This is something I have been saying for a while, new phones are not offering any significant feature worth upgrading for. For example when cell phones first had an app store, that was worth upgrading from my startac flip phone. When they first had a camera, that was worth upgrading. But can anyone who is not a technogeek tell me what the difference is between the iphone 6 and 8? I personally still have the 6s but am upgrading to the 8 because alas my phones battery is no longer lasting a day. But I am skipping the 10. I just can’t see a reason to get it vs the 8 considering the price difference. They even use the same hardware. I see no need to upgrade to these phones though if you current one if working just fine. Oh well, check out the video.
This is a really interesting question. Why do offices look like the one in the picture above? Do these increase productivity? No, in fact, most research shows that offices that are comfortable increase flexibility (see research on sick building syndrome). So why do we still have these? Why are they still being built? Its a good question and I think the answer is that its what we know. Its easier, doesn’t take as much thought/planning, and it utilizes space well. However, we need to start to get away from this type of thinking and start focusing on making the place where a worker spends 40+ hours a week as comfortable as their home. And I don’t mean adding a plant, hanging a picture, or a slogan to an already boring cubiclife (what I call working in a cubicle). I mean adding couches, making the office colorful, making the office comfortable, and cater to various types of working styles. I see this trend in tech world but other industries still aren’t catching on. I see workers dressing business professional and sitting in a grey office cubicle all day and I can’t help but cringe. So come on companies, loosen up. Let workers work the way they live and see how much productivity increases.
Hopefully you read my article on online privacy and why it’s important. This post will focus on finding the best free VPN. Before I start, I will just mention that if you really want a VPN, just buy one. For a less than $100 a year you can practically get any paid VPN. I actually pay $30 a year for mine, that’s a little over $2 a month. The advantage of a paid VPN is that its 10x faster than free ones. So to me I don’t notice a difference in speed now from my fast wifi now that I use a paid one. With the free ones, I did notice that difference. So its worth $30 a year to me.
Having said that, if you are going to use a free VPN here are some things to pay attention to – Why is it free? Are they pushing ads? How do they make it free? From what I have found is that most VPNs offer a free version and put restrictions on them. For example, they only let you use 200mb of bandwidth a day or maybe 5GB per month – some kind of restriction like that. Honestly, those don’t work well for me. I watch a lot of youtube videos for work and that bandwidth was sometimes used in 20 minutes.
So what is the best free VPN? I was able to find one that is 100% free, its a full VPN package meaning is prevents leaks and does its job. It also allows you to use unlimited data – something other free VPNs do not. Its called CyberGhost VPN. Now how do they make it free? Well they do have a paid version and their free version has a few restrictions. When you start it up, it takes anywhere from 3-5 to start (the paid version is instant), its somewhat slower (the paid version isn’t and all free ones are slower like this), and it shuts off every 3 hours (so you need to reset it). After a lot of testing I could get past the 3-5 minute start up time in order to have free unlimited data. It was a small price to pay. No other free VPN even comes close to this from what I could find. They all have a data limit except for CyberGhost.
So if you are looking for a free VPN look no further. Obviously if you are looking at this article in 6+ months from now please do research as all of this information could of changed.
Also note when buying a VPN, look for sales. They all have 30-50% off sales. For example, I have seen the one mentioned in this article for as little as $25 a year on sale.
Online Privacy – Why is it important and how do I keep my information private?
There has been a lot of buzz recently about online privacy, however; this is not a new issue by any means. Online privacy has been a concern for years. Go do a quick google search for online privacy and you will see articles from 2010, 2008, etc. discussing the issue. What is new is that thanks to our government your ISP (company you buy your internet from i.e. Verizon, charter, time warner, etc.) will be allowed to sell your browsing habits. So first, why does this matter?
For the most part, it doesn’t. A large percent of what we do online is harmless. For example, me searching for a new video game in google will tell amazon I want that game. And ads on Facebook will be for that game. Kind of cool in a sense that the internet knows what I want. This is also scary. Imagine that you think you are sick with a disease, and now amazon, google, health insurance companies, life insurance companies, future/current employers, know about it. The real question though is, should anyone be able to see what you are doing online? Is it their right? Should your ISP be able to spy on you? If you say OK, I would ask, would you allow your mortgage company to come in your house and go through your drawers? Because that is essentially what is happening. So yes, it is a concern and should be to anyone.
So, what can you do to prevent this from happening? There are a number of things and I am going to break this up so that it’s easier to understand. The important thing to remember is that you are never going to be 100% secure. But you can take steps to make it harder for anyone to spy on you. Think of it like an onion, the closer you are to the middle, the harder it is to get to you. The outer layers (i.e. no security) are easy to get to but several layers in takes more work. Also, keep in mind I am not discussing Malware, Viruses, etc here, I have other blog posts about that but I do always recommend antivirus software, malware software, and a good firewall.
For your computer/browser (for most home users):
Step 1 – get a VPN.
VPN – This is the first thing you need. I am not going to explain what a VPN is, just that it makes it so that your ISP (or job) cannot see what you are doing. They can only see that you are connected and using data. Now, the issue with VPN is that the VPN company can see what you are doing. So yes, they can sell your data just like your ISP. But I trust them more and most do not sell your data, just the shady bad ones do. However, keep in mind if you are doing something illegal, the VPN company will turn your information over to authorities if they are subpoenaed – no one is going to jail for you.
