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An Anatomy of Deeper Learning and Best Strategies of Implementation for 21st Century Education: The Research Findings

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21st century education is experiencing significant turbulence as a response to the call for more meaningful and relevant learning experiences that comply with students’ literacy needs and competencies required to succeed in their lives.

Towards this end, deeper learning has emerged as a theory which could be the means to transform 21st century education when truly integrated in the classroom. 

An Anatomy of Deeper Learning and Best Strategies of Implementation for 21st Century Education: The Research Findings

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Does this hold true? This article will attempt to provide some insights on the matter drawing from research findings from the last two decades.

What is Deeper Learning?

Deeper Learning is a broad term coined by the Hewlett Foundation and refers to the range of skills and knowledge required for students to acquire and master "in order to succeed in 21st century jobs and civic life” (Hewlett Foundation, 2013). The essence of the concept entails a set of competencies incremental to students exposed in academic content. The intention is that through the instructional principles proposed by the deeper learning theory, students gain an in-depth level of knowledge and understanding on different subjects rather than superficial learning, and are in a position to achieve problem solving in and out of a school context, both in their school-word and their lifeworlds to be able to successfully cope with challenges in their college, career and life.

Can Deeper Learning Contribute to Succeeding 21st Century Education?

“Schools aren’t failing and don’t need reform”. Instead, a renown academic and researcher, Tony Wagner (2012) states, “we need to reinvent, re-imagine our schools.”

In response to the dilemma for school leaders on what this transformation should entail for 21st century learning, educational researchers cohort that we should intend to cultivate deeper understandings and higher order thinking in a holistic manner by pursuing changes in terms of students, teachers, school culture, school systems and leadership (Figure 1).

An Anatomy of Deeper Learning and Best Strategies of Implementation for 21st Century Education: The Research Findings

Figure 1: Schools Tranformational Model by Lenz et al. (2015, p. 149)

In order to re-imagine schools in such a transformational and holistic way, deeper learning theory proposes 4 components that need to be implemented in a school setting (Infographic).

1. Policy makers and teachers should opt to create a strong school culture

2. Educational staff should be working collaboratively

3. Teachers should design instructional content that is meaningful and relevant to students' lives

4. Deeper Learning outcomes should be the ultimate intention of each learning experience

An Anatomy of Deeper Learning and Best Strategies of Implementation for 21st Century Education: The Research Findings 

Infographic: 4 Components of Deeper Learning Outcomes (by Monica Martinez and Dennis McGrath)

One key indicator of whether learning has been improved, is student learning outcomes. The latter relates to achieving 21st century skills or the four Cs of learning as they are commonly referred to: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration (NEA, 2011). In deeper learning theory, student driven outcomes are more specifically addressed and  interpreted in terms of the following:

Mastering core academic content: Students attain and master core key subjects and use a metalanguage to fulfill certain tasks

Think critically and solve complex problems: It is imperative for students to exhibit competency in thinking critically, analytical thinking process and creativity in solving problems

Work collaboratively: Students should be familiarized and feel confident working in groups to be better prepared to respond in a team setting later in their lives and succeed several goals.

Communicate effectively: Students should be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing. They must cultivate their presentation skills and developing logical and convincing arguments that are appropriate for communicating in a variety of settings. 

Self-directed learning and ability to incorporate feedback: It is imperative that students grow into mature learning, be able to set their own learning pace, determine goals and monitor their progress, as well as strive to improve.

“Academic mindset”: The term refers to the mental state students have by feeling confident based on their skills and abilities, in a way that they are empowered to overcome obstacles.

These outcomes are incremental towards an authentic deeper learning approach.

Deeper Learning in Practice: The Strategies

Deeper Learning is far from a generic theory. In fact, it has already been utilized in a range of settings that extend beyond the scope of education, such as in training in businesses. However, the focus in this article is to examine the practical implementation and strategies pertaining to schools. 

Over the last decade the spotlight is on deeper learning principles (DLP). In regards to the previous, research findings has indicated substantial benefits from the use of deeper learning principles. The National Research Council in its 2012 report Education for Life and Work suggests the following research-based methods for developing true deeper learning: to employ multiple and varied representations of concepts and tasks, encourage elaboration, questioning, and self-explanation, engage learners in challenging tasks through supportive guidance and feedback, teach with examples and cases, promote student motivation, and implement formative assessment.

Other research has showed that among the prerequisites for a successful implementation of the theory are to design instructional content that extends beyond superficial activities and relate to authentic life situations and problems. Towards this direction, learning experiences for students should stem from project based, connected approaches and inquiry based learning principles. Further to these, deeper learning activities should rely on apprenticeship-based learning, which adheres to allocating mentors with a real-world role. All the above should take place in the context of a collaborative classroom setting where groups of students work together to solve complex real life problems and apply transferable knowledge.

 Dr Monica Martinez in her book "In Deeper Learning: How Eight Public Schools are Transforming Education in the 21st Century" (2014), draws on the example of eight public schools educating students based on the following six strategies for developing deeper learning principles:

1. Empowering students to lead their own learning (student owned learning) through disruptive learning experiences. Students as self-learners are empowered through taking over leadership roles, managing complex projects and assignments, as well as engaging in reflective practice. 

