How to boost remote workforce productivity


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In previous years, when it comes to remote working, many of us thought we wanted to do this all the time. Now, after working in our bubble more than we bargained for due to the pandemic, we are gradually getting to find out for real what it’s like to work remotely.

Certainly, remote working set up is different for many of us because of the extra demands on our time, such as helping kids with remote schooling etc. Various research has shown that many employees struggle to keep up their motivation without an in-person connection.

Therefore, the critical question is: how can we boost employees’ motivation and keep their productivity going now that most of our work is done by connecting over different screens and not in person?

From a starter perspective, flexibility around work hours might be a good start. For example, the hours from 9 to 10 a.m. might not be suitable for some employees because they have to help their kids start their school day.

Checkout the infographic below for tips on how to boost remote workforce productivity.

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Brought to you by Sean Farrell

Edited by Temitope Adelekan

Do Google Reviews Help Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?


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Google Reviews do help to improve search rankings and overall SEO efforts. There are many factors involved in search rankings; online customer reviews can be a good signal to search engines that your business is trustworthy and authoritative. In an era where competition is only getting stronger for small businesses, online reviews are a way to make your business stand out.

HOW DO WE KNOW REVIEWS MATTER?

When you consider SEO, reviews from customers aren’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. With all the other significant areas of SEO to concentrate on, reviews can be overlooked. 

Reviews matter most for local SEO. Reviews containing a searched for keyword can improve a local business’s performance, particularly in the box of local search and map results that appears at the top of SERPs, called the Local Pack. 

If you search for something like ‘DIY Store’, Google will use one of the factors to determine which businesses to display is reviews. Snippets of reviews will appear at the bottom of each business’s space, with the search terms used (and sometimes similar ones) bolded, showing what Google determines to be relevant. 

If your website is SEO-friendly and already has strong organic rankings for plenty of terms, then combined with reviews, then your site is more likely to show up in the Local Pack. 

But what if you aren’t a local business? Do reviews still matter then? If your business operates only in the realms of e-commerce or has no real physical location, some suggest that reviews are still crucial for SEO.

Why Do Reviews Matter For SEO?

Research is great, and everybody likes to see charts of businesses gaining more traffic, but you might still be unsure how online reviews can affect a business’s rankings in this manner. There are a few relatively straightforward explanations for why Google reviews do help SEO rankings. 

Google trusts your customers more than it trusts you

This is a slight exaggeration, but it is a fact that Google does depend on signals to determine whether a website is worth a good ranking or not. We have seen this since the very early days of Google with the importance of links. When your website gets a link from another relevant website, Google considers this link as an endorsement of trust in your website and will reward better visibility in the search rankings. In the same way, when a customer leaves you a review, whether good or bad, this review tells Google that your business is not only a real, and legitimate operation, but one that other people have interacted with it. The review can also help future potential customers to make decisions.

Google likes to read

Google reads your website to understand it. The more content it has available to read, the more it will learn about your business. When you use customer reviews on your website for SEO purpose or generate them on your Google My Business page, Google has plenty of new content to read and more keywords to add to its understanding of your business and what it does. 

Remember that when you search for ‘DIY store’, and Google pulled your query out as a keyword from the businesses’ reviews? Customer will describe your products and services to Google unintentionally. Those reviews will add to your business’s SEO value with your customers, even realising that their reviews are helping you in this way. A review can also help to fill in some of the content gaps that might exist on your website, and increase your overall website rankings and visibility in this way.

Great Reviews Mean More Stars And More Clicks

Whether you like it or not, people do trust reviews. Think about it like this, if you are looking at the Local Pack and see that two of the businesses have 2-star ratings, and one has a 5-star one, which one do you think you are more likely to click on? SEO rankings are influenced by click through rates. If a high percentage of searches choose your site from the search results, Google will take this to mean that you are doing something right and will give your site better rankings. Reviews can boost your click-through rates, especially if you are getting good reviews regularly. By encouraging more clicks with high ratings, you should see a boost in rankings.

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Edited by Temitope Adelekan

Time Tracking—Best Practices and Mistakes to Avoid


At first glance, tracking employee time seems pretty straightforward. Your employees simply denote the hours they were at work on a timesheet, or punch a time clock and turn their time cards in at the end of the week or month. What could go wrong? 

