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Mobile education & transforming the learning experience

Inside Telecom Staff

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Mobile education

‘Mobile education’ occurs when a student utilizes portable devices like smart phones, tablets, netbooks or handheld gaming devices, to access learning materials and systems, create content and connect with other students, teachers, learning systems and their environment. Mobile devices mean that education and learning can happen at any time and any place at a speed chosen by the learner, whilst ensuring that teachers can easily provide individual and motivated learning experiences that are relevant to location and context. Mobile learning can be individual or collaborative and transformational.

‘Mobile Education’ comes as an extension to mobile learning, including the whole range of opportunities mobile technologies and systems have to offer to improve learning, teaching, assessment and educational management. Mobile education involves access to e-books and online learning materials and portals, learner/tutor communication, e-assessment, attendance monitoring, curriculum and device management.

The mobile aspect refers to the technologies made use of by students and teachers to teach or learn in varied locations which can be connected to the mobile networks provided by network operators. This enables the use of online resources from most locations around the world, also including those beyond the reach of institutional and public wireless networks.

Currently, the technologies employed for mobile education are more often than not consumer devices such as those listed above. However, there is the potential to integrate mobile connectivity into other equipment and consequently open up fresh and innovative educational opportunities. Examples of which include, connected science equipment which is able to make readings and upload the data in real-time, as a result, saving time and increasing accuracy.

Societies and individuals around the world understand that investment in education is investment in future growth and economic wealth. Mobile connectivity, is able to offer new ways of teaching and learning that are cost-effective and can develop programmes of education that can be personalized to individuals and diverse cultural communities – as a result, driving performance and results.

In most OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, yearly expenses on education embodies between 4% and 5% of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product) – according to an OECD report.

Growing economies, rising populations and an increase of the so-called middle classes are all aspects that are driving the demand for education in developed and emerging economies.

The education sector itself, spends a greater percentage of revenue on technology than most other industries. The rising adoption of smartphones, tablets, portable gaming machines and other handheld devices by individuals, is on the way to creating a potentially compelling learning platform that could be harnessed by a significant proportion of the global education market.

Mobile technologies can also be used collectively to enhance group-based teaching and learning either within an institution or in out-of-classroom scenarios.

Benefits of using mobile education

  • Learners have continuous access to the latest textbooks, podcasts, videos and multimedia learning experiences sourced from around the world and can choose when and where to work.
  • Assignments and coursework, combining text, images, audio and video, can be created on a mobile device and gathered together in an online portfolio by the learner.
  • Students (and educators) are able to connect with each other anywhere and at any time to discuss and explore their learning together. 
  • Students (and educators) can interact with people pursuing similar disciplines across the world thus building global communities of learning and practice.
  • Using mobile devices to introduce topics and run assessments means teachers can reduce the amount of time they spend in front of a class presenting and testing knowledge, freeing up more time for discussion and exploration.
  • Information and feedback can be sent directly to learners, teachers, tutors, parents, etc., and quickly acknowledged and followed up.
  • Online planning systems can use mobile devices to co-ordinate and send reminders about classes, workshops, events and vacations.
  • Test papers can be assessed, collated, aggregated and graded safely and securely when students are ready rather than at set times during the year.
  • For many people, especially children and teenagers, the use of mobile devices is inherently exciting, motivating and, if properly structured and supported, can help to build confidence and engage students from hard-to-reach groups and improve their performance.
  • Mobile education can be more cost-effective than traditional approaches, enabling the efficient use of accommodation and staff time, and saving money, for example, on photocopying, printing, postage, textbooks and staff travel.
  • Mobile technologies make it easier for teachers to provide more differentiated learning experiences and formative assessment for learners of different abilities and with different learning styles or preferences.
  • Mobile connected equipment can make data collection by students, inside or outside of the classroom, easier and more accurate.
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Technology

South Africa bars WhatsApp from sharing private user data with Facebook

Yehia El Amine

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private user data

South Africa’s Information Regulator (IR) barred Facebook Inc. from sharing any information it collects from WhatsApp users in the country without prior authorization from the regulator, Reuters reported on Thursday.

