment from our parent company City & Guilds) to better understand the benefits of personalization and the AI that fuels it.

The future learning organization needs tools to help employees find the most relevant and impactful learning and to avoid unnecessary time spent learning what I already know.

As an industry, we’re at the precipice of a dramatic change. Best-in-class learning organizations will be more efficient, focus on things that have the greatest impact, and have more of their activity and investment be informed by data. Who’s ready to get started?

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A Sneaky Theory of Where Language Came From – Ben James

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I’m sitting in the sun on one of the first mild days of the spring, talking with a modern-day flintknapper about the origins of human language. His name is Neill Bovaird, and he’s neither an archaeologist nor a linguist, just a 38-year-old bearded guy with a smartphone in his pocket who uses Stone Age technology to produce Stone Age tools. Bovaird has been flintknapping for a couple decades, and as we talk, the gok gok gok of him striking a smaller rock against a larger one punctuates our conversation. Every now and then the gokking stops: A new flake, sharper than a razor blade, breaks off in his palm.

I’ve come to see Bovaird, who teaches wilderness-survival skills in western Massachusetts, because I want to better understand the latest theories on the emergence of language—particularly a new body of research arguing that if not for our hominin ancestors’ hard-earned ability to produce complex tools, language as we know it might not have evolved at all. The research is occurring at the cutting-edge intersections of evolutionary biology, experimental archaeology, neuroscience, and linguistics, but much of it is driven by a very old question: Where did language come from?

Oren Kolodny, a biologist at Stanford University, puts the question in more scientific terms: “What kind of evolutionary pressures could have given rise to this really weird and surprising phenomenon that is so critical to the essence of being human?” And he has proposed a provocative answer. In a recent paper in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Kolodny argues that early humans—while teaching their kin how to make complex tools—hijacked the capacity for language from themselves.

To understand what Kolodny’s getting at, I ask Bovaird to walk me through the history of Stone Age technologies. He starts by smashing an irregular, grapefruit-size stone between two larger rocks. He picks through the resulting fragments, looking for a shard with an excellent cutting edge. This is simple Oldowan technology, he tells me—the first stone tools, used by our hominin ancestors as far back as 2.5 million years ago.

Next, he flashes forward a million years to the technological revolutions of Homo ergaster. No longer did toolmakers simply knock stones together to see what they got; now they aimed for symmetry. Bovaird holds up his work in progress, a late Acheulean hand ax—the multi-tool of the middle-to-lower Paleolithic, good for cutting meat, digging dirt, smashing bone. The blade of this ax has a zigzag edge, with tiny, alternating flakes removed from each side of the cutting surface. To achieve this level of serration, Bovaird explains, he needs a precise understanding of how the stone works, as well as the ability to plan his work many steps in advance.

Somewhere on the timeline between the long run of the Oldowan and the more rapid rise of Acheulean technologies, language (or what’s often called protolanguage) likely made its first appearance. Oren Kolodny and his co-author, Shimon Edelman, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, say the overlap is not a coincidence. Rather, they theorize, the emergence of language was predicated on our ancestors’ ability to perform sequence-dependent processes, including the production of complex tools.

Kolodny’s arguments build off the groundbreaking experiments of Dietrich Stout, an anthropologist at Emory University. A flintknapper himself, Stout has taught hundreds of students how to make Acheulean-era tools, and he’s tracked their brain activity during the learning process. Stout found that his students’ white matter—or the neural connectivity in their brains—increased as they gained competence in flintknapping. His research suggests that producing complex tools spurred an increase in brain size and other aspects of hominin evolution, including—perhaps—the emergence of language.

 

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But language couldn’t just pop out fully formed, like Athena from the head of Zeus. “Every evolutionary process, including the evolution of language, has to be incremental and composed of small steps, each of which independently needs to be beneficial,” Kolodny explains. Teaching, he says, was a crucial part of the process. When hominins like Homo ergaster and Homo erectus taught their close relatives how to make complex tools, they worked their way into an ever more specialized cultural niche, with evolutionary advantage going to those individuals who were not only adept at making and using complex tools, but who were also able—at the same time—to communicate in more and more sophisticated ways.