As it turns out, the ability to accurately track employee hours is one of the most important tasks a business undertakes. Timesheets and time cards provide invaluable data to your business regarding how efficiently you use employee time, your labour costs, and areas for productivity improvement. 

For big and small businesses alike, finding ways to make your time tracking both easier for employees and managers is essential to improving margins, accurately bidding projects, and ultimately running a more successful company. 

Time tracking trouble? 

Employers have long relied on manual timecards to track employee work hours. Employees either clock in and clock out or they’re responsible for recording and reporting how many hours they worked and when. The manual aspect makes the process vulnerable to errors, miscalculations, and estimates. 

In one 2018 survey, 44% of business owners reported that they regularly struggle with timesheet errors. An astounding 92% of the respondents reported that the errors were typically caused by the user. Some of the biggest problems are: employees forgetting to record their time, recording their time incorrectly, or recording their time to the wrong job. 

That being said, you can implement the following time tracking best practices to simplify your timekeeping and improve the accuracy of your labour costs.  

Educate employees about time tracking 

Make sure that your employees understand the importance of time tracking, as well as how your time tracking systems work and what’s expected of them. With each new employee, walk them through your time tracking tool, as well as the guidelines for how to track time. For instance, let employees know if they need to check-in to a mobile app daily (versus entering data later).

Provide them with information about how long their breaks should be, what type of personal business is permitted on the job, and how they can correct entries if they made an error. Educating your employees will not only reduce errors and misinformation but can also prevent employee time theft. 

Automate your time tracking system 

The next step to better employee time tracking is to get rid of manual timesheets and clocking in with paper time cards. Automating your record keeping provides a host of benefits, from making it easier for employees to document their work time to streamlining the record-keeping for your HR or office administrators. It also provides for 100% accurate timesheets, eliminating the need for time clock rounding.

For example, people platforms like Hourly and many others offer time tracking apps that allow employees to easily document their time when they have begun working. You can automate breaks and lunches so that they’re always included in the report and even set rules so help ensure the employees work the time they’re required—and not more or less. 

Make time tracking easy for your managers

Time tracking poses a problem for some employees, but it can also be the least favorite part of a manager or supervisor’s job. Managers routinely have to collect all employee timecards or reports, check them for accuracy regarding billable time worked, overtime, and correct any errors. What seems like a simple task can take up hours each month or week, especially if managers have to keep track of employee time because employees aren’t good about reporting their work hours.

Time tracking software solutions not only simplify time tracking for employees, but they reduce the workload for managers as well. Your managers will be able to automate their reporting, quickly find missing information and headquarter all the employees’ time data in one place.

Avoid these 3 time tracking mistakes

It’s easy to keep doing things the same way. But when it comes to time tracking, finding small improvements and avoiding common pitfalls adds up to real savings. Sidestep these time tracking mistakes and you’ll add efficiency to your time-keeping system and improve the quality of your labour cost data. 

Not collecting enough detail about employee work hours

There is a fine line between trying to keep timecards simple and oversimplifying your data in a way that’s detrimental. For instance, employees should clock in at the beginning of each shift and clock out at the end, of course. However, that is just the basics. 

Tracking breaks, lunches and regular work hours are required by law. Properly tracking over time is also essential. That not only ensures that employees get overtime pay, but also allows your organisation to better manage its resources and reduce overtime spending. You can even track hours to specific projects, job sites, and more. 

Time tracking tools allow you to document a higher level of detail about your employee work hours. Then, you can generate practical data you can use to make smarter decisions about your labor.

Not leveraging time tracking software features

You don’t have to be a tech wizard to benefit from time tracking solutions. Time tracking platforms provide multiple, easy-to-use features that enable your company to run more efficiently, and frankly, get more from your timecard reports. For example, with time tracking apps, you can: 

  • Know who’s working in real-time
  • Have employees clock in by location 
  • Geofence jobs. The software can send you an alert if employees are not where they’re supposed to be during the workday
  • Set alerts for important issues. For example, if employees head into overtime or switch work locations

Not combining payroll, worker’s comp and time tracking solutions 

All of these things are deeply related. By incorporating them into one solution you can reduce the time you spend, and improve your compliance with labour laws as well as documentation in all three areas. Some time tracking app incorporates payroll, worker’s compensation, and time tracking into one application. Run a simple search on the web, and you will be amazed at what you find on this topic.

