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Friday, September 09, 2016

A coding bootcamp vs a computer science degree | IDG Connect

Kathryn Cave from IDG Connect reports, "As bootcamps gain popularity we look at their value in comparison to a computer science degree."

Photo: IDG Connect

At the beginning of last year I took the train out to rural Bedfordshire to visit a beautiful old water mill which has been converted into an intensive live-in bootcamp for coders. The setting was glorious, it had plenty of industry links and the promise, for attendees, was decent, well-paid employment at the end of it all.

“I don’t think my computer degree got me anywhere,” Dan Garland Founder of We’ve Got Coders explained to me at the time. “After a three year degree I was flailing around. I would have got where I am quicker with [something like this]. And the [university] tuition fees [today] make it unworkable.”

The debate between the merits of degrees vs. hands-on vocational training is not a new one. Yet as each year education becomes more expensive, in the UK at least, and as technological change picks up ever more pace, you can see how it has gained relevance.

Indeed, at the start of August the Wall Street Journal ran a piece entitled “Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies”. This focused on New York’s Flatiron School and looked at how employers are increasingly hiring graduates from non-traditional educational backgrounds.

This trend is the same everywhere. Hired – an online UK recruitment platform for tech roles – recently released research which showed that while developers are a highly educated group with 74% having an undergraduate degree or higher, compared to around 42% of the UK population, the numbers studying for a computer science degree have fallen by about 10,000 since 2002. It suggested this was because of the sheer volume of individuals who opted for bootcamps or self-study rather than formal training.

But are the two really comparable? After all, as Martyn Ruks, Technical Director of MWR InfoSecurity points out: “A computer science degree and a coding bootcamp are clearly very different and depending on what they include will test and communicate different things.”

Richard Rolfe, Co-Founder of National Coding Week adds: “A good university degree in computer science can open up a different world to those who opt for a bootcamp education. But there is an undeniable place for bootcamps especially for entrepreneurs and self-starters, as these courses can really help them to hit the ground running.” 

Jack Wearden, a Developer at invoicing solution DueCourse quantifies: “Coding bootcamps beat Computer Science degrees when it comes to preparing people for day-to-day life in software development jobs.
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Source: IDG Connect 

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INCubatoredu Combines with Mobile Makers Academy to Form Uncharted Learning – A Not-for-Profit Designed to Innovate Highly Experiential Education Programs | Business Wire

"Business entrepreneurship education program INCubatoredu is combining with Mobile Makers Academy in a newly named not-for-profit organization called Uncharted Learning." continues Business Wire.

INCubatoredu co-founder Michael Miles said Uncharted Learning is positioned to advance entrepreneurship education with new and highly experiential programs.

Mobile Makers Academy provides students and teachers with training in mobile app development using Apple's newest coding language, Swift. These modern and highly relevant technical abilities prepare students for today's workforce.

"We are excited to join forces with Mobile Makers Academy and to add their expertise in building student literacy in coding mobile apps," said Miles. "Innovative mobile apps are redefining entrepreneurial businesses with new and powerful tools to address everyday needs. We expect this addition to our portfolio to be wildly popular with administrators and students," Miles added.

Uncharted Learning's K-12 offerings will include INCubatoredu's entrepreneurship programs as well as Mobile Makers' iOS coding programs.

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Check out this Article and Book of the week | Times Higher Education

On when a face veil is and isn’t a problem in lectures.
Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze, professor of law and humanities at Queen Mary University of London. His book Hate Speech and Democratic Citizenship is published by Oxford University Press argues.

Photo: James Fryer
The headlines are screaming again about burkas. In the UK, a candidate for the leadership of the UK Independence Party wants to prohibit face veils in public. Terrorist attacks in Germany have spurred calls for a ban there, too.

In France, seaside towns tried to ban “burkinis” and Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president who is eying another bid for office, wants to crack down on veils in universities.

Politicians’ claims of responding to security threats are scarcely credible. There are a thousand ways to explode a bomb. In none of the major attacks in Europe have the perpetrators worn burkas. Since the French banned face-covering in public places in 2010, attacks have actually increased.

The controversy is not about security but rather symbolism. To many Westerners, veiled women seem off-putting, hostile or alien to our values. Yet all sorts of people in modern public spaces look off-putting, hostile and alien to our values. If those are to be our criteria for imposing bans, the police will be busy indeed.

