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Ease the typing

A quick solution to help with typing:

I was discussing online homework with a parent tonight and they mentioned their son didnt like typing the online homework out. After a quick search a nice tip above.

Home learning is here

Embracing elearning is now forced upon us and for many this is a long time coming.

Can the new COVID revolutionize education?

Do we still need to sit in classrooms, all learning at the same pace, leading to stronger learners being held back and the reverse for the less able students.

The new distance learning could revolutionise teaching.

Staff could be allocated a cohort and then track and support progress from a distance

Schools could be used as drop in centres and activities to promote social interaction. Open to the general public to use the facilities.

Students with identified issues could be invited in for 121 support and provision.

More focus can be placed of individual progression and therefore be more learner centered and highly personalised.

A revision on learning outcomes needs to be addressed for the current qualification schemes and the development of a new distance online curriculum.

The digital revolution is here!

For many years we have dreamed of this day, in regards to online and distance learning!

While the world struggles to come to terms with recent events, the digital revolution is finally here.


onboarding staff

Why do many companies struggle to offer new colleagues as great onboarding experience?

Forward-thinking companies are utilizing research to develop and implement adaptive onboarding and training programs that reflect individualistic socialization. Encouraging new hires’ authentic self-expression throughout onboarding has been found to increase productivity, efficiency, work/life satisfaction, and retention.

Here are a few simple changes to increase individualized socialization in your employee onboarding strategy:

1. Offer New Hires Individualized Experiences

During introductions, ask each new hire to come up with a few words that describe their personal values, strengths, and weaknesses. Then, bring the cohort together to share with one another. There will surely be similarities between the responses but discovering those similarities will help create group cohesion. You can also let them design their workspace with personal items. Even name tags and badges can go a long way to making employees feel integrated while also individual. Rather than offering branded swag, try giving new hires something with their name and the company logo on it.

2. Recognize And Utilize Their Signature Strengths

Reinforce individual strengths and the unique benefits new hires offer. If they have confidence in their abilities, then your new hires will be more inclined to bring their own invaluable creative skills and ideas to their teams. Research has shown that a disregard of individuals’ unique values will lead them to feel alienated. Consider using activities that prompt individual self-reflection. For instance, one IT consulting company had new hires walk through a decision-making “survival” exercise and think critically about how their individual skills would contribute to their success.

3. Use Adaptive Learning To Modify Corporate Training Based On An Employee’s Prior Knowledge

This method will allow the learner journey to evolve as they explore training content. Adaptive learning creates a transformative learning experience that is tailored to the individual, adding relevance and increasing engagement as a result. Afterward, have learners share their personalized learning experiences within their training cohort. The differences in their learning experiences will reinforce feelings of individuality.

4. Avoid Giving So Much Freedom That Culture Fails To Mutually Integrate With The Organization

The goal is to champion individuality while creating a learning environment where all employees harmoniously work together toward a common purpose. Emphasizing and reinforcing individuality is the key to creativity, but new hires still have to follow an established process for the organization to be effective. That’s why framing is important. Show them how their skills will make their job easier and how they can better contribute to the organizational goals.


An engaging onboarding process can instill the values of the organisation, provide instant access to relevant documentation and enable compliance documents to be collated. It also builds social interaction, which for many new staff, is invaluable.

Is digital literacy still a problem?

I recently was part of a conversation regarding colleague engagement via smartphones.

It is widely accepted that the majority of people now have smartphones and have access to the internet.

With more and more providers are moving to online-only presence is it just accepted that everybody will be able to navigate the online world?

The colleague I mention are a wide cross-section of the general public, working-class; yet during this conversation, many of those colleagues who were approached did not have an email address or know the @ symbol and typed “AT” in a work email address.

As the workforce age increases and the population grows older, do we need to work harder to improve digital literacy, the global push that was around 10 years ago or so has died down and the working people of the older age bracket, still struggle with modern technology?

Do we need to continue to provide support and easy access to online courses? How do we do this in the modern workplace?

Do we offer open classes to build confidence in the digital savvy worforce?