“WhatsApp cannot, without obtaining prior authorization from the IR, process any contact information of its users for a purpose other than the one for which the number was specifically intended at collection, with the aim of linking that information jointly with information processed by other Facebook companies,” the regulator said.

The regulator added that its decision was in accordance with section 57 of the Protection of Personal Information Act, South Africa’s data protection law. The agency also said that it has written to Facebook South Africa outlining its concerns regarding its privacy policy.

The IR is also “very concerned” that citizens of the EU will receive significantly higher privacy protection than people in South Africa and Africa generally.

“Our legislation is very similar to that of the EU. It was based on that model deliberately, as it provides a significantly better model for the protection of personal information than that in other jurisdictions,” Chairperson of the IR Pansy Tlakula said.

“We do not understand why Facebook has adopted this differentiation between Europe and Africa,” she said.

According to Reuters, WhatsApp is currently reviewing the regulator’s letter while downplaying the privacy update, suggesting that it “does not expand the company’s ability to share data with Facebook, or affect the privacy of users’ messages with friends or family.”

Earlier in January, the popular instant messaging app announced a change in its privacy terms and conditions that would allow parent company, Facebook, to collect users’ data from the app such as their phone number, email address, contacts, location, device ID, user ID, advertising data, purchase history, product interaction, payment info, crash, performance, and other diagnostic data, customer support, and metadata.

However, after a hailstorm of controversy, WhatsApp pushed back the update till May 15 to allow users ample time to review the new conditions. The controversy spread worldwide, as many users began to migrate to rival alternative messaging apps such as Signal and Telegram.

Mobile app analytics firm Sensor Tower said last week that Signal saw 17.8 million app downloads on Apple and Google during the week of Jan. 5 to Jan. 12. Representing a 61-fold increase from just 285,000 the previous week.

Telegram, an already-popular messaging app for people around the world, saw 15.7 million downloads in the Jan. 5 to Jan. 12 period, roughly twice the 7.6 million downloads it experienced the previous week.

South Africa joins the line of countries expressing concern over the use of private user data, such as India – a key market for WhatsApp – who asked the company to withdraw the new update from the country.

In parallel, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan completely dropped the app as a presidential communication tool in favor of homegrown instant messaging app BiP.

Many Turkish citizens also called for the boycott of the app on Twitter, using the hashtag #DeletingWhatsApp.

Even the head of the Turkish Presidential Digital Transformation Office, Ali Taha Koc, took to Twitter to voice his criticism over the instant messaging app’s privacy policy, and the exemption from the new data-sharing rules for users in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

It is worth mentioning that the sudden worldwide flare up against WhatsApp could be attributed to a deeply rooted problem of trust, or lack thereof.

Facebook has a notorious track record when it comes to digital privacy, to the extent of which its CEO Mark Zuckerberg has frequently testified in front of the U.S. Congress and EU Parliament for that matter.

While the company has clarified time and again that the update will not affect users when talking to friends and family, many refuse to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt.

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Soul App provides a glimpse into a wave of AI-powered social networking

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AI-powered social networking

Of the various social networking apps that have made it easier to stay connected amid the pandemic, one of the social platforms that stands out is Soul App; a Shanghai-based application has recently come to North America, Japan, and South Korea.

The latest trend, such the fast-growing Clubhouse app highlights an emerging social media trend featuring technology-driven social platforms. Yet it still uses the basic model as Facebook, which involves circles of friends, with the distinction that Clubhouse requires only an invitation from an existing member to join the Club.

A social platform that is a little bit different is veteran, Soul App, launched in 2016 which would make it something of an antique, but for the fact it kept its backroom tech updated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) matching of members.

SOUL has benefited from the technological tide of the increasingly matured tech of big data and AI, a trend that helps transform social networking products.

“At a time when Internet-based technologies have penetrated every nook and cranny of life – and social life in particular – nearly 90 percent of Gen Z surveyed want to expand the ways they socialize,” SOUL said in a statement.

This was highlighted in Soul’s Generation Z’s Social Life Report.

