From the heart of a teacher

Teachers are bullied in schools – by the same children they are supposed to guide towards adulthood. Their classes are disrupted, they are treated with disrespect and they are not even allowed to send a naughty child out of the classroom so that the rest of the class can be taught. Today, I found this open letter from a teacher on my Facebook group for teachers and he wished that there is a way to send it into the open so that other people can realise that they are human, they have feelings and they are hurt. Despite this, they go back and do their jobs.

I felt his pain, and many of the teachers of this special group of teachers as well. Fact is, teachers are people too! His letter follows, unedited:

TEACHERS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

Lately there has been a spate of posts on social media about teacher brutality that went viral. Shock is expressed from all spheres of society and our dear education department is promising that legal action WILL be taken.
There are, however some information outside those dreaded posts that is not revealed, because nobody wants to own up. Before that teacher lost control and hit the child, he/she has been ridiculed, disrespected, cursed at, stolen from, etc. for a looong time.
Remember that teachers in senior phases get up to 7 classes of more than 35 learners per day. Out of these, +/- 15 per class (add up to 105 learners a day) are disrespectful. They refuse to work or keep quiet and are blatantly rude when addressed. Attempted parent contact mostly goes unanswered or ends up in a disciplinary hearing with a warning, and the child is back, because they have rights. They cannot be put out of class, because they have rights. They cannot be touched, even if they smack or punch a teacher, because they have rights. They cannot be addressed harshly, even if they curse at teachers, because they have rights.


In all this, it seems like you give up your humanity when you become a teacher. Well, let me point out that under the straight face that we go back to schools with everyday, to face the same abuse from the same children, are normal human beings; we have children and parents like everybody else, we feel, like everybody else, we hurt, like everybody else… Because we are people too. I am not pleading to a child to start respecting me, because it is not in their capacity. I am pleading with our government to restore the dignity of teachers by not placing the rights if these unruly monsters created by this evil system above teachers rights, because we are people too. We also have rights.
All we want to do is our job, which is educating these kids back to childhood and into adulthood, which can only be done with the help of both the parents and our government. ALUTA CONTINUA!


(If someone knows how to get this out on the media platforms where everybody can see, especially government, it will be appreciated.)

(52 visits)

Complete Mendeley Course for Researchers and Students

One of the most frustrating things to take care of when you are writing academic papers, is referencing. Some universities prefer as specific referencing style. When you are sending your academic papers to journals, their referencing styles differ. If you forget a comma and use italics or no italics, you will have to recheck all your references before the manuscript will be be published.

I have used Refworks and MS Word’s reference manager until I have been introduced to Mendeley. Since then I do not have to worry about my referencing style. Even if I have to send a paper to a different journal using another referencing style, it takes a few clicks to change the referencing style.

I have developed a Complete Mendeley Course for Researchers and Students consisting of 90+ videos. Each video focus on a specific skill. Due to lifetime access, you can always go back to the course and revisit a skill.

The cost? $45, but I am offering 10 of my readers a $5 discount. Click on this link and use the code ODELCOZA to register for the course at the discounted price.

Hope to see you there.

 

(22 visits)

Complete Mendeley Course for Researchers and Students

I have developed a cost-effective Complete Mendeley Course for Researchers and Students to help students and researchers to use the Mendeley reference manager effectively. The following topics are covered:

  • How to install the technologies
  • How to build your library online
  • How to build your library offline
  • How to organise your library
  • How to filter the library online
  • How to filter the library offine
  • How to use the search tools
  • How to use Mendeley to cite references (MS Word)
  • How to create a bibliography
  • How to change the referencing style

The course consist of 30-90 second videos that can be watched while you are waiting somewhere. The focus is on one skill per video, so that you can find it easily when you need to rewatch a video.

At the end of the course you will receive a certificate that can be used for continuing professional development purposes.

 

(27 visits)

UX-designers target emotions to create a competitive advantage

Miklos Philips , a UX Designer @ Toptal, argues that designers have to cater for customer delight to create a competitive advantage and to promote growth. According to Donald Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things, design is an act of communication; therefore, it requires a deep understanding of the person with whom the designer is communicating. If taken into account that companies are rewarded substantially when they connect with their customers’ emotions in a positive way, designers need to identify the powerful motivators that can help companies to create a competitive advantage.