There are tons of options for paid and free ones. I personally like Hotspot shield, CyberGhost, and Windscribe because they have free versions. Here is a link to them:
Step 2 – Start using Firefox.
Why? Because of the security and add-ons. Once you download Firefox, you need to install the following add-ons. They are: HTTPS Everywhere and 1 of the privacy/adblock addons I explained below. They will not affect your browsing experience, they will however make it much more secure. Additionally, use the private browsing mode of the browser.
And do these:
- Add NoScript, uBlock, Disconnect, or Privacy Badger to your Firefox add-ons. This prevents only scripts that you allow. I personally use uBlock and Privacy Badger together.
- Use DuckDuckGo search engine. This is a search engine that does not record/track your searches. You can very easily make this your default browser by going to your browser settings and its just as good as Google. https://duckduckgo.com/
For the most secure (for people who are more technically inclined):
Use Tor Browser. Tor browser with its default settings is going to be super secure. Its slower because of how it works to hide your identity but if you are searching things no one can know about, use this. https://www.torproject.org/
Download Tor Client. Tor is the best security that most home users can set up themselves. If you are a super high tech person and want something more secure you already know way more than what I am blogging about and shouldn’t even be reading this so this post is not for you. https://www.torproject.org/
For your mobile device:
- Get a VPN. There are tons of free ones. You can use hotspot shield as I mentioned above. I use X-VPN on IOS. Keep it on always.
- For android, get Firefox browser and use the add-ons I mentioned above. Use private mode.
- For apple, use Firefox Focus browser. Apple does not allow Firefox add-ons, so use their focus browser. It’s actually much fast than any other mobile browser.
- Use DuckDuckGo search engine. This is a search engine that does not record/track your searches. https://duckduckgo.com/
- Use the web version of apps, not the apps themselves. For example, use facebook in the browser, rather than the app. Yea I know a big pain.
For those that want to be super secure, use a Tor browser. While there is no official mobile Tor browser there are tons that are free ones that use the Tor network. I personally have Onion browser for my iPhone.
We have multiple types of delivery formats available to us, however, many times we use words interchangeably and never think about what they really mean. This causes problems when talking to clients because what they envision as eLearning might be what you consider distance learning and all of a sudden your final product does not meet their needs. So its always best to define and describe during your proposal so that an operational definition can be established. In this post I will describe some of differences between all of these common terms so that you can more easily describe to clients what you are designing.
Online learning – Online learning is any type of learning that takes place online. However, to most people this refers to 100% asynchronous learning where there is no live meeting and the learners have 24/7 access to the content
eLearning – Self paced learning that is computer or mobile based. The module is completed without an instructor. A lot of people also refer to this as online learning and use the two words interchangeably.
Distance learning – Again, this is another term that people use interchangeably with online and elearning. However, distance learning means learning that takes place at a distance without an instructor. There is no technology requirement but it can exist. In fact, the first distance education courses were developed in the 1800s.
Virtual learning – Learning that takes place in a virtual environment, that is live, and uses video conference technology.
Face to face learning – learning that happens real time in a classroom.
As you can see, there are real differences between all of these but most clients wont know those differences so you need to be careful when discussing them to make sure that you and the client are on the same page.
Check out this article in Wired Magazine on time compression which mentions my research:
Call for papers:
The Journal of Training, Design, and Technology (JTDT) is a new online journal seeking submissions.
JTDT is designed to bring together current practices and research. The journals focus is on the following:
Research – manuscripts
Practice – case studies, lessons learned, etc
Analysis and Evaluation
Types of papers:
Brief articles (on current practice or theory)
Strategy reviews (Using a strategy in the workplace/classroom)
Special Topic papers
All papers are blind peer reviewed.
Deadline – There is no deadline as volumes will continuously be released. First volume will be published 3/1/2017 with more after that.
I am constantly bombarded with instructional strategies, design recommendations, and means to improve instruction. However, while that’s awesome and I love to see new innovative ways to teach, I have stumbled onto a question that we do not ask very often unless it’s in the context of K-12 standardized testing – how much does this improve learning?
So when someone tells me that some constructivist approach, for example, problem-based learning (insert any strategy here) is a good strategy for the classroom I need to know how it impacts learning. Specifically, I want to know how it affects low-level learning, such as recall, and high-level learning such as problem-solving/transfer. How much does it affect achievement? I don’t want to just hear that it improves it over another method/strategy but I want to hear that it improves it by X% amount. Because if that improvement is only 5%, it might not be worth changing an entire curriculum.
If we start to think this way we can start to make better decisions about what works and doesn’t work in the classroom. This will save us both time and money because we won’t waste significant amounts of time on changes that offer little to no improvement in achievement.
Of course, we need to consider other variables like motivation and such, which could very well be more important than achievement in various settings but that is going to be case dependent. And regardless, we still need to have improvement numbers to ensure there is going to be a return on investment.
If we could agree that this is an important piece of data to have we could start to figure out what these numbers are. This involves experimental testing using GOOD methodologies, GOOD content, and GOOD tests; otherwise, we cannot trust that research.