2. Emphasize meaningful learning experiences through inquiry-based learning that seeks solutions to real-world complex situations (student centered learning). Students in groups critically reflect and solve problems with teachers acting as facilitators in the learning experience.

3. Design connected experiences and subjects around central concepts and ideas that will lead to Deeper learning outcomes and content knowledge and skills (competency-based learning). In this way the instructional approach promotes a coherent picture of what in-school learning is.

4. Extend learning experiences beyond school with authentic and relevant entanglements and opportunities to learn. This can be achieved through interaction with local communities by reaching out to museums, organizations and corporations.

5. Personalized learning is incremental to cater for students’ individual needs. The latter requires substantial time and dedication to prepare a profile with insights of each student’s needs, abilities and competence in order to then design appropriate and meaningful lessons and activities. 

6. Use of technology is a powerful tool in succeeding deeper learning in the schools researched by Martinez in purposeful ways promotes meaningful learning. Engagement in digital literacy by means of projects can enhance students’ analytical, creative and critical thinking skills, as well as communicative and collaborative attributes effectively regardless of the location, anytime and anywhere.

The above strategies are schematically represented in Figure 2.

An Anatomy of Deeper Learning and Best Strategies of Implementation for 21st Century Education: The Research Findings

Figure 2: Strategies of Implementation to foster Deeper Learning

Research Evidence of the Impact of Deeper Learning

With educators constantly bombarded with new learning theories and best practices to reach the objectives of the new millennium, there is reason to be suspicious and reluctant to adopt new approaches. Nevertheless, in the case of deeper learning, substantial evidence exists on the beneficial impact from its systematic implementation. The vast majority of this work is based in the United States where deeper learning has been embraced by schools, universities and a range of other learning settings.

The American Institutes of Research conducted a study in 2014 which illustrates that students in deeper learning schools graduated at higher rates than others from non deeper learning schools. In particular, in the San Francisco Bay Area, Envision High Schools, fostering deeper learning principles, succeeded more than 90% of their students continuing to college, in comparison to the 50% of students graduating from all California High Schools. Importantly, students from these schools managed to score highest rates in the standardized Academic Performance Index tests, when comparing to all other California schools. And in many of these cases, these students were the first in their family to attend college.

As a result of the need to assess deeper learning, influential foundations have developed different formative assessments including the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which is vastly used by more than 175 institutions across the United States. Internationally, the most reputable test is the Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) exam, offering a reliable and widely acknowledged measure of key aspects of deeper learning. Further to these, the federal government has funded two unique consortia of states: SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in order to develop the next generation of assessments that comply with the principles of deeper learning and contemporary education standards.  


The quest for deeper learning is not utopia. It is a complete theoretical approach with practical guidelines to integrate in variant school contexts. Although much research is still needed to determine its impact, the preliminary work being carried out so far illustrates that
  deeper learning could be the path to re-imagining teaching and learning for 21st century education.

RELATED READ: Six Learning Trends Driving Education

Intrigued to know what you think.

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

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Hello everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. Still recovering and sluggishly getting back to work? Grab a coffee while reading our new posts.

More than a few people have uttered the phrase: “Isn’t there something to make this job easier?” If you haven’t then you’re probably in the minority, or maybe you already own all those things.

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

Listed in this article are 10, sometimes silly, gadgets that can make life less of a hassle. So if you’re not one of those people that own everything, maybe one of these can help you with a current problem that you seem to keep running into.

1. AquaNotes

Have you ever noticed that the shower is where you come up with a lot of your good ideas? You may have also noticed that you sometimes forget that idea before you even turn the water off. With AquaNotes that’s no longer a problem. It’s a waterproof notepad that sticks to the wall in your shower. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

Now those million dollar inventions will never be lost. This is a great gift for an inventor, song writer, and entrepreneur.

2. Wrinkle/Wash Free Pants 

Next to doing the dishes, the laundry is one of the most tedious tasks in anyone’s life. A company called Bluffworks has made it easier to be just a bit lazier. The pants can be balled up and stuffed in your backpack or luggage and still be good to go. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

They also come with pockets for smartphones like the Galaxy or iPhone. These are perfect for any bachelor. 

3. Hovding Airbag for Cyclists

Do you like riding your bike but hate the clunky helmets that are on the market? Or maybe you don’t feel comfortable placing all your trust into a piece of padded plastic and rubber. A company in Sweden called Hovding has invented a new ‘invisible’ bike helmet. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

The device is worn around the neck and is deployed like an airbag around your head and neck if you happen to run into anything. Or if anything happens to run into you.

4. Lock Laces

Do you hate tying your shoes? Maybe you are one of those people that just leaves your shoes tied so you can slip in and out of them easily. With Lock Laces, you can have your shoes done in seconds. They’re elastic laces that have a stopper on them similar to snowboard boots. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

They are a step up from Velcro but people with still probably make fun of you for ‘not being able to tie your shoes. That’s ok though because you can just make fun of them for taking forever to get out the door. 

5. Onion Goggles

These are exactly what you think they are. These goggles fit tightly around your eyes so no more tears when you’re cutting onions. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

They may seem silly; some people are really sensitive to juices that onions omit when they are being cut. They make you look like an Olympic swimmer when you’re preparing your food. 

