News the Week

Our regular summary of news in education and technology, and you can contribute. Submissions of tips and stories will be gratefully appreciated (Contact Us), and don’t forget to tell us your name and sources.

Education

Listening to the news of the Manchester terror attack mid last week was deeply horrifying. Retaining a level head, and not committing to knee-jerk reactions can be difficult. Ideally, we would like to see past the current events, and wish to see a life beyond the tragic events.  So, what can we teachers do? A lot. And it’s all about prevention; teaching empathy, information literacy, and communication skills. These three aspects are not the only ones to consider, and they do not need to be treated separately, but often concurrently is easier and best. There has been research and books written in the field of developing children’s resilience, mindfulness, social-emotional development and competence, among many others. These often come with advice on how to weave these concepts and strategies into the curriculum. There are some things you can do in your class tomorrow. Consider teaching students to collaborate, to listen to each other, and to communicate to a variety of different types of people. Also teaching inclusion strategies, helping give students the courage and tools to stand up for victims in the face of bullies. Reading is said to improve children’s emotional and empathetic skills. These are important attributes to a healthy adult. Finally, we cannot recommend this enough, and that is for all teachers, from primary to tertiary levels of education to read about play. Play is important to not just children, but people of all ages. Play helps us be distracted from the day-to-day mundane and recharge. Play helps us connect with other people, including significant others in our lives. Consequently, we recommend you pick up these books from Amazon.com:

  • Elkind, D. (2007) The Power of Play. Da Capo Life Long. (here)
  • Brown, S., & Vaughan, C., (2010) Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Avery. (here)

HelloSpace.Me

We are welcoming authors to write short articles on a variety of topics related to education, and technology in education. More info.

HelloSpace.Me will be at the JALTCALL annual conference in Matsuyama. Please swing by and talk to us.

We have some great Special Offers at the moment. See if you can benefit:

  • Special Offer for social media influencers: Announcement.
  • JALTCALL Conference delegates, we have a special deal for you, announcement.

Conferences

Submit your 2-3 line conference announcement at Contact Us.

The Pan Asian Consortium of Language Teaching Societies and KOTESOL will be co-hosting their annual conferences at Sookmyung Women’s University, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, from 21st to 22nd October 2017. Call for submissions due 31st May 2017. Details at KOTESOL.

JALT Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) annual conference will be 16th to 18th June 2017, at Matsuyama University, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. HelloSpace.Me will be there. Submissions have closed. Details at JALT CALL.

The British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) annual conference will be held in the University of Leeds, from 31st Aug to 2nd Sept 2017. Submissions have closed. Details at BAAL.

The Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT) will hold their annual conference at Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, from 17th to 20th November. Submissions are already closed. Details at JALT.

The joint Applied Linguistics Conference for ALANZ, ALAA, and ALTAANZ has a call for submissions for their conference to be held on 27-29th Nov 2017, at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland New Zealand. Close of submissions was 1st May 2017. Details via ALAA.

Presentation at #JALTCALL2017  ::  10 Reasons (& things) for teachers to Blog

Andrew will be presenting at this years JALTCALL Conference held on 16th to 18th June 2017. We hope to see you there.

  • Day: Saturday, 17th June
  • Time: 2.10-2.40pm
  • Room: H3A

Abstract

There are many benefits for teachers to blog. Included are promoting learner autonomy (Schwienhorst, 2011), blended learning (Beatty, 2010; Walker & White, 2013), a refined and appropriate textbook substitute (Stanley, 2013); reduces teacher’s preparation time; for professional development (Murugaiah, et al, 2010; and Walker & White, 2013); also, for communication with colleagues and/or parents. Importantly, to create and manage an online reputation that may help you to get your next job. Practical information on best blog platforms to use is discussed; the types of blog posts to write, a simple writing structure to use, how to make content attractive and grow a readership, and ethical considerations for educators (Blyth, 2015). The presentation will end with a blog topic brainstorming session to help teachers get started.

