UGM Tech

Business and Technology Blog Run by UGM Students

Five ways in which technology is transforming education

We are currently living in an era of disruptions, with technology changing at a rate never witnessed before in human history. With the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence, machines are increasingly doing the work that human beings have traditionally done. Consequently, traditional skills are being increasingly rendered redundant. The skills which human beings will need to have a gainful employment are changing completely.

It naturally follows, that the system of education has to change rapidly to ensure that student entering the workforce are equipped with skills relevant to the industry. While experts have expressed concern about the speed (or rather the lack thereof) at which the education sector is changing to keep pace with the times, the fact remains that a transformation is currently underway. Here are a few current trends in education.

Virtual classrooms: Thanks to the proliferation of high speed internet and the constantly falling cost of internet equipped devices, the physical presence of the instructor or, for that matter, even the students in the same location is no longer necessary to conduct a class. It is perfectly possible for a teacher to impart knowledge online to students in a remote location.

The virtual classroom concept is being increasingly used in developing countries to resolve the twin challenges of lack of skilled teachers and the difficult of building infrastructure in remote locations.

Virtual Reality: New technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality can make the learning process an interactive one in ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago. For instance, students wearing VR headsets can be virtually transported to the Colorado mountain peaks during a geography session. This kind of learning can be very effective as compared to traditional methods, since it is a scientifically proven fact that about two-thirds of all human beings are visual learners.

Learning based evaluation: It is a common trend these days to evaluate students on learning based outcomes using techniques like reaction paper whereby students are required to read a text, thoroughly understand it and then express an opinion based on their analysis of the content. The purpose of such an exercise is to ensure that students are trained to use an analytical approach as well as express their ideas using fact backed evidence.

Artificial Intelligence: The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in education is still at a nascent stage. Nevertheless, we can safely state that its transformative potential is nothing short of profound. For instance, administrative tasks like the paperwork related to admissions, grading the homework, etc can be done by machines. Student support work, insofar as it concerns routine queries, can be done by a chatbot.

In fact, administration is not the only aspect of education in which AI is reducing the need for human intervention. We have already reached a stage where even the pedagogy can be partially done by machines.

Personalised learning: One more aspect of the pedagogy where AI can bring about a massive transformation is in terms of personalisation of the learning experience, allowing students to learn in a manner and at a pace that is best suited to their requirements.

Is Swanley really the best town for commuters to London?

Zoopla recently revealed that it considered Swanley to be the best performing town for commuters to London, although this is based solely on property price growth. However, thanks to access to a new tool from estate agent Yopa, we thought we’d find out which is the best area to live in if you want to commute from London.

Swanley

For those who aren’t familiar with the town, Swanley is around 15 miles south-east of London in Kent, sitting just within the M25 circle. Average sold house prices run around £337,000, and it’s true that they have experienced a substantial boost of around 12% over the past year. Zoopla puts the average house price at around £375,000.

So how good is Swanley?

Swanley has an average crime rate, with 7.56 offences occurring per 1,000 people, and it has 9 primary schools and 3 secondary schools. The fastest commuter route to London takes 27 minutes, arriving at London Victoria, which is unsurprising, considering it’s within the M25. Finally, Southern Rail owns the current franchise, so make of that what you will.

How does Swanley compare to towns outside the M25 commuter belt, however – particularly given that house prices in the area are rapidly rising? The results are generally surprising, as a lot of surveys appear to give far too much weight to the distance it is to commute, especially given that the actual length of your commute depends on which end of London you want to get to.

To test how Swanley stacks up to the competition, we used the tool to find a low-crime area that was within a 45 minute commute of London, and – crucially – have an average house price of less than £340,000.

Didcot

This town is only 42 minutes away from Paddington, and the average house price is £339,543. The season ticket price is £5,932, and crime is lower than average, although you do get fewer pubs. Good primary schools and good secondary schools nearby ensure that children are catered for, and you still have time for relaxing in the evening. Oh, and Oxford is relatively nearby, which is gorgeous. London Paddington is good for a lot of west London as well as Heathrow.

It’s a little away further than Swanley, but it offers good value for money, and it’s also much closer to the heart of England, especially if you need to travel to the South West, Wales or Birmingham. In addition, you don’t have to constantly deal with the M25 every time you want to get anywhere by car.