6. Light up Charging Cables

These may seem gimmicky but they’re actually pretty convenient. Instead of having to look at your device when it’s charging, all you need to do is pay attention to the light patterns

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

A fast current means your device is less than 65% charged, while a slower one means it’s over 65%. Once it’s fully charged the light shuts off. Neat huh?

7. The CanStand

This isn’t just a cool way to hold your beer or soda. The CanStand is a beverage cooler that also reflects the heat of the sun. You just stick it in the ground like those bug torches and you’re good to go. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

It works if you’re standing or sitting, so now you can enjoy a cold one next to the grill without the radiant heat warming up your beverage. 

8. ibattz Mojo Refuel & Invictus Battery Case for iPhone (5/5S, 6/6S)

We’ve all been stuck somewhere with no outlet and a battery that’s on 10%. Or worse you are at the airport with plenty outlets but they’re all being used. Enter the ibattz Mojo Refuel or Invictus Battery Case for the iPhone (5/5S, 6/6S). 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

It works just like most iPhone cases, only this one comes with a small replaceable battery capable of recharging your phone. Not only that but it amplifies the speakers on your phone too. 

9. SleepPhones

If you’re one of those people that like to listen to music when they sleep, this is perfect. Ear buds are comfortable, but not when you’re laying directly on one and jamming it further into your ear. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

This is a headband with earphones sewn into it. Not the best sound quality but still more comfy than rolling over onto an ear bud.

10. StickNFind

This is a nifty little device that you can stick to those items that you lose all the time. You can stick them on your keys, wallet and your TV remote. You can then use your phone to locate them. 

10 Gadgets that Will Make your Life so Much Easier

The only downside to this is if your phone is one of the things you’re constantly losing, you may have a tough time.


There you have it 10 things to make your life easier. In today’s complicated world we could all use a leg up on those frequently annoying problems. Now if they could only invent a machine that grants wishes, that is something that could make your life way easier.

Please remember to LIKE and Comment. Thanks for visiting! 

*by andreascy*

How to Convert PDF to Word for Free

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What's up guys? The past few weeks have been really exhausting. I have been working really hard on creating value with my Fiverr Services. Go ahead, check out my gigs and let me know what you think!

It seems that technology today is faster than we are. Before we even get a chance to try out all the new useful gadgets and software that could improve our business and private lives, there’s a whole set of new inventions that flood the technology scene. We’ve witnessed the Google Glass craze last year, then the 3D printing revolution, not to mention the head-spinning progress that those working in the robotics department are making. An average working person can hardly keep track of it all. 

How to Convert PDF to Word for Free

Despite all the wonders of today’s technology, there are some old-school tech tools and software that are difficult to replace, because they are the pillar of the modern office. If you want to be successful at work today, you don’t really need to know how to operate a complex new gadget or to understand artificial intelligence, though all of these skills and knowledges can’t hurt, if you’ve got the time to acquire them. However, to be successful, you do need to know how to manage electronic files, particularly those that are most commonly used among business professionals, such as PDF, MS Word, etc.

Millions of people share PDFs with others on a daily basis. That’s because the PDF is still unbeatable when it comes to the universal features a format needs to have in order to be viewable on any computing device and platform without losing its formatting. The trouble with PDFs is that the information locked within is not easily editable without proper software for that purpose. 

So, when you receive an email from your boss with the subject line: “Urgent: Document Needs Editing ASAP”, and in the attachment you find a PDF with at least ten pages that need to be revised in a short period of time, what do you do? If you have a powerful, paid PDF conversion program on your computer, no problem. But there are many companies that chose not to invest in these useful productivity tools, so it’s up to the employees to be resourceful. Manually retyping all those pages in order to revise the text is definitely not resourceful, and will not get your task finished on time. 

If you’re in a similar pickle to the one described above, here’s a simple free tool that will help you out. It’s called Free Online PDF to Word Converter and it can be used for free on any computer with an Internet connection. 

How to Convert PDF to Word for Free

Here’s how:

1) Click on the “Select file” button, find your PDF document for conversion and double-click on it.

2) Type your email address in the blank space (this is mandatory if you want to receive the converted file).

3) Click on the “Start” button and then check your email.

The link to your converted Word document will be waiting in your inbox. Now just open it, make all the necessary edits and impress your boss with the efficiently completed assignment.

This free PDF conversion tool is obviously not as amazing as some other pieces of software, but it will probably be of more use to you in a typical office setting, than a 3D-printer or a dish-washing robot.

RELATED: The Multiple Benefits of Owning a PDF Converter

Thank you for reading! Have yourself a Merry Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your troubles be less and miles away ;)

*by andreascy*

15 Ed Stories to Read Over the Weekend

Description :

Finally, the first weekend of September is here and the educational world is preparing for yet another challenging year. Taking inspiration from this we have pulled together a useful list with articles that draw on all levels of education, from Primary to Higher Education and life-long learning such as online courses.

15 Ed Stories To Read Over The Weekend

So, time to get some rest and catch up on some reading. Here we round up 15 key educational articles from around the web that caught our attention this week. Hope you find them interesting as much as we did.

1. Spaces for Learning. This excellent piece by Nigel Coutts explores the significance of learning spaces of today by addressing the basic features of an emerging concept: ‘flexible’ learning spaces as environments that are catering for students’ different learning styles and needs while bringing an air of innovation and playfulness in the learning process. A glimpse to the classrooms of the future. 