Kolodny points out what might seem like a contradiction in this notion: Many species of ape use tools in sequence-dependent ways and also have highly developed levels of communication. But the order in which those apes produce their utterances doesn’t make much difference to their meaning, Kolodny explains. “The question becomes not ‘How did language arise only in humans?but ‘Why did it not arise in other apes as well?’ And the answer is, the qualitative difference between us and other apes is they don’t have the communication system coupled to those temporal sequencing structural capabilities.”

That “coupling” is where the hijacking comes in. The technical term is exaptation, a word coined by the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould to describe an evolutionary event in which a biological function is repurposed for an alternate use. Kolodny and Edelman argue that the neural networks required for complex, hierarchical, sequence-dependent tool production were exapted by our brain’s communicative apparatus, which is why word order and sentence structure make such a difference to meaning. Rudimentary language, which evolved in the context of toolmaking and teaching, was ultimately able to break away from its immediate contexts—this is the hijacking part—eventually employing those original cognitive pathways for its own unique purposes. The result, as Monty Python viewers have appreciated for decades, was our modern, turbo-driven faculty for language.

In order to go along with Kolodny and Edelman’s theory of linguistic hijacking, you have to agree that language-related structures (like syntax) and action-related structures (like the sequential steps to making a tool) are similar enough to be driven by the same neurological mechanisms. But many scientists—including Noam Chomsky, the most influential of all modern linguists—aren’t willing to swallow that pill.

Chomsky has been notably reticent on the subject of language evolution. On numerous occasions, he’s called the question either irrelevant, unsolvable, or both. A surprise came in 2014, when Chomsky, Robert Berwick, and other titans in the field weighed in substantively on the topic of evolution for the first time, arguing in a series of jaw-dropping papers that language basically did show up on the scene like a fully formed Athena, syntax-driven shield in hand. “The language faculty is an extremely recent acquisition in our lineage,” these authors wrote, “and it was acquired not in the context of slow, gradual modification of preexisting systems under natural selection but in a single, rapid, emergent event.”

Berwick, a professor of computational linguistics at MIT and the co-author with Chomsky of Why Only Us: Language and Evolution, sees little merit in the stone-tool-based theories proposed by researchers like Stout and Kolodny. “The Stout business doesn’t work,” Berwick wrote to me in an email. “The experimental findings show that, to the contrary, verbal language DOES NOT FACILITATE toolmaking.” Berwick calls the purported connection between toolmaking and language a useful metaphor, at best.

Chomsky’s position is such a brazen refutation of known evolutionary processes that Kolodny, Stout, and many of their colleagues aren’t sure how to engage with it. Stout claims that Berwick’s refutation of his research misses the mark entirely. Ultimately, Stout tells me, he expects the positions of Berwick, Chomsky and other formalist linguists to find a sort of synthesis with his own views on language, but he doesn’t see agreement occurring anytime soon.

Luckily, the flintknapper Bovaird and I don’t need a synthesis of theories of language evolution in order to sit in the sun and talk. Birds are singing, a woodpecker raps its head against a dead trunk, and Bovaird is “pressure-flaking” a fine, serrated edge on a symmetrical obsidian blade. He’s way past the Acheulean now, demonstrating the refined techniques used by the essentially modern Homo sapiens of the upper Paleolithic. Picking up a rounded tool made of antler—he’ll use it as a hammer—he compares flintknapping to a sophisticated game of chess, in which the order of every move is of supreme importance. It’s an observation that either has everything to do with how language got here, or—if you’re in a Chomskyan frame of mind—has nothing to do with language evolution at all.

“The stone has rules, and you can’t break the rules,” Bovaird says. Then he leans over the blade, flexes his wrist, and strikes.

 

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The Neuroscience of Attention & Why Instructional Designers Should Know About It – Raluca C

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You know all those classic arguments couples have that begin with “I told you but you never listen!”? In truth, the listening part is not the issue, the remembering (or absence of) is the real problem. Paying attention is no easy thing and grabbing and holding someone’s attention is even trickier.

A fairly recent study calculated that the average attention span of a person has dropped from twelve to eight seconds, rendering us below the focusing capabilities of goldfish. Apparently this decrease is due to the fact that Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media.

On the plus side, the report found that people’s ability to multitask has dramatically improved. Researchers concluded that the changes were a result of the brain’s ability to adapt and change itself over time and a weaker attention span is a direct consequence of going mobile.

What instructional designers should know about brain wirings…

For e-learning designers who face the challenge of creating quality modules that facilitate information retention and transfer it’s important to know how the brain works when it comes to attention – this being the first step in any learning process.

