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How to Protect Your Company’s Email Against Cyberattack

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Hello folks and hope you had a restful holiday. At the dawn of the New Year, we'd like to wish you all a prosperous 2019, with personal and family fulfillment! We look forward to being your companion all year round. 😎👍

While Hollywood may portray hacking as a complicated endeavor which requires sophisticated technical expertise and endless nights spent staring at a computer, the truth is that hackers rely on a variety of methods, some of which are as simple as sending company employees an email pretending to be a reputable source. In fact, taking advantage of security loopholes among your company’s employees is one of the most reliable and fastest ways for malicious parties to access your company’s sensitive data. 

How to Protect Your Company’s Email Against Cyberattack

Often times, hackers or other criminals can simply send fake emails – also called “spoofed” emails – purporting to be from a reputable source, which can gain the attention of company employees who then surrender data or even money. Other times, hackers can gain access to your corporate email lists and send out emails to your clients and vendors requesting money. 

Hackers can even pretend to be the CEO and contact employees of your organization with demands such as emergency payments. Read on to learn more about the many different forms of Business Email Compromise, its harmful effects, and how to prevent it from happening within your company.

What is Business Email Compromise?

Business email compromise, refers to a type of cybersecurity infiltration that can occur in a company or business. In a business email compromise, which is also called BEC, malicious parties such as hackers or criminal organizations typically target high-level employees of an organization, such as corporate executives. Hackers may send emails to the executives, in a practice known as phishing

Phishing is a fraudulent form of email activity, in which hackers send emails pretending to be reputable companies to obtain information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and even financial payments. In BEC, high-level corporate executives are strategically targeted so that hackers can obtain confidential information and payments from the executives. This can pose significant risks to a company’s operations, both in terms of data loss and financially.

How does a typical email cyberattack work? There are four types of BEC scams which we will discuss in the next section.

Four Types of Email-Based Cyberattacks

There are several types of BEC scams. Hackers can pretend to be an employee in your organization to obtain information from your real employees, or they may be able to access sensitive information, such as a list of email contacts, to request payments from people with whom your company may work. 

Two types of BEC which involve the hackers pretending to be a reputable source are CEO fraud and attorney impersonation. In CEO fraud, the malicious parties pretend to be an executive and contact finance or the human resources department of a company, demanding an emergency payment. Hackers can also pretend to be a lawyer or an employee from a law firm to obtain access to sensitive data – this is known as “attorney impersonation.” 

Other types of BEC scams take advantage of employees’ poor data security practices rather than purporting to be high-profile members of your company. In account compromise, a high-level exec’s email is hacked, and the email address is used by hackers to request payments from clients listed in the executive’s email contacts. Hackers can also steal other types of data, and even steal data from company employees. Data theft can occur in which hackers obtain personally identifiable information (also called PII) from the human resources department, which can be used to plot further cyberattacks.

While these attacks may seem different, the common thread that unites all of them is that they result from poor cybersecurity and safety practices among all levels of employees within an organization. High-level corporate executives are prime targets for hackers because of their stature in the organization and access to confidential data. However, entry-level employees who are poorly trained in email security best practices can also risk clicking on links in emails sent by hackers and unknowingly sending malicious parties your company’s sensitive data, or even their own personal information.

Companies who do not train their employees on cybersecurity best practices, therefore, risk exposing sensitive corporate data, which can not only hurt the business’ bottom line and potentially leak data to competitors, but can cost companies thousands, and even millions, of dollars as they seek to institute damage control. The best way to avoid dealing with the fallout of a BEC, is to be prepared and train employees across your organization – from entry-level employees, to human resources, to high-level executives -- in best practices for maximum email security.

How Can I Prevent Business Email Compromise in My Organization?

The best way to prevent BEC in your company is to utilize state-of-the-art security practices and train employees on email best practices. Make employees aware of the dangers of email phishing and impersonation scams. Remind your employees – whether they are entry-level or at the top of the corporate food chain – that they should never open emails from people that they do not recognize, and should certainly never click on links in emails from unknown senders, due to the fact that such emails can be phishing attempts.

Your information technology staff, can also institute several security practices which make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to your information in general, even in the event of a data breach. Emails should be sent over an encrypted server, so that anyone who can access your internet network cannot read the information being sent over the network. Another important cybersecurity practice, that is now utilized in most secure servers is two-factor authentication, which requires users to input a passcode sent to their email or mobile device to gain access to a website or online service. Two-factor authentication on company email accounts, can make it more difficult for hackers to gain access to company emails. 

Finally, minimize your electronic “paper trail” to make it more difficult for hackers to gain employees’ personal information. Financial information such as W-2 forms and tax forms should also be delivered to your human resources department in person to avoid having sensitive personal information being leaked to hackers. Finally, limit the number of employees who are authorized to disperse company funds, and make sure to set alerts and limit the number of withdrawals from this fund.

 How to Protect Your Company’s Email Against Cyberattack

Source: Panda Security

Interested in learning more about how to protect your company against email compromise? Panda Security is a Spanish company that specializes in the development of high-tech products to help internet users navigate the web more safely and securely. Head over to Panda Security’s blog for more information on business email compromise, including a helpful infographic and warning signs to look for in an email to determine whether or not it is compromised. By educating your company’s employees about the dangers of BEC, you can help stop these cyberattacks and improve corporate security.

If you found this article of interest, we'd love to hear what you think!

*by andreascy*

New Able2Extract Professional 14: Sign PDFs & Convert with AI

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At https://officialandreascy.blogspot.com, the editorial team likes to keep tabs on the software they review, to keep giving you the latest and the best out of the tools we showcase. It’s about helping you work digitally and more productively.

