Open post Education in Our Digitized World

Education in Our Digitized World

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

Academia is one of our most important institutions, vital to our ability to understand the world and how we fit into it. On a national level, education bolsters our democracy by allowing us firsthand accounts of the past so that we can copy what worked well and avoid what didn’t.

Currently, a major threat to our democracy is the spread of misinformation, escalating at lightning speed through social media. Through the pandemic, we have all experienced just how prevalent misinformation can be, and the danger it poses.

One of the most powerful tools we have to combat misinformation is critical thinking. Education plays a crucial role in developing this skill. On a personal level, education is key, not only, to success, but true growth. In an ideal world, this would foster a sense of curiosity and a drive for excellence.

For some students, our current system of education accomplishes this, but our institutions fail many more in the process. Read on to discover ways that schools and institutions are working to improve education and the role that technology plays in this.

In recent years, misinformation has run rampant on many different platforms, all over the world. A study by MIT found that false information is 70% more likely to be retweeted than true information. This is probably because people are more drawn to information that is shocking and sensational, as false information is often presented.

Misinformation can have debilitating effects. For evidence, you need only look to the countless fake, and often dangerous coronavirus cures sprouting up all over social media. Drinking bleach will not ward off covid, but it will likely get you a stay in the hospital.

While this is certainly a very extreme example, even more subtle misinformation can have severe consequences. It can compel people to buy faulty products, lead to increased political polarization, and cause distrust of science. It undermines truth and threatens democracy. So, what can be done to combat misinformation?

It starts with education.

High-quality education doesn’t just rely on reciting facts; it pushes students to analyze, question, contemplate, connect, criticize, and expand. It doesn’t tell students what to think but teaches them how to think. With a strong background in critical thinking and comfort with research, people are much less susceptible to misinformation.

Unfortunately, it is seen that memorization and the ability to produce correct answers are prioritized at the expense of developing more expansive thinking skills. Because digitized learning is dynamic, and it can adapt to meet the needs of individual students, it could be a helpful tool for developing critical thinking skills. There are even virtual educational resources that directly work to teach students how to identify false information.

In Bill Gates’ end-of-year post, he predicts that the future of education will be increasingly digitized. “Unlike offices, schools will go back to only in-person instruction except maybe for some limited remote options for older high school students. What will change, though, is how we use digital tools to enhance the way kids learn.” Additionally, he states that “we’re starting to see that curriculum become more responsive as demand goes up, and it will only become more tailored to the individual needs of students and teachers in the years ahead. The intention is that these new tools will supplement classroom learning rather than replace it.”

While in-person instruction is necessary, digital tools have the potential to better personalize education and push students to think more deeply. Technology also has the potential to greatly increase access to high-quality education and help students of all backgrounds learn more efficiently.

In a separate but linked post, Gates cites that algebra isn’t just the most failed course in high school, it is also one of the biggest predictors of future success. “Students who pass Algebra 1 by the end of 9th grade open the door to advanced STEM courses and AP classes, and are more likely to enroll in college, graduate with a bachelor’s degree, and go on to well-paid, in-demand careers,” he relays.

In addition, this is an obstacle that disproportionately affects people from marginalized communities, such as Black, Latino, and ELL students, as well as students experiencing poverty. The Gates Foundation recently funded 11 organizations, each taking a unique approach to combat this issue all around the globe.

One of these organizations that he highlights is Zearn, an educational nonprofit that is behind the widely used Zearn Math curriculum for elementary schools. Through collaboration with students (especially those belonging to marginalized communities), they are working to develop a middle school curriculum that will promote inclusivity and set students up for success in Algebra 1. Their goal is to make this preparation more engaging by providing a dynamic and interactive learning experience that will help students make sense of the information.

Overall, by pushing our global educational institutions to be better, we can improve the lives of millions. Misinformation poses a constant threat to our everyday lives, and on a broader level, to our democracy. But we can combat this threat through high-quality education that places emphasis on critical thinking skills.

Educational companies and foundations, especially those focusing on pushing educational technologies forward and on increasing the accessibility of high-quality education, will play a crucial role in the development of younger generations.