Supplements

PowerPoint Slides:

Handouts:

Opportunity for educationalist and tech writers

To all education and technology writers: you need an outlet to grow your audience and to get the word out about your work. HelloSpace.Me blog is a great place to publish. There are two options:

  1. Publish a full article on HelloSpace.Me/blog (about 1,000 words) or
  2. Publish a blurb for your full article (about 500 words; full article could be in a journal, book chapter, or your own blog)

Blogging is increasingly important for academics and teachers, as it is a means to make information accessible (Carrigan, 2016; Lupton, n.d). Blogging can be used to communicate with your audience about ideas before committing them to formal publishing; and you can extend your following. Academics are increasingly publishing their research ideas, literature searches, ‘early findings’, and other things on their personal blogs before research and traditional/formal publication (Carrigan, 2016; Lupton, n.d). So, if you have a research topic that is still being drafted for publication, it is a great idea to write up a short blurb, get an audience reaction, so that you can hone your research design, literature review, or final prior to publication article. Alternatively, if you have a great teaching idea that you wish to share, blog it with us. We do strongly recommend that you also publish on your own blog, and provide a blurb and links to your blog post, so you can make your blog the centre of your digital universe. After all, many recruiters ask about your social media presence and impact; this may help you a lot in your next job interview. See more about this at the +9 Reasons page.

Writing notes. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/writing-notes-idea-class-7103/
Writing notes. CC0 Startup Stock Photos, https://www.pexels.com/photo/writing-notes-idea-class-7103/

What to do

Write up to about 1,000 words in simple, direct language. It’s best to include at least two references. Refine your article a few times; add a bio (maximum 50 words), and a link to your blog or to the full article on your blog (if you have one); find or create suitable images (if needed) from a source like Pexels.Com; then contact us. For extremely well researched and written articles, we may commission an artist to provide graphics. We will make an “Author” account for you on our blog, and send you the keys. You just need to copy & paste your article or blurb, bio, and blog link. We may do basic editing and push the “Publish” button. Please comment on other posts, and check out other people’s blogs. Who knows, you might find some exciting ideas, a great source, or great collaboration opportunities. Best of luck.

References

Carrigan, M. (2016) Social Media for Academics. Sage.

Lupton, D. (n.d.) https://simplysociology.wordpress.com/.

Security advice: SSL Certificates

By staff blogger Andrew Blyth

Many people claim that computer and online security is unnecessary and is geeky. In fact, these same people have locks on the doors of their house, locks on their windows, their garages, their mailbox, their car, and they have security features on their bank accounts. They even have curtains on their windows, fences around their property, and have an expectation that their home privacy is respected. They will even call the police if some creep is seen peering through their windows at night. Online privacy requires the same needs: curtains to obscure your activities, locks on personal information, locks on email access, and management of information.

There are a number of things everyone needs to do. In this series of articles that will be published over the next twelve months or more, we will explore this topic and present some practical advice. This article will introduce SSL certificates. Future articles will explore secure passwords, VPNs, anti virus & anti spyware software, online behaviour (including issues of social engineering attacks), trusted and public wifi, website security, trusted and unprotected web services, and more.

SSL Certificates

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates are a system to protect secure information. Let’s say you are sitting in your favourite classroom, using wifi with your favourite laptop or tablet in hand, and you sign on. It could be any website, your own, your email, a social networking site, a cloud storage site, whatever. Without SSL, a hacker with very minimal skills (let’s say, a student of yours) can easily see your password. Let’s say your password is “fluffykittens001”; that student will first giggle, but then keep his/her mouth shut.

Later that night, you get a phone call from a friend saying that they saw “those photos” on FaceBook, how disgusting! Then you check your phone messages, and see similar responses. You turn on your computer at home and find a bunch of emails from friends and family expressing a range of shock, disgust, and perhaps unusual delight. You finally sign-in to FaceBook and see a whole bunch of offensive photos plastered across your wall. “How could this happen?!”

SSL Certificate, the green lock, and encryption
SSL Certificate, the green lock, and encryption

There are perhaps two issues here. Firstly, you use one password for everything. The student probably guessed that your FaceBook and other websites use the same password. Secondly, the password sent to the website you signed on during class was not encrypted, and so it was in plain sight. Nowadays, web browsers like Mozila Firefox and Google Chrome highlight if the website uses an SSL certificate or not. If the website has an SSL certificate, even a basic one, it will show this with a a green lock in the address bar (see the image above). Look at the top left of this window, HelloSpace.Me relies on SSL, and so should your own website. If a website doesn’t have a green lock, change the address prefix from http:// to https:// and see if the green lock appears. Adding ‘s’ is changing the traffic movement through the secure port of the site.

There are many other simple explanation videos like this on YouTube.