New Able2Extract Professional 14: Sign PDFs & Convert with AI

In this case, it’s all about working efficiently with PDF documents and for that, we’ve got an update on Able2Extract Professional, the PDF suite we’ve reviewed before that lets you fill and edit PDF forms, and complete a range of other PDF tasks. 

The new advanced features in this latest version, are opening users up to working better than ever with PDF files. Here’s a look at the newest major features.

Sign PDFs With Electronic And Digital Signatures

Nowadays, when your workload is completely done by computer, the hard copy tasks you normally performed physically, like signing documents, are now done digitally. The new Able2Extract Professional 14 now includes the ability to add electronic and digital signatures to PDF files with a few clicks. 

New Able2Extract Professional 14: Sign PDFs & Convert with AI

Electronic image signatures are easily inserted by typing them in, drawing them out or importing a signature image. Digital cryptographic signatures are added by signing a PDF, and then attaching a digital certificate to it. All of this is done through a convenient side panel, no other application needed.

This feature, fills the growing demand for highly secured documents. It’s a valuable addition to the file permissions, encryption, and protection passwords, Able2Extract Professional can already add to PDF documents. 

Instantly Verify Digital Signatures

To complement the ability to sign PDFs, you can now also verify digital signatures. Able2Extract Professional does this in an extremely user-friendly way, allowing you to first visually confirm the status of a digital signature, with a quick glance at a padlock icon in the tab of an opened PDF file. Secondly, you can click on the digital signature in the side panel, to view the signature’s information. This lets you know if the PDF was altered after being signed.

New Able2Extract Professional 14: Sign PDFs & Convert with AI

Needless to say, knowing that the PDF you have, hasn’t been altered is a must in this day and age of data breaches and electronic documents exchanges. If your work is based on a lot of confidential and important files, you’ll be glad to have this feature.

AI-Powered PDF to Excel: Smart and Master Templates

Known for its Custom PDF to Excel conversion, Able2Extract Professional has long since given users the ability to manually adjust rows, columns and table structure selections to produce accurate conversion results in to Excel. Believe it or not, the developers have improved upon the feature with artificial intelligence technology. 

This AI technology, lets you train custom Excel templates with a sampling of 5-10 PDF files that contain the selected table structures you want out of a PDF document. These trained Smart templates can then be used by Able2Extract, to automatically select all the similar tables in a PDF file on its own. After you load it, a click on the Convert button will convert all those same tables into a single spreadsheet. 

New Able2Extract Professional 14: Sign PDFs & Convert with AI

AI-powered Master (Batch conversion) templates are similar in that you train them on PDF samples, but the difference is that you can also harness the power of a batch conversion with them. Just train an Excel template in Batch mode and then afterwards, you can apply that Master template to the applicable PDFs you line up for a batch conversion. The result is, an automatic and customized PDF to Excel batch conversion job. 

Our Verdict

We were more than impressed with the capabilities of the software’s last version, and have to admit that this version is miles ahead of that. This tool is excellent at innovating and improving upon the PDF features it already has to offer. 

If you liked everything we covered about Able2Extract Professional before, you’ll love this latest version. Again, you can test out the above features for yourself with a 7-day free trial.

*by andreascy*

How Educational Technology is Reshaping Education: Latest Trends

Description : 

For many years now, we’ve been seeing a gradual, but important shift in the way that people are educated. Gone are the days of notepads, pens and paper notes. Today, students are creating the content on their tablets, they are sending it across intranets, and they are engaging with the class, 24/7 through social media. This is referred to as asynchronous learning.

How Educational Technology is Reshaping Education: Latest Trends

Far from being the distraction they were originally intended to be, though, digital devices are helping to re-shape the traditional dynamics of education as we know it — they are actually amplifying it.

So, what latest trends and changes can we expect to make a compelling difference to the market in the years to come?

Smart Tech

One of the most obvious innovations we have seen in recent years comes from the rather wonderful Smart technology industry. For example, one tool we might see used in academic study soon is IBM’s Watson device. Watson offers a high-end education tool that addresses and improves the way that people study. This is going to be very important for the long-term growth of the industry, as Watson is known to change the way that people collate data from masses of unmanaged data using artificial intelligence and sophisticated means of analysis.

How Educational Technology is Reshaping Education: Latest Trends

This is very useful for making sure that the next generations can use technology to find answers that they would have otherwise never received. Even in more limited education functions, new AI toys could be used to manage the growth of younger children and make them more aware of certain interactions.

From making children more aware of their actions and the way they portray themselves, to full on educational aids, smart tech will ensure that the next generation always has a helping hand waiting for them.

The IoT and IoE

A significant element of the web is going to be the Internet of Things. We’re already changing the way we all link together and operate as one today, and the IoT will ensure that this continues. For example, the IoT will enable the rapid growth of virtual classroom learning. IoT will ultimately be a defining factor in shaping the future of the industry. Device interaction will improve and before long it will be easy to take the information garnered in the classroom right to our PCs back at home. The future of learning will involve possessing the means to transmit data as freely and as accurately as possible across the whole group.

How Educational Technology is Reshaping Education: Latest Trends

Education will benefit from an added layer of depth to the IoT, in which people will be able to make the most of a learning system that brings together various aspects of their day-to-day lives. 

More recently, another somewhat synonymous to IoT concept, introduced by CISCO is the Internet of Everything, defined as "the intelligent connection of people, process, data and things." This philosophy can inform a globalized, expanded notion of internet connections beyond machines. The latter can be meaningful for developing tools such as Educational Management Systems (EMS), which refer to managing the massive data of school records and other administrative functions across the globe, perhaps in a unified way.

VR and AR

Virtual reality and Augmented Reality took a very important step in 2018, with the mainstream release of many headsets by the likes of Sony and HTC leading the way, as well as more research-driven industry applications. Indeed, another option — the Google Cardboard — is expected to deliver exciting new ways of learning. It’s going to change the way that students investigate future careers, which is vital to shaping dreams.

