Tag: Technology

Will language translation tech ring a death knell for modern language learning?

“100 billion words a day? It is nearly unfathomable that Google’s neural machine translation can accomplish this”

Humans have been trying to find better ways of deciphering different languages for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1949 that the concept of “machine translation” really became a possibility.

According to a paper written by John Hutchins, Yehoshua Bar-Hillel was one of the first ones to take an interest in the field. He led a Georgetown University machine translation team and in partnership with IBM performed a demonstration of an automatic translation machine in 1954 known as the Georgetown-IBM experiment.

It was the height of the cold war, and the machine was capable of translating roughly 250 words from Russian into English. At the time, the demonstration generated a lot of interest, and it was predicted that machine translation would be perfected before 1960. However, computers weren’t advanced enough at this time to handle the complexity of translation, and subsequent experiments for the following few decades were lacklustre at best.

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Germany Meets the Limits of Apprenticeship

“With a population about 25% the size of the United States, Germany has nearly 3x as many apprentices”

 

Question: How many Germans does it take to change a lightbulb at one of our apprenticeship programs? Answer: None. We leave it to the visiting American politicians.

I’ve begun telling this joke to my friends in German’s tech community. American senators, governors, even mayors (most recently the Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama) are a near-constant presence at Germany’s famous apprenticeship programs, visiting, touring – and yes, enjoying our wonderful food and wine – in search of a pathway to good jobs that don’t require a traditional university education.

We Germans are rightly proud of our apprenticeship system, which provides training on not only the technical skills workers need to succeed, but also on “how work works” i.e., training workers on the basics, like how meetings work, and showing up on time. The system dates back to craft guilds from the Middle Ages and involves federally-mandated collaboration between these associations, unions, educational institutions, and government.

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What’s new in EAL delivery for both teachers and pupils?

“The proliferation of online learning courses is well known, but finding a course that is well presented on a high-quality Learning Management System is important”

It is estimated that over 1 billion people are currently learning English worldwide and there have never been so many ways to learn it. We asked industry insiders for their views on the best new advances in technology and delivery to support teachers of EAL and their pupils, both inside and outside the classroom.

For teachers, FutureLearn’s Head of Client Services, Fiona Reay, highlights The British Council’s online program: Teaching for Success: Practices for English Language Teaching. The program helps EAL teachers understand and plan their professional development as an English language teacher. “Taken in any order, the three courses equip any English language teacher with the tools they need to take responsibility for their own CPD. Each course looks at four professional practices and in doing so explains their importance to the continuously developing teacher; offering a range of practical advice and suggestions, as well as providing the opportunity to interact with fellow teachers around the world”, says Fiona.

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Nurturing a digitally resilient generation

“Schools worldwide need to start thinking differently about how to equip children with independent learning skills”

In this week’s blog, director of The British School, New Delhi, India Vanita Uppal OBE, takes an award-winning approach to educating students and the wider community, on the benefits of becoming digitally resilient.

The constantly changing world of technology can throw up unprecedented issues for our children.  All over the world cyberbullying exists, but India experiences particularly high rates of this issue and a growing number of young and impressionable mobile device users attend our schools.
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Four tips to prepare for students with their own devices

The growth in consumer devices such as mobile phones and tablets looks set to continue, and with an international survey finding that 65% of children have a mobile phone handset[1], more and more students are turning up to class with their devices in pockets or backpacks.

However, technology that can inspire and enable a generation also becomes a real challenge for a school when students and staff expect to be able to connect their own devices to the network.

Today, educational technology is migrating from simply enhancing traditional teaching to transforming it. PCs and tablets not only provide the interface to the Internet, but are also the platforms for digital learning tools, online assessment, and student collaboration.  Studies have shown that the schools that embrace these technology changes see strong positive impact on student grades and learning outcomes.

‘Bring your own Device’ (BYOD), is already an issue for businesses worldwide, as they struggle to balance the benefits with the challenges.  So, how can schools across the globe embrace the opportunity by developing a BYOD policy and what is involved in policing it?

Embracing BYOD can bring benefits to a school if done right.  For instance it can reduce security risks, increase productivity in the classroom and provide cost savings through a reduction in school-owned devices.

Where to start?

Guidelines are important and let students know that using their own devices are welcome, but instruction and education use is the primary reason for that access. They should also include clear statements of consequences for student failure to follow the school’s acceptable use policy.

Here are four tips to help managers of IT systems within schools stay sane when faced with multiple devices on the IT network.

 1.    Ask yourself: Is your wireless network prepared?

While your wireless network may be experiencing more demand now than ever before, the truth is that this just the beginning. Projections indicate that we can expect these figures to continue to skyrocket, with more devices, applications and traffic demands on the way. Unfortunately most school networks are nowhere near prepared enough to keep up with these increasing demands.  Therefore, the first important tip is to review the capabilities of the existing school IT infrastructure and ensure it is fit for purpose.

2.    A Unified, proactive approach to BYOD

Without a unified network management approach – one that extends to the pupil – the costs and resources necessary to manage a BYOD initiative become overwhelming, taxing the school beyond its limits. A unified approach to BYOD adoption policy needs to cast a wide net, covering issues such as:

  • Approval of mobile devices
  • Registration and on-boarding
  • Usage policies
  • Budget constraints
  • Infrastructure restrictions

3.    Document and communicate BYOD best practices

Through the communication of a strong mobile device acceptable use and security policy, schools and colleges can define user conduct, support policies, IT support responsibilities, and security controls and features with very little room for confusion.  These documents provide general use guidelines for users accessing the school/college network and deliver a framework for conduct for staff, students and guests alike.

4. Appoint a leader, plan ahead and constantly review

A BYOD solution should not be a responsibility that goes hand in hand with the many other day-to-day IT management tasks. Appoint a member of staff to be a cross-functional leader who will oversee the BYOD strategy as a whole.  Ensure adequate time is taken to plan appropriately, make sure you know which devices you will and won’t support.  Finally, review policy compliance regularly – there’s no point in setting policies if they’re being violated and content isn’t secure.


[1] Research carried out by in 2012 by mobile operators in conjunction with GSMA and the Mobil Society Research Institute

Mark Pearce is a strategic alliance director at Enterasys Networks