AI in Education – Threat or Treat?

Posted on: January 24th, 2023 by Admin

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm and is rapidly transforming so many industries and education is no exception. The integration of AI in education has the potential to completely turn how we learn on its head. However, although the benefits are great, concerns are also springing up amongst education professionals about AI’s impact on the industry.

 

Let’s begin by looking at the benefits of AI being used in education.

  1. Personalised Learning: AI can personalize and tailor learning materials to suit and meet the needs of all students. Due to this learning can be more effective since students would be able to focus on certain areas which they need to improve on. Feedback can be instantaneous which will allow for quicker performance improvement.
  2. Accessibility: AI can provide remote and online learning opportunities which can be quite helpful to anybody living in remote areas. Access to course work can be at any time, day or night and students can learn based around their own unique schedule.
  3. Curriculum: AI can quickly generate curriculum content for educators which will mean teaching staff can spend more time teaching and less time researching and putting materials together.
  4. Human Bias: AI can work to reduce bias in education.

 

These are some benefits of AI, but as we all know not everything is always rosy and there are negative impacts of AI in education.

  1. Teachers: There is a fear that AI can replace human teachers, even though that could possibly be true, AI could never replace human touch, AI could never create a positive, creative and supportive learning environment like a good teacher can.
  2. Critical Thinking: AI could suppress critical thinking which is often an important skill taught in further and higher education and as a result stifle student’s thinking power overall.
  3. Human Interactions: AI limits our interpersonal connections and communications which is quite high up on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
  4. Digital Divide: Due to socio-economic reasons, AI may not be available to all who would like to use it.
  5. Integrity: An issue that further and higher education has been battling with for many decades and with the recent development of ChatGPT by OpenAI, the education industry has another battle to face of potential plagiarism which is not impossible, but quite difficult to detect.

 

Like most things in life, AI in education has its pros and cons. It’s extremely important to target the negatives and work on improvements in these areas. Additionally, it’s important to invest in training teachers to fully understand the AI systems so that they can use it effectively in their teaching.

Ultimately, AI is as good as the people behind it and the people that use it. It can significantly improve how we learn and teach and make education accessible for all.

And finally, as we touch on ChatGPT and if you are still not sure if it is as great and powerful as people make it out to be, ask yourself this – was this blog written by AI software like ChatGPT or just by a very skilled copywriter?

 

Joe Walsh

Director

The Open College

 

5 Solutions to Misconceptions in e-Learning

Posted on: January 13th, 2023 by Admin

 

It is normal in life for things to grow, people’s needs to change and for people to adapt – more often than not this is for the better. Developments are made at a rapid pace in many areas of society and embraced. This rings true in how we live, how we travel, our shopping experiences and even medical care. One of the main ways, if not the main way in which this was made possible was through technological advancements. The accessibility technology gives us is undeniable and affords us a lot of conveniences.

Online education was an obvious answer for all schools and colleges across the country during COVID-19. Most Irish educational bodies scrambled to get into the online world in a short space of time which in the end proved to be successful and kept their doors open…virtually of course. Showing that it can be done and it can be done well.

 

So, why is it that we don’t see e-learning in the same light as attendance based education?

Why do some see it as a second rate system rather than what every other industry does and see it as progression?

Why did it take a global pandemic, with the education industry to be on its knees for any change to happen?

How is it that traditional education remains to be the most popular where e-learning should be king?

 

I won’t blather on about how great e-learning is, there will be time for that during another blog post.

What I do want to talk about is the perceived issues around e-learning and how they can be addressed. Some issues of course are far too large and by no means am I suggesting I am an expert on it, but I do know a thing or two when it comes to learning virtually. The best policy after all, is to be proactive about short comings and find solutions.

 

So, here we go…

 

 

  1. Internet Access: This one may be hard to believe for some, we’ve grown up with the internet at our finger trips however, the digital divide is very real and very much a problem, be it geographical or socio-economic. These issues are quite large with many factors to them and something that will not be solved in a day; however, I do believe the government needs to step up and resolve this issue. After all, it is the 21st century and access to the internet needs to be available to all.