How Educational Technology is Reshaping Education: Latest Trends

For instance, a profession might sound amazing, but the reality could be very different. VR will re-shape how we evaluate the suitability of a student to take up such a profession. with simulations to estimate the performance of the person under a specific role. It will also help students to determine how suitable they are just by trying it out. Was it everything they thought it was going to be? 

Such possibilities are explored in pilot studies and research experiments across the world. This type of VR and AR applications, will help students to avoid making the wrong choice early in life and failing to come back from it. Many students wind up in major debt, just trying to get into a career path that, when they “make it” resembles the opposite of what they had intended in the first place.

3D Printing

Another major element of education that is likely to change heavily in the near future is the power of 3D Printing. As one of the most powerful industries out there at the moment, it’s beginning to become a very popular way to learn for kids. Nowadays, children can get their hands on the kind of objects and instruments that previously they could only look at in books and dream of holding for real.

How Educational Technology is Reshaping Education: Latest Trends

From the crown of a king, to the layout of a medieval weapon (blunted, obviously!) children could get a much more authentic appreciation of the world that they read about on the pages of book. This is dangerous, though, as it prevents children from appreciating the true gravity of what they are reading about. The day that 3D printing stops being so prohibitively expensive, will be a good day as it should help people to finally become involved in the industry, thus empowering and educating the next generation.

In Summary...

Whilst understanding the various challenges that the Internet and similar devices present to the education industry, the trends are already here. People are becoming more appreciative of the integration of technology into various forms of education, as most believe it will quickly help to make people more comfortable with technology, as well as working and living in a multimodal and digitally mediated society.

All of the above technological outputs, have been working their way into education for some time — it’s just a matter of time before they are more systematically implemented in classrooms worldwide. Each will play their part in determining a new dawn for education, which can only be a good thing, ensuring that future generations, receive the best and most relevant learning possible.

*by andreascy*

The Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Workplace

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They say that it is not apt to judge a book by its outer cover. But an eye-catching and tasteful cover will increase the chances of its sale significantly. Taste in clothes and dressing sense varies from one person to another. Some like to keep it subtle, while others like to go bold and bright. A 9 to 5 type office is not a hip place. People are bogged down by work pressure.

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

There is too much stress in the office environment. That does not mean you have to dress in a depression manner as well. Picking party clothes and office clothes is as different as chalk and cheese. With the right balance, you can make office attires fun and sophisticated at the same time. Some organizations have strict dress codes, while others have a relaxed attitude. An employee must put some thought while stocking his/her wardrobe with professional clothes. 

1. Dress Code According to the Industry

Only suits will make the cut in strictly corporate offices. These offices have a business professional dress code where only trousers, blazers, pencil skirts, solid colored shirts, and ties are allowed. If you work in an office with a business casual dress code, then men can replace formal trousers with chinos. Leather footwear is also allowed. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

As for women, plain but bright tops, embroidered shirts, and a variety of shoes will make the cut. If the office environment is too relaxed, then you can wear anything. That being said; never show up in shorts, bermuda, heavily embellished tops, too revealing outfits and flip-flops

2. Creates a Cohesion in the Workplace

Employees work in groups to attain a common objective. A professional dress code is needed for visual cohesion. It gives a sense of belonging to a group. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

Too dissimilar dressing patterns can produce an awkward vibe in the workspace. Dressing conveys messages, and proper dress codes enable all employees to send a positive message on behalf of the organization. 

Dress to impress

Following correct professional dress code, allows a person to create a positive impression on the interviewer. First impressions are essential. If the professional attire catches the eyes of the authority, your chances of bagging the job will increase. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

If you are already working in an office, you must be well dressed to create a positive impact at any time. You never know when the CEO will drop by for a surprise visit, or if you dump into your ex-flame. Best dressed men and women stand out amongst others.

3. Reflecting the Brand Image

Every employee represents the company. If they don’t create a good impression in the market, then the company’s status drops. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

A proper dress code will prevent this from happening. When every staff member is perfectly dressed, the reputation of the organization rises. 

4. Dress for the Post you Desire 

Juniors and back-office staff can get away with slight alterations in the dress code. If they wish to climb the corporate ladder, then they must dress accordingly. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

If you want to get promoted to a manager, then follow dress codes that will suit the respective role. Your dressing will create an impression on the authority. They will take you as a serious and ambitious candidate. 

Right fabric and size

You are in the office to work. No one will pay you only to look good. If you are not comfortable in your clothes, then you will fail to concentrate on the task. Your productivity, performance, and chances of promotion will dwindle fast. Many offices demand their employees to wear blazers

Though these are not an issue during winters, wearing a blazer is quite a challenge during summers. It is here that selection of fabric comes to the forefront. You will get cotton, linen and silk blazers in stores. They are light, comfortable, come in several colors and helps in abiding by office dress code. Light, breathable and soft fabrics are top picks for professional clothing.

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

If you are lucky to work in an office that has no restrictions on clothing, then you can opt for bright and printed blazers as well. In that case, opting for softer fabrics like silk and linen will be ideal. Team up a deep red T-shirt with black jeans and a grey linen blazer to complete your fun office look. As for shoes, your sneakers will be enough to offer comfort throughout the day. 

Pay attention to accessories

Whether it is a pantsuit or a formal pencil skirt with crisp shirts, wrong selection of accessories can ruin the entire look. Picking the right trinkets is imperative to make a subtle statement and highlight your refined taste. Going ballistics with accessories will not create a positive impression. Chuck statement and beaded neckpieces, say no to dangling earrings, and a definite no to multi-layered charmed bracelets. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

When dressing for work, less is more. A sleek watch is enough to beautify your hands. If you work in an office that allows casual dress code, then you can deck up as a college student with several rings and chunky earrings. Maintaining a balance will always enhance your beauty, without overshadowing any piece.