When faced with the challenge of processing the huge amounts of information it is being presented with, the brain brings forth several control measures. First it prioritizes the different types of stimuli – it chooses what information to recognize and what to ignore as well as establishing a hierarchy of what item deserves how high a level of concentration.

The brain is also wired to connect any new information to prior knowledge to aid the understanding of a new idea as well as to get a better picture of broader concepts.

Last but not least, the amount of time a person spends focusing on a certain topic is also important – some things can be learned in a few minutes, others take much longer than that and also require some pause.

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Since concentration means effort and that is no favorite of anyone’s, it’s important for difficult information to be presented in an engaging way.

… And about the cortexes involved

What neuroscience tells us is that in order for people to start paying attention, the stimuli need to make the cut. The brain’s capacity to discern between these stimuli is located in two different areas: the prefrontal and parietal cortexes.

The first is located behind the forehead and spanning to the left and right sides of the brain and has to do with conscious concentration. It is an important wheel of the motivational system and helps a person focus attention on a goal. The parietal cortex lies right behind the ear and is activated when we face sudden events requiring some action – it is what kept the human race alive through numerous encounters with those who considered us dinner.

Of course, throwing in a really big threatening dinosaur at the beginning of an e-learning module is not the way to go but it helps to keep in mind that people become focused when action is required of them or when they see how a certain learning experience might help them achieve a personal goal.

How attention relates to memory

Attention is a cognitive process that is closely related to another very important aspect of learning: memory. A certain learning intervention is deemed successful when the participants are able to remember and apply what was taught. Otherwise it can be the best experience ever but with no real knowledge value.

The brain’s permanent goal is to filter the stimulus that is the most immediately relevant and valuable, so it is easiest to pay attention when information is interesting. Take televised documentaries for example. If the presentation, the script, the imagery and the voice-over are all working together, even the life of armadillos who don’t do much over a few months period can seem utterly fascinating.

For effective learning to take place, participants must focus their attention on the learning activity. It is the designer’s job to help them do so by including various elements and levels of interactivity. Simply presenting the information can prove highly counterproductive since typically the mind wanders up to 40% of the times we read something.

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Tips for getting learners’ attention

There are, of course, a lot of great ways to get and keep learner attention. Here are a few examples:

  • Using emotionally charged storytelling – there is nothing as engaging as a good narrative, emotionally spiked at its most important points;
  • Getting the learners involved with the content – interactivity is a must if the goal is to get people on board with learning;
  • Using great visuals – the reason for our decreasing attention is that we are assaulted by imagery; carefully choosing what and how learners see has great barring on their involvement with the program;
  • Linking new concepts with familiar ones – the brain works by making connections between what we already know and what is novelty to us. Designers should facilitate this process by including the best suited comparisons in the content;
  • Keeping it simple – if something is interestingly presented, people will search for more information on their own. Cluttering screens does not help them learn more but prevents them from taking away what is essential.

Bottom line

If the learning material is not engaging, learners will have a hard time paying attention and that will lead to poor results. In order to create interesting material, instructional designers need to be mindful of what neuroscientists have to say about how the human brain works and include meaningful situations and opportunities throughout the modules.

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A Hemits Journey To Existence

A Hermits Journey I do not live alone, I live with myself. This is a position of strength, although it may appear to be an isolated existence. My mental health difficulties can lead to very morbid thoughts, but somehow I manage to walk that path in between life and death. I find there is as […]

via Narrative – Exercise 3.3 – Sequence — Photo Sociology

Play Brain Games to Help Your Child Learn to Read – Judy Willis

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Reading is not a natural process for the human brain.We are born with the brain architecture ready for development of successful verbal communication, but without any blueprint guiding recognition of the printed word. Neuroimaging scans show that multiple brain regions activate during the reading process without any one isolated reading center.

The human brain is a pattern-building and detecting mechanism. Seeking patterns is the brain’s way of making sense of new information and experiences. We identify new things based on their similarities and relationships to things we already know. The development of literacy takes place in the same way all memories are constructed in the brain – by relating the new to the known.

The brain stores our learned information in long-term memory neural circuits based on commonalities or relationships. If a child had never seen a hat of any kind on a person (real or in pictures) and she is given a doll with various items of clothing, she would not know to place the hat on the doll’s head.

