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Monday, 28 January 2013 15:29

E-learning trends: What to expect in 2013

E-learning trends: What to expect in 2013

By 2015 e-learning will have a global value of $107 billion according to market researcher Global Industry Analysts. It’s predicted that in 2013 digital learning is going to be increasingly mobile, opening it up to a wider local audience. In South Africa, 2.4 million people only access the internet via their cellphones, and e-learning developers are increasingly cognisant of this fact. Just as technology is shaping and changing the way we work, shop, and even meet our partners, it is going to increasingly change the way we learn, too.


“Gamification” is the current buzzword in the business world, and its roots lie in e-learning. It was first mentioned in relation to learning at the 2010 TED (Technology, Education and Design) conference by British technology theorist Tom Chatfield in a presentation headed “Seven Ways Gaming Rewards the Brain”. Put very simply, he discovered that harnessing what keeps people coming back to video games would make e-learning more compelling and successful.


In 2011 US gamers spent $17bn on video games and it’s estimated that the average American gamer spends up to 10 hours a week gaming. These kinds of figures make a compelling argument for using the principles of gamification in e-learning design and it’s likely to be the biggest trend in e-learning in 2013.


The fact that failure isn’t possible is one of the most compelling things about video games. If you don’t succeed, you just keep trying until you do – because you know that, ultimately, you will win. This kind of attitude, when applied to studying, boosts confidence and helps people persevere because grasping difficult new knowledge becomes more of a challenge and less of a chore. Expect to see more experience bars in e-learning courseware, which make learners’ progress “concrete” and reinforces it.


Expect to see more e-learning developers to realise the importance of interactivity, too, with built-in games, animations, sound clips and other multimedia making the material more immersive. The learning of the future is going to resemble a video game more than a textbook. Some argue that “generation Y”, having grown up in a “screenified” culture, will demand this kind of learning material as they will no longer relate to the type of teaching their parents experienced.


In my next piece I look at how social learning and learning on the go will influence learning in 2013.

Published in Skills Development
Wednesday, 31 October 2012 00:00

Top 10 security tips for Gen Y

Top 10 security tips for Gen Y

If you are part of Gen Y, connectivity is an important part of your daily life. But while tweeting, friending, and googling may be routine, are you protecting yourself online?


According to a recent ZoneAlarm survey of 1245 participants, the majority of Gen Y* respondents leave Internet security on the back burner. Only 31% of Gen Y participants rank security as the most important consideration when making decisions about their computer. Gen Y was more likely to prioritise entertainment and community above security. However, half (50%) of all Gen Y indicated that they have had computer security issues in the past two years.


The research shows that Gen Y is leaving themselves -- and anyone with whom they communicate -- wide-open and vulnerable to online attacks. So, when you consider the growth of cybercrime in our over connected, always-on society, it doesn’t hurt to be one-step ahead in the security game.


Here are 10 ways to protect yourself and keep out of harm’s way.

  1. Get back to the basics. Regularly updating your computer’s operating system is one of the simplest, yet most important, ways to protect your computer. The newest software versions help your system run more smoothly and prevent you from becoming vulnerable to holes found in your old system. Make sure your operating system is configured to receive automatic updates for the latest security patches, and be sure to apply the latest settings by restarting your computer after the updates occur.
  2. Don’t be click-happy. Did you know that 9,500 malicious websites are detected by Google every single day? This stat includes legitimate sites that have been hijacked and those that are designed to spread malware. Stay safe by being wary of the links you click. And remember to hover over links so that you can review the full address before you click. You should also take the warning messages from Google to heart. And, always keep your firewall and antivirus up-to-date and active.
  3. Pay attention to the latest social changes. For example, Facebook recently changed your default email to .com. This means that a whole new group of marketers and spammers will be able to contact you much more easily than ever before. Whether you Like this (or not), adjust your privacy protection settings and watch out for spam and phishing scams now that Facebook’s messaging system is open.
  4. Passwords, passwords, passwords. Always create strong passwords for all online accounts, and include letters, numbers, and symbols. Longer passwords are more secure and harder to crack. Choose different and unique passwords for important sites, such as your primary email and financial accounts. Try not to use the same password for multiple sites. If a password gets compromised on one site, it may allow hackers to log into other accounts with the same credentials.
  5. Gamers, keep your security software on deck. If you are serious about online gaming, don’t disable your security software to play thrilling titles, like Diablo III. Yes, experiencing a high speed connection with minimal interruptions is important – but not at the expense of security. Instead, look for “Game Mode” in your security software. This setting will never interrupt you while you’re in the middle of your game. At the same time, it will keep you protected.
  6. Protect yourself against P2P and pirated software. The best solution is to simply never use P2P sites to download pirated software and, instead, download your files from the original software developer. But if you still choose to take that risk, you should at least take a few precautions, like reading the user comments before you download the file. Keep in mind that many of today’s popular P2P sites offer a pretty accurate rating system that can provide you with a sense of just how these downloadable files have performed for other users.
  7. Beware of social engineering attacks. Cybercriminals are scouring social media sites every day to learn all they can about you. They’ll use the information they gather to send you highly targeted emails, pretending to be from your boss, friend, or family member. Did you post some information on Facebook recently about your favorite vacation spot – only to receive an email from a co-worker about the best summer getaways, complete with a request to link to a recent article? Stay on guard. And always watch what you say online – revealing too much information like middle names, pet names, etc. could be just enough to tip off a cybercriminal.
  8. Choose your friends carefully. There’s nothing like making connections online via Facebook and other social networks. However, you definitely put yourself at risk by not taking the time to filter who you accept into your inner circle. If you get a friend request from someone you haven’t spoken to in years or someone you don’t know, a social bot may be using this as an opportunity to hack into your network. They could exploit the trust you have built on Facebook and Twitter to send emails or notifications to your networks – using your access, information and persona to solicit products and spread malware to others’ computers.
  9. Take Care When Downloading Videos. Online video has really taken off– especially for Gen Y who often spends more time watching videos online than any other group. Be careful when downloading videos – as this activity could be a hotbed for viruses. If you don’t have the most up-to-date video player, download it directly from a trustworthy source. Never install software from file-sharing sites when trying to view a video, and keep in mind downloading a video by itself should never require running an executable (.exe) file.
  10. Be Cautious When Using Wi-Fi Hotspots - Most people are thrilled when they encounter free Wi-Fi hotspots. But before you connect, verify that the Wi-Fi network name (SSID) is from a legitimate service. Do not connect to random, unsecured Wi-Fi networks. It increases your security risks. And use a Virtual Private Network, if you can. A VPN allows you to route all your activity through a separate, secure, private network, even if you’re on a public one. Several services are available, or you can even go with an app like Hotspot Shield, which sets a VPN up for you automatically.