Select shoes carefully

Even if you don’t need to run around in the office, investing in a pair of good shoes is mandatory. Men must opt for formal office shoes. It is safe to play with colors like black, deep and light brown and tan. These hues complement all attire colors. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

Women can pick between high heels, kitten heels or box heels. Under no circumstance must any employee come to the office in flip-flops. No matter how beautiful the shoe looks, if it is uncomfortable, it should not be purchased. 

5. Casual Office Dress Code

Though professional dress code is somewhat rigid, there are some offices and startups, which have a relaxed take on office wear. Employees can show up in any dress as long as they are not distasteful. 

Importance Of Having A Professional Dress Code At Your Work Place

The main mantra is to be comfortable in the attire. From comfortable jeans to linen shirts, from jumpsuits to T-shirts, you can wear any casual outfit. As for shoes, both flats and heels will be accepted. 

Summing Up

Admist the hype of emerging technologies and startups growing like mushrooms, there has been a shift in the professional dress code around different businesses. Whereas there is an increasing call for more casual attire to dress to work, you should always keep in mind that a truly professional dress style will have to be formal and above all not exaggerate. 

This article highlights the dos and dont's of your work outfit and how you should go about to impress your colleagues and supervisors. It may not be the case at all situations, however it has been found that an employee's outfit to work contributed to his advancement to a higher post. 

Of course ultimately, no matter what the professional dress code you choose or are required to follow, you must keep in mind that the clothes you wear should be also practical and make you feel comfortable where possible as you want to both feel and look good at your work space.

*by andreascy*

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

Description : 

Accessories will complete the look that you desire to flaunt. A dress, without matching shoes, neckpieces, and bags, looks like a painting devoid of colors. With the right fashion accessories, you can either dress up or dress down a particular outfit. 

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

These trinkets will also highlight your taste and help to create a distinct style statement. In case you lack the eye to a new dress with appropriate accessories in your mind, then take the assistance of the experts. 

Watches: Keep Pace With Fashion Trends 

The advent of smartphones has eliminated the need of wearing a watch on your wrist. But how often do you see a man or woman without one? Almost never! Whether it is a casual occasion or a formal event, people love wearing expensive watches. These timepieces are no longer used to keep track of time. Instead, these act as accessories. 

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

A sleek watch polishes your outfit and your personality at the same time. It shows you are capable of striking a balance between being funny and serious. If you are in a casual and relaxed mood, then ditch the boring black and brown leather straps for brightly printed and patterned straps. Some watches come with interchangeable straps. So, you can sport a new look every day. 

Scarves and Jackets for Extra OOMPH

Power suits, skirts, basic tops or jumpsuits – no matter what you are wearing, a colorful scarf can add life to the attire immediately. Monochromatic or bright scarves, will attract focus to your face, instead of the top. It will add an extra layer. They are a mark of sophistication and charm. If you are not a fan of tying something around your neck, then jackets will save you from fashion disasters. 

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

For summers, you can depend on linen, cotton or silk jacket, while woolen overalls will keep you safe from the winter chills. Jackets are available in bright as well as subtle hues, to complement the dress underneath. When in doubt, throw a coat over your clothing, and you will look elegant instantly. 

Shoes for Comfort and Class

Shoes offer much more than comfort. Classy shoes are a mark of an elegant individual. People pay attention towards the clothes and accessories. But only a knowledgeable person knows that a true blue aristocrat will own shiny and well-maintained shoes. All your efforts to look like a million dollars will go down the drain if your shoes don’t go with the dress. Flats and platforms shoes offer supreme comfort. Tie-up shoes and Greek sandals look amazing with casual dresses. 

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

If you want to make a style statement or look rich at a formal event, then it is imperative to ditch the flats and put on high heels. In case, someone is not comfortable walking in high heels; she can opt for smaller box or kitten heels as well. Heels offer an excellent posture to the body and make you look taller instantly. Make sure you have bright colors, blacks, browns and nude colored footwear in your shoe closet. 

Hats for Every Season

If you think that hats were a thing of the past, then you need to take a quick trip to the race course. The rich and famous like to wear hats even today. It highlights their status but also shields them from the harsh rays of the sun. The members of British royal family and aristocrats are never seen without hats on special occasions. 

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

Covering the head, was a mark of sophistication in early days. Berets are famous among French women, while British ladies opt for elaborate hats. If you want an extra edge, then wearing fedora, boater, cartwheel or floppy hats will do the trick. Boater, cartwheel and floppy hats are available in different colors and patterns and look amazing with jumpsuits, rompers, shorts, skirts and other casual dresses. 

Get Some Bling on With Jewelry

There was never a shortage of trinkets in the market. Precious metals and costly rocks not only enhanced the beauty but also showcased the status of the person. Gold, silver, platinum and white gold are some popular metals, used for making trinkets. If you are looking for affordable options, then German silver and artificial metals will also do the trick. 

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

There is an unending option for men and women who desire to adorn their bodies with ornaments. Multi-layered neckpieces, chunky statement necklaces, small and big earrings, beaded and charm bracelets, middle eastern headpieces, strings of pearls are some common pieces, which can help in making a smile dress look expensive. In recent fashion events, models have been seen sporting midi and layered finger rings. Cuff bracelets are also in vogue. One can incorporate these to dress up or dress down appropriate attire.

Bags! Bags! And More Bags!

Will you ever leave the house without a bag or purse? Bags are essential accessories, which bring out the beauty of any dress. Not all bags will complete all kinds of attires. A wrong pick can mar the beauty of the outfit. The market has been flooded with various kinds of bags. One can pick tote bags, shoulder bags, sling bags, bucket bags, fanny packs, transparent plastic bags, purses, and clutches. 