Witham

At 45 minutes away from London Liverpool Street, Witham is a town in Essex. Again, crime is low, and with an average house price of £306,119, it’s decidedly more affordable than Swanley. You might spend an extra bit of time commuting, unless you need to head to the north of London, in which case you will find that your commute has shortened. The season ticket is somewhat more pricey at £5,516, but it’s slightly cheaper than Didcot.

There are quite a few industrial jobs nearby, thanks to the trio of industrial estates to the east of the town. Retail is also important, as is leisure, but the area is particularly prominent in the manufacture of windows.

Farncombe

This town in Surrey is only 40 minutes from Waterloo, and you have Gatwick around 19 miles away. A plethora of primary schools and secondary schools ensures that the community is well served, and the average house price of £336,702 means that you can enjoy relaxing in your home without having to pay over the odds for it. It’s also a low-crime area, and you get up to 48 trains per day. A season ticket costs £4,608.

You have the South Downs and the Thursley National Nature reserve on your doorstep, and the area is fairly picturesque. Aldershot and Guildford are quite close as well. Again, you can avoid the M25 for most journeys, making it reasonably easy to get from A to B.

Digital marketing: 5 tricks every small business could use

There was a time, not so long ago, when promoting your business was an expensive affair and, if yours was a small business, you knew that it was pointless trying to compete with the bigger players because your marketing budget was a fraction of your larger competitors. And then, like a bolt out of the blues, came digital marketing, to disrupt the natural order of things.

 

Thanks to digital marketing, smaller businesses can realistically dream of not just surviving, but even competing with the big fish. Here are a few useful strategies that can help them do so.

 

  • Mobile friendly web content: There’s no denying that a website is indispensable for any business these days. Just as undeniable is the fact that we are now living in an era where most internet users access the net through their mobile phones rather than a desktop or laptop, which means your company website is going to put off potential customers if it is not designed for viewing on a mobile phone. So ensure that the website design is mobile friendly.

 

  • Social Media: The vast majority, if not all your potential customers, are present on social media and most of them spend a significant amount of time on it. Therefore, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc are the best places to connect with them and make yourself visible.

 

However, keep in mind the fact that promoting your business on social media is not only a time-consuming affair, but one which demands continuous involvement, since things can happen very quickly on social media. If you are short on time, get in touch with SEO companies who can do a professional job. It is definitely worth the investment.

 

  • Personalise Content: Think of the sheer number of ads that you come across on a normal day. The websites you browse, the social media platforms you access, even your e-mail account- for that matter- is inundated with promotional stuff, most of which you perhaps do not even notice. What is the guarantee that the online or social media ad that you paid for won’t suffer the same fate?

 

That’s not to say that you should not advertise. However, personalisation is the key. Understand your target consumers and their preferences, so that your online communications can cut through the clutter and grab their attention.

 

  • Use videos: All social media platforms these days have video capabilities. That presents a golden opportunity to engage with your potential customers, because they spend over half an hour a day watching videos on their mobile phones on an average and a well-made promotional video is the most effective medium to communicate with your target customers.

 

Better still, with the availability of high quality cameras on most smartphones these days, preparing a promotional video is not even an expensive proposition.

 

  • Email Marketing: There may be those who claim that email marketing in this day and age are as relevant as fax machines, but there are experts who believe that it still remains a useful medium for business promotion, especially since it involves little or no cost whatsoever.

5 interesting virtual data room features and the best ways to use them

 

Many companies can attest to the fact that virtual data rooms have quickly taken over the market when it comes to safe and speedy document exchange. Not only do they provide a platform for users to invite select participants and ensure control over their private information, but also an organized space to host any number of projects at a given time.

 

While generic data rooms seem more feasible for smaller projects, the task of managing confidential documents vital to a business is better left in the hands of a reputable VDR provider and their unique features. A few of the features discussed in this article might be overlooked at first glance, but can make an immense difference to a project when utilized to their full potential.

 

Email In

 

Email, much like messages and music, is a staple application in most (if not all) of our smartphones. Whether it’s during a long commute or a quick coffee break, we can always be reached or reach out to others – so why should your virtual data room be any different? For those constantly on the go or in between different projects, certain data room providers offer its clients the convenience of uploading documents directly from their email. This saves the time and hassle of signing into the platform when life becomes hectic.