Best Learning Techniques to Prepare For TOEFL

Best Learning Techniques to Prepare For TOEFL
TOEFL is a test that non-native English speakers need to take in order to be admitted to a superior form of education located abroad. The test aims to evaluate the abilities of the candidates to listen, write and speak fluently, in order to be capable of understanding the courses they will attend to. And since proper preparation makes the difference between admission and rejection, here are some ways to learn efficiently.
The Explanatory Method
Students use this method to learn by making connections between facts and asking why questions. This is a simple method anyone taking the TOEFL practice test free online can apply. By asking themselves why some facts are true, candidates can compose their notes for a later use.
Another way to apply this method is by trying to explain a fact and provide reasons for making a certain choice. This technique works better while reading, then after reading a text. Students have to explain the facts in a text and not why they are true. This technique may require some time to digest all the information, but it seems that the notions will be preserved for a longer time in the memory of the candidates.
The Testing Method
Many of us were taught to be scared of tests, as they could damage our grades severely if they caught us off guard. However, the benefits of testing are tremendous, as it provides an accurate analysis of our level of knowledge. It seems that tests requiring an elaborate answer help information sink in better in our memory, than multiple choice queries do.
Testing becomes more interesting when the questions are created by the candidates themselves. Not only does the experience become fun, but by comparing answers, students build a real image about what they do know and what they don’t. This is especially useful when taking the TOEFL practice test free online.
Segmenting your Study Sessions
The length of the study session depends greatly on how long you want to remember that information. Basically, it is recommended that you should allocate about 10-20% of the time you want to remember the information for. So, if you want to remember something for a year, you should revise that information at least once a month.
Furthermore, splitting your study material into small bits based on their topic will help you assimilate the information faster. This means that cramming is useless, as the more information you take I, the faster you will forget it. A combination of session segmentation and self-testing will deliver the best results, especially when taking the online TOEFL test.
Other Important Learning Tips
Thinking ahead is one of the best ways to prepare for the test. Since cramming won’t help very much, plan your study sessions well in advance before taking the test. Find a partner and practice speaking. Your mouth will get accustomed to pronouncing the words in a foreign language.

  • If you can’t find an English speaker, there are countless English chat rooms available online. These chat rooms are supervised by native English speakers. But the best part is that you can try some of them without having to pay anything.
  • You can practice reading by researching topics you otherwise wouldn’t be interested in. Consider publications such as Times, Forbes, Foreign Policy or New York Times. They all provide a broad spectrum of well written articles on different topics. You can practice listening by watching movies, TV shows without subtitles, listening to music and researching lyrics.
  • Take your time and always pick your words carefully. Think about what you need to say and stick to simple structured sentences. This will help you express your ideas more easily and will benefit to your confidence level greatly. Teach yourself to breathe so you don’t run out of air when speaking. And try to smile more often because it will make you feel more confident.
  • To practice writing, think about a topic and write arguments about it. Ask questions and answer them. Then ask an English teacher to point out your mistakes. You are bound to find someone willing to help you. Often writing software can help you track spelling mistakes, so you can train yourself to spell correctly.
  • Get familiar with the different test sections and time your performance while taking the online TOEFL test. The test begins with a reading section that can last from 60 to 80 minutes. This section is followed by a listening section that can take around 60-90 minutes. When you’re done with these two, you will get a 10-minutes break. When your break is over, a 20-minutes speaking section will follow. Finally, you will be given 50 minutes to proceed with the writing tasks.
  • Don’t skip on any shut-eye. The test itself is exhausting; you need all the rest you can get before it. Try out a few relaxation techniques, as the more stressed you are, the more tired you will be on the day of the exam. Needless to say is that lack of sleep will affect your test score more than you think.
  • Work on your confidence. Take as many breaks as you need, take deep breaths and you will feel your confidence coming back to you. Exercise your mouth muscles constantly and practice by repeating the words you hear. Keep in mind that some sounds cannot be found in your native language. You will need time and exercise to reproduce them accurately.


  • When speaking to native English speakers don’t be shy and ask them to explain whatever words or idioms you don’t understand. Also, ask them to correct your mistakes if necessary.

