Teacher laptops to enhance education

first_imgZandile Tanoatsoala, a grade 4 teacher atLotus Gardens Primary School, is alreadyusing a laptop in her classes. Deputy minister Enver Surty and ELRC’sDhana Govender. Government is hoping all teachers will uselaptops. (Images: Bongani Nkosi)MEDIA CONTACTS• Hope MokgatlheMedia Liaison OfficerBasic Education Department+27 12 312 5538 or +27 71 680 6849RELATED ARTICLES• Education focus of Mandela Day 2010• Poor schools score textbooks• SA colleges get $6.7m boost• Ubuntu software for schoolsBongani NkosiSouth Africa’s public schools are moving into a new era of advanced technology, thanks to the new Teacher Laptop Initiative that’s rolling out across the country, allowing teachers to introduce laptops into their classrooms.A partnership between the Department of Basic Education and the private sector, the project is supervised by the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC).Top-of-the-range Pentium-4 machines, each one internet-ready and with national curriculum lessons and other relevant software installed, will be distributed to schools from 19 JulyGovernment believes the introduction of ICT into all its primary and secondary schools will improve the quality of pupils’ education. Teacher unions are unanimously supporting the initiative, and are hoping it will enhance their members’ teaching skills.“This is a powerful instrument that will help us transform our public education system,” said Dhaya Govender, general secretary of ELRC.The project was launched on 15 July at the Lotus Gardens Primary School in Pretoria West, where teachers are already using the laptops.  ELRC has 18 months to ensure that it’s fully rolled out.Technology in the classroomThere are over 360 000 teachers plying their trade in South Africa’s public schools, and the plan is to give all of them a laptop. “We will ensure that every teacher owns and is able to use a computer,” said Enver Surty, deputy minister of Basic Education.About 125 000 teachers have already received computer training, Surty said, adding that the department is also progressing with the registration of learners into a national database. Some 80% are already in the system.The 12 suppliers to the project, all prominent computer dealers and ISPs, are offering training sessions in the schools. Local companies involved include mobile providers Cell C, Vodacom and MTN, hardware suppliers Lenovo and Sahara Systems, and telecommunications company Telkom, among others.“Our technicians and engineers provide training for teachers, showing them how to use the [installed] applications,” said Dayalan Pillay, a business manager at ICT training company Gijima Ast, also a supplier.Teachers have participated actively in the training sessions, government noted.The Skool websitepA website due to be launched shortly, www.skool.co.za, will become a nerve centre of the initiative and will contain all modules of the school curriculum.“Teachers can set tests using the website. All resources are readily available for the teacher,” Pillay said.Improving communicationGovernment is spending about US$317-million (R2.8-billion) to subsidise the laptops, as well as projectors for classrooms. Teachers will pay a monthly minimum fee for the computers, which will then become their property.Unions see the initiative as a viable platform to improve communication in the teaching sector.“There have been challenges in communicating vital information to the teachers,” said Thobile Ntola, president of the South African Democratic Teachers Union. “The laptops will play a role in bridging this gap.”“We must all rejoice when teachers can use e-mail to communicate with colleagues, exchange ideas, debate and discuss, and be exposed to the world of knowledge using powerful search engines like Google,” said Ezrah Ramasehla, president of the National Association of Professional Teachers of South Africa.last_img read more

Flickr’s New Friend Finder: Data Portability or Privacy Violation?

first_imgmarshall kirkpatrick Tags:#web Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Late last night Yahoo! owned photo sharing site Flickr launched a new feature – the ability to search your Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail contacts list for people on Flickr so you can add them as contacts. Many services let you do that, but almost all of them require you to give up the user name and password for your email. Flickr did it right and it was exciting, for us at least. GMail users are taken to a GMail page, where GMail asks for their usernames and passwords – then asked if Flickr should be given one time access or ongoing access. That’s great. We’ve been calling on applications to use best practices and emerging protocols to access user data without asking for passwords for some time. The risks are too great, otherwise.Some Flickr users, though, are really upset. They don’t want anyone who has sent them an email to be able to easily find their photos on Flickr. What some people call Data Portability, others call a privacy violation.The Down SideFlickr users have been able to find each other by searching for individual emails for some time, but that “security by obscurity” has been changed dramatically by a bulk comparison of all your email contacts to the Flickr user database. There’s not consensus whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. I liked it when I tried it, I connected with some interesting people on Flickr that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I wouldn’t appreciate it, though, if certain people from my past who have otherwise forgotten about me were now prompted to check out my photos on Flickr. If blog comment spammers I’ve had nasty email exchanges with were suddenly prompted to friend me on Flickr, I wouldn’t like that very much either.Ongoing DiscussionJust like many people objected to Robert Scoble’s scraping emails out of Facebook in the name of Data Portability because they felt they had given him contact info in the limited setting of Facebook – these kinds of issues are going to come up a lot. The sticky privacy questions are the ones that Mark Zuckerberg told us are key to Facebook’s own engagement with Data Portability. We’ve asked similar questions here about the new Google Social Graph API. The Data Portability Working Group has lively discussions on privacy (subscribe to a filtered feed for the topic here) but mainstream users clearly have serious concerns.The situation at Flickr wasn’t helped by the fact that the option to opt-out of exposing your email address to this new feature was broken for the first 12 hours after launch, as was the ability to search Yahoo! Mail contacts. In the big picture view of these issues, though – Yahoo! in general is generally remarkably good about identity issues for all but the occasional Chinese journalist. (Flickr is better known for innovation than for its crimes against justice and democracy, of which there haven’t been any that we know of.)Some users have stated that they would prefer email exposure in the new feature to be opt-in, instead of opt-out. Though it will drastically slow down user connections – opt-in for this kind of feature may ultimately be required in order for data portability to be accepted. On the other hand, the Facebook Newsfeed faced a wholescale revolt when user activity was by default exposed to friends there and now it’s the site’s defining feature. Even what’s thought of as the best practices in webmail APIs have a lot of unanswered questions remaining, as we discussed yesterday in a post about Xoopit. Australian tech consultant Lachlan Hardy argues that standards based authentication steps could still soften users’ resistance to phishing and reminds us to look at the URL of the authentication page.What do you think? How should checking your email contacts for friends on a new network be done? What other best practices would you like to see emerge in order to make portability of data useful, safe and desirable? 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