Looking at the products around us, most of the designs speak to our emotions. We like or dislike it, we feel disillusioned or motivated when we use it, and we even love or hate certain colours. I will not buy an orange tool for my kitchen, even if it is better than it’s competitors. All designs ultimately produce an emotion, a fact incorporated in an old adage in the user-experience (UX) professionals world: “interaction with any product produces an experience (emotion) whether it had user experience or not.” All end products elicited an emotion from their audience; therefore, UX-designers are concerned with how an user interacts with and responds to an interface, service or product.

The response to a product or service or interface is regarded as an emotion; therefore, UX-designers do not only strive to design usable, functional products; they also strive to generate a certain emotional effect — usually a positive one — on a user while he or she uses the product. If the design is good, the response will be maintained throughout the user journey. Therefore, emotional design focuses on an interaction with the designed product that affects the user. In this article, I am using Philip’s guidelines to evaluate some of the products and interfaces I am using on a daily basis.

Approaches to designs

First, we need to look at some approaches to designing products, interfaces, and apps.

Utilitarianism

Functional design, or utilitarian design subscribes to the “form follows function” style prevalent since the early 20th century. This approach is based on the idea that the shape of an object or building should be based mainly on its function and purpose, and not on its aesthetic value. Current approaches to designing incorporates the aesthetic value to speak to the emotions of potential buyers of the products. (see the example from Philip’s article).

Brutalism

Philps refers to brutalism as the twin brother of utilitarianism. The form follows the function, but the product is also put together with the least amount of effort, the cheapest materials available and with zero regard to appearance or the human experience as can seen in the picture of a block of flats in one of the poor areas of the Western Cape, South Africa.

The flats are functional, but not pretty at all.

Aesthetics and Perceived Usability

Two Japanese researchers studied in the 1990’s two different layouts of controls for ATMs to invesigate if aesthetics affects perceived usability (Philips). The versions were identical in function, but the interfaces were not identical regarding their aesthetic value. The researchers found that the ones with attractive interfaces were perceived to be easier to use.

Philips argues that Braun, a very successful design and manufacturing company founded nearly a 100 years ago in Germany, is famous for its minimalist, elegant designs which captivated people since they are functional, but also simple, refined, good-looking and consequently a joy to use (see images below (Philips).

Utilitarian designs that are simply functional and feature-rich do not please people any longer. According to Tinker Hatfield, a shoe designer at Nike Nike basic designs are always functional but great designs will also say something to the potential users.

The Emotional Design Pyramid

Maslow (1943) postulated that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth.  Based on his hierarchy of human needs, emotional design can be put on a pyramid that illustrates its importance (Philps).

People perceive functional and attractive things to work better than other things.  As illustrated in the Japanese ATM experiment, a product’s aesthetic value can affect its perceived usability. According to Philips products that include a pleasing aesthetic and anticipatory design can lead to such a degree of customer satisfaction, that minor frustrations and imperfections with those products will be forgiven.

During the 1990’s and early 2000’s Blackberry took South Africa by storm. The phones were not good-looking, but the free BBM function made up for an ugly design due to the high cost of Internet access in South Africa. And then Blackberry took the BBM function away, leaving potential buyers with the opportunity to choose any other phone. Currently, iPhone’s, LG’s, Sony’s and Samsung’s are the phone of choice, based on their people-pleasing slick designs (image Philips).

Emotions and The Brain

According to Philips, negative experiences focus the brain on what’s wrong; they narrow the thought process and make people anxious and tense. We feel restricted and frustrated if a website or an App is badly designed and doesn’t perform to expectations. In fact, this feeling can grow into a form of anger known as computer rage. Computer rage races our pulse-rates, forces us to click away from irritating sites and to delete Apps in frustration. When design goes wrong, extreme emotions can be produced.

Good emotional design elicits pleasure and a sense of security and safety (Philips). Until 1998, all PC boxes were white, and then Apple released translucent, candy-colored iMacs that signaled more than a renaissance for Apple; it sparked a widespread industrial design revolution since it found the sweet spot (image from Philips).

Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple Computer,  stated that design is much more that what a product looks and feels like, it needs to work well as well.  According to Bruce Claxton, Professor, Design Management at Savannah College of Art and Design, we seek out products that are not just simple to use but also a joy to use. In this regard, my Dell Inspiron 13, from the 7000 series serves as an excellent example.

Many manufacturers offers tablets (iPads) and computer, but Dell integrated a computer and a tablet to improve usability and user experience. Although I love my Apple products, they are not user-friendly in airplanes and when I work in bed. The screen of my Dell folds further back and can even be folded all the way back to change my computer in a tablet (see figure below).

From Passive to Interactive

Not long ago, the objects around us were mostly “dumb,” passive, one-way machines due to a lack of an interactive relationship.

My mixer could not talk back, but my new Thermomix machine can, a feature that allows me to form an emotional relationship with her. The interactive, chip operated Thermomix asks me if I want to see a recently used recipe or the interactive cooking book.

She also warns me when the lid is not inserted, and when a speed is insufficient due to the temperature of the liquid in the bowl.

My Apple watch reminds me to stand up and walk for one minute, a feature that can save my life since I forget to do it when I am working on my computer. Only when my legs cramps I realise that I have dismissed the haptic of my watch and sat for more than an hour in a certain position.

According to Philips such interactions cause an emotional relationship with our “machines” which give a rise to anthropomorphism or the tendency to project intentions, human qualities, behaviors, emotions, and character traits onto objects. If the product works well, we feel satisfied and altogether delighted because it puts what we were looking for at our fingertips at the perfectly right moment.

However, the relationships with ‘things’ can also cause a potential for negative emotions to kick in when ‘the thing’ is not doing what we want it to do. In such cases, we feel frustrated and not in control. Annoyance and irritation may arise with the possibility of escalation into anger if the aggravation persists. Therefore, good designs should be accompanied with excellent guides and help features to reduce the buid-up of negative feelings.

Guidelines for an emotional approach to designs

User-experience strategies need to include designing for emotion (Philips). They can use the power of user research and product testing to effectively set up and gauge the emotional impact of their designs. User-testing, deep research and subsequent touch-point mapping that identifies pain points, can afford designers with opportunities to identify the frustrations users may encounter while using the product. Designers should  strive to eliminate these frustrations, but they should also find opportunities to bring customers pleasure by changing critical moments into positive emotional experiences.

Three levels of design: Visceral > Behavioral > Reflective

Designs needs to work extremely well on three levels, namely, visceral, behavioral and reflective (See Don Norman’s seminal book on “Emotional Design.”).

Visceral level

First impressions are most important; therefore, the design can be regarded as effective when the potential user’s first response is that they want the product. This immediate, deep-level, positive, and instinctual gut reaction to a product’s design can create a competitive advantage. Visceral design also affects the perception of a product’s credibility, trustworthiness, quality, appeal, and even perceived ease of use. My first impression was that the Apple watch is fun, exciting, tough, speedy, uncompromising, but also intimidating.

Behavioral level
First and foremost products must work well for people, thereby contributing to its users’ satisfaction. Behavioral design focus on how the product or system, as evaluated by the potential users, meet their requirements and needs. It refers to pleasure associated with effectiveness. If users perceive it as something they can master and which makes them feel smart; they will buy it. Therefore, it has to feel good, look good and perform well. If it doesn’t work as advertised, it gives rise to an immediately negative emotion. Up to date, the only problem I have with my watch is that the heart rate monitor was troublesome (See figure).
After Googling the problem, I knew that I had to fit it tighter to my arm during exercises. Behavioral design also impacts the lifetime of apps on my iPhone and subsequently my Apple watch.
According to Philps, behavioral design is most important when apps are designed since 77 percent of users never use an app again 72 hours after installing it. As a result of good behavioral design, some apps are used on a regular basis and we can’t imagine being without them (Images from Philips)

Reflective design
 Buying and using products creates a sense of status in society, it’s about socioeconomic status. It’s about self-image, personal satisfaction, memories, reflecting back on the experience; therefore, beauty is a desirable feature of the products we buy (Philips). I want to know that it is beautiful, a pleasure to use, and can make my life easier, but I also want to know that I look good when I use it, drive it, and wear it. In this regard, I believe my Apple Watch speaks of good reflective design.