SSL certificates encrypt not all the traffic, but it should include important secure information like username, passwords, credit card numbers, and even the contents of the website, so that eavesdroppers cannot see what it is you’re reading. Also, SSL certificates are a confirmation that you are connected directly to the website, and not to some intermediary posing as that website monitoring its traffic. That way, when you buy a poster at FluffyKittens.Com, you are really connected to only that website, and not ScamArtist.Com/FluffyImposter.

Get an SSL Certificate now >>>

The Wikileaks Vault7 release was important and interesting (see here). It showed that not all SSL systems are the same. Firstly, the world’s most popular SSL system, Verisign, turned out to be the most hackable. Recently, it was revealed that Symantec employees even sold copies of Verisign SSL certificates to criminals so they can pose as intermediaries to legitimate websites. This means that you might thought you were updating your subscription to The Fluffy Kitten Magazine, when in fact you were signed onto an imposter website, and they got your credit card information. Secondly, the CIA described Comodo as a “pain in the posterior”, in other words, the most secure. Consequently, we do not sell Verisign any more, and we prefer and promote even the cheapest and simplest Comodo SSL.

We don’t have our own video yet, but we will soon. This link shows you a variety of ways to install a Comodo Certificate in cPanel, so you can protect your own website and sign in credentials. Soon, we hope to install an auto installation feature to make things easier for you.

Special deal for JALTCALL 2017

Calling all JALTCALL delegates and attendees. We are offering a very special discount for a limited time. Get your own webspace at a majorly discounted price. Get over $130 of value for just $40 a year*. You’ll get from 3Gb of webspace, upto 5 email addresses, and special access to a whole bunch of web apps you can easily install on your website.

>>>  GET STARTED >>>

*Refers to webspace only, does not include domain registration, SSL certificates, or other extras.

News this week

Our regular summary of news in education and technology, and you can contribute. Submissions of tips and stories will be gratefully appreciated (Contact Us), and don’t forget to tell us your name and sources.

Technology

Many companies and regular people are currently learning the hard way the reason why keeping up to date software is vitally important. The WannaCry attack that began on Friday (BBC), infects Windows computers with older operating systems, or those that have not had recent security updates. We strongly advise you to update your operating system now, and all the anti-virus and anti-spyware software now. Do not use “free” software, only high quality paid-for versions.

Is HelloSpace.Me affected by WannaCry? No. All our software uses up to date security installations and patches. We also use up to date, strong, robust anti-virus and anti-spyware software. The website operating system runs on secure and up-to-date Linux, and also uses up-to-date anti-virus software. We prefer Linux as it is one of the most secure types of operating system, and is less of a target to hackers as Windows is.

What more can you do to be safe against WannaCry and other future threats? Follow and check technology news sites, blogs, and especially Twitter feeds regularly. We especially recommend The Next Web (TNW), Mashable, and the BBC. HelloSpace.Me follows these and more on Twitter, so following us and checking our retweets can help. Additionally, keep a backup of all your important data. This means do regular exports of your WordPress blog, your website, and keep these stored on a highly secure cloud service like Tresorit.

Finally, nothing is 100% secure. Keep redundant backups of everything. Also consider running an old computer on Ubuntu Linux instead of Windows, or have a Mac (vice-versa if you’re a regular Mac user). Having diversity of systems gives you security options, so you still have quality access to the internet, information, and resources. 

In other news, if you have this feature turned on, your WordPress software should have been automatically updated to version 4.7.5. You should have received an email confirming this. We strongly recommend that you turn on the auto update especially for security reasons. There will also be feature updates, which will make life better too. 

HelloSpace.Me

HelloSpace.Me will be at the JALTCALL annual conference in Matsuyama. Please swing by and talk to us.

We have some great Special Offers at the moment. See if you can benefit:

  • Special Offer for social media influencers: Announcement.
  • JALTCALL Conference, Want to get into the conference for free?: Announcement.

Conferences

Submit your 2-3 line conference announcement at Contact Us.

The Pan Asian Consortium of Language Teaching Societies and KOTESOL will be co-hosting their annual conferences at Sookmyung Women’s University, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, from 21st to 22nd October 2017. Call for submissions due 31st May 2017. Details at KOTESOL.

JALT Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) annual conference will be 16th to 18th June 2017, at Matsuyama University, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. HelloSpace.Me will be there. Submissions have closed. Details at JALT CALL.

The British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) annual conference will be held in the University of Leeds, from 31st Aug to 2nd Sept 2017. Submissions have closed. Details at BAAL.

The Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT) will hold their annual conference at Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, from 17th to 20th November. Submissions are already closed. Details at JALT.