Author Bio: James Liu, Founder at the BestMyTest. BestMyTest TOEFL® online course was not only developed for students to practice TOEFL® exam questions, but was also designed to help students improve their overall English language abilities. Follow him on Twitter at @BestMyTest or connect via Linkedin

Using the internet to learn about investing and finance

The internet has made it much easier for those interested in investing and finance to find the information they need to make the most informed choices. Both investment firms and investors have benefited from this improvement in the availability of investment information.
Apps make it easier to stay on top of the latest investment news
 Apps have changed the way people keep up with the latest in investment news. Apps can even ask key information about you and offer investment advice based upon your own unique financial goals and current assets. While this is not the best solution for everyone, for those with limited investments, it can be a great way to start analysing what is best for you. iBillionaire is an app that offers a breakdown of how some of the leading investment gurus are investing their money. This can help investors be more aware of market trends as seen by some of the world’s greatest investment experts. Apps are best used as a tool for research. They can help you to be better prepared for a meeting with an investment professional, such as those at M1 Group. Keeping up to date on market trends will make you a smarter investor by allowing you to make decisions promptly. The investment world can fluctuate a lot, and a bit of research can help to ensure your success.
Learning from past success
 The internet means that investors can research successful business and investment models and apply them to their own situation. For example, Najib Mikati and his brother Taha founded Investcom, a pioneering company in telecommunications in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean. An interview with Najib Mikati indicates that he is strong leader; this led them to great financial success, and this in turn made them consider how best to diversify their investment by branching out into different economic sectors. The result was the formation of the global powerhouse M1 Group, one of the premier holding companies in the Middle East. They have used their success to help investors all over the world invest in their diverse portfolio, which range from investments in the fashion industry, real estate, telecommunications and aviation.
A diverse portfolio can protect investors from excessive risk and provide good returns, especially if one invests in emerging economies early in their development. There is great potential for growth in many countries around the world. The demand for goods and services will increase as more people experience upward mobility, which they have never had the opportunity to experience in the past.
 Social networking apps such as LinkedIn allow investment professionals, job seekers, economic journalists, and more, to connect and share business opportunities, advice and news. This has made it easier for investors to connect directly with a specific employee at a firm with ease. There is no question that this type of networking can lead to great new business relationships and a better understanding of others in your industry.

Apple Watch: The Styles
After a long and somewhat arduous period of rumour, conjecture and hype, Apple Inc’s first fully-fledged smartphone, the Watch, began shipping on April 24th earlier this year. The device is the newest in wearable technology, brimming with features, capabilities and endless reasons to say ‘wow’, but what about the stylings of the product? According to Apple, there are 2 million appearance combinations users can choose for the product, but with what can one craft these combinations?
The first thing to bear in mind before we continue is that the Apple Watch isn’t all that ground-breaking as it’s being made out to be, so don’t design your device under the assumption that it’s going to replace your smartphone, it’s not. For the vast majority of purposes; Facebook, calls, browsing, shopping online; you will need to use a smartphone, linking to your wearable when possible. This means no gaming on sites like too; the screen of the Watch is rather small, and although there may be games released of the wearable sort soon, we won’t be spinning roulette wheels on the Watch’s face any time soon! But nevertheless…
Faces, Alloys
The most important part of your Watch is likely to be the watch itself. When it comes to sizes Apple is supplying two, sized at 38mm (height) and 42mm accordingly. Having the smaller model won’t impact the experience massively, but perhaps consider the larger if you are a power user or have large fingers.
Next, the alloys that clad the Watch itself. Here you can choose from Stainless Steel, Silver Aluminium, Space Black Stainless Steel and Space Gray Aluminium; or choose from the two more luxurious (and far more expensive) 18-Karat Rose, or Yellow, Gold covers. Whilst we’d all love a little gold on our wrists, it’s definitely important to bear in mind that bestowing your Watch with the Midas touch will cost upwards of $10,000!
The display of the device can also be heavily customised. From traditional watch faces to more funky, playful designs, colours, design elements and interfaces can all be continually customised, and it’s very likely that a plethora of subsequent designs will be released as the product matures.
Finally, the band of the watch itself. Here, you can choose from traditional metal linked bracelets, ergonomic sports bands, leather loops, classic and modern buckles and finally a sleek Milanese Loop, all of these bands being completely interchangeable and modular in their outfitting. Doing some running? Use a sportier band. Going out to dinner or attending an event? Classier, chiq metal might be your purview.
With so many customisation options available, there’s all manner of ways for Watch owners to put their own stamp on their personal device. Which designs appeal to you most? Let us know your thoughts below.