When the French introduced their ban, the government cited, among other reasons, the importance of reciprocal exposure of faces. That was hardly a knock-down argument. In Paris, as in London, you can navigate oceans of faces without reciprocally interacting with a single one. You’ll scarcely take two seconds to notice the uncovered faces, so why ban the covered ones?

Still, it would be wrong to conclude that face coverings should be admitted in all circumstances. We need something more nuanced than the all-or-nothing approaches. Universities offer examples of where burkas do and do not pose problems.

Many lecture theatres resemble urban centres. Students stomp in and out, noticed neither by their instructor nor by each other. For the lecturer who needs to explain cellular photosynthesis or atomic half-life, it may matter little whether the auditorium seats 30 or 3,000, or whether one is present at all. Students can easily watch a taped lecture months later, thousands of miles away. They can wrap themselves in a dozen veils or can sit at their computers stark naked. The lecturers may not feel that those topics require the study of individual opinions.

But other lecturers may seek models of communication whereby students interact not as individual data absorbers but as fully fledged citizens. Those lecturers must retain the prerogative to insist on facial exposure when they launch discussions on themes illustrative of citizens’ self-government, such as reintroducing the death penalty or legalising hard drugs.
Read more... 

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, by Cathy O’Neil.
Book of the week: If all-seeing ‘miracle’ tech is making the decisions we must demystify the tricks, says Danny Dorling Halford Mackinder professor of geography, University of Oxford, and author of A Better Politics: How Government Can Make Us Happier (2016).

All-knowing deities: ‘Facebook is more like the Wizard of Oz: we do not see the human beings involved’, explains Cathy O’Neil of a modern world ordered by algorithms.
Photo: Alamy

Many years ago I attended an event at a packed lecture theatre at the annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers. A huge audience had gathered to hear a little-known academic speak on the subject “What your credit card record tells them about you”. But the speaker never appeared. Was it a successful stunt to illustrate just how paranoid we all are about what they know about us? Perhaps the speaker had been trying to show the audience just how little social scientists knew about “big data”, long before the phrase had ever been thought of – or perhaps he had just slept in.

Cathy O’Neil, an academic and former hedge-fund quant, or quantitative analysis expert, has a story to tell, and it is a story about you. She draws from that same deep well of fear that helped to draw crowds at the AAG conference: the suspicion that we are all being observed by hidden forces, algorithms we cannot understand, designed by faceless quants who work to maximise the bottom line for their masters. In the past, there was just one all‑seeing god we had to fear. Now we live in a world with multiple all-knowing deities, each a little different, each oblivious to the fate of most individuals, each unbelievably powerful and each potentially malign.

As O’Neil explains of one of the biggest and most ubiquitous of those deities, “Facebook is more like the Wizard of Oz: we do not see the human beings involved.” We can’t see the quants who decide which of our many friends’ posts we view first, and it turns out that the quants play games with our emotions, testing to see how some groups react to being fed, say, more bad news than good. A majority of users (62 per cent, according to the data O’Neil cites) are completely unaware of this.

These are newly emerging gods, and currently most of them are thought of as benign corporations distributing their software for free, presumably to enhance the common good. A majority (73 per cent) of Americans believe that the search results offered up to them by Google are both accurate and impartial. O’Neil asks how anyone could know if the results we see have been skewed to “favour one political outcome over another”. She reports that Google has prohibited researchers from creating scores of fake profiles in order to map the biases of its search engines. But then again – if they had done so, how would Google know?

US voters, O’Neil claims, have been “microtargeted” by political parties and other unknown groups, which for her explains why 43 per cent of Republicans continue to believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim because “microtargeting does its work in the shadows”. Evidence for these and similar claims made in the book is scant; references are generally restricted to the name of a researcher and the university at which they work, and so ironically the reader has to rely on Google to find the source material. Google’s quants could map out who had most likely read this book and found it most interesting by focusing on such searches. But do they really have the time or inclination? Or do they abide by Google’s infamous dictum, “don’t be evil”?

The pressure to be evil comes from that famous root of all kinds of it – money. Given the peculiarly undemocratic nature of the American presidential voting system, only 1 per cent of swing voters living in swing states can be key to the outcome. According to O’Neil, “the money from the financial 1 percent underwrites the microtargeting to secure the votes of the political 1 percent”. But can such voters be targeted that effectively, and where is this book’s reference to the smoking gun – the political quant who came in from the cold and explained how it was all done?