 

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Open post Hand holding a heart-shaped rock. Title-Soft Skills: A Testament to Your Personal Development

Soft Skills: A Testament to Your Personal Development

3 Things You Must Start Doing When You Become a Team Leader

When building your resume, you may naturally place emphasis on your technical skills—those relating directly to tasks you’ll be performing on the job. Technical skills are undoubtedly important, as they can demonstrate your experience and capabilities. They show what you can do. However, it’s also important to include soft skills on your resume. Soft skills are attributes that enable you to interact effectively and harmoniously with others, and they are crucial for workplace success.

Soft skills are often related to your attitude and intuitions. They are less about qualifications and more based on the status of your personal development. As technology advances and jobs become increasingly more automated, having interpersonal skills that computers can’t match, such as empathy, becomes even more essential. In this article, we will discuss six of the most important soft skills, and how they can make you more successful not only in your workplace but within your life.

Organization

Organizational skills can include attention to detail, persistence, and time management. The ability to maintain organized and efficient operations is extremely important. If someone has great technical capabilities but is frequently disorganized, they will be unlikely to live up to their full potential at work. Strong organizational skills demonstrate a commitment to carrying out tasks and duties in a timely manner, with a focus on quality.

Problem-solving

Problem-solving skills involve using creativity in order to resolve issues or perform tasks more efficiently. Problem-solving is an ability much valued by employers. A workplace full of strong problem-solvers is likely to run smoothly and remain unharmed by any minor hiccups. Problem-solving also means being innovative, and new ideas are valuable to any workspace.

Teamwork

Most employees work as part of a team, and even those who work ‘alone’ need to collaborate with other employees at some point. Being able to engage in productive collaboration is extremely valuable. If you’ve ever worked on a team or group project where some of the members were clearly not eager to work together, you have seen how difficult it can be.

People who are skilled at working in a team appreciate the value of joining forces with others in order to accomplish shared goals. They know when to delegate, and how to allow each person to contribute in ways that play to their unique strengths. Strong teamwork skills will make your life, and the lives of your team members so much easier.

Communication

Whether verbal or written, good communication skills can help you in all aspects of your career. Being able to communicate well means being skilled at delivering your message to others in a wide range of situations. Sometimes, you may need to communicate ideas that are uncomfortable or unpleasant. Conveying these messages tactfully and without creating conflict is an extremely desirable attribute that employers value.

Also essential to strong communication is the ability to listen actively and attentively. Being a good listener is crucial because it will help you respond more appropriately and will also help your co-workers/employers/employees see that you value and appreciate their ideas.

Adaptability

Being adaptable means being able to adjust and perform well under a variety of different conditions. Flexible employees often refine processes and identify new ideas for a business to explore. In any job (but especially in technology-driven fields or startups), changes occur unexpectedly. Being able to work with these changes and adjust quickly is extremely desirable for employers.

Adaptability can even make up for a lack of technical skills in some situations. For example, if you have never worked with the computer system that your job uses, but you are adaptable, employers may disregard your lack of experience because they see that you are motivated to learn, and know that your technical skills will follow.

Empathy

Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. With that insight, you become better adept to support others through challenging situations. Empathy is an essential human characteristic, and can also be very beneficial in the workplace, as it can enable you to resolve conflicts, build more productive and collaborative teams, and improve relationships with co-workers, clients, and customers.

If after reviewing this list, you are concerned that you may not be as strong in some of these skills as you could be, don’t worry. Even though soft skills are not taught formally in a course or class, they can be developed and fostered through self-reflection and the observation of others. Remaining proactive with your personal development will increase your emotional intelligence which will significantly impact all your relationships for the better, not only the ones at work but across all facets of your life.

 

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Open post Shows a remote-work setup with laptop open, plant, and lamp. Text: Communication with Remote and Hybrid Teams - The 3 C's

Communication With Remote and Hybrid Teams – The 3 C’s

Shows a remote-work setup with laptop open, plant, and lamp. Text: Communication with Remote and Hybrid Teams - The 3 C's

As discussed at the most recent QASIG event, the importance of effective communication in distributed environments cannot be stressed enough. Being able to communicate effectively with your team is essential to the team's success. And in a remote or hybrid environment — with asynchronous schedules and numerous channels for communication — it’s more important than ever to make sure that everyone is on the same page. The best way to ensure strong communication is to be clear, concise, and consistent.