 

I can “bond” with this product, the design contributes to the perception of improved performance and quality (attractive things work better) and the perception of pleasure. I do not have to dig into my handbag when my phone rings, I can answer a call by using my watch. Furthermore, this accessory ensure that I exercise on a daily basis. The ability to change the face to suit my emotions distinct this product from a functional design.

Apple strive to form an emotional bond between the brand and the consumers by designing products that interact with one another. Brands spend millions every year to renew that connection; therefore, designers need to strive for the same emotional connection if their products are to be meaningful and successful. Designers should try to give products a “personality”; something that resembles the real world and brings pleasure and fun to the interaction to persuade them to buy and use the product.

Digital designs are a moment-by-moment effect “in the flow”, but they also operate on these three levels in the brain, namely, visceral, behavioral and reflective (Philips). It is important to note that there is a delay between these levels: first it’s visceral, second it’s behavioral and lastly reflective.

The World is in Motion

More and more designers use animated micro-interactions and screen transformations to make them seem “alive.” The world around us is in motion, flowing and fluid;and these designs mimic the real-world to allow users to form a more human-like relationship with digital products via anthropomorphism. These animated designs speak to our emotions as Philips illustrated with the following examples:

Example 1: Jewelry store e-commerce concept by Tubik (Dribbble)

Example 2: Bluetooth pairing sequence by InFullMobile (Dribbble)

Example 3: E-commerce store concept by Remco Bakker (Dribbble).

Final Words

Currently the focus is on functional beauty and emotional dimension of products (Philips). It’s no longer enough to design a functional and useful products or interfaces. Almost anyone can create functional and feature-rich everyday consumer products. To stand out in this crowd, designers need to have a deep understanding of the customer’s motivations and behavior to enable them to translate these  into effective emotional design that is elegant, beautiful and truly unique. Only then they will be able to design products and interfaces that create competitive advantage and promote growth.

(42 visits)

Urine powered phones might increase water intake ;-)

In July 2013, scientists at the University of West England (UWE) developed a way of using urine as a power source to generate electricity and created the world’s first MFC (microbial fuel cell) powered mobile phone. Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos said at the time:

‘By harnessing this power as urine passes through a cascade of MFCs, we have managed to charge a Samsung mobile phone.’..So far the microbial fuel power stack that we have developed generates enough power to enable SMS messaging, web browsing and to make a brief phone call.’

However, he said that making a long call on a mobile phone is far more power-hungry. This professor believes that they will get to a place where they can charge a battery for longer periods of time.

(29 visits)

The Wowroom virtual reality experience

I have attended the first presentation in the wow room of the IE Business School via Live streaming and Twitter Feeds. What an experience! Based on the presentations and my own views, I have identified the following advantages:

a) Lecturers can teach two classes simultaneously

Lecturers can teach two classes simultaneously, one group being present in the wow room and the other being ‘virtually’ present in the same classroom (see screenshot).
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b) Conducting an orchestra virtually

The conductor was present in the room, but the members of the orchestra were ‘virtually’ brought to the classroom (See screenshot).

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c) Teaching one class virtually

The students attending the class were presented on each screen to allow one-to-one interaction between the lecturer and the students (see screenshot).

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d) Using Big Data created during the process to improve teaching and learning

The semi-circular classroom allowed the professor to watch the responses of all students. The staff measure the emotions and gestures of the students via tablets and use the graphs (see screenshot) to check emotions to understand how teaching and learning can be improved (see screenshot).

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e) Involve the audience

The audience can be involved due to large display on the screens (See screenshot).

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f) Bringing field trips to the classroom

The real world can be brought into the classroom when students cannot be taken onto field trips and they can be allowed to interact with people in their working environments (see screenshot).