2. Growth Mindset: How to Normalize Mistake Making and Struggle in Class. Everybody makes mistakes. In terms of mistakes made during the learning process at school, this article addresses Carol Dweck’s research on growth mindset to explain how teachers should create the appropriate classroom atmosphere that supports student’s efforts and promote “productive failure”: student develop a growth mindset as they cope with challenges and overcome failures.

3. 8 Ways Digital Storytelling Transforms Learning in 21st Century Education: The Research Evidence. Digital storytelling is a buzzword in the educational world. Read this interesting article about the transformative impact of digital storytelling for learning based on empirical research findings conducted in the last decade. 

4. Myths and Realities of Online Training. Online training is one of the key ways that adults choose to learn nowadays. This useful article clarifies some of the misunderstandings and prejudice surrounding this revolutionized way of life-long learning. 

5. Assessing the Potential of Gamification in Higher Education. Gamification, a term which refers to applying game-design thinking in different situations to make them more appealing is rising as an approach to teaching and learning in Higher Education. Know how it has been implemented in different universities across USA and what its benefits are.

6. Applying Learning Theory to Mobile Learning. Explore the latest issue of TD at work and know the basics of m-learning, drivers and barriers for its implementation, relevant learning theories and how to use them in practice as well as informal strategies to utilizing m-learning. A great resource. 

7. 6 Learning Trends Driving Education in 2015. Want to know the key teaching and learning practices and strategies that will influence education from 2015 onwards? This article compiles a list with learning trends including blended learning, maker education and four more that are changing the face of schools.

8. Learning Theory v5 - What are the established learning theories? An amazing graphic to get insights on the learning theories and key concepts surrounding them that have emerged in the past centuries. This is probably one of the most comprehensive summaries we’ve seen in a while on learning.

9. 12 Ways to Support ESL Students in the Mainstream Classroom. One of the best reads recently with great tips on how to support English as a Second Language (ESL) for your students, which is a reality of most mainstream classrooms today.

10. Learning Power: new research identifies Mindful Agency as central to resilience. Research findings published this week from Professor’ Crick investigation using the Crick Learning for Resilient Agency Profile (CLARA) suggest that Mindful Agency is a key learning power dimension. Know more about what this term involves and how it can affect research and practice around learning.

11. Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Elementary Students. Critical thinking is one of the most incremental and essential competencies that students should possess in the 21st century. Find out how to develop critical thinking in the classroom through the advice in this article. Includes an infographic and video.

12. Harvard Launches 'Virtual Classroom' for Students Anywhere. Fascinating stuff happening in Harvard university by introducing a futuristic classroom through using HBX Live to teach its business students who won’t be physically able to attend lessons. Great read.

13. Using New Technology to Rediscover Traditional Ways of Learning. This is an excellent article with an alternative view of technology, discussing how it can enable engagement and traditional forms of learning through embodiment and observation strategies.

14. Museum-based Multiliteracies and Learning for 21st century skills: a preliminary study. This academic paper addresses findings from a doctoral study that employs a conceptual framework for museum teaching and learning drawing on multiliteracies pedagogy, an approach that takes into consideration students’ cultural and linguistic diversity and the demands of an increasingly multimodal and digitally mediated world to promote learning of 21st century skills.

15. “We shouldn’t assume people know what digital citizenship is”. Get top insights from educators organizing the first annual Digital Citizenship Summit on what the concept of digital citizenship actually entails and possible ways to address the gap of knowledge for its implementation by the greater educational community.

These are all! Let us know your insight and suggestions down below. Have an awesome weekend!

8 Ways Digital Storytelling Transforms Learning in 21st Century Education: The Research Evidence

Description :

Following the proliferation of technology and multimedia an evolution in making and telling stories has resulted in digital storytelling (DST). 

8 Ways Digital Storytelling Transforms Learning in 21st Century Education: The Research Evidence

Here we get into the basics of DST and how research findings in the past decade suggest it works as a transforming tool for learning in 21st century education. 

What is Digital Storytelling?

Digital storytelling is a constructivist approach to learning that emerged in the late 1980’s at the Center for Digital Storytelling (CDS) in California. This technique is a “modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling” (The Digital Storytelling Association 2011). Storytelling throughout the centuries has been a popular and compelling way to communicate and share knowledge and experiences, and has been used as a pedagogical tool long now. 

In today’s digitized world with teachers entering classrooms with digital natives (Prensky 2001), digital storytelling emerged as a consequence of a more systematic use of educational technology for learning. Although there is not a single definition for the term, the basic understanding is that digital storytelling uses digital tools and means such as video, audio, social media, blogging to share and communicate ideas and information effectively (Robin 2008). 

How Does it Work in the Classroom?

Digital storytelling could be integrated in the curriculum across a number of subjects despite it is seen as more useful in lessons such as Language Arts. Drawing on the principles of “learning by doing” and Dewey’s conceptualisations of education, to implement digital storytelling in the classroom students are actively engaged as creators to make original products that can be shared with their peers and the broader community, allowing for audience interaction and feedback. In other words students are put in the driver’s seat as they navigate their way through the following four phases of the digital storytelling process: 1) Pre-production; 2) Production; 3) Post-production; and 4) Distribution. 