Aim for Clarity

When you’re communicating virtually, it’s important that you take extra care to make sure that your point comes across effectively. You obviously know what you’re trying to say, but it can be easy to forget that whoever you’re communicating with is coming in with a completely different understanding than you. Before you send a message, you should take a moment to make sure that what you’re saying is clear. It is also important to decide how best to communicate with each member of your team, — which might change depending on the situation or person. Depending on the task, it may be more efficient to explain it over a phone call or video call than in an email. Sometimes it might be necessary to provide examples of what you are looking for to get your message across about a specific task.

Keep it Concise

Sometimes with communication, less is more. This does not mean you should check in less frequently with your team members, just that you should not overload them with unnecessary information. Keep your messages simple by taking out filler words and using familiar language. Being intentional about your formatting can also help to keep messages concise. You can make use of bolding, bullet points, and headings to highlight vital information and minimize points getting lost in translation.

Be Consistent

When it comes to communication, consistency is key. You’ll first need to establish which tools your team will use for communication, such as email, video conferencing software, or chat platforms. Make sure to communicate on a regular basis and discuss communication strategies regularly with your whole team to make sure everyone is up-to-speed. You may want to make a set communication schedule, depending on your specific situation or deadlines. It’s also important to consider timing, with some working asynchronously, you will need to acknowledge everyone’s availability. Your team may not all be online at the same time, but it’s important to find times to check in with your team members is vital for team cohesion and growth.

The importance of, not only maintaining business relationships but fostering them cannot be stressed enough; the same is true of any relationship. Investing in a relationship of any sort requires intention, effort, and time, but it is exactly that – an investment. Building a symbiotic community takes time, but by communicating effectively with the tips above, you will be well on your way to fostering the relationships in your communities, work-related or personal.

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Open post Image for Upskilling and Reskilling Article, image of library

Upskilling and Reskilling: The Secret to Staying Ahead of the Competition in Hiring and Brand Reputation

Image for Upskilling and Reskilling Article, image of library

More than half – 56 percent – of organizations believe they have a moderate to severe skills gap today, and 60 percent of employees believe that, to some extent, their current skill set will become outdated in the next three to five years. A commitment to Upskilling and Reskilling employees is quickly becoming the best path to overcoming skills gaps.

What is Upskilling and Reskilling?

Upskilling is learning new skills to optimize performance. Organizations upskill their employees to help them gain new skills and experience to stay relevant or move into a higher position. Whereas reskilling helps employees learn new skills to take up a new role within the same organization. Reskilling is more focused on training employees for a new position.

Benefits of Upskilling or Reskilling

Stay Competitive and Improve Employee Retention

Employees want learning and development opportunities to help them stay relevant in their role as well as position them for advancement. Providing a pathway for skills development motivates employees. Making them feel valued and supported, increasing their likelihood to stay with your organization long term. Upskilling and reskilling team members also helps keep companies competitive and shows that they are motivated to invest in the professional development of their employees.

Improve Morale and Productivity

Training and development opportunities help employees move forward on their career path and helps them envision their future with the organization, improving morale. Across teams, efficiency and productivity is improved, paving the way for increased satisfaction and strengthening your company’s competitive edge.

Attracts Great Talent

As word of your commitment to upskilling and reskilling spreads, your reputation in the eyes of your employees and the wider talent market improves. 91% of the millennials indicated that they preferred career development to any other benefit when choosing to join a company. By offering the right mix of upskill and reskill opportunities, employees who are motivated to keep learning and growing are motivated to stay and great talent with a similar mindset is encouraged to join.

Reduces Hiring Costs

Hiring is costly, from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary. A measurable advantage of upskilling and reskilling is that it reduces hiring efforts to search for a specialist in a field. It is a much smaller investment compared to the cost of the recruitment process for hiring a new employee.

Upskilling and reskilling can help your company secure the right people with the right skills that you need to compete today while providing flexibility to arm team members with the necessary skills needed in the future. This attention reduces the need to look outside for talent with specific skillsets, saving time and hiring costs and allows for continuity among team members when it comes to proprietary company knowledge that would have otherwise walked right out the door.

How to Upskill and Reskill Employees?

Online Courses/Webinars

Remote learning is the most popular way to upskill and reskill during the current times when most employees are working from home. Online courses can be free or paid, and most of them provide a certificate at the end of the course. Investing in online classes allows you to upskill employees regardless of their location and time zone.