The Road towards a Successful TOEFL Exam Comes With Its Obstacles

Standing for Test of English as a Foreign Language, TOEFL is a standardized English test for the non-native speakers to prove their language proficiency before enrolling to a higher education establishment. The test is available in over 130 countries around the world. Each year, tens of thousands of students are doing the standard TOEFL reading practice during their preparation so they can prove that they have what it takes to excel in a certain area despite English not being their mother tongue.
It takes some hard work, but if the students know what is expected out of them, more often than not they will be able to not only pass the test, but do it with flying colors. There are a lot of ways one can prepare for the TOEFL, but none is more efficient than an official TOEFL practice. All it takes is a little bit of research and the student can obtain some valuable information regarding the process of the examination and its exact curriculum.
It is a government tool, and a rather efficient one at that
The TOEFL is a very efficient tool for governments to weed out those who would struggle with the language necessary to study a particular field. That does not mean that said student’s capabilities are not up to the task for that particular field of expertise, but without the necessary language skills, sadly they won’t be able to obtain that knowledge through an English speaking course. If someone is not capable of learning in the English language, they can always just do it in their mother tongue.
Naturally, those students want to learn in those particular countries for a reason, but this is a necessary outcome which they cannot really avoid in these cases. The standardized test is really not an insurmountable obstacle for those who care and put in the time, but not all will pass the exam. Just like in every other segments of life, hard work will pay off, but there are no guarantees. The outlook is still extremely positive for your average student. Unless someone has terrible language skills, they can find the test more than passable, really all there is needed is some preparation.
Practicing your reading is of the utmost importance
They say nothing is better than the real thing, and this is certainly true when the subject of the TOEFL test comes up. The best method of preparing for the reading phase of the test is to use the available test materials. The students can do that by acquiring the subject-samples from the internet. There are online sessions that will help them prepare for the real thing. The preparation includes TOEFL reading practice.
Unfortunately, there is no widely available and capable software yet that can actually recognize one’s pronunciation and grammar mistakes. With that said, the time when this will be possible is certainly close. Truthfully, the technology is already out there, and has been for a couple of years now. Now it’s only a matter of putting together a sophisticated algorithm for it, which is of course not necessarily the easiest thing to achieve.
You can find what you seek, if you search enough for it
In the meantime, there are several ways of getting your hands on the material that you need. Trying it on online forums and/or on the official sites will surely wield its results. There are also software solutions, not to mention the official TOEFL reading practice. Those solutions may not be at the level of the above mentioned theoretical application, but they represent real help for motivated students. When an application can offer a similar difficulty compared to what the real thing will, preparing for the test with the help of that material becomes a real possibility, and it may even warrants preparing for the test exclusively that way.
Online is where it’s at
There is really no easier method for getting your hands on some quality material. You can even find a very similar test material for free, but of course the difficulty of those will greatly vary, and nailing one of those tests without errors might be counterproductive in some cases. Realizing what we don’t know if often much more important than realizing what we do know.
Not all materials were created equal
Learning how to distinguish between quality materials and average information is very important. There are so many varying sources of information that you can choose from. Not all information was created equal, and once you start the gathering process, you will quickly come to this conclusion too. A relevant TOEFL Reading Practice comes with great feedback, which you should only dismiss if you have a good reason for questioning its legitimacy. In the end, you want quality information that is reliable for your TOEFL exam. This is not always easy.
It really is a “hit and miss” phase of the whole process, during which you will need to stay resilient. After all, if you start the preparation in time, and you are willing to sacrifice some of your free time, doing the research, you should end up with the necessary knowledge that will allow you to pass the test without problems. Once you have found proper information, it will come down to your work ethic, which is a good thing. Having control over the situation is what we all want, regardless of the field we work in.
Author Bio: James Liu connected with TOEFL Network. Is an online TOEFL e-learning website offering iBT TOEFL practices & teaching materials for students to prepare for TOEFL test. With over 800 high-quality TOEFL sample practices & sample questions, TOEFL Network has helped thousands of students improve their TOEFL scores since 2009.You can easily reach @TOEFLNETWORK