The Center for Digital Storytelling is known for developing and disseminating the Seven Elements of Digital Storytelling: Point, Dramatic Question, Emotional Content, Pacing, Gift of your Voice, Economy and Soundtrack. These are often cited as a useful starting point for effective instructional use of digital stories in the classroom. A more recent adaptation of the Seven Elements is found in Samantha Morra’s (Google certified teacher) explanation and visual on the process of digital storytelling. This process comprises 8 steps (Figure 1):

Begin with an Idea

Research/Explore and Learn



Gather/Create images, Gather/Create Audio, Gather Create Video

Put it all together


Feedback and Reflect 

8 Ways Digital Storytelling Transforms Learning in 21st Century Education: The Research Evidence
Figure 1: Digital Storytelling Process by Samantha Morra

Little empirical research has been conducted to date that investigates the benefits of digital storytelling in the classroom although it has been acknowledged as a technology-integrated approach for meaningful and engaged student learning. In the rather limited research that is available, the overarching agreement is that digital storytelling enhances students’ uptake of essential 21st-century literacy competencies or 4Cs of Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity (Partnership for 21st century learning) and enables a deeper understanding in all areas of the curriculum.

How Digital Storytelling Transforms Education: Research Findings 

In the following paragraphs we summarize eight ways that illustrate the transformative impact of digital storytelling for learning based on comparing findings from a number of empirical studies (e.g. Dreon, Kerper, & Landis 2011; Malita & Martin 2010; Robin 2008; Smeda, Dakich & Nalin Sharda 2014; Yang & Wu 2012) that were conducted in the last decade. 

1. Embraces Learning of 21st Literacies 

It is the responsibility of policy makers and educators to design and deliver curriculum that engages students in learning experiences that address the increasing demands of a multicultural, constantly evolving multimedia-based world. Literacy pedagogy and research are incremental towards such a direction: literacy refers to a repertoire of practices learners use to engage in meaning making that derives from spoken, print, and multimedia. Various literacies have been identified such as media, visual, global and digital literacy. Research suggests that students who engage in creating digital stories develop deep understanding of these literacies through the different steps needed to create their digital stories and thus gain knowledge on how to employ literacies in a way that is meaningful and empowers them as learners in a postmodern world.

2. Advances Critical Thinking and Deeper Learning 

Another main learning influence of digital storytelling as the research points out is in advancing students' critical thinking and deeper learning. The research skills needed as students explore their topic to create their digital stories, require higher level thinking skills such as evaluating evidence, editing and curation, and production timelines. Students have to critically reflect on sources by using databases and combine tools in meaningful ways to create their work. Through this process deeper learning is promoted as students master core academic content drawn from the curriculum and learn to solve complex problems that arise during the production of the digital story. In many occasions the research findings suggest, students were able to reach to metacognitive understandings through engagement in digital storytelling. 

3. Enhances Academic Achievement and Student Outcomes

A crucial indication of the impact of digital storytelling is the effect on students’ academic performance or as often stated student outcomes. The findings from evaluation of students’ performance through means of both qualitative and quantitative methods exemplify how digital storytelling in particular is effective for language learning for example for second language learners, as it enhances their writing, communication and listening comprehension skills. Such evidence complies with reports published by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which suggest that the educational uses of technology produce improved student learning outcomes.

4. Boosts Students’ Engagement and Motivation

A definite conclusion for digital storytelling that is found across research findings is how the use of digital media and other tools to engage in creating digital stories, highlight the increased levels of student engagement and motivation. Technology-rich classrooms are in general producing higher levels of engagement amongst students and digital storytelling is one compelling method to achieve such performance. The perceived usefulness students see in digital storytelling as they are challenged to actively participate and complete different tasks, lead to higher levels of learning motivation. The use of appropriate resources and editing tools is instrumental to reach student motivation and possible beneficial effects this can have. 

5. Empowers Students as Creators and Individuals

As creativity is acknowledged to be a critical competence for young learners to survive and succeed in today’s societies, the creative use of technology through means of digital storytelling is of the most significant ways that research posits transform the student learning experience. Students as creators are given the freedom and power to select their own topic and create their digital story from scratch, using an array of tools such as apps and other software. This process allows for their expressive potential to nourish in a number of ways through design, photography, writing their story and presenting it. Students are empowered and feel more confident as they use their own voice and foster a sense of individuality and “owning” their creations. They are encouraged to expose their identity and show features of their personality. 

6. Fosters Collaborative Project Based Learning

Research evidence suggests that digital storytelling can effectively promote collaborative work in the classroom. Students develop team spirit and leadership through actively working in groups to carry out their digital stories. They practice social skills as they organize their ideas together and manage their time and activities while they engage with digital content. Thus digital storytelling is a means to have students meaningfully collaborate and interact as part of an engaged community of learners. 

7. Provides an Alternative Form of Assessment

One other significant indication of the transformative effect of digital storytelling is found in its use as an alternative method of assessment. An issue that has puzzled the education sectors for years and is currently undergoing change, assessment as it is derived from findings in recent research, could benefit significantly from the use of digital storytelling. A natural fit for e-portfolios, digital storytelling could be a powerful tool for a formative form of assessment rather than the mere summative which is interested in measurable skills and scores through a test or essay. Digital storytelling allows students to assemble a meaningful piece of work that is indicative of their understanding or the content they were taught and the competencies they possess. Students demonstrate their learning and growth through presenting their digital story to a real audience in a compelling manner and receive feedback in a way that is interactive and interesting to both themselves and the teachers and their peers.