7 Fashion Accessories To Lift Up Your Style Quotient

Bags made of cotton and jute; with thread work are new additions to the fashion world. They are popularly seen in India and Middle Eastern nations. They suit the traditional outfits as well as solid colored dresses.


If you have a plain jumpsuit, then these bags can add a dash of color and character to the outfit. Clutches made of silk or metal complement dresses, while tote bags offer a casual look if you want to step out in basic T-shirts, shorts or rompers. Smaller vanity bags will make your getup look elegant. 

*by andreascy*

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Description :

One of the most poignant discussions in the museum world, has been on issues of inclusion and access. Prolific museum figures like Nina Simon presenting in the recent Museum Next Conference in London, shared the vision behind OFBYFOR ALL, a new global initiative to help civic and cultural organisations become OF, BY, and FOR their communities. However, what is it that can help take the next step in terms of inclusion and learning within and out of museum grounds? 

This article draws on a doctoral research study to investigate museum’s democratic potential, through transformative approaches to pedagogy aimed at meaningful cultural participation.

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

The ‘meaningful’, stands for a degree of competence in reading, interpreting and constructing meaning from the existing multiple forms of language (Stapp, 1984: 112; Mitchell, 2007: 3). ‘Participation’ involves an ability to negotiate the complex dialogic relationship that exists between the written word, the spoken word, images, objects, time and space (Mathewson-Mitchell, 2007: 3).

Consideration of issues of access in relation to the significant literacy requirements of museums, suggests that increasing focus on the explicit teaching of museum-based literacies, could be the way through which to expand museum visiting opportunities for the less 'conventional' audience.

It is actually proposed that museum-based literacies could act as the means to the development of cultural competence in museum environments. This evolution in theory and practice of, and about museums, has been notably part of radical changes in the museum world since the 1970s, mostly known as new museology.

Museums as Agents of Change

The development of a “new museology” (Mayrand, 1985: 201), is a concept used to describe the focus on the potential of museums as a positive social force. Golding (2009) suggests the museums should act as frontiers, places where learning and identity are produced and developed for all, while new ‘bridges’ are raised between non-dominant communities and their own histories (Philip, 1992 in Golding 2009).

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

It became profound that if museums accept their educational role, “they must also accept their social responsibility to work towards supporting a participatory democratic society” (Hein, 2005: 50). We need to “take advantage of the current context, as ‘opening new educational and social possibilities’ (Cope and Kalantzis, 2000: 18), to promote democratic education and human needs...” (Early, 2007: 67).

Changing Times, Changing Literacy 

Ever since the 1960s, the nature of literacy practice and needs is changing; Hall (1989) suggests this is thought of as a consequence of New Times. New Times is an era of internalization, characterised by the breaking down of borders between local and global contexts resulting from rapid change in communicative practices (Gee, 2000: 183; Luke and Elkins, 1998).

One common element that has changed is that literacy has become inherently plural; thus researchers have problematized the very notion of literacy as a discrete set of skills. Luke and Freebody (2000) provide one of the more recent and useful definitions of literacy: 

"Literacy is the flexible and sustainable mastery of a repertoire of practices with the texts of traditional and new communications technologies via spoken, print, and multimedia"

(Luke and Freebody, 2000: 9)

In such a perspective of literacy, the literate person is one who develops capacity to respond to emerging and communicative needs, a literate person who is a sophisticated user of texts. The individual engages with literacy practices as a decoder of text, as a maker of meanings, as a purposeful user of information and as a text analyst who employs critical thinking skills in the literate work (Luke and Freebody, 2000; Liddicoat, 2007: 20). 

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Figure 1: Evolution of the concept of literacy over fifty decades

Although acknowledging contemporary, 21st century demands of ‘literacy’ and education, this definition does not incorporate the social context of literacy. Literacy is, as Gee (1996: 22) has aptly described, “a socially contested term”. To this respect, literacy is a social practice rather than merely a means to an end. 

Such a consideration draws on the paradigm of New Literacy Studies (NLS) and recognises literacy as a set of socially and culturally constituted practices enacted across and within social and institutional spaces. It acknowledges literacy as a social and historical construction that evolves dynamically (Giampapa, 2010: 4; Potvin, 2009; Garcia, Bartlett and Kleifgen, 2006). 

Literacy is seen as a social responsibility including a critical or transformative emphasis in which literacy is a tool to understanding social structure in which we live so we can transform it in meaningful ways (Gee, 1996: 58; Street, 1995). The social perspective of literacy, implies more than superficial contacts with print; it icorporates an understanding of how to manipulate words and concepts through complex daily social interactions in an accepted manner (Giampapa, 2010; Potvin, 2009; Reid, 1998; Kern, 2000) through cultural apprenticeship (Rogoff, 1990).

The ‘New’ in Literacies: Multiliteracies

Following the NLS paradigm, ‘multiliteracies’ have emerged. The term “Multiliteracies” immediately shifts us from the dominant written print text to acknowledge the complexities of practices, modes, technologies and languages with which literate people need to engage in the contemporary world.

The “New London Group” (a team of ten academics including James Gee and Allan Luke) came together in 1996 concerned about how literacy pedagogy might address the rapid change in literacy due to globalisation, technology and increasing cultural and social diversity. They employed the term ‘multiliteracies’ to address these issues (The New London Group, 1996).

Since then, The Ontario Ministry of Education has come up with a number of literacy initiatives, some of which are characterized by a critical and social view of literacy, where literacy is conceived of as "the ability to use language and images in rich and varied forms to read, write, listen, speak, view, represent, and think critically about ideas" (Expert Panel on Literacy Report, 2004: 5).