Classroom Training

Organizations can also upskill employees in a traditional classroom setting. They can hire trainers or institutes to share ideas and teach new skills and software to their employees. However, with the project deadlines, work commitments, and remote working, it becomes less feasible to attend scheduled training on the allocated day, time, and location.

Mentors

Mentorship programs within the organization are another great way to upskill employees. Subject matter experts (SMEs) from different areas can pair with employees to share new skills. This helps companies to leverage their existing talent to meet future requirements. Mentorship programs come in various forms and can be customized based on the upskilling or reskilling needs.

Pioneer companies are aware of the changing technological demands of the workplace. Last year, Amazon announced it would be dedicating $700 million to provide 100,000 employees access to upskilling training programs. In comparison, salesforce pledged to train 500,000 Americans with the skills they need to earn Salesforce credentials. Analyzing what skills are missing across the organization and upskilling or reskilling employees based on those skills will help create a growth-focused culture and continuous learning.

 

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Wednesday, 11/15, November QASIG Meeting

View details and register at QASIG.org

For our last meeting of the year, we are excited to welcome Penny Allen, from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), who is going to share her PNSQC Keynote presentation with us. If you weren’t able to attend PNSQC this year it’s a great opportunity to catch it. Let us know if you can join us!

Quality Engineering 2017: Trends, Tricks, and Traps

The motivation to develop digital experiences faster and better is the centerpiece of the Quality Engineering movement. Said more simply, we have to do even more with even less despite galactic level complexity and consumer expectations.

The question is: How?

We have to evolve our toolset, our techniques, and even our thought processes. In a very real sense, we have to redefine ourselves and our craft and we have to do it NOW before the choices are made for us.

In this talk, we’ll look at the different ways QA teams are adapting to their new reality: everything from service virtualization to contract testing to blue/green deploys. We’ll explore tools and techniques that worked and a few that failed. We’ll look at the trends driving mobile development, platform development, and cloud engineering with a very specific eye on keeping quality at the forefront of every effort.

My goal is to arm you with the knowledge necessary to start your own revolution and the will to challenge the norm in search of the next, great evolution.

About our speaker:  Penny Allen is the Director, Enterprise Quality Assurance at Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) and started her technology career as a mission systems engineer for NASA and then decided to try something really challenging: quality assurance! Her fortuitous decision to attempt something new became a hallmark of her career as she explored the expanse of software development with Engineering Leadership roles at companies like Nike and Fiserv.

That passion for continually trying new things brought her to the forefront of the Quality Engineering movement in the age of Continuous Deployment, DevOps, and SAFe. No longer content to watch the same good intentions produce the same mediocre results, Penny dove head first into rebuilding the concept of QA. Telemetry instead of test plans; meaningful data instead of monotonous metrics – the list of opportunities is endless.

In her current role at REI, Penny is building a quality program centered on solid engineering, great people, and the desire to always do a little better than the day before. There is always something novel to try in the quest to build better experiences.

QASIG Meeting: September 13, 2017, 6PM

Join us at our headquarters for the next QASIG meeting on September 13th at 6 PM. As always, we’ll have pizza and beverages at 6 with the program starting at 6:30.

Register at the QASIG site: https://www.qasig.org/events/september-qasig-meeting/

Building a Collaborative and Social Application Security Program

Presented by: Joe Basirico, Security Innovation, VP of Professional Services

In today’s environment, there is no arguing that a comprehensive secure development process is necessary. Fitting tools, technology, and security reviews into our current development cycle has become table stakes for companies building the software of tomorrow.

Breaking the “find and fix” vulnerability based assessment cycle so that software is developed with security in mind from start to finish is critically important, but doing this without leveraging a collaborative and social security program that leverages bug bounty programs, security researchers, and every aspect of vulnerability disclosure misses a huge opportunity. In this talk, I will explore how your security program can reach beyond the Secure SDLC.

About our speaker:  As the VP of Services, Joe is responsible for leading the Professional Services business at Security Innovation. He leverages his unique experience as a development lead, trainer, researcher, and test engineer to direct the security consulting team in the delivery of high-quality, impactful risk and software assessment and remediation solutions to the company’s customers. His ability to blend deep technical skills with risk-based business and compliance analysis is a powerful combination.

Joe has spent his career analyzing application behavior with respect to security. He has researched how software development organizations mature over time from a security perspective. Through this research, he has developed an understanding of application threats, tools, and methodologies that assist in the discovery and removal of security problems both software and process related.

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