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality
and Threatens Democracy
I have a great deal of sympathy for O’Neil’s suspicions. In the late 1980s I was given access, as a doctoral student, to magnetic tapes containing the electoral roll of the UK, ordered by the geographical regions the Conservative Party then used. I was never told why the data lab I worked in had been given access to those data. We also later had data from the firm that would become Experian, and the credit card company Capital One, both of which are mentioned in Weapons of Math Destruction. Apparently, Capital One now carries out “rapid-fire calculations as soon as someone shows up on their website. They can often access data on web browsing and purchasing patterns.” But how do they do this?

Source: Times Higher Education

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Thursday, September 08, 2016

What Is 'Culturally Competent' Teaching? (Videos) | Education Week - Teacher blogs > Teaching Now

"Footage from an Education Week video project explores the topic of bridging the cultural divides that often exist between teachers and students." inform Anthony Rebora, Managing Editor of Education Week Teacher and the Teacher PD Sourcebook.

As some of you may have seen, the Education Week video team had a piece on PBS NewsHour last week on the increasingly pressing topic of better preparing teachers to work in diverse classrooms. The segment looked at an ambitious program run by Illinois State University that places education students—mostly white, mostly middle-class—in high-minority Chicago neighborhoods for one month during the summer. The participants not only do a teaching stint in local schools. They also live with host families and work on community-service projects.

The idea is to give these prospective educators a more nuanced understanding of their future students' lives and needs by immersing them in their communities. And there's some evidence that the approach makes a difference: More than 80 percent of the teachers who've come through the program remain in the classroom after five years—far above the average for high-needs urban schools.

You can watch the full segment here. And—bonus—for those you who are interested in digging a little deeper into the topic of cultural competency in teaching, our video team has put together a couple of helpful web-only compilations from the footage they gathered while reporting the story.

The first features excerpts from an extended interview with Carol Lee, a professor of education and African-American studies at Northwestern University. Lee, as you'll see, has a skeptical view of the type of classroom training teachers often get under the banner of cultural competency, saying that it can reinforce racial stereotyping. Instead, she emphasizes the importance of relationships and openness: "Cultural competence means that I have to go into that community with the humility in order to learn," she says. "As opposed to saying that there's a college program that's going to give me a box, because that's the way this stuff works."

View Story

The second video offers a glimpse into a training workshop on cultural competency given to prospective teachers by Kyla Bailenson, the assistant principal of Hibbard Elementary School, on Chicago's West Side.  

View Story

Source: Education Week  - Teacher blog - Teaching Now and

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Tips for learning and studying at Chinese-language universities | Focus Taiwan News Channel

"Living and studying abroad, experiencing a new culture, developing lifelong friendships and relationships, learning a new language, all while obtaining a degree in one's chosen field sounds like an exciting experience." notes Shennica David, CNA intern.

CNA file photo

Each year, many people travel thousands of miles, leaving behind their family, friends, cultures, and customs and to study in Taiwan. People choose to study in Taiwan for various reasons that include a search for an affordable education, a desire to gain an international experience, and a chance to explore a new culture.

Even with very little exposure to Mandarin Chinese, some students opt for the additional challenge of taking a degree program taught fully or partly in that language.

While this may seem like a daunting task, many foreign students have tackled it successfully.

Not everyone may take the same approach to studying in a foreign language but there are some strategies that can be adopted across the board to help smooth the process and acquire a well-rounded experience:

Conduct thorough research
This is possibly the single most important part of the process. Research is important first of all to select a suitable Chinese learning center in terms of cost, location, course content, teaching methods, among other factors.

Taiwan has over 30 language centers, stretching from Taipei in the north to Kaohsiung in the south. It pays to read as much as possible about them, talk with past and present students, communicate with faculty members, make a shortlist of schools, and visit those on the shortlist if possible.

This same approach can be applied when seeking a university for degree studies.

Draft a plan
For some students, one year of Chinese language learning might be enough to prepare for transition to a university where the language of instruction is Chinese. Others might require two years or more of Chinese classes before they could feel confident enough to enter such an environment.

It is important to have a plan based on one's strengths, weaknesses, and overall goals.

Heritage speakers and students from Asian countries such as Japan and Korea, which have many Chinese characters or cognates in their languages, tend to fit easily into the one-year language study category. People with no prior exposure to Sino-Tibetan languages, however, may require more time to achieve spoken fluency and to gain some competency in Chinese reading and writing.