The Danger of Forced Innovation in Retail

first_imgWhen planned, innovation is an essential part of the evolution of retail. But when innovation is forced on a retailer, it can be a toxic time burglar. In this article, I will review two types of forced innovation: “keeping up with the Joneses” and “can it be done?”Do Customers Really Want It?Have you ever been in a meeting where someone says, “Why don’t we have self-checkout or mobile POS (point of sale)?” Sometimes, the pressures of Amazon and other more technologically advanced retailers force innovation. This is an example of keeping up with the Joneses. The other question I often hear is, “Can we track our customers in-store, or can’t we use data to tackle our return problem? Others are doing it; I am sure we can too.” This is an example of “can it be done” forced innovation.One of the challenges with the “can it be done” question is that just about anything can be done. MIT has teleported grains of sand from one space to another. Rockets can be built and sent to the moon. Our cell phones have more computing power than the computer that ran Apollo 1. Virtually any retail demand could be accomplished with technology, provided you had unlimited money and resources. But no one has that. So the more important question than, “Can it be done?” is, “Why do we want to do it? Is it scalable? Will it enhance the customer experience? Will we earn more?”- Sponsor – A former retail colleague of mine shared with me his company’s desire to implement self-checkout in an upscale environment. There were several obstacles before we even got to the technology challenges. First, the store physically was not built to accommodate more equipment, such as automatic removers for security EAS tags. Second, because it was an upscale specialty store, all of the locations were different. The wrap stands and fixtures were custom-built, making changes problematic. Third, the store staff was limited to three to four high-performing sales professionals who already had multiple systems to deal with.The introduction of a new technology would require a lot of training and support. Fourth, their IT department was outsourced, and their call center was too. They had several projects going on.Now, let’s get into the technical obstacles. The first one had to do with network wiring and power: it just wasn’t available, even if they could find an out-of-the-box solution for self-checkout, which was unlikely. The physical restrictions of the store design, power, and cabling were limiting. The next technical challenge was how associates would remove a sensor tag, provide the customer a bag, or assist the customer in a short time if a problem or question arose. I asked my former colleague, “So what did you do?” His answer was simple, “My CEO and my EVP told me to figure it out, so I did the best I could.” When I asked how it went, he described a plethora of obstacles and problems. And in the end, the company changed direction and decided self-checkout wasn’t a good idea for them.Should it be a surprise that in an upscale environment that sells $5,000 handbags, the customers didn’t want to use self-checkout? This real-life example shows just some of the challenges of forced innovation. Slightly less obvious are these additional risks: an exposure to higher shrink, lower morale, and a strain on IT resources. If your IT, LP, and sales teams are focused on the innovation forced on them, what are they missing? Servicing the customer could take a back seat.But Amazon Is Doing ItIf your CEO or senior leaders ask you to do something, you may not have an option but to do it in the end. In the past, I’ve been asked to do many things that I suspected wouldn’t work or that would have enormous obstacles. I learned that it was okay to question the necessity of the project. Why are we trying this? Further, I would lay out a strategic plan with a timeline and a clear list of the risk to other projects. I also found that by putting a strategic plan together, looking at the true ROI, and documenting the risk, sometimes it would become very apparent that the request was either not scalable or too risky.“But we have to do it—Amazon is doing it!” Some of the most common demands I hear are related to omni-channel: buy online, pick up in store, same-day delivery, and creating a fulfillment center in the back room. Isn’t this a prime example of keeping up with the Joneses?Imagine you’re in a meeting and very excited to be there because you’re sitting at a table with the top executives in your organization. Your company is a couple of years into its dot-com business, and it’s growing at a faster rate than any of the other verticals. You are a retailer with an off-price presence, full-line stores, seasonal pop-ups, and other brands under a large corporation. In the meeting, a high-level executive says, “I think we need to start doing same-day delivery.” Another high-level executive says, “I think we need to start doing buy online, pick up in store.” Several other recommendations are brought up, all related to chasing Amazon or another competitor. All, at face value, sound simple but are very complex both technically and from a process standpoint.In that meeting, if you were asked your opinion, what would it be? What are some concerns you could raise? For buy online, pick up in store, a few things come to mind. What are some of my direct competitors doing? Do they have exclusions on product categories or limits on quantities ordered? How will they handle returns? What are the chargebacks going to look like? These are just a few of the loss prevention risks.In today’s evolving world of retail, innovation is necessary for survival. Sometimes keeping up with the Joneses or forced innovation can be taking something someone did and making it better; other times, it could be simply about not falling behind. Forced innovation could also be taking something that was originally planned on a roadmap for the next year and just adjusting the timeline with a higher degree of urgency. Whichever of these situations you encounter, make sure you have a plan, assess risk, and look at the ROI. Ask the why question, and make sure the proposed project enhances the customer experience. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more