7 Ways to Use Technology With Purpose

Why are you using technology? Or more importantly, how are you using technology to better the learning in your classroom and/or school? If you are like me, then you’ve had your fair share of technology screw ups. Projects that didn’t make sense (but used the tech you wanted to bring in). Activities that were ruined by a crashing website or some technological problem. And of course you’ve probably dealt with the students, parents, and teachers that want to do things “the old way”.
In order to make sure you are using technology the right way, you must first “start with why”. If your students understand the “why” behind your technology use, then the class will have a purpose and technological glitches and issues can be worked through. If they don’t understand the “why” then any small issue could turn into a major problem.
Here are 7 ways I’ve been using technology for a purpose in my classroom and as a staff developer in my school. I’m sure there are many other ways to use tech with purpose, but these are some of my favorites!
1. To Collaborate in Real Time
Remember when Google Docs broke onto the scene? It was magic. Students writing and sharing in real-time, able to see what the other students are doing and saying, while still working on your own part of the project or activity. Flash forward 7-8 years and now “real-time collaboration” is a must for most online software. This type of technology allow project-based learning to be monitored, documented, and done outside of the school hours.
At my school we have been using Microsoft OneNote (as well as the Google products) to collaborate in real-time. Whether it is staff planning together, students working together, or a combination of both…this technology has so many learning purposes.
2. To Reflect and Share
I used to have my students journal in their marble notebooks. And during certain activities I still do (like Writer’s Bootcamp). However, what’s nice about having students journal online and share “in the cloud” is the ability for their classmates to see what they have to say.
This is why I suggest blogging throughout the year, and not just as a project. Make blogging a part of your student’s life and you’ll be able to see which topics, ideas, projects, and activities really impacted them. Sometimes it may not be what you thought…and sometimes their simple act of sharing will bring the class together in ways you never could have imagined.
3. Better Research
After I finished writing my Master’s thesis on ‘peace education in the 21st century’ I talked with my mom about her writing process in graduate school. It sounded awful… She would have to go to the library, find a resource, read almost the entire resource, make copies of the pages she wanted to use, and literally “cut it out” and “paste it on” her typewritten document.
Technology has made research simple and more time efficient. I’m not talking about typing a question into google, I’m specifically focused on searching journal databases like ERIC through places like Ebscohost. A nice search phrase will turn up hundreds of peer-reviewed results which can be sorted many different ways (such as by date or full-text article). Those articles that you choose can then be automatically scanned for your keywords, read the specific parts you want, and use what is applicable with a simple copy and paste and proper citation already set up and ready to go.
How often do we really teach students how to research in today’s world? Or do we expect them to learn on their own like we did?
4. Write and Re-Write
Using tools such as Google Docs, the new Microsoft Word, or Draft students are able to write and edit on the fly. They can get feedback from peers and teachers…and then choose whether or not to accept that feedback on their writing. Technology has changed the writing process in much the same way it has changed the research process.
The most important part of writing is the revising and editing. Yet, we often take it for granted. Instead let’s use the technology to track what types of changes students have made, and if they are making the same mistakes in their writing over and over again. That way, the “re-writing” process can have a direct impact on how much they improve and change some of their writing habits over time.
5. Make Something (that matters)
This may be my favorite way to use technology with a purpose. Students now have the ability to make movies, songs, pieces of art, websites, apps, games etc–with technology. However, too often we ask students to make something that does not matter. We ask them to make a movie or poster or presentation that has no direct impact on the world around them.
Instead, let’s challenge ourselves to start making technology matter. Make iMovies that can be uploaded to Youtube and have a purpose. Make games with a meaning. Make apps that matter. Yes, there is a time for fun and games. But if that is all we use technology for in school…then we shouldn’t be surprised when that is all students use technology for once they get out of school.
6. Keep a Digital Record
Digital portfolios are a must. Not because colleges will want and need them in the future (which is happening sooner than you think). Not because it is a cool way to show off what you’ve done in class. Digital portfolios are a must because they show learning growth.
The best way to show how much a student has learned is through a digital portfolio. You can look back over time and what they’ve created, written, and done in school. And how that work has improved (and in what ways) throughout their schooling. When students know their work will be on display and recorded, they also take pride in what they do because it will last.
Ask yourself, are you making “digital fridge art” or something worth keeping?
7. Mastery Assessments
Think about the last time you gave an assessment. I’m sure you prepared students for it during class, gave them materials to study, and supported them during the assessment. However, there were definitely a few students who struggled on this assessment. What happens next? You can either give them a re-take, give them another similar assessment, or say that is there only chance.
If you gave them a digital assessment you’d be able to see exactly which questions they got wrong in comparison to the entire class. You could see how much time they spent on the question and if the answer they chose was way off base…or close. You could tailor a new assessment based on just the problems/questions they got wrong and make sure they achieved mastery on those topics before moving forward.
Technology should change the way we do assessments forever, yet sadly many of us still give tests the same way we did 10 years ago. This is a tech purpose we can’t avoid any longer.