Whatever the decision, it is always a good idea to having a backup plan -- a plan B -- with regard to the preparation time for entry to a university program taught entirely in Chinese.

Read more... 

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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Study: Elearning to decline in next 5 years | Education Dive

"Modules for self-paced, online learning projected to drop by more than 5% domestically and abroad." continues Education Dive.

Photo: Education Dive

Dive Brief:
  • E-Learning systems revenues in the United States and China are expected to drop by more than $6 billion annually, according to a new study
  • The data from the survey is tied to reporting from financial education technology companies and publishers, and suggests that companies using the modules are reducing their usage of the technology and materials.  
  • The survey does not account for comparable growth models in gamification and mobile technology. 
Dive Insight: 
The revenue projections could have some parallels with learning modules in higher education, specifically, MOOCs and competency-based education systems for self-learning and assessment. But corporate training may continue to embrace e-learning models. While time to completion and proving proficiency are a part of college requirements for degrees, professional training can be a longer, more self-driven process with less oversight.

Recommended Reading Campus Technology:  
Global E-Learning market in steep decline, report says

Source: Education Dive 

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Sunday, September 04, 2016

Make the MOOC move | Chandigarh Tribune

Photo: Usha Albuquerque
Usha Albuquerque, founder director of Careers Smart inform, "Sometimes you want to take a course just for the sheer joy of learning something new. A other times you need to complete a course for a better job, a promotion, or a college application. Anyone and everyone can take up an online course and improve their career prospects."

Photo: Chandigarh Tribune

On your phone 24x7?  Now use it to increase your knowledge, pick up a skill and even get a degree or diploma. Today digital technology has taken learning to another level. Online learning, or e-learning —  the process of learning using various types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video — diffuses knowledge and learning without borders.  

Practically every professional course and skill can be learnt through online education nowadays. 

There are diploma and certificate programmes in accounting, computer networking, cyber law, creative writing, disaster management,  mass communication and journalism, fashion design and merchandising,  data analytics, E-commerce etc. There are even distance learning courses in poultry farming and bee-keeping.  

What’s  more, this phenomenon is enabling individual students from any part of the world to access Ivy league content and the best-in-class education taught by top faculty at top universities like Stanford, Harvard, MIT and others, for free, or nominal  charges.   

Under the massive open online courses (MOOCs) system, such courses cover a wide variety of subjects and careers from business management, economics and all the sciences to professional courses in teaching, law, library science, journalism, computers, biotechnology, agriculture and linguistics, hotel management and so on.  

So today you can as easily pick up a course in commerce and history for enhancing your educational qualifications, as you can on Chinese architecture, war in the Middle East, life beyond the planets, or genomic medicine, for further widening your horizons.   

Many of the courses provide students with course materials, contact classes, and often multimedia facilities through classrooms without walls. Such courses can also help students with enhanced classes for supplementary learning of school and college subjects, like Salman Khan of Khan Academy has demonstrated so ably.  

However, it is too early to predict the course or influence of MOOCs in India especially but it could be  valuable for many students who want to save on the cost of an international higher education degree or for those who simply want to experiment with different academic courses before applying to a foreign university.  

Here are some websites that you can browse to look for  MOOCs of your choice : 
Read more... 

Source: Chandigarh Tribune

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Is study abroad as beneficial as is reputed? | University World News

"A study by the Danish Evaluation Institute has shown that both study-relevant work and participation in project-oriented courses have a significant positive effect upon the chances of Danish masters students landing a job upon graduation and the salary received, while a study abroad period does not have as positive an effect on work chances or salary after graduation." inform Jan Petter Myklebust.

The Danish Evaluation Institute, or EVA, working under the Ministry for Children, Education and Gender Equality, monitors the effect of Danish education programmes. In June, EVA published a report (in Danish) entitled Effects of Study-relevant Work, Study Exchanges and Project-oriented Courses: An effect analysis of masters candidates’ options at universities.

The study findings were presented with a provocative press release: “Drop study abroad and find relevant work besides your studies or a practice-oriented course if you want a job soon after graduation.”

From the Danish central statistical archives and information from universities, data for all masters candidates graduating during the period 2009-12 were examined in terms of three parameters: whether they had participated in work-related activities during their studies, if they had participated in project-oriented courses or if they had participated in merit-giving study abroad during their studies.