Memory patterns of stored related information become stronger the more frequently information they hold is recalled, used, or reviewed in a way that reinforces the relationships among the data in the memory circuit. For memory of letters and words to build, the brain must continue to link new information with related patterns that already exist in memory storage. For reading to become an acquired skill, there must be a gradual buildup of memories where new information is experienced together with related existing knowledge.

This is why children need skills of patterning and pattern recognition to develop literacy. Their patterning skills are what will allow their brains to connect letters with sounds and words with meanings. Helping young children build their patterning skills supports their future ability to recognize and remember the patterns found in letters, words, and sentence structures.

Here are some brain games you can play with your child to help boost his reading ability through recognizing, playing with, and creating patterns:

  1. Draw attention to patterns in art, nature, and daily recurrent occurrences. You can help your child build pattern recognition skills by playing “color detective” as you are out together. Have your child say “red” each time he sees a red car. Then ask him to be on the lookout for another color. You can also play “shape hunt” together, and ask your child to lead you around the house and point to all things that are circle-shaped (or square, etc.).
  2. Ask your child to categorize and sort items. The patterning skills needed for reading are further extended when your child’s brain can associate the unknown with a pattern into which it could fit. This pattern matching is what takes place when the brain predicts (based on existing memory patterns) the sound of an unfamiliar letter or the meaning of an unknown word. To work on this skill with your child, get her to sort objects into obvious categories, such as a collection of pictures or small plastic animals or vehicles, and give names to each group. (Verbalizing the name she selects for a category increases the brain’s awareness of the pattern. Ask your child why she chose the category name or what information she used when sorting items the way she did.) When she is pro?cient with this, she can move on to more subtle items to categorize. For example, make a map of the rooms of the house and place it on a table or the floor, and ask her to bring items specific to each room, and place each item in the appropriate room on the map.
  3. Look for similarities and differences between objects and photos. When your child has mastered large pattern similarities and differences such as red toys and black toys, try engaging in the following activity. While driving in the car or taking a walk together, ask him to point to cars that have four doors and those that have two or houses with flat roofs and pointy roofs. Or if you are at home, find two photographs of your child taken about a year apart and have him tell you about all the details he finds in each of them. Ask him which picture was taken when he was older and how he can tell. This game becomes more complex and expands comparison-and-contrast aspects of pattern recognition when you encourage your child to tell you other similarities and differences he notices: between two cars, houses, leaves, dogs, family photos, or photos of him at different ages.
  4. Play games of “What doesn’t belong?” This will prepare your child to identify how words and letters have shared characteristics that can be used to identify new words by seeking commonalities. Group together three items, like coins, and include one that does not belong, and ask your child to guess which one is not the same as the others. Once she masters this, create increasingly complex groupings where the “different” item is subtler in its differences (pennies with all heads up except one with tail side up). You can then move on to identification of the patterns of sequences. Line up a penny-penny-dime, penny-penny-dime, and penny-penny-dime sequence. Ask your child to choose the next coin that would fit with the pattern you set up. This builds both patterning skills for reading and sequencing skills for number sense, the basis for learning arithmetic.
  5. Try pattern matching. Pattern matching is how children connect specific letters and groups of letters with associated sounds. An example is by seeing the letter “m” and based on past experiences associating that letter with the “mmm” sound, your child is able to retrieve the memory of that sound. This “phonemic awareness” requires the brain to repeatedly experience the sound and letter together. The more frequently children are aware of this relationship between sound and letter, the more easily their brains will retrieve the correct sound to match with the letter in new words – until it becomes automatic. Children who have trouble with written symbols may learn more readily from hearing patterns emphasized in speech. You can help build these memory pathways to recognize patterns by emphasizing repeating letters, words, and sentences with changes in your voice pitch, speed, or volume emphasis as you read together with your child. If the word in the book is “hibernate” you would read and point to the “hi” and “bern” the point to the “ate”. Then have him do the same and find words with the familiar letter combinations.

Learning to read is critical for all academic success, but it is often an intimidating struggle for children. As your children’s patterning partner, you’ll be their guide to the wonderful worlds they can reach through books traveling over the rainbow and deep into the center of the earth. Your guidance will light the way and the books they enjoy when young will ignite their joy as lifelong readers.

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5 Ways To Become a Better Writer Using Android Apps and Tools – Jennifer Lockman

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Technology has definitely changed the art of writing and the means we can use to get our points across. Not so long ago everything involved handwriting (and then typing) a draft, spending hours on revision and proofreading, and eventually submitting a finished text to an editor’s red pen.