 

Or, perhaps, an important participant in an M&A you are hosting in your VDR isn’t very tech-savvy and is delaying the process. The “email in” feature allows them to remain involved in the project and provide their relevant information in order to close a deal. Having the ability to contribute to document flow from the palm of your hand can make a world of difference to the overall time a project takes and the experience other users have.

 

View As

 

When initiating any process that involves auditing it can become quite tiresome if the landscape of the platform being used isn’t conducive to achieving an end goal. For example, mergers and acquisitions take a lot of time and involve a lot of particiants, which may lead to confusion during the process of vital information being shared back and forth and within select groups.

 

A favourable provider will offer the ability for the main user/client to view the VDR permissions as if they were a specific group or user. When utilized, this feature can give peace of mind to the main user as they navigate through the set up and implementation of the room during an already strenuous project. This overarching view is meant to lessen the burden of ensuring the necessary and correct precautions are taken to securing confidential documents. It shows the user if any accessibility was given to groups incorrectly before any information ends up in the wrong hands. Using this feature can quickly fix any errors that may have been made during the stress of tight deadlines and busy schedules.

 

Q&A

 

Teamwork is what ultimately drives a project home. Without it clients can be left feeling unsatisfied and advisors can be left feeling like they could have done more to close an otherwise simple M&A deal. When a provider offers the Q&A feature in their virtual data room, it should definitely be taken advantage of, if only for the comfort of knowing that others can be easily reached out to within one platform.

 

The peer support and comfort this feature offers is invaluable and ensures that everyone in the virtual data room is on the same page. It’s a great tool for inspiring confidence that any concerns will be directly addressed by the other parties and stored in an organized manner on the platform for reexamination.

 

Watermark

 

Heightened security should be the biggest selling point of any potential VDR you or your client is looking into. As mentioned above, a generic VDR can provide similar functions to a more qualified provider, but the security won’t be at the same level, especially for documentation that has a higher threat of being hacked. This threat could be inevitable or bypassed depending on whether a virtual data room provider’s convenient and unique tools are utilized to their full potential.

Watermarks are the most effective at warding off document leaks because of the detail into which they can be customized. There is nothing stopping someone from screenshotting a document, but when it has a specific watermark with the individual’s identification that can be enough to make them think twice. If the information is ever leaked there will be an identifiable person who can ultimately be held responsible.

 

Taking the time to compare and contrast virtual data room providers can save you and your client a lot of trouble in the long run. The tools they provide are there to assist the user in reaching their end goal and making the process that much easier during an already stressful and tedious time.

Venezuela: 3 Lessons from a Failing Economy

If 19th century hero Simón Bolívar were alive today, what would he think of the great nation bearing his name on their currency? Venezuela is a place of vast natural resources, complete with diamonds, gold and natural gas to name a few. It makes up a reasonable portion of the world’s contribution of Bauxite, Aluminium and Nickel and has access to significant fossil fuels. It has great swathes of arable land, so why then is it the malnourished, heaving nation it is today?

Economically, supply for various goods and services come nowhere close to meeting demand. A 2016 Human Rights Watch assessment described the supply of food and medicine to be in “severe shortage,” the Government response to which has been “woefully inadequate.” The Guardian reported inflation approaching 1000% last year, with their highest value note, 100 Bolivar, worth less than a napkin. There are many more problems faced by the country, but the grim culmination provides insight into how other economies can conduct themselves more successfully.

1. Engage in partnerships with foreign investors to meet labour deficiencies.

Although Venezuela has arable land in spades and substantial mineral wealth, it lacks the labour to work them. Its mining industry is underdeveloped, with nationalisation initiatives making foreign investment a frightening prospect. In a country such as this with a rapidly declining GDP, scaring away foreign investors for the sake of greater control over natural resources is entirely unsound. What good is control when nothing comes of it anyway?

2. Don’t be afraid of a highly leveraged economy where necessity calls for it.

Long term loans are sometimes necessary for eventual financial success. In November, Moscow restructured $3 billion in debt, with repayments after six years. This allows the Maduro Government to import wheat and meet supply deficiencies threatening lives and livelihoods throughout the country. Admittedly, no country wants significant debt hanging over them, but it’s a necessity most of all in Venezuela’s case. It’s a lesson in discarding one’s pride in favour of one’s people.