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Figure 2: Multiliteracies and their design elements (Adapted from The New London Group, 2000)

Luke and Luke (2001: 92-94) echo this idea, and argue that new technologies have facilitated the emergence of new kinds of artefacts, such as digital storytelling, requiring new levels of engagement and development of higher and different mental faculties (i.e. new multiliteracies). Luke (2000) also talks about the critical multiliteracies - being able to understand, debate, and act upon the material, political, and social consequences of technological change.

An alternative view of literacy calls for a reconceptualization of literacy as reading and writing the world (Freire, 1970). This conceptualization foregrounds critical thinking in both teachers and students, and looks beyond functional literacy (reading and writing skills), to the knowledge and power relations in literacy discourses.

Agnello (2001) refers to this approach as postmodern literacy, and argues that through this approach “reading and writing become enhanced methods for exploring the democratic self and its formation through ideological exposure to knowledge and power relations formulated by educational policy texts. Through such exploration, literacy becomes a tool for self-, student, and social advocacy rather than commodity to determine whether one measures up satisfactorily on test scores” (Agnello, 2001: 24-25).

Museum Learning as a Multiliteracy Practice

Museum-based literacies or museum literacy, refers to the competence in drawing upon the museum, its space and collections using certain skills and practices. In 1984, Carol B. Stapp observed that “museum literacy” was then a newly emerging phrase that articulated the older idea of a philosophy of museum accessibility.

Museum literacy goes beyond ‘reading’ objects; which may be understood as visual literacy; it requires a deeper level of process and understanding of the multiple and interacting languages and modes of communication found in the museum. 

By broadening the view of museum literacy, it is acknowledged that the language that is involved in the museum is diverse and incorporates multimodal literacies including: linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, spatial patterns, technological and print-based (see for instance, Cope and Kalantzis, 2000: 160,203; Giroux, 1992; Hooper-Greenhill, 1999).

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Figure 3: The multimodal literacies in museum-based pedagogy (Savva, 2016)

This view of museum learning redefines the goals and strategies of educators and the museum curricula. The idea of education in museums is seen as exploratory, broad, experiential, complex and multi-layered; museum strategies are now audience driven (Russo et al., 2007, Hein, 1998; Falk and Dierking, 2000).

To this discussion fits the incorporation of museum learning into the multiliteracies concept; this is facilitated by the realization that a display of material culture conveys messages about the people who created them and the times in which they were used (Pearce, 2003). 

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

The act of creating an exhibit is parallel to the act of producing knowledge. Exhibits are not simply displays, but systems of signs that express messages about culture. Museums and their exhibits reflect the ideology of those who create them.

In the same vein that “There is no such thing as ‘reading’ or ‘writing,’ only reading or writing something . . .” (Gee, 1999: 93), the same would hold true for creating exhibits. There is no such thing as displaying an artifact without displaying something about that artefact. Also, the interpretation of messages is similar to the deciphering of text, using the signs, symbols, objects, etc., of a museum exhibit as part of the process of creating meaning (Roberts, 1997).

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Griffin (1999: 8) identifies the unique learning opportunities offered by museums as: opportunities to closely examine objects or specimens; opportunities for comparison that allow trends and patterns to be deciphered; natural learning processes that incorporate the sharing and communication of ideas and the raising of questions; and opportunities to develop perceptual skills that teach how to gather information from objects and experiences. 

Because museum exhibits make meaning through multiple media, multiple modes, and multiple symbol systems, the literacy practice of museum visiting is a multiliteracy. 

An interesting project exploring the latter, is the ‘Museum Literacy Project’ in 2008-2010, involving nine different museums, administrations and training institutions based in five European countries, supported by the EU programme Lifelong Learning - Grundtvig Learning Partnerships, 2008. The project focus was on museums and audiences with low schooling level, and how museum literacy can be reached and maximize the museum experience for these audience.

Dimensions of a Pedagogy of Multiliteracies for Museum Learning - The Research Framework

Taking into consideration the unique characteristics of the museum environment, I undertook an empirically-based doctoral study involving the design, enactment and evaluation of the Living Museum Partnership (LMP), a museum-school partnership that unfolded in 13 weeks for the construction of a student-generated virtual museum to support environmental education curriculum (Savva, 2016). 

Specific focus was on developing virtual learning environments and applying augmented reality to enhance culturally and linguistically diverse students' repertoires of literacy practices. This design-based research, draws from the field of New Literacy Studies, the proposed Museum Multiliteracies Practice (MMP) framework derived from the multiliteracies pedagogy of the New London Group, the Learning by Design Model adapted from Cope and Kalantzis and Schwartz’s museum based pedagogy.

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Figure 4: The pedagogies interacting in the Museum Multiliteracies Practice framework (Savva, 2016)

It is proposed that museum educators and learning professionals undertake an approach for teaching and learning in the museum setting which incorporates multiliteracies pedagogy. Identification of museum literacies requires thorough examination into the interaction of modes that are evident, the incorporation of multiliteracies implicated, the various sign systems that are employed, and the unique nature of the museum learning environment (Mathewson-Mitchell, 2007: 7-8).

The focus should be not only on literacies as communication (meaning for others, as supports for social interaction). My doctoral research for instance also emphasized on literacies as a form of representation (or meanings for ourselves, as supports for thinking).

Cope and Kalatzis (1996, refined 2000, 2009) elaborate on the potentials of a ‘Pedagogy of Multiliteracies’ in fulfilling these aspirations. Two important ideas brought in a multiliteracies pedagogy are Learning by Design and Multimodality.

Learning by Design, is building into curriculum the idea that not every learner will bring the same lifeworld experiences and interests to learning, as well as acknowledging that every learner is not on the same page at the same time; pedagogies of learning are re-configured to construct learning as “a dialogue of difference” (Cope and Kalantzis, 2005: 31). The idea of Multimodality discusses learners’ movement between written, oral, visual, audio, tactile, gestural and spatial modes of meaning-making (Cope and Kalantzis 2005, 2009). 