Also, you can simplify your paydays, running payroll for employees, contractors and freelancers with the click of a button. Integrating workers comp ensures that you and your employees are covered in case of an accident and ensures that your vital employee information is all in place. Add in time tracking and you’ve streamlined a significant component of your HR function.

Time to clock out? 

Improving your employee time tracking does not take much—and it’s well worth the effort. Explore how time tracking platforms can make time tracking easier for your employees, while also providing your company with increased efficiency, time savings, and more.

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Brought to you by Kelly Kearsley

Edited by Temitope Adelekan

Saving Money vs. Paying Off Debts: Which One to Prioritise?


Part of your savings plan may involve paying off debts while saving money for future use. But, which one should you prioritise if you have a limited budget to work with? The key lies in understanding the benefits of each so that you can fine-tune your strategy and attain good financial health.

Advantages of Paying Off Debt

Debts may refer to loans, credit card and utility bills, or financial favors that you receive from family or friends. Debt is classified either as secured or unsecured. Secured debt involves pledging an asset as collateral for the loan, like your house or car. On the other hand, unsecured debt like credit card debt does not involve any collateral, but the payoffs are higher, too.

Depending on how much debt you have and how you manage it, debt can be a useful financial tool. Obviously, borrowing money to serve a legitimate financial need isn’t the same as when you spend the borrowed money on unnecessary expenses.

Here are a couple of ways that paying off debt as soon as possible can help you financially:

  • Interest fees decrease over time. This is true, especially for credit card debt, where interest is computed on your total purchases. If you’re unable to lower the outstanding credit, you might find yourself in a cycle of making payments that mostly go toward interest fees and not make significant reductions in your total debt.
  • Your credit score improves. Banks and other money lending institutions keep records of your credit history, and failure to settle your loans can lower your credit score. Credit scores are important because they can unlock many savings and rewards like more leniency on various types of financial transactions.

Apart from these benefits, paying off debt can be empowering for yourself. Getting rid of it frees you from distress and inspires you to achieve your saving goals.

Advantages of Saving Money

Saving money is, of course, one of the most important aspects of good financial management. Ideally, your savings fund should cover six months’ worth of living expenses in case of unforeseen circumstances like a sudden illness, work retrenchment, or loss of property due to natural disasters. Proper budgeting methods and techniques can help you use your money wisely and set aside savings, too.

Building your savings fund is beneficial in several different ways:

  • It allows you to leverage the value of compounding interest. Here’s how compounding interest works: You first earn interest on the principal amount of your savings and then continue to do so as interest is now computed based on your savings balance plus any interest it has previously earned.

    As such, you should start saving sooner rather than later to take advantage of compounding interest.
     
  • You can go into investment sooner, too. When you have your funds ready, you can immediately learn stock trading or other ways of investing to grow your money even more. You don’t have to wait until you’ve fully repaid your debt before you can take advantage of investment opportunities.
  • Your savings can help you avoid taking out new loans so that you don’t go deeper into debt. Even if unexpected expenses occur, you can pull yourself out of the situation without causing serious damage to your finances.

The Bottom Line

Being in debt can cost you more money in the long run, so having a clean slate in the earliest possible time should be your goal. At the same time, you shouldn’t wait to get started on saving either. While it takes a lot of work to decide whether you should first save money or pay off debts, the one definitive rule to keep in mind is to use your money wisely. This way, you can do both and reap the benefits that each strategy offers.

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Edited by Temitope Adelekan

Coping Up with the New Normal at Home


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You may have often heard people say that change is a part of life, and one of the best things to do is to embrace it with an open mind. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing drastic changes in every aspect of your lifestyle, how are you coping up with the new normal?

Adjusting to change isn’t always easy for everyone, especially with something as drastic as the global health crisis. Wearing a mask outside, physically distancing yourself from people, filling up personal and health information forms at public places, having limited access to transportation, and so on—it will take time before you get used to these things.

Then again, the indomitable human spirit is such a powerful force that helps everyone