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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

Write/Script

Storyboard/Plan

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

Put it all together

Share

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.

Conclusion 

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

Description :

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

Description :

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. 

Colors:

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. 

Patterns: 

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

Description :

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?

Thanks for your time! If you liked the post, please share it with your friends. Like us on Facebook for more!

*by andreascy*


The 2 Food 3D Printers you Absolutely Need in your Kitchen

Description :

Have you ever watched an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation where they used a Replicator to make something out of thin air? Have you ever thought it would be cool to have that technology, but never thought that it would be achieved in your lifetime? 3D printers have made this a possibility and bridged the gap between reality and science fiction. There’s even a few build it yourself and DIY printers that are on the market as well.

Transforming the Food Industry 

In terms of Food 3D Printers for consumers, there are plenty of options available. Right now the technology isn’t as advanced as what was shown on Star Trek, but this is just the early stages. 

The Food 3D Printers you Absolutely Need in your Kitchen

 There’s even been talk of bioprinting as an available option; this is the ability to print organic foods like a pear or an apple. The printer “ink” consists of 3 main components found in all foods: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The raw ingredients are loaded into the printer, along with the appropriate ratios of food components; hit print and away you go. There have even been successful attempts at printing meat. The texture isn’t quite there yet but the taste is supposedly spot on. 

The two main hurdles faced by companies at the moment, is the texture/consistency of the food, and cooking the food while it’s being printed. If it’s a hamburger you’re looking for, yes you can have one printed. Just don’t be too surprised when the end result doesn’t look exactly like the burgers you’re used to.

The Food 3D Printers you Absolutely Need in your Kitchen

The taste of the food seems to be the easiest to recreate. As long as you know the correct ingredients, your food should taste the same as regular food. The only obvious difference is how the food is put together.

RELATED: Forget plastic - Bocusini 3D printer makes it possible to print fudge, jelly, and more 

Another reason that home and commercial 3D printers are having a hard time gaining popularity is due to the cost. Ironically it’s the industrial 3D printers that wind up being cheaper and this is because industrial machines are usually made with the purpose of printing only one part. Commercial machines have to be way more versatile; with more customization comes a larger price tag. It is still proving to be a challenge to fit the technology into a desk sized unit. Until companies can streamline and simplify the production, the cost is going to remain high. Cornell Labs is still developing printable muscle tissue. This will make it possible to reproduce more “real life” textures when printing foods like meat or fish. Don’t worry though, with the everyday advances in technology a cheaper and better performing printer will be on the market in no time.

Food 3D Printing is an extremely new concept with a range of potential benefits. Let's bring to the kitchen 2 very cool tools:

1. Foodini

 Foodini is made by a company called Natural Machines and prints mainly appetizers and entrees (burgers, pies, cookies and more). If you hate cooking, Foodini will save you some time.

The Food 3D Printers you Absolutely Need in your Kitchen

Here is a brief intro. Check out the beta and pre-production model in action:


2. ChefJet 

ChefJet is the other Food 3D Printer on the market made by a company called 3D Systems and its focus is mainly desserts (cakes, candies, just to name a few). However, it needs to be more developed.

The Food 3D Printers you Absolutely Need in your Kitchen

See it at work:


 Both are still being tested and perfected, and both are on the pricey side. The Foodini will set you back about $1,400 and the ChefJet can $5,000-$10,000, depending on if you want the single or multi-color machine. As of right now the Foodini is the only over-the-counter option. ChefJet has more testing to complete before they can offer a consumer-ready version of their machine.

Conclusion

Companies are not entirely sure how the general public will react to the idea of this new technology. People are scared of change. The same thing happened when the microwave first came out. At first everyone thought that it poisoned the food. Fast forward to today, and it is nearly impossible to find a house without one.

The Food 3D Printers you Absolutely Need in your Kitchen

Natural Machines is the first to point out that they are not on a quest to take all the work out of cooking. Instead they want to eliminate the time-consuming preparation that discourages people from wanting to cook in the first place. They also argue that the machines promote healthier eating because they require fresh ingredients to be prepared before the printing.

Despite the reason, this technology puts the human race one step closer towards the Jetsons and we as people need to ask ourselves; should we be doing this? The smartphone was supposed to revolutionize the way we communicate but ironically it’s made us more anti social. Will 3D food printers make us want to cook more, or simply be another unnecessary convenience? Like it or not the future is at our doorstep and only time will tell what this new technology has in store for us.


I'm just a guy, standing in front of the world, asking you to follow me. Any one on Twitter? Follow me @_andreascy. Thanks!

*by andreascy*

Trying to Improve Productivity in the Workplace? Try These Unconventional Methods

Description :

As business owners, you’re often evaluating business practices and looking for ways to streamline them. The basic understanding is that through improved productivity is the ability to succeed as a business. However, improving productivity within the workplace is not only about integrating new systems and processes, but also about motivating and encouraging the staff. Essentially, if the staff is not given the right amount of support and motivation, the business processes can decrease significantly. 