 

  1. Credibility: Assumptions are that e-learning is not reputable, that somehow presenteeism allows for better credentials. This is not true and merely an old stereotype. E-Learning is just a modern day form of distance learning when course work was posted to students. Here in Ireland academic standards are monitored. Our Accreditation comes mainly from QQI (Quality Qualifications Ireland) which is a Irish state agency responsible for quality of qualifications which they accredit. There are other reputable, industry specific organisations that accredit courses, QQI is just one such example.

 

  1. Computer Skills: Many of us were born into the online world, some of us were lucky to be young enough to grow up with it and others still struggle to understand it – call it the “generational gap”. There needs to be more of a push to equip people with basic computer skills and not just for education, but for everyday life. This is a topic that you could write a thesis on because again, geographic and socio-economic issues are at the heart of this but the fact remains the same – education around computer literacy needs to be more accessible.

 

  1. Social Aspects: It is common place for people to turn to online education mainly for their time constraints – they want to fit education into an already busy schedule. The social aspect is something that is least on their mind. However, with modern day technology, the social aspect is available but virtually through software made just for this or even your old reliable Whats App group.

 

  1. Change: As humans we generally don’t like change and would find anything new difficult to adapt to, we love the predictability of our comfort zones. This may not be such an easy solution as it involves changing a person’s mindset. Our job as e-learning professionals and advocates is to give as much help as we can, educate people on e-learning benefits and hopefully then through conversations with peers, mindsets and outlooks can begin to change and adapt to a new more flexible way of learning online.

 

Online education has a long way to go and many obstacles need to be cleared before e-learning becomes mainstream, until then, we remain being confident that we are doing all we can to make further and higher education accessible to everyone.

 

Joe Walsh

Director

The Open College

 

 

How to smash that Virtual Interview

Posted on: January 1st, 2023 by Admin

 

Virtual Interviews were fast becoming the norm, but the pandemic has really forced companies to now conduct all their interviews online. Since the pandemic began right at the beginning of last year, I have conducted many virtual interviews. I have noticed that candidates can be quite uncomfortable during the first interview due to interview nerves and having to look at themselves on the screen. People can be too focused on how they are presenting themselves and not focus on what exactly is being asked.

 

If you have an online interview coming up, below are some useful tips I can recommend to prepare and present yourself well during the interview:

  • Look presentable – dress appropriately from top to toe. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to get up from your desk during the interview, but you never know what might happen! I’ve had this happen a few times while conducting interviews so make sure to dress the bottom half as professionally as the top – no pjs!

 

  • Mind your background – whether it’s a virtual background or your own background. De-clutter and only select professional looking screens– no beeches or bars!

 

  • Noise & Distractions – make sure there is no distracting noise in the background like a washing machine / dog barking / cats jumping up on the table and try to avoid doing the interview in a restaurant or public area.

 

  • Don’t have the camera too close to you. Make sure your interviewer can see your top half and not just your head.

 

  • Make sure your Audio is working properly and you can both hear one another.

 

  • Make sure your internet speed is suitable for the interview.

 

  • Once you are happy with your position, don’t pay too much attention to yourself on screen– pay the full 100% attention to your interviewer and make eye contact with the camera so it looks like you are making eye contact with the interviewer. It doesn’t look professional if you are constantly looking at yourself which results in broken rapport with the interviewer.

 

  • Have a trial run with a friend – ask a friend / colleague to have a trial virtual interview with you beforehand to check internet speed / audio / background / how you come across and also practice your questions.

 

  • Other than that, the same rules apply as with a face to face interviews – research the company, practice your questions, make sure you have lots of examples you can provide for the skills they are looking for, be confident with your answers however, not overly confident and no waffling, create rapport from the start, know your CV and (or) application form, prepare your own questions and never have a bad word to say about a former employer.