The joint Applied Linguistics Conference for ALANZ, ALAA, and ALTAANZ has a call for submissions for their conference to be held on 27-29th Nov 2017, at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland New Zealand. Close of submissions was 1st May 2017. Details via ALAA.

News this week

Our regular summary of news in education and technology, and you can contribute. Submissions of tips and stories will be gratefully appreciated (Contact Us), and don’t forget to tell us your name and sources.

Education

In the US, 9th May was Teacher Appreciation Day. I hope all American teachers had a great day (reference). For your interest, in East Asia, “Teachers’ Day” is on Confucius’ Birthday, 28th September each year (reference). Tell us how your local Teachers’ Day is celebrated (Contact Us).

Nagoya JALT (in Japan), is having their first meeting on Saturday 13th May. Topic is on qualitative research data analysis. Professor Yuzo Kimura will be demonstrating QSR Nvivo, and Andrew Blyth is introducing basic qualitative data analysis techniques. Details.

HelloSpace.Me

We have some great Special Offers at the moment. See if you can benefit:

  • Special offer for KOTESOL delegates: Announcement.
  • Special Offer for social media influencers: Announcement.
  • JALTCALL Conference, Want to get into the conference for free?: Announcement.

Conferences

Submit your 2-3 line conference announcement at Contact Us.

KOTESOL National conference is this weekend, 13th & 14th of May, at the Sookmyung Women’s University. Details at KOTESOL.

The Pan Asian Consortium of Language Teaching Societies and KOTESOL will be co-hosting their annual conferences at Sookmyung Women’s University, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea, from 21st to 22nd October 2017. Call for submissions due 31st May 2017. Details at KOTESOL.

JALT Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) annual conference will be 16th to 18th June 2017, at Matsuyama University, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. HelloSpace.Me will be there. Submissions have closed. Details at JALT CALL.

The British Association of Applied Linguists (BAAL) annual conference will be held in the University of Leeds, from 31st Aug to 2nd Sept 2017. Submissions have closed. Details at BAAL.

The Japan Association of Language Teachers (JALT) will hold their annual conference at Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, from 17th to 20th November. Submissions are already closed. Details at JALT.

The joint Applied Linguistics Conference for ALANZ, ALAA, and ALTAANZ has a call for submissions for their conference to be held on 27-29th Nov 2017, at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), Auckland New Zealand. Close of submissions was 1st May 2017. Details via ALAA.

Make no assumptions about computer literacy

By staff blogger & teacher Andrew Blyth.

April in Japan means three things: sales and bargains, cherry blossoms, and the start of the new academic year. I teach mainly first year university students English as a foreign language. One of my classes is a writing class. I suppose many readers must be openly wondering about the title, and what it has with the students from the worlds technologically most advanced country. So, make no assumptions.

The education law in Japan says that all senior high school students must take a class in computing, of which type doesn’t matter, and there are some options (Lockley, 2011). There are two issues with this. As you know, Japan is an exam oriented country. Nothing is more important than doing well enough in the university entrance exams, so that the student can get into a uni that has a good reputation. Once that is achieved, then career prospects are easier and better. Secondly, entrance exams do not test students’ computing skills. Therefore, the washback effect is that only the subjects that are tested for university entrance are taught; everything else is considered a waste of time. Many universities hold only three exams in a day per faculty, and each exam tests one area of learning. Students are typically tested on Japanese, English as a foreign language, history & geography, and may be another subject related to the faculty they wish to join, like chemistry, physics, or similar. That means, computer skills are normally not required. For school assignments, all work is done by hand, and they do not submit anything printed from a computer, ever.

This lack of need, and lack of testing creates the situation that I have to endure with my new students. About a decade ago, when I first began teaching in Japanese universities, I wasn’t sure why my students began to resent me. One time, I gave them an assignment, and then months later learnt that a simple one or two paragraph writing task cost them six hours or more of their precious weekends. They had two problems to overcome. First was of course language. They had to not only find what they want to say, but also how to do it in a foreign language. Second, the technology. They simply hadn’t turned on a computer before (Murray & Blyth, 2011). They hadn’t used Microsoft Word before. They hadn’t typed on a real keyboard before. Neither have they used a printer before. All of these things I was already doing when I was in high school in the twentieth century; at that time it was 2010, but this is now 2017! The seventeenth year of this century, and Japanese high school students are still working without technology. Some of my students today do not have a computer or a working computer at home.