Trying to Improve Productivity in the Workplace? Try These Unconventional Methods

So, how does one motivate their staff to improve overall business productivity? Consider these methods below: 

1. Flexible Working Options 

Employees have a lot of responsibilities outside of work. Whether it’s raising their children, taking care of their health, or maintaining a household, they have a lot going on at one time or another. While employees are grateful for their jobs, many times, they are left to choose between having a successful career and taking care of personal responsibilities. 

If employers took the time to show their staff that they understand they’re not robots that essentially eat, breathe, and sleep work, chances are productivity would increase immensely. Offering flexible working options is one way to do this. By giving employees the ability to choose working schedules that fit best into their daily routines, absences decrease and productivity increases. Some ideas of offering flexible working options might include: 

 Varying Shifts – While most might assume that shifts are only for warehouse workers, this can be offered in just about any working environment. For example, a company that is open from 8 am to 6pm might offer the options of 8-4, 9-5, and 10-6. 

 Telecommuting – There are times in which you need staff in the office physically, but not in all instances. Why not allow your staff to work from home several days out of the week? Not only does this improve morale, but it also saves your business on overhead expenses such as utilities. 

 Days Off – some companies have programs that allow employees to have one day off per week during the summer seasons. This means that employees might work an extra hour on the days they’re in the office, but then be able to take off on the day they choose. Again, this allows them to enjoy their families, while saving you money. 

2. Encourage Breaks

Again, employers have to let employees know that they don’t look at them as robots. Encouraging breaks amongst your staff is a great way to improve morale and productivity in the workplace. Encouraging employees to take a break and stretch their feet or even take a little walk is a great way to show them you care. Making sure they’ve had their lunch and even one or two fifteen minute breaks per day gives them to opportunity to step away from the computer screen (or business equipment) and refresh their brains. 

3. Promote Wellness in the Office

According to a report by Stltoday.com, the average American worker takes off approximately 14 sick days per year….talk about slowed productivity. Employers can address this issue by caring about the health and well-being of their staff. Encouraging wellness within your workplace allows employees to get informed about their health, thus keeping them from using so many sick days. Some options for promoting wellness in your office include: 

 Offer exercise classes – having a yoga or zumba instructor come to the workplace on a weekly basis during lunchtime is a great way to promote wellness in the workplace. For a discounted price (or free if you’re willing to foot the bill), employees get to have fun while exercising which is great for their overall well-being. 

 Keep Healthy Options Accessible – most companies have vending machines that are filled with high calorie, sugary and salty foods and sugary drinks. Since this is the most accessible option for employees, they consume these things which cause them to gain weight. As you know, weight gain can open up the floodgates to health issues. Instead, try having healthier options that your staff can easily access. For instance, installing bottleless water coolers for your office will give your staff another beneficial drinking option besides coffee and soda. Also, opt for healthier selections in the vending machines. Instead of chips and candy, have the vending company put alternatives like wheat crackers, trail mix, and even baked chip options. 

 Offer Wellness Education – There are several companies that have started providing wellness education classes for their employees. Such programs give employees ideas on how to make better choices as it pertains to their health. WeightWatchers is often a popular program to consider. Employees get to attend meetings, and even participate in friendly weight loss competitions. 

What it all boils down to be is showing your employees that you care about them as individuals. When your staff understands that they’re more to you than just robot coming to work each day, they are more willing to get the job done quickly and efficiently. While investing in new systems and training is also a great way to streamline business processes and improve productivity, it is always important to consider those who have helped your business to be a success in the first place – your staff. 

*by andreascy*

Trending Tech Accessories Taken for Granted

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It’s the year 2015. No flying cars, moon base, or teleportation technology. Anyone familiar with the 20th century’s pop culture projections of the future are a little disappointed. Alas, not everything tech we hoped to exist by now has failed to appear. When it comes to personal and personalized gadgets and gizmos available to 21st century consumers, the human race has done pretty well for itself. The digital revolution has helped everything from touchscreens to voice command make the leap from fiction to reality. We haven’t sent someone to Mars yet, but we can simulate it via downloadable app.

Trending Tech Accessories Taken for Granted

For anyone bummed out about the chances of a working hover board appearing in their lifetime it’s time to appreciate what you do have. Here’s a list of impressive technology either ten feet away from you right now, or five years away from being ten feet away from you:

Headphones/Earbuds 

Ear gear has been around for a long time, no lie. The recent fashion flare-up involving “high quality” headphones illustrates how this taken for granted technology has come a long way. Not too long ago it exhausted a part-time paycheck or two to acquire headphones capable of reproducing great sound without letting everyone around you know what’s on the playlist. These days we’re able to isolate ourselves inside an album, movie, or viral video while riding packed public transit for less than $50 for a good pair of earbuds. Or you can opt for the $500 pair of headphones if you want...the technology is impressive either way.