3. Peg your currency.

Hyperinflation like that experienced by Venezuela could lead one to believe it is beyond saving through mere policy changes. Fortunately, this isn’t the case. When Argentina pegged its currency to the US dollar in 1991, it gave itself insurance against the rampant velocity of money and became a success story in overcoming the odds. When people know their cash won’t be worthless in a matter of days, prompting them to spend it as quickly as possible, they’re less inclined to contribute to the perpetual cycle of hot-potato spending and premiums that encompass hyperinflation.

Venezuela has far to go in establishing itself as the wealthy nation it once was forty years ago. Bolívar would certainly be concerned for his countrymen and women, but just as he never gave into Spain, this is not cause to give in to economic turmoil. Argentina got past their struggles. Hong Kong weathered the Asian currency crisis of 97. May they some day recover too, but until then, may they serve to teach other nations who could one day descend a similar path.

How to engage employees in protecting your business from cyber attacks

According to a report, the market for cybersecurity products and services is expected to touch USD 175 billion by 2020. The fear of a cyber-attack is also pushing entrepreneurs towards the cyber-insurance market, which is projected to be USD 7.5 billion strong by 2020.

When the database of a large company or institution gets hacked, the incident makes headlines, but it doesn’t mean that small and medium businesses are any safer. While taking up a comprehensive cyber defence plan with professionals like siteguard is a wise idea, not all data breaches are carried out by cyber criminals. Bad employees, thefts, credit card fraud, lost documents and stolen mobile devices can also cause data theft. According to security experts, there are 10 smart things that every entrepreneur must do to protect a small business from such incidents.

  1. Do a thorough background check on every employee before hiring them. It would be a good idea to speak to their former colleagues and references. If their job required them to access sensitive data, you could also seek a background criminal record check.
  2. Bad employees are one of the top reasons for data breach. When an employee leaves, revoke their access to company data.
  3. Conduct frequent security risk workshops to raise awareness of your employees about the subject. In many cases of data breach, even loyal and trustworthy employees have been found to commit mistakes without realizing that it would put information at risk. These can be prevented with good education. Such discussions should also help them prepare a response in likelihood of an attack.
  4. Carefully shred all the unnecessary documents that bear identity details. Poorly disposed documents often lead to credit card forgery and identity theft.
  5. The company wi-fi needs to be secure and password protected. There is a lot of data that is shared over wi-fi. Even though this advice may sound simple, a poorly protected wi-fi makes a firm highly vulnerable to cyber criminals.
  6. Do not compromise on the quality of the software that your workforce uses. While updating your software frequently is a good way to prevent attacks, you must also ensure that you are updating/downloading from a reliable source. Suspicious sources can plant malware or ransomware in your computer.
  7. As annoying it may be, change your passwords regularly and to complicated arrangements. Avoid first name, last name, anniversary or pet name variations because these can be guessed easily. Encourage your employees to do the same.
  8. Use a secure connection while sending or receiving important financial details. All your financial transactions should be held over sites that use either SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or TLS (Transport Layer Security).
  9. Use cloud storage and backup your data as regularly as possible. In case you are attacked by cyber criminals, your business will be up and running quickly without any loss of information because of data backup.
  10. Above everything else, enforce a strong privacy policy for everyone in the company.  Make sure that the security protocols are firmly put in place, and your employees understand the importance of data safety.

The art of essay writing

Society in general is changing and so is the way we teach. But on top of changing teaching practices, how we learn is also a factor in todays classrooms. There are many resources that are available to assist in the improvement of learning and understanding of general teachings, however at the fundamental there is one practice that needs more attention than it is given: the art of writing essays.

Scripture

Scripture is also known as cursive hand writing. This beautiful hand-written style is for the most part no longer taught in the classrooms. There are many reasons for this with the two-primary pointing to lack of teacher interest or ability and general inability of students. However, there are some major downfalls to not learning this style of writing.