Staying vigilant is a good start. But it’s just not enough. Cybercriminals are becoming craftier by the day, and online attacks are never ending. Whatever you do, it’s important to take basic precautions by following the tips above and making sure you at least have antivirus software and a 2-way firewall on your computer. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security – no matter what your age. You will not only avoid becoming another statistic, you’ll also do your part to keep the Internet safe for your online community.

Published in Security
Friday, 05 October 2012 10:37

South African Generation Y Entrepreneurs lag globally

South African Generation Y Entrepreneurs lag globally

In the current uncertain economic climate and unpredictable job market, global research has revealed that ‘emerging adults’, also known as ‘Generation Y’ (born between 1980 and 1995), are attempting to adapt to these environmental conditions by seeking alternative forms of employment through entrepreneurial activities.


According to Kobus Engelbrecht, of the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the Year® competition, entrepreneurship is not only crucial in stimulating economic growth and job creation, but plays an important role in determining the future economic outlook of a nation. However, he says that research indicates that the same trend is not materialising among Generation Y’ers in South Africa. 


Engelbrecht, says that today’s Generation Y is faced with a barrage of unique challenges when entering the work environment that are distinctive to their generation. “Today’s youth are joining an unpredictable job market plagued by poor global economic conditions that has resulted in an escalating mass of unemployed youths.”


However, Engelbrecht believes that these obstacles have produced a generation of problem solvers in countries like America, who possess a strong entrepreneurial culture. “A study conducted by Employers Insurance found that 46% of Americans from Generation Y wanted to start a business within the next five years, while only 35% of ‘Generation X’ers’ (born between 1965 and 1979) and 21% of the ‘Baby Boomers’ generation (born between 1946 and 1964) were interested in pursuing a career in entrepreneurship within the next five years.”


He says a strong entrepreneurial culture is important in shaping and developing the future of an economy. “It is commonly believed that a strong entrepreneurial culture laid the foundation for building one of the world largest economies. In 1970, 90% of the American population comprised of self-employed entrepreneurs. Today many of those companies are global leaders and drivers of economic growth. It is hence of utmost importance that entrepreneurialism is encouraged amongst the youth in order to encourage sustainable economic growth in the future.”

However, he believes that the South African Generation Y has fallen behind in this regard and not only lag behinds the United States but behind its fellow BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) economies.


According to Engelbrecht, research indicates that South Africa’s Generation Y is not interested in becoming entrepreneurs. “Data from the recently released 2011 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) South Africa report found that only 6.8% and 10.2% of South Africans, aged between 18 and 24 and 25 and 34 respectively, were involved in entrepreneurship. In comparison to other BRICS countries, members of Generation Y in Brazil and China are approximately two to three times more likely to be entrepreneurs when compared to South Africa.”


He believes that this is a great cause of concern considering South Africa’s relatively high youth unemployment rate. “According to the GEM report, South Africa’s youth unemployment rate is currently as high as 48.2%, which is considerably higher than Brazil’s rate, currently at 17.8%. In poor economic conditions young people are generally the first to lose their jobs and last to be hired.


“Many young people in South Africa feel the need to find employment in the formal job market directly after school. However, given South Africa’s very low established business rate, which is the lowest of the BRICS nations and one of the lowest across all GEM countries, few jobs are available.


“With limited jobs available and a soaring youth unemployment rate, one would expect the unemployed youth of South Africa to seek alternative forms employment.” However, as Engelbrecht explains, this is not the case in South Africa. “According to GEM research, only 14.3% of South Africans are interested in starting their own business in the next three years. The study indicated that South Africa has the fifth lowest entrepreneurial intent amongst all efficiency-driven economies in the world.”


He says that more needs to be done to create a positive entrepreneurial culture that supports a fruitful business environment where young entrepreneurs can flourish. “Encouraging entrepreneurship amongst this generation could serve as a very viable solution to the rising youth unemployment rate, income inequality and rising poverty levels.


“This can be done by promoting and recognising entrepreneurs that have not only been successful in their own right, but in doing so have benefited others. These ‘economic heroes’ show true courage, vision and leadership and should be positioned as the true champions for South Africa’s aspiring youth,” concludes Engelbrecht.

Published in Economy



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