Flash Drives

Like portable personal audio, the ability to physically transport digital data is nothing new. And it may even seem old-fashioned thanks to the cloud. But once again, we’re failing to marvel at one of the more magnificent inventions of our time. In terms of data volume, physical size, and versatility, nothing beats the flash drive. Not to mention they’re tangible, and thus have become a bit of a fashion accessory. Thanks to things like 3D printing people can now buy flash drives in bulk from companies capable of building them into custom shapes and figures. The result is an array of normal everyday objects capable of being hidden data mines. That’s futuristic for you.

Smart Stuff

It seems like only yesterday we were flipping open our cellular phones, winding our watches, and owning a dozen different other pieces of technology to do an equal number of tasks. The iPhone debuted eight years ago and we’re already over the all-in-one, touch-operated, voice-activated, pocket sized computers we carry in our pockets and purses. Now we have the dawn of the smartwatch; a little anticlimactic considering the wonders of the smartphone, but the stuff of science fiction nonetheless.

Drones

Does anyone appreciate the potential of drone technology? Maybe because the consumer drone industry is still in its infancy, but that’s partly because consumers aren't taking advantage of this amazing technology. We associate drones with spooky government stuff, and that’s a legitimate connection, yet drone technology can be so much more. It can be used to remotely chaperone children walking to school by themselves, or deployed to monitor a stolen car. We hear the word “drone” and picture a faceless killing machine, but the ability to essentially combine RC and smart technology together is a wonderful thing for society, whether we know it now or not.

We’re well into the 21st century now. Glance around and it doesn't really feel like it, but looks can be deceiving. Humans are easily bored and constantly eyeing the next big thing. Every once in awhile we need to stop and appreciate the technological gifts we’ve been fortunate enough to live to experience. For billions of people they were only the stuff of dreams.

*by andreascy*

Top 5 Things Every Mobile Gamer Must Have

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With phones and tablets edging ever closer to sixth gen console quality, it's not surprising that mobile devices have become many people's go-to gaming machines. High-end graphics are only one piece of the puzzle, though. Better-quality audio, boosted speed and enhanced touch-screen responsiveness have all contributed to mobile's rise in the gaming sphere. A sphere, it should be noted, that will likely be worth $100 billion by 2017 with a majority of those dollars devoted to mobile gaming. 

Top 5 Things Every Mobile Gamer Must Have

Gamer is quickly coming to mean something very different than it did once upon a time, thanks to changing demographics (women are now the largest video game playing group) and a flood of all-ages titles. But even players who gravitate toward Monument Valley versus titles like Mirror's Edge can appreciate the need for externals. To make mobile your main gaming machine, it helps to have these five things:

1. The right device 

Many of today's mobile games have been designed to make use of multiple cores, so a device with a quad- or dual-core processor is a must. More importantly, a device with a quad- or dual-core processor can “future proof” your phone or tablet, i.e., ensure that it can play the new and better games of tomorrow. Multiple cores enhance a device's ability to deliver the kind of impeccable graphics, speed and sound that serious gamers expect and even casuals want. 

2. An external controller 

Phones and tablets put amazing games into your pocket for anywhere play, but the feel of touch screen controls can leave a lot to be desired. The MOGA Pocket Controller is a serious win for gamers who love the feel of physical buttons and a real steal at about $30. That includes the controller (which looks like it came out of an Xbox One box), a case, tablet stand and the MOGA pivot app with its library of games like GTA and Call of Duty. Thanks to a comfortable rubberized grip and ergonomic wire-free design, mobile gaming sessions can go longer. 

3. A scaled-down sound solution 

Patching into your wireless sound system is a fine way to overcome the limitations of tiny phone speakers at home but out and about tinny audio is the norm. Or was. The Mini Jambox is incredibly portable at just 6″ x 1″ by 2.3″ and 9 ounces, and the acoustic drivers and bass radiator provide audio that proves that bigger isn't necessarily better. 

4. Longer game play 

Big time mobile gamers know that even the baddest batteries can't stand up to a serious session, which means a battery backup solution is essential. The EViO EUP power bank will keep you up and running, which is especially important when you're playing through titles that take time. The 13,000mAh battery takes a while to charge up but once it's good to go, so are you.

5. Something fun 

Don't let the overuse of the word serious fool you – games are still for playing and at least some of your accessories should reflect that! The Impulse Controller is a wireless mini gamepad with real physical buttons that clips on to your keychain. It's also a great way to find your lost keys, a camera trigger (goodbye, Selfie Stick) and a digital media controller that's compatible with virtually any device. There's also the Joystick-IT Arcade Stick – self sticking joysticks that attach to any touchscreen to give players that old school gaming experience.


There is always going to be a place for consoles in the gaming world. But as the mobile experience becomes richer and more satisfying thanks to must-haves like these, chances are good that place will grow ever smaller.

*by andreascy*