First, most banks still expect a signature to sign for any document with them. This can be easily replicated by almost everyone since the lack of cursive has been replaced with printed writing. Second, passports; one of the most important documents we will sign in our lives, may need to be replaced if a portion of it has been started in one writing style, then switched to another due to lack of knowledge. Or worse, when a person cannot read a document that is given to you, written in script.

Research

Third, and finally the ability to document research in a post secondary environment can be drastically affected by the lack of ability to hand write documents. This all ties back to the digital age and the changing academic structures youth are being raised and educated in today. These changes are also determining a persons’ ability to connect with a younger self, through reflection in the context of text.

Its not all bad news

Although the loss of this critical way to decipher writing is slowly being lost, the collective whole is utilizing the extended resources to improve their education. This includes having access to knowledge on a topic for a custom essay, that may not have previously been available. Access is improving writing in a digital age, because the expectation is that there should be ‘no stone unturned’, and the internet can do that for a student.

Teach the Focus

With these strategies in mind, todays teachers are excluding cursive writing from the curriculum in favor of inclusive digital ideas. Whether it is incorporating video game technology or the direct involvement of hand eye coordination improvement, students are learning more important topics and the related information faster, easier and with less distractions from information that is not applicable.

Applicable information

What is so great about this type of learning? Children are learning in a way that removes all the ‘fluff’ and unnecessary information. Basically, they are also learning how to focus learning processes. And through this learning process, in turn, the information they write about in research reports is more focused, more straight to the point and less like a 30 page thesis that includes every aspect of a topic to prove a point.

Five ways in which technology has brought disruptions to our daily lives

 

To explain simply, disruptions offer a more affordable and convenient alternative to a traditional and existing product. Most industries have been disrupted by use of technology, but technology also has had a profound impact on making our day-to-day lives easier. Thanks to internet-based alternatives, most of our everyday requirements can be fulfilled without even stepping out of home. Here’s a short list of five disruptive technologies that people use on a regular basis. It is possible to recall their precursors sentimentally, but we don’t really miss them much.

 

  1. Shopping: Whether its purchasing the monthly groceries or clothes or electronics or even the furniture used at home, the entire shopping experience has undergone a dramatic transformation, thanks to easier options available on the internet. The era when weekend shopping entailed wading through the crowd at the market, haggling over the prices and then struggling to produce the exact change is a thing of the past.

 

  1. Commuting and communication: Going to work usually involved negotiating the traffic while driving or searching for a means of transport, which isn’t easily available- particularly during peak hour. All that changed with the arrival of cab aggregators, which offer the luxury of cars waiting at your doorstep when you want to go out. There are apps that tell you which route to avoid and when to wait for public transport.

    Similarly, communication technologies have evolved to the point where the frequency with which the calling feature is used on a mobile phone is steadily on the decrease. In fact, most communications these days are through social media or texting, while emails have largely become a means of formal communication.

 

  1. Dining and Entertainment: Thanks to online apps, it is possible to get food from your favourite restaurant delivered right at your doorstep or your office desk. There is no need to call up a restaurant during peak hour- when numbers are invariably hard to get- or lose time waiting for the table to get free.

    Similarly, name any form of entertainment and it is all available right on your fingertips, thanks to online platforms like Youtube, Prime Videos or Netflix. Users today are spoilt for choice, a far cry from the time when they were dependent on the content that was available on television or the neighbourhood CD store.

 

  1. Travel & Tourism: The entire process of planning a trip, from identifying the destination, shortlisting the places to see, making hotel and travel bookings, identifying restaurants, etc can be done online. It does not end there. The images and experiences of the trip can be shared on social media platforms. The only aspect of the journey that remains offline is the visa process. There too, the internet helps eliminate much of the uncertainty. For instance, online portals provide extensive information regarding Schengen visa requirements for Indians.

 

  1. Banking: When was the last time you visited the branch where you keep you bank account? Chances are, you do not even remember. Thanks to online banking, even processes like paying your monthly rent, utility bills or loan instalments can be automated by issuing an automated instruction.

The Technology of Terror: how advances in tech help and hinder terrorism

Preventing violent extremism and foiling terror plots is one of the largest challenges faced by governments and security forces today, and it seems technology is both the problem and the solution.

Sometimes, our technologies of convenience can work against us to the benefit of extremists. The Internet of Things (IoT), integration with cloud systems, the ease of purchasing goods and services online, social media content and encrypted communications… these advancements in technology play right into the hands of terrorists, allowing them to spread propaganda, organise and recruit new members.