Thus, doing this kind of work well still takes skills, talent, and perseverance. Luckily for us due to the evolution of technology, everyone with an Android device or access to the internet can get the help needed to write and polish a paper. Whether you’re writing a college paper or the next Great American Novel, there are multiple apps available to help you with the entire process.

Take noteswriting and technology

If you’re a writer, you need a note-taking app you can rely on. Thus, you can spend more time brainstorming and less time waiting for inspiration to come. Plus, you can jot down your thoughts on the go.

Evernote

Evernote is one of the most downloaded apps on the Android market. Its logo is an elephant not by chance. This animal is known for a good memory. The app is created for the users not to forget anything important. Hence the symbolism. Evernote allows you capturing, organizing, and storing almost any type of digital note with your phone.

FiiNote

FiiNote is one of the hottest note-taking apps right now. It offers Android users a special feature: combined handwriting and keyboard. You can even paint illustrations! Additional features include voice typing, photo and video support, calendar, alarm and a to-do list.

2 Research

We all got writing assignments in school and college. So, you know the importance of deep and careful research in tailoring an excellent academic paper. It’s no less crucial for nonfiction because the story must be believable. In nonfiction, accurate research can make or break a writer.

Wikipedia

The official Wikipedia Android app is designed to help users quickly find and explore information on Wikipedia. You can make a voice-integrated search, create reading lists, see articles related to your GPS location, and more.

Instapaper and Pocket

These apps belong to a “read it later” type. They let you save any stuff you find on the web, from articles to videos, for easy access later. Instapaper and Pocket are similar. So, you’ll have to choose your favorite based on your personal preferences. They both offer a reading mode free of excess ads and images, an offline reading mode, and text-to-speech options.

3 Create content

Typing on your smartphone is not as convenient as on your laptop. But you can’t take your laptop with you everywhere you go. Do writing a great experience with the right software.

iA Writer has an integrated file browser that helps to simply organize and access all your documents. The black screen keeps your eyes from strain. Syntax highlighting shows you all nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs or conjunctions in the document. There’re also such features as auto-correction, word and character count, a preview mode, fast syncing, etc. This app is used for writing essays, screenplays, novels, white papers, business proposals, and other types of documents.

Monospace Writer

The app is equipped with a minimalistic dark theme that is easy on your eyes. It’s important as writing takes a lot of time. Monospace Writer is not as feature rich as iA writer, but it has its fans. You can use hashtags to organize related articles. Formatting options include the most essential styles: bold, italics, quote and bullet. You can export your content to a Markdown or Plain text.

JotterPad

JotterPad is a well-designed writing app with valuable features. The distraction-free interface allows a writer to focus on turning thoughts into text. It supports Markdown and has export options to PDF and DOCX. The app includes a built-in dictionary, extended keyboard, phrase finding, word and character count, and more.

4 Find the right wordswriting and technology

A great vocabulary is an essential tool in a writer’s toolbox. You must empower your writing with the best words and stay with the newest words.

Advanced English Dictionary & Thesaurus

This app has a lexical database with more than 1.4 million words. The dictionary doesn’t follow the standard format. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are gathered into groups of synonyms. The dictionary provides the definition, the examples of usage, synonyms, antonyms, and even hyponyms of the word.

Urban Dictionary

It’s important for a writer to stay in sync with the current language. Update your vocabulary with Urban Dictionary. The app contains words and phrases that are used by young people. You can actually define any word, whether it’s slang or not.

5 Edit and proofread

Polishing your works has never been easier. Android apps are easy-to-use and save time on editing.

Ginger Page

Ginger Page is a powerful productivity-focused app. It automatically detects and corrects all grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. The sentence rephraser will offer you the synonyms to replace boring words. Your writing will sound more exciting.

Spell Checker

You may be good at spelling. But there’s always a possibility of typos in your work. Spell Checker will find all spelling mistakes and offer suggestions from inbuilt dictionary, which is formed from Wikipedia’s most widely used words. You can correct your content without an internet access.

Classic Text to Speech Engine

This app converts a document into a naturally audible voice file. Why should you listen to your work? It allows you to spot errors you’ve made in your writing. You’ll notice missing words and misspelled words. You’ll also be able to hear the rhythm of your speech and polish the flow of the work if necessary.

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