8. Offers a Personalized and Authentic Learning Experience

The importance of engaging students in meaningful and authentic learning tasks that are personally relevant according to individual needs and background is only recently gaining momentum in formal learning institutions through policy making and relevant instructional approaches. Digital storytelling is such an approach to learning as it provides authentic scenarios for students to work with and accommodates for their needs and personal learning styles and background experiences, making the lesson seem valuable and impactful through concrete products. In this sense digital storytelling caters for the diversity among the student population, whether this results from cultural, linguistic or other difference.


Digital storytelling is seen as a vehicle for implementing innovative teaching and learning practices. In this article we explored how research in particular suggests it works as a powerful pedagogical learning tool for students. However, further investigation is required to establish a more holistic picture of the impact of digital storytelling in education. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this article. Let us know how you liked it and join us on our vision for more interesting stuff.

The History of Voice Recognition Software

Description :

As you listen to your credit card company's automated phone voice asking you to describe your reason for calling, you probably don't care how the system originated. Why should you? The technology is ubiquitous these days. 

The History of Voice Recognition Software

Concerning most technological innovations, the average person simply wants to use them. The newer the toy, the more they want to quickly avail themselves of its promised joy. For commercial entities, it's reduced to how much will the newfangled device contribute to a favorable bottom line.

Stepping Stones

The versatility in speech-recognition devices may be modern, but certain inventive thinkers in Austria, Russia and England were giving form to the concept of mechanical speaking machines as early as the eighteenth century.

For the purpose of voice recognition via electronic equipment, scientists experimenting at Bell Laboratories developed an electronic speech analyzer called a Vocoder in 1928. Homer W. Dudley, the lead scientist, further developed the Vocoder into an electronic synthesizer operated through a keyboard and dubbed it the Voder. Exhibitors from Bell demonstrated the device at the 1939 New York World's Fair. 

The rudiments of modern techniques for speech perception and recognition lay in a talking machine called the Pattern Playback. Built by Franklin S. Cooper and his collaborators at Haskins Laboratories in the late 1940s, the Playback could produce speech sounds from their frequency spectrum. 

The 1950s to the late 1970s saw the creation of the first formant synthesizer, the articulatory synthesizer and concatenative synthesis. These advancements permitted the phonetic quality of vowels to be determined, a major step. Additionally, continuous speech recognition -- eliminating the requirement to pause between words -- began during this period.

In 1988, Apple Computer produced a futuristic video in which the practical application of speech with computers was envisioned. Set for realization in the early 21st century, it defined the ideas of a Speech User Interface and a Multimodal User Interface joined with the representation of intelligent voice-enabled agents.

One underlying contribution to voice recognition not to be overlooked is the Hidden Markov Model. Actually developed in the late 1960s, the HMM permitted researchers to unite diverse sources including language, syntax and acoustics into one probable model. While the technique wasn't sophisticated enough to encompass a wide range of human language characteristics, it did serve as the dominant speech-recognition algorithm during the 1980s. 

Stumbling Blocks

During most of the 20th century, the success of voice recognition researchers was hampered by unsubstantial computing power. Consider that the best available time-sharing system from 1964 to 1983 was the Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP-10, a 36-bit mainframe computer. Still, the system's interactive capability was highly advantageous toward the scientists' goals. The 1990s began to see some of those goals bear fruit.

Listen for It

Technological capabilities became more versatile. Computers were gaining in popularity with the consumer public. Manufacturers were trying to outdo each other in offering faster systems. A monumental development in speech recognition came from Carnegie Mellon University in 1992. Under the leadership of Xuedong Huang, a CMU research team created the SPHINX-11 system. Not only was the system capable of a 5,000 word speaker-independent recognition, it also boasted a mere five percent error rate.

During the 1990s, the first commercially successful speech recognition programs were also introduced. The typical system's vocabulary was more expansive than that of the average human. Dragon Systems was a leading technology with its multiple professional dragon products. It became Nuance via Scansoft's purchase in 2005. Initially, Apple licensed software from Nuance to give voice to its digital assistant Siri.

SEE ALSO: How to Easily Edit and Rename Voice Recordings in iOS

Advanced voice recognition is now commonplace in diverse channels. Its usage is a reality of the 21st century.

*by andreascy*

6 Learning Trends Driving Education in 2015

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Following the summer hiatus and with the new school year just around the corner, the talk around the current and future educational landscape globally is resurfacing once more. Here we have compiled the top 6 learning trends driving education in 2015 and further. 

6 Learning Trends Driving Education in 2015

The constantly evolving learning demands and needs of a globalized new millennium challenge the teaching practices and strategies for researchers, policy makers and educators; the mission is to reinvent schools for the 21st century. Working within these realizations, several learning trends for education have emerged in the past few years in an attempt to re-conceptualize education. 

Most of these trends are based in the belief that schooling in the 21st century should be connected to real life experiences, becoming meaningful and relevant for students. In this perspective, students as learners are actively engaged in collaborative project-based learning processes integrated in a curriculum that derives from students’ interests, experiences, talents and diverse skills. The learning trends identified below address these understandings and lead the wind of change in education for the years to come.