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g) More than replication of traditional face-to-face teaching

The Wowroom replicates the real world, but can bring much more to the learning situation since every student can be monitored. I believe this technology will change teaching and learning for the better.

h) Intelligent assistant

An intelligent assistant (Amphi) controls the wow room, therefore presenters and lecturers can focus on their tasks since they do not need computers or laptops when they present.

i) Video-recording of this experience

The video was ready to avail on Youtube. Enjoy watching the presentations.

To read more about the wow room, follow this link.

 

 

(78 visits)

ePortfolios as high impact practices

George Kuh added eportfolios earlier this year as the 11th high impact practice.

 

In this video, Kuh (2016) identifies various elements of effective integration of eportfolios:

  • More than electronic record keeping tool
  • Longitudinal projects allowing students to store authentic work
  • Allows students to question their own work, in company of lecturers and other students
  • Allows students to invite peers, lecturers and even employers to look into their electronic toolboxes
  • Repository where students can see how far they came, how they developed and how they have changed
  • Others can see how far they came, developed and how they have changed
  • Ongoing process of reflection, integration, and digestion IF it is well-designed and structured
  • Every student in every field can benefit from having such a representation of their  work, development and growth
  • Reflection is most important since it deepens learning and knowing about what the student can do.

Although he does not pertinently state it, he identified two of the three cornerstones of a learning oriented approach to assessment, namely that:

  • learning tasks be designed
  • self and peers be involved in the assessment process

He did not state the importance of prompt feedback, but he did name the role of reflection on own work.

 

Click on the ‘Follow Me‘ button at the bottom of this webpage to be updated when new posts are published. Please leave comments with regard to topics that can be discussed.

 

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Personal Development networks

Many managers spend a lot of money compiling files filled with paper work on how to do the work. However, when a group of engineers was surveyed, the engineers reported that they would 5 times more ask a colleague when they do not know how to do their work than visiting filing cabinets. This finding was confirmed in several South African educational settings.

In fact, 57% of the mathematics teachers of a secondary school in Gauteng reported that they relied on their colleagues to work effectively. When the staff of a secondary school in Gauteng was surveyed, 67% of the teachers indicated that they would rather ask a colleague when they do not know how to do their work. In this regard, 65% of the students enrolled for a module at an start for open and distance education indicated that they rely on their relationships with their colleagues to learn to do their work effectively. My research shows that teachers rely on their personal relationships with colleagues to get access to information, knowledge, advice, support, guidance, ability and concrete resources in their working environments, therefore I have coined such a set of relationships as the personal development networks of teachers.

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Unfortunately school managers do not always give enough time for creating sustainable personal development networks. The quality of teachers’ work depends on their personal development networks, therefore teachers need to be provided with enough opportunities to create relationships with their colleagues. Meanwhile, teachers are using a variety of networking interfaces to take their relationships online.

(57 visits)

Tired of typing Google docs? Use Speech Recognition

The Speech Recognition Add-on changes spoken words into text. Open your Chrome browser and follow these steps:

  • Create a new Google Doc or open and existing document
  • Click on Add-ons (top menu of Google Docs)
  • Type Speech Recognition in the search bar
  • Click on the Blue + button to add it to Google Docs (Mine is green since I have added it already)

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  • Click again on add-ons (Google Docs menu)
  • Click on speech recognition
  • Choose your language (Afrikaans is there!)
  • If you select English, you can select the dialect as well
  • You can choose for example South Africa as the dialect

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  • You can use a range of commands
  • Click on Save to save your settings
  • Click again on Add-ons
  • Click of Speech Recognition
  • The box will open (far right)
  • Click on Start (Blue button)

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  • Click on Allow to use microphone
  • And start talking
  • Google will listen to you and type the text where you need it.
  • The microphone stays green to show that it is ready
  • If the microphone is crossed out, click on Start

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Example of her excellence:

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Tips:

  1. I do not use the punctuation, I add it when I proofread my text
  2. Insert lines to show new paragraphs.
  3. Google learns quickly, thus the more you use it, the better she will understand you.
  4. For now, I am impressed.

Google understands my dialect of English, and her spelling is excellent – she can even spell “reëls” correctly!

 

 

 

(87 visits)

Meet Google Assistant

Google Assistant is the Siri-like bot to support you when you are using Google specifically!

(67 visits)