But it’s these same technologies that also arm counter-terrorism with the tools to fight back, which is why governments and security forces have teamed up with tech companies and developers to tackle the complex issue of global security in the 21st Century.

Social media is a double-edged sword. Experts have raised concerns about the ability of organisations like Islamic State to use social media platforms to engage, recruit and encourage lone-wolf extremists overseas, but researchers at Harvard University have shown how social media can be used to fight back. Using text analysis and data-mining techniques to pinpoint when an individual is radicalized and begins to adopt extremist behaviours. Studies have also shown how language patterns used by certain extremist groups can differ in the months leading up to an attack and how this data can be used to predict and prevent violent attacks from being carried out.

The IoT has tremendously increased in the amount of data being generated. A wealth of information created by people and their devices, which provide security professionals opportunities to analyse human behaviour at an incredibly precise level. At the same time, analysing terabytes and petabytes worth of data means the proverbial haystack increases dramatically, making it more difficult to find the needle, and accurately identify credible threats.

The adoption of electronic visa and visas on arrival were heralded as a win for open-borders and a major boost for tourism, worldwide. But there have been concerns from governments that terrorists are exploiting temporary and tourist visas. This year 45 foreign terrorists were arrested in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian authorities believe the influx of foreign fighters are coming into the country on student or employment visas, or enlisting the aid of syndicates to create fake travel documents that would make them eligible for short term tourist visas, the Malaysia entri visa is one such example.

Despite involved security measures by airports and airlines, those looking to uncover and exploit weaknesses within the system will find new and innovative ways to do so.

Corporate initiatives like the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, aim to work in tangent with governments to curb the spread of extremism online. Launched in June, it includes tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube and Google and aims to support technological solutions, research and share pertinent information concerning extremist activities on their platforms. When it comes to combating terrorism with technology, strategic partnerships and collaboration between private enterprise and governments is an important part of the answer.

Should job application skills be taught in university?

A job application is the first step for a prospective graduate in the process of their forward pathway into landing employment . The application is the beginning of the employment process for most employers. For many graduates finishing their tertiary education, employment is the next chapter in their lives. With many graduates only learning the hard way that the job application is not just another school assignment, I believe that basic job application skills should be taught in university. There are three key components of a job application where universities can add significant amounts of value to ensure that their graduates have a pathway to employment:

Resume:

The resume is the key document required in almost all job applications, which a potential employer sees regarding the job seeker and is used to screen applicants, often followed by an interview. Universities can implement basic resume writing skills through workshops, or implement this as a regular course.

Cover letter

The cover letter is a way for graduates to introduce themselves to potential employers and explaining their suitability for the desired positions. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters as a method of screening out applicants. It is becoming ever so important for graduates to be able to write a good cover letter in order to stand out. We highly recommend you don’t use an essay helper service, as this hinders creativity and means that article has no “you” in it.

  1. Cover letter planning

Stringing points together in a cohesive flow is a key skill to have. It is important not to get into too much detail – writing keywords and phrases are the best solution. This can help the graduate focus on their strengths.

  1. Encouraging originality

Employers are often looking for originality and quality. The cover letter is an opportunity to impress an admissions officer with their determination and knowledge of your chosen subject. It should reflect their skills and ambitions, and highlight how the role will help them achieve future goals. Encouraging originality can be critical in helping the graduate’s cover letter stand out.

  1. Proofreading

Proofreading is a critical skill that should be taught in university. It is a form of quality assurance. Even minor mistakes in spelling or grammar may reduce the graduate’s chances of landing employment – given so many other candidates are vying for the same spot.

Application questions:

Many employers often ask questions in addition to reviewing the resume and cover letter of the prospective employee. Employers will ask competency questions to assess if you possess the skills and traits that will help you be successful in the role. Universities can prepare their graduates by teaching them how to approach application questions. Structuring answers is a skill that should be taught at universities in the course of study, but often many graduates do not know how to apply this to a job application.

To conclude, job application skills should be taught at university. Graduates will have basic skills such as essay writing and answering questions. However, there is ample opportunity for universities to teach graduates how to apply these skills to a job application.