1. Blended Learning

One of the buzzwords in the educational community worldwide now is blended learning. The term refers to an instructional strategy where the student learns through at least partly online delivery of instruction and content. Teaching within a blended learning environment implies that there are elements of student control over time, place, path and/or pace. There have been six models identified as characteristic of blended learning: Face-to-Face Driver Model, Rotation Model, Flex Model, Online Lab Model, Self-Blend Model and Online Driver Model. The beneficial attributes of any of these models of blended learning are found in the potential to address students’ needs and variant learning styles through differentiated instruction. Such an approach to teaching allows for teachers to make decisions regarding their teaching strategies that will result in better student performance.

2. Game Based Learning

Another trend in education nowadays is game based learning (GBL), which has been cited as a revolutionized way of utilizing games for learning purposes. In particular, GBL is a teaching approach where students undertake work in a game based learning context often in a virtual environment designed by teachers. The intention is for teachers and students to be immersed in the game, collaborate and take action towards a particular learning goal. The aim is to make learning fun, liven up the classroom by engaging and motivating the students. As this is a growing field with increasing interest, the video game industry should consider pairing with researchers to create games that could be employed by formal learning institutions and align with goals of the curriculum. Theorists stress that there is still a need for developing new technology that supports specific pedagogical functions (e.g. group regulation or project management) for schooling in the postmodern era. What we should be aware however is to find a balance between technological or technical aspects and teaching/learning processes.

3. Maker Education

Student work has been taken to a whole new level with the introduction and gradual implementation of maker education or maker movement in schools, a trend starting from the US. An evolution of experiential learning and hands on learning which has been around for more than half a century, the maker education is an approach that adopts a culture of learning by doing which utilizes current and emerging technological tools such as 3D printing, wearable computing, robotics, and coding tools to drive creativity. The intention is to create makerspaces in classrooms where students are given the expressive freedom and digital tools to invent, build and share their work during the learning process allowing for their talents to nourish. 

4. Deeper Learning

Deeper learning is part of a developing movement in the US for education that emphasizes on the knowledge that students need to successfully engage in 21st century jobs and civic life. The term refers to a set of student educational outcomes that stem from a set of core competencies, which allow for students to develop higher order skills and metacognitive understandings. Such an example of a teaching and learning approach to schooling acknowledges students’ multiple and diverse identities, experiences and capabilities while also equipping them to become the flexible and critical learners required in our contemporary societies. Even these students, who have been characterized as multimodally literate (Davies 2006) or digital natives (Prensky 2001), are not ‘per se’ capable to critical reflect and make advanced cognitive processes in their everyday activities. Using the deeper learning theory could empower students’ critical awareness of and uptake of learning tasks.

5. Design Thinking

Design thinking is an emerging trend for education that seems promising in relation to other approaches such as the maker education movement. Stemming from product design processes, design thinking refers to a creative process where you employ problem solving to reach to meaningful solutions in the classroom, school or community. Environments such as schools that implement design thinking use it as a basis for teaching different subjects through workshops where students become design thinkers by engaging in problem solving, brainstorming and other activities that aim to bring solution to real life situations. At the core of this learning approach is the intention to empower students to feel confident to create for solving realistic problems.

6. Technology Enhanced Learning 

Technology has taken the education world by storm in recent years. Technology enhanced learning is an umbrella term used to describe the use and implementation of technological tools such as smartphones and mobile devices including touchscreen and tablet computers for learning, also known as educational technology. The impact of using mobile digital technologies for example through adoption of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement has altered the learning experience for students. Regardless of their background and interests, students nowadays seem to engage in learning more easily when interacting with these devices while they seem relevant to their daily lives where exposure to technology is constant. The interest in educational technology through technology enhanced learning will continue to grow in the coming years. This is driven by the calls for personalized learning and how to encourage a technologically and digitally diverse learning experience which empowers our students. 

The learning trends mentioned in this article are gradually implemented in mainstream education worldwide. The premise is that a more systematic implementation of the above learning theories and practices could transform education for the 21st century.

Hope you found this article interesting, please feel free to let us know your suggestions and what more you would like to see from us. Have a great day!

How to Dress for Success

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We all know it’s important to dress for success, especially around the office. The way you dress tells people a lot about how professional you are, what your role is in the company and how serious you take your work. It’s the number one thing people notice during that first impression and therefore it is extremely important to dress the right way. 

How to Dress for Success

Want to know how you can do that? Here are a few business shirts and mens blazers that will get you in the right direction.

Thomas Mason Shirts 

Have you ever heard of Thomas Mason fabrics? We have, and it’s definitely one of our favorite brands. Want to know why? Thomas Mason offers a wide arrange of fabrics that feel professional, authentic and above all classy. All important for the workplace. Together with J.Crew they have designed a ton of great and amazing shirts that range from clear and classy blue to cheery red, green and white stripes. All Thomas Mason shirts are influenced by certain themes, people and places. For example; A few fabrics of their Autumn/winter 2014 line were influenced by the Beatles and the English landscape. 

What does your business shirt say about you 

There is a pattern and color for everyone and whatever shirt you go with tells a lot about who you are and how serious and professional you really are. 