 

Hopefully, these tips and tricks should help you with any future interviews you may have coming up. Good luck!

 

20 Ways to be more Productive at Work

Posted on: July 13th, 2018 by Admin

 

Life gets hectic sometimes and you may think that you never have enough time to do everything or you just become overwhelmed. Work may suffer, and you may feel under severe pressure.

Many people have succumbed to this kind of pressure and left jobs they were more than capable of being successful in.

 

The following are a few tips based on a lot of research from various Universities to help you deal with the pressures of work and become more productive:

 

  • Work from home more: Research from Stanford University found that call center workers made 13.5% more calls per week from home rather than at the office.

 

  • Work standing up: People who work using stand up desks are 46% more productive than those with a sitting desk – this is a quite a high percentage and a lot healthier! Definitely something to consider.

 

  • Surround yourself with natural light: If you are working in a place where there are big windows with lots of natural light, you will have better quality sleep. This ensures proper rest and productivity increases.

 

  • Have a few plants around: Having a few plants around your desk looks good, but also increases work productivity by 15%.

 

  • Go easy on the air conditioning: Being colder than normal impacts overall productivity – having the temperature at 22 Celsius is just right for maximum work productivity.

 

  • Avoid noise: Workers exposed to even low levels of office noise are slightly more stressed than those in a quiet working environment resulting in not as much work being completed.

 

  • Listen to nature sounds: Nature sounds increase ability to concentrate.

 

  • Check emails less: Checking emails for most of the day wastes too much time and reduces productivity. Deal with the urgent emails first thing and then get on with your other duties.

 

  • Play music if bored: If you listen to music while carrying out monotonous tasks, you will actually get more done.

 

  • Family photo’s: If you have some positive pictures or photographs around you at your desk, your productivity could increase by over 40%.

 

  • Take a walk: Taking a walk gets the blood flowing, which means more oxygen is delivered to each organ and the brain. This results in clearer thinking, more energy and higher productivity.

 

  • Try not to multitask: Try go do one thing at a time and prioritize – multi tasking results in confusion which leads to low productivity.

 

  • Get the hard tasks out of the way first: Most of us have more energy in the morning time. The afternoon brings with it the dreaded slump – energy and willpower decreases which is why you are better off completing the harder tasks in the morning.

 

  • Afternoon nap: If you can – take a small nap in the afternoon. This refreshes the brain and productivity is increased. No more than 30 minutes will do.

 

  • Talk and have the craic with co-workers: Workers who communicate well and go to lunch together are less stressed and are more productive as they have a laugh and talk about their problems.

 

  • Have short regular breaks: Make sure to take short breaks regularly. Stretch your legs and get your blood flowing. You will automatically feel tired if you sit at the same place for lengthy periods which has an effect on productivity.

 

  • Meditate: The benefits of meditation are endless – it clears your brain and helps you focus on what’s happening now. This will help with prioritizing, communication, tiredness and being more alert.

 

  • Breath: Don’t forget to breath properly – most of us feel tense and only slightly breath in which leaves our bodies and brains deprived of oxygen. Breath in more deeply than you normally would and if you can, breath out for longer. Do this for at least 4 breaths. This triggers the parasympathetic system in your body which ensures you get enough oxygen and remain relaxed at your job. Set reminders for yourself to check your breathing throughout the day.

 

  • Visualizing: Instead of visualizing scenarios going wrong in your head – picture them going right for a change. If you have a presentation to do at work and you are very nervous, this is because you are expecting the worst. Instead, think about the best-case scenario. Replay the presentation going really well in your head. Visualize yourself giving a confident presentation and your audience really enjoying it – you can re-train your brain to think like this if you practice it every day.

 

  • And relax …… don’t forget to take time out every day to relax and reflect. Don’t forget to do what you enjoy doing. Catch up with friends, spend some quality time with family or just have some time alone to chill. This helps with everything in life.