On this basis, the New London Group (1996) has proposed a multiliteracies pedagogy consisting of situated practice, overt instruction, critical framing, and transformed practice.

 Situated practice includes learners’ prior and present experiences in a community of learners (composed of experts and novices). 

 Overt instruction involves the teacher’s or expert’s interventions to scaffold (Bruner, 1983) or support learning and increase the learner’s consciousness about learning. Scaffolding is a metaphorical concept that refers to the visible or audible assistance that a more expert member of a culture can give to an apprentice (Bruner, 1983, 1986). You might also note Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), that relates to Bruner’s notion of the scaffold here. 

 Critical framing refers to learners interpreting the historical, cultural, political and ideological contexts of learning.

 Transformed practice includes implementing new understandings through reflective practice in other contexts.

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Figure 5: The Multiliteracies Model and Learning by Design (Adapted from Kalantzis and Cope, 2000)

Also identified within the Learning by Design Model are four knowledge processes (See Figure 5 above). The knowledge processes identified are:

(a) Experiencing the known and the new

(b) Conceptualising by naming concepts and theorising 

(c) Analysing functions and interests 

(d) Applying appropriately and creatively.

Findings and Implications for Museum Learning Practice

Stapp (1984) had argued that schools do not address the knowledge, skills and attitudes for museum literacy. Recent observations of the characteristic use of museums by school-based teachers suggest that a relatively passive, idealist approach to museum experiences, as identified by Stapp, has continued, with teachers lacking confidence and competence in the museum setting (Mathewson-Mitchell, 2006). 

Based on the findings of my doctoral research, it is suggested that addressing museum-based multiliteracies leads to effective museum-school partnerships and meaningful museum learning practice. Research data suggested that students’ repertoires of literacy were enhanced as they engaged in the learning process as active designers and multimodal learners (Savva, 2016). It was found that students gained opportunities to:

Infusing Multiliteracies Into Museum Learning Practice for Inclusive Cultural Participation

Figure 6: Findings of Museum Multiliteracies Practice research (Savva, 2016)

It is proposed that any museum education programme or museum-school partnership or collaboration pays attention to the following key principles:

1. Teaching children, especially digital natives of our time, to be literate in any setting is not just a set of skills that can be transferred. Rather, education needs to enable them to participate in social situations using the required literacy practices.

2. Museum visiting is seen as multiliteracy practice; as such it requires specific museum-based literacies that are rarely identified or explicitly taught by museums or schools.


Ultimately, this brief review and presentation of the proposed empirically based, research framework for museum learning practice, forms a pathway to follow for inclusive cultural participation at any level and age. The London New Group’s (1996) ideas further developed by Cope and Kalatzis (2000; 2005; 2006) for a Pedagogy of Multiliteracies, could inform the development of the specific literacy requirements of museums, in a way that could lead to full museum literacy and a transformative cultural engagement and participation for diverse audiences.

7 Reasons to Consider a Home Gym

Description :

For people who work out regularly, going to the gym can be tedious. The memberships cost money and (let’s face it) sometimes other gym goers can be downright obnoxious. To make you experience at the gym more enjoyable, you may want to consider a home gym.

7 Reasons to Consider a Home Gym

Of course, it is daunting to make the space and spend the money on equipment, but it could be worth it for the complete control of your workouts. If going to a gym is getting old, you might want to consider the benefits of working out a little closer to home. Here are 7 reasons investing in a home gym will be worth it in the long run. 

1. Privacy 

If you are someone who feels awkward or uncomfortable working out in front of others, then a home gym is the perfect solution. Just imagine: you can wear whatever you want, grunt as loudly as you want, and use whatever equipment you want without waiting for it. Plus, you never have to worry about being judged by strangers so you may feel more free to try new workouts. You also won’t have to worry about getting unsolicited advice from gym staff, or people who think they’re gym staff. There will never be any worry about embarrassment in the private oasis that is your home gym. 

In your home gym, you will be able to watch your TV shows or listen to your music unencumbered by headphones. You won’t have to take anyone else into consideration when picking the volume of your tunes. So turn up the volume and let the music motivate you. You can even use all the chalk you want without being reprimanded. 

You may even find yourself working out a little harder since you have no one else looking at you and you don’t even need to think about how you look while working out. Additionally, not having to worry about someone taking your machine will help you feel more relaxed and not on edge about other people swooping in. 

Another bonus is that you will never have to think about crowds. Not everyone likes working out surrounded by people and it can be impossible to get the machines you are looking for at peak hours. You can take solace knowing that after work you can go home to a nice empty gym and relieve the stress of a long day, without interruption. 

2. Saving Time

Sometimes the prospect of driving to an over-crowded gym with lackluster equipment can be completely demotivating. However, it is much harder to convince yourself to skip your workout when your “commute” to the gym is about one minute. 

Depending on how far away your gym is, you probably add about 20-30 minutes to your workout just in travel time. That is time you could spend going a little harder on your workout, or even better, just being at home. 

Not only will working out take up less time in general, a home gym allows you to utilize your time more efficiently. In your home gym, it will be so much easier to use the time you have. Only have 20 minutes? You can squeeze in a 20-minute workout since you won’t have to worry about the hassle of traveling to the gym. 

Who wants to battle rush hour traffic just to get in a workout after work? It is so much easier to go straight home and know that you can take your time getting there. You will ultimately be able to spend more time with your family since you will be in your home for your workout. 

Plus, your workouts will be quicker since you will know that the exact equipment you want will be available when you want it. When you’re working out at a commercial gym, the time spent traveling to and from the gym, putting your stuff in lockers, waiting for equipment, and possibly showering can be equal to time actually spent on the gym floor. 