Pastel colors - Pastel colors are the most popular colors used for business shirts. Pastel colors give off a relaxed and professional vibe that’s especially important if you work in an otherwise chaotic environment. This also counts for white shirts. 

Dark colors - The only time shirts with dark colors really work is if they are either mixed up with some lighter or brighter tones, or during a special occasion like for example a gala, dinner or fundraiser. Dark colored shirts can be very classy, but only on those occasions. 

Bright colors - People who wear shirts with bright colors often want to get noticed and are confident about themselves and their work. If you need to get noticed during an interview or a meeting make sure you wear something that is bright, but at the same time discrete. If you wear colors that are too bright people might start to view you as obnoxious or unprofessional. 


No pattern - Shirts with no patterns are by far the most popular and professional shirts out there. This is because they offer no distractions and can be mixed and matched with any men's blazers or other accessories, but more on that later. Go for a shirt with no pattern when you want to look like you are a serious professional. 

Stripes - Big stripes, small stripes, blue stripes or white stripes. You can find all different variations of striped shirts. It’s a very common pattern for business shirts after all. A shirt with stripes can be very classy and professional, as long as it’s not all colors of the rainbow. 

Checkered or plaid - Shirts with a checkered or plaid pattern are a little less professional than stripes or a shirt with no pattern at all. However in an environment that allows business casual they are a perfect fit, because of the cheery combinations of colors used in checkered or plaid shirt.

Men's Blazers

Honestly, a nice business shirt is nothing without a tie and a blazer. Men's blazers come in just as many colors and patterns as shirts. You have them in an even black, blue or grey, or with stripes or without them. Anything is possible and by matching a nice grey blazer with for example a few black examples at the hems of the pockets to a white shirt you will definitely be well on your way to dress for success. 

So what do I choose when I want to dress for success...

You choose clothes you are both comfortable in and that are appropriate for the work you do. If you work at a bank, for example, it’s probably not the best idea to go in checkers. Instead go with some classy grey, dark blue, white or black tones. Do you work at an office that allows business casual and you are confident of yourself? Go with something with bright colors and a striped or plaid pattern. When you dress for success you want to get noticed, and the way you do this is completely up to you!

I'd be happy to hear from you in the comments! Let me know down below what you'd like to read in our upcoming stories. Stay well!

*by andreascy*

The Mobile Kill Switch Is In Effect: Here’s What You Need To Know

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It’s officially July, which means the California smartphone “kill switch” law is officially effective in the Golden State. If you’re scratching your head right now asking, “What is that? Did I miss something? Is that a dumb question?” You can find the answers here. 

The Mobile Kill Switch Is In Effect: Here’s What You Need To Know

It’s important to stay informed because the impact of this mandate could mean a revolutionary change for the smartphone world and us owners in it. 

What Is A Kill Switch? 

A kill switch is a function featured on a smart device that gives a person the ability to remotely lock a phone and wipe the data on it if needed. The anti-theft measure requires users to input a passcode in a smartphone before it can be unlocked or restored to factory settings. What this new law in California calls for is a mandatory kill switch (think “Find My iPhone” or Android Device Manager) built into all smartphones, placed in active mode automatically. 

Why Is It Happening? 

It’s happening because “Apple Picking,” aka iPhone stealing, has become a crime epidemic due to the great value these handheld gadgets hold. In fact, 3.1 million Americans had their mobile phones stolen in 2013 and an estimated 1 in 3 thefts in the U.S. involves a smartphone. Many victims of these crimes are passengers on public transit and a sizeable portion have been threatened with knives or guns as well as assaulted. In order to deter these events from happening, the government is getting involved. A law has already been put in place in Minnesota and most recently went into effect in the state of California. The thought behind requiring an obligatory kill switch in all phones is that potential thieves won’t even attempt to steal a phone by knowing it will render useless once out of the original owner’s hands. 

How It’s Taking Effect & Who’s On Board? 

The wireless industry is proactively working together with policymakers to ensure that phone software complies to the new law in effect. For California, it’s required that a kill switch be equipped in the device and turned on as a default. Retailers must comply with the statute and if they sell any smartphones without a kill switch in place, they could be fined $500 - $2,500 per each one that doesn’t meet the now standard requirement. 

Major mobile carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon have endorsed the effort, working with app developers and tech manufacturers to develop kill-switch capabilities in the phones they sell at the store. Ultimately the customer is protected in every way, and no additional costs are inflicted upon them with the upgrade. Smartphones with tightened security mean happier consumers and a happy customer for these businesses is always the goal. 

What The Future Holds

With initial steps already taken with similar kill-switch software implemented in the past couple of years, results are proving positive. From the 2013 stats of 3.1 million phones stolen, the number has already dropped by a million to 2.1 million in 2014, according to Consumer Reports. As technology undergoes innovation after innovation, more people will indirectly buy new kill-switch-enabled phones that come to market. The California law is anticipated to be a success and the rest of the nation will follow the leader. 

So now when anyone asks you what a mobile kill switch is, you’ll know that it is an anti-theft feature that has become a requirement in all new smartphones made in California. The overall hope is to prevent the act from happening altogether, thus leading to a world with no more smartphone stealing. This big move by the biggest state in America should spark a domino effect and bring the United States one step closer to a more peaceful, less crime-filled society.

RELATED: Will You be the Next Victim of Laptop Theft?

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*by andreascy*