From about a decade ago, I began asking my students about how they fared with my homework, so I began to zero in on some issues. I picked up a new writing class, and began to use computers in class with Japanese university students for the first time. This allowed me to watch and observe how they get on with both the writing task and the equipment. From my observations, I’ve noted that the first lesson with computers needs to cover a few basics. Even though my syllabus has the first writing task as “electronic communication” (ie, basic emails, and how to write to your teacher with a question or problem); the real first task is starting, storing, and retrieving information. Here are a few skills I’ve found that I have to teach.

  • How to turn on a computer
  • How to start MS Word
  • How to set the keyboard input to English half-size characters (normal Roman alphabet, not Japanese “full-width” Roman font)
  • Where to plug in their newly purchased USB memory sticks (if they brought them)
  • How to save a file (not onto the desktop of the computer room computer, but to their USB memory stick)
  • How to close Word
  • How to safely disconnect their USB memory stick.
  • How to turn off the computer.

Many readers may be astounded that these steps are so basic that even pre-teen students in Anglophone countries can do these; however, this is the reality that I face with a first-year Japanese university writing class. Consequently, I have to assume that their knowledge and comprehension of signing up to a website is limited to smartphone apps. This lack of literacy severely limits the range of tasks I can expect of my students. It also gives me an opening too. I say to my students, “These are the skills you need for your first real job”.

To end with a summary of what else I do in my year with a group of students. They learn touch typing, how to format a Word document, basics of blogging, and basic netiquette. This is in addition to the range of genres they will learn in my writing class. Teaching writing in Japan is the most fascinating of challenges I can enjoy as a teacher, as it is here I feel the most acheivements. My students finish the year with a sense of pride, as they have developed real workplace skills, and have made huge strides in their English abilities.

References

Lockley, T. (2011). Japanese students’ experience of ICT and other technology prior to university: A survey. The JALT CALL Journal, 7(1), 93–102. [link]

Murray, A., and Blyth, A. (2011) A survey of Japanese university students’ computer literacy levels. The JALTCALL Journal, 7(3), 307-318 . [link]

Special deal for cheap websites for #KOTESOL attendees

Calling all KOTESOL delegates and attendees. We are offering a very special discount for a limited time. Get your own webspace at a majorly discounted price. Get over $130 of value from just $40 a year*. You’ll get from 3Gb of webspace, upto 5 email addresses, and special access to a whole bunch of web apps you can easily install on your website.

>>>  GET STARTED >>>

*Refers to webspace only, does not include domain registration, SSL certificates, or other extras.

Special deal for social media influencers

We are really excited to announce this. Just for the first 17 legit social media influencers, we are offering free webspace (for a limited time). The only requirements are that you have at least 2,000 followers or more on your social media account, and be somehow connected to education.

Which social media qualify?

FaceBook, Google+, Instagram, SnapChat, Tumblr, Twitter, Weibo, or other major outlet (approved by us).

What do you get?

Free webspace and domain. Depending on your field and influence, you would get anywhere from a WordPress blog with 3Gb of storage, up to 5 email addresses for your web address (eg: yourname@yourdomain.me), and a whole swathe of free software you can install to support your digital life to a VIP Premium account with dedicated support. All this is from about USD$120 to $150 of value, completely free!

How do I claim? Simple

  1. Tell your followers that we exist (like a hashtag or @ mention on Twitter, Instagram, or link “HelloSpace.Me”)
  2.  Contact us. Subject: “Social media influencer calling”. Message: Give us a link to your social media account, and tell us how many followers you have. If you’re one of the first influencers, we’ll get the ball rolling.
  3. Start thinking of ideas for your web address (get your inspiration here: How to choose a domain name), or transfer your existing domain to us.

What’s the contract?

Drop our name at least once a week with either a hashtag, @ mention, or link. Only post positive stuff about us, but keep it real. Let us know when you drop our name, just for the sake of records, and so all’s good. Also consider that reposting our blog links, retweets, and similar can easily get you by. We may cancel the agreement if you fail to meet obligations or if you wish to end this agreement contact us,  and we’ll change the details of your account so you can pay and keep your website.

What can I do with my own blog?

Write your stories, show your pictures, share your videos, and set up auto post to your social media (we suggest using IFTTT.com or BufferApp). That way your blog is your central location to direct all your traffic from all your social media. Your own blog is the place to put the substance of your brand. You will have the freedom to be more creative, say more, show more, explore more. Build your audience, connect with other bloggers, and have fun. Also see +9 Reasons Why.