SOUL noted that “most social networks fail to move away from the traditional model centered on pre-existing social circles putting younger users under social pressure who would otherwise express themselves freely and honestly.”

Albeit, with slow growth, the AI-powered social networking app has become quite popular, with more than 100 million registered users, and more than 30 million monthly active users, making it the top five most downloaded free social networking apps on the China App Store.

Unlike Chinese dating apps competitors Momo and Tantan, SOUL offers an alternative to superficial swipe culture. By taking profile pictures out of the equation, the Chinese dating app helps its Gen Z users find matches based on common interests, Jing Daily reported.

The AI-powered social networking platform offers users an “explore” feature to post personal statuses and to browse through other people’s posts. The simplicity of the platform’s interface is the main reason for its popularity. Additionally, the application has become a social media hub based on an algorithm-based recommendation system. 

The speedy algorithm-enabled interaction models cater to young people’s social needs. As the younger generation falls into the habit of spending fragmented, sporadic time online, their desire to seek a lifelong friend has been replaced by the pursuit of temporary, but equally meaningful, companionship. 

SOUL also uses a decentralized content distribution mechanism that balances popularity and matching influences, so that everyone’s contents can be fairly viewed and shared with reduced interference on traffic distribution for users and their posts.

On SOUL, users can tag their posted contents to define their topics of interested and enable their contents to reach others with the same interests and hobbies, including music, literature, history, movies and games, according to the company.

Users can strike up a conversation about shared interests or play online games as a team. In this regard, SOUL capitalizes on its accurate and efficient recommendation system to build a “wonderland” of freedom, openness, and enjoyment as a path for its users to have pleasant companionship 24/7, which betrays the core secret of Soul app’s exponential growth.

“The app’s algorithm-enabled friend recommendation system Planet and personalized content feeds allow users to spot someone after their own hearts,” SOUL said in a statement.

Specifically, Soulers can tap their Planet to make matches and interact directly with their friends through various features including Audio Call and Soul Cam.

There is no swiping left or right as is familiar the world over with user of such dating apps as Tinder, instead users look for comonality.

“They can  find potential like-minded friends as they scroll through intriguing posts made by others, where shared interests lead to blossoming friendships,” SOUL said.

Predictably, amid the deeper integration of new technologies and social networking services, stress-free and interest-based social networks represented by the Soul app are set to play an ever-important role down the road.

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New device to help protect athletes from traumatic brain injury

Karim Hussami

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traumatic brain injury

A new device that could help reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury during head impacts was given approval this week by the Food and Drug Administration. The device is authorized for athletes 13 and older, and can be used during football, soccer and other high-impact sports.

The device is intended to protect athletes from sub concussive injuries, by protecting the internal jugular veins, thereby increasing the volume of blood to vessels of the skull.

The additional blood restricts the movement of the brain inside the skull. As the brain moves less, it may be protected from the negative effects of the “slosh” movement that occurs in unprotected athletes who suffer heavy impacts to the head.

The C-shaped device, called the Q-Collar, fits around the back and side of the neck. It works by clamping compressive protection on blood vessels in the neck.

A CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) analysis found 2 million children visited emergency departments because of TBI sustained during sports and recreation activities from 2010 to 2016.

TBI can have emotional, physiological and cognitive effects, while negative health outcomes can stem from sub concussive injuries that alter tissue but do not cause diagnosed concussion.

The researchers used advanced imaging techniques to look at changes in the brains of nearly 300 study participants before and after the season. They found changes in deep structures of the brain in 73 percent of participants in the no-collar group, while no significant changes in these same structures were found in 77 percent of participants in the collar group.

Carolina Panthers’ Linebacker Luke Kuechly, who retired at 28 after suffering a series of head injuries, was seen wearing the Q-Collar in his final seasons with the NFL.

“Today’s action provides an additional piece of protective equipment athletes can wear when playing sports to help protect their brains from the effects of repetitive head impacts while still wearing the personal protective equipment associated with the sport,” said Dr. Christopher M. Loftus, acting director of the Office of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

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