3. Customization

Of course you should always tour a gym before you sign up, but even if you think they have all the equipment you want now, that might not always be the case. As your fitness goals grow and evolve, so will your equipment needs. 

If you take training very seriously and tend to work with only extremely heavy weights, you will be hard pressed to find a gym that carries the weights you want. If you are relatively new to working out, the gym often has a lot of equipment you don’t need, but are paying for anyway. 

When you create a home gym you can customize it to include exactly the equipment that you want. Plus, you get to decide what the time limits are on the cardio equipment. When first starting your home gym you can buy only the equipment that you will use and then only add to it as needed. 

You can also focus exclusively on your interests when designing your home gym. For example, if you like to get your workouts in through dance, most gyms only have dance space available for scheduled classes. So with a home gym, you have the ability to leave some space for a dance floor.

Not only do you customize the equipment available, you also get to customize the space arrangement. You will no longer have to worry about cramped gym floors with no space to put your mats or do your stretches. 

Why would you want to fit your workouts to the gym when you can make the gym fit your workouts. You will no longer have to work with what happens to be available; you get to decide what is available to you. 

4. Maintenance

If you really think about it, sharing gym equipment has the potential to be pretty gross. Some large-scale gyms have upwards of 3,000 members. Just think about how many people are using the same machines as you in a day and then consider how many of those people aren’t wiping it down afterwards. 

A study done by the website Fitrated showed that gym equipment typically has more bacteria than a toilet seat. This study didn’t even take into account the public locker rooms and showers. When you think about how much you are sharing with other people it seems like home gym is better for your health in more ways than one. 

At your home gym you have total control over who is using the equipment and how clean it is. You can have some piece of mind knowing that you can work out during flu season without having to worry about catching something that will knock you out for two weeks.

Additionally, you don’t have to worry about strangers misusing your equipment. At the gym you often have to deal with equipment being out of order, missing weights, or just in bad shape because not everyone knows how to take care of the equipment. When it is just you, the equipment will last longer because it isn’t seeing as much use, and you know it is being used and stored properly. It might seem like a hassle to have to serve as the maintenance staff at your home gym, but it’s better than getting sick and dealing with broken equipment. 

5. Money 

Every commercial gym markets its memberships as affordable, but you still end up spending a significant amount of money on the monthly price of a membership alone. But, if all you are paying is a monthly fee you are lucky. Many gyms are notorious for hidden startup fees, annual fees, random price raising, and cancellation fees. 

Considering that the average gym membership costs between $50-$60 per month, you could be spending upwards of $700 a year on monthly membership fees alone. Even if you go to the gym every single day, this is a big expense on your plate. 

Building up a home gym requires an initial investment but it will pay itself off in the long run. When you’re building a home gym you’re ideally using a space that you already have, such as a basement or a garage. The biggest expense will be the equipment. 

Yes, equipment can get expensive, but you don’t have to go right for the top of the line stuff. You can take your time and search for the best deals you can get so that your home gym fits your budget. You may even start with just a few basic pieces of equipment and then gradually add to your collection as needed. 

If you use a personal trainer at your gym, you can even save some of that money by having someone come to your house instead of using the overpriced trainer at the gym. Having someone who comes to you will allow you to find the trainer who is the perfect fit for your budget and your personality. 

The initial start-up costs may seem daunting but just think about how nice it will be to not have to hand over your money every month to a gym you don’t want to go to. 

6. Convenience 

Clearly a home gym is convenient in terms of saving time on the commute and having more efficient workouts, but there are other surprising conveniences that you might not even think about. A great added bonus of having a home gym is that if you have kids, you can get in a workout while they are in the other room. There is no stress about finding a sitter or getting the kids in the car to take them to the kid’s club. 

This is absolutely essential for busy moms and dads who have trouble finding time for themselves. It can be hard for parents to stay on top of their health; having a home gym makes it a little bit easier. Plus, it will save money on the cost of the kid’s club or babysitters. 

If you happen to have older kids, you can let them use the equipment as well without any extra fees. Therefore, having a home gym turns into a good way to help keep the whole family healthy. If you don’t have kids, you can share your equipment with your significant other or roommates so that no one has to worry about gym memberships. 

Additionally, there is the convenience of not having to worry about weather. If you’re someone who likes to workout outside, a rainstorm can ruin your workout plans. If you have a home gym, you can just hop on your treadmill and get your workout in, no matter what the weather is. 

You also have the convenience of having your whole house at your disposal. So no need to worry about forgetting your shower shoes or weight lifting gloves. You can just run to the other room and grab them. 

7. Enjoyment

If you combine all the aforementioned reasons to consider a home gym, you get an overall more enjoyable and less stressful gym experience. You can train so much better when you don’t have to think about all the things you hate about your big commercial gym that is only interested in your money. It will be much easier to work out if you actually like the environment you are working out in. 

Once you are using your home gym all your excuses will be gone and you’ll have nothing left to focus on but your exercise. Before you know it you will start to see results, and your body and mind will thank you. 


It is easy to make excuses to skip your work out when you don’t like your work out environment. When you build a home gym you are creating a workout environment that is customized to your exact needs so you will really want to work out. There is nothing better than being in complete control of your fitness. 

A home gym eliminates all those extraneous factors that get in the way of your exercise routine. Of course sometimes there are limitations, but you don’t have to think of your home gym as a massive undertaking. It is perfectly okay to start small and then work your way up to the enormous home gym of your dreams. 

Overall, cancelling your gym membership and taking your workouts to your home will give you unprecedented freedom to make your fitness experience completely your own. Why try to fit your workouts to someone else’s mold, when you can control for every aspect of your experience to get exactly the right workout for you?

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*by andreascy*