There were two parts to the study: 28,921 graduates were included in the work part of the study and 22,665 in the salary part. These numbers differed because the studies were undertaken at different points in time.

Those candidates who engaged in study-relevant work were 10% to 20% more likely to find employment in the year after graduation than those who did not. This was the case in four out of five study disciplines – in the humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences and in technology, but not in health studies.

The study also found that more students who had engaged in study-relevant work, or study-relevant work in combination with project-oriented coursework or a study abroad period, achieved a positive salary effect within 12 months of graduation. This was the case in the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences, with an increased salary range between DKK1,295 (US$195) and DKK4,659 (US$700) a month compared to students who had not undertaken study-relevant work.

Source: University World News 

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The threat of robot guards is not enough to stop people stealing | New Scientist

Photo: Aviva Rutkin
"Robots could soon take on many jobs that involve ethical interactions, such in healthcare or education - but will they command the respect we give humans?" reports Aviva Rutkin, reporter at New Scientist.

Behave or we will roll very slowly after you

Would you do what a robot told you to do? If people stealing food right under the eyes of a bot is anything to go by, RoboCop is still a long way off. In a twist on a common psychology experiment, in which a picture of a pair of eyes seems to make people behave more honestly, Guy Hoffman at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and his colleagues stationed a robot guard to watch over a table of snack food labelled with a “reserved” sign in a student common room.

The team used a mObi robot made by US robotics company Bossa Nova. This does not have a threatening appearance, like some security bots — such as the Knightscope (pictured) — but it has eyes that looked around the room. Still, it proved a poor deterrent. Seven per cent of passers-by still helped themselves to food, only slightly fewer than the 8 per cent who took food when the table wasn’t guarded at all. In contrast, only 2 per cent of people pinched a snack when a human was sitting at the table.

Hoffman is interested in finding out how people act around robots in everyday settings. “We talk about robots being in healthcare and education and the government and the military — these places where ethical behaviour is a big issue,” he says.
Read more... 

Source: New Scientist

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As snug as a hygge: The Danish art of embracing the life-enhancing little things | Daily Mail

Check out what's the Meaning of the Danish Word "Hygge", the Danish ritual of enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

"It’s the latest import in our obsession with all things Scandi, but what is hygge (pronounced hue-gah) all about?" insist John Koski.

Photo: Getty Images

Think cosy nights in front of a roaring fire, a cup of tea with a good book, a winter walk along a beach… And say hello to the way of life that’s been keeping the Danes happy for years.

What have the Danes ever given us? Lego, obviously – and the resulting agony for parents of inadvertently stepping barefoot on a misplaced brick in the middle of the night; unmissable Nordic noir television series such as The Killing and Borgen; posh Bang & Olufsen audiovisual equipment, and Danepak bacon. Actually, not a bad record for a country of 5.7 million people, who for several months of the year have just eight hours of daylight.

But a new and potentially more pervasive Danish export is about to hit the UK: something called hygge. At the last count, no fewer than seven books with the word ‘hygge’ in the title were due to be published between now and October, so there will be no hiding from what has been described as a ‘Scand-wagon’. There has been nothing like it since the Vikings invaded, but this time the outcome promises to be more benign and life-enhancing.

So what is hygge (pronounced hue-gah, who-guh or heurgha depending on which expert you talk to, but all benefiting from the addition of a guttural Nordic flourish) about? There isn’t really a direct translation, but ‘cosiness with knobs on’ is a reasonable starting point. It is an approach to living that encompasses warmth, togetherness, safety, intimacy, familiarity, peacefulness, simplicity, enjoyment and contentment...

The book of Hygge:
The Danish art of living well

Louisa Thomsen Brits, author of The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well, says: ‘I hygger [yes, it’s a verb as well] when I make risotto, make love, make tea or read in bed. I find it at the heart of the dancefloor, when I walk through our local town, camp at small festivals or meet a friend for coffee.’ Meik’s favourite shorthand definition of hygge is ‘cocoa by candlelight’...

Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures.
Living the Danish Way.

British writer Charlotte Abrahams, whose own contribution to the debate, Hygge: A Celebration of Simple Pleasures; Living the Danish Way, is scheduled for publication next month, says: ‘I’ve always been deeply suspicious of all these lifestyle philosophies, but hygge isn’t like that. It is linked to mindfulness and happiness science, but in a lovely, gentle way. It has no rules and it does seem very achievable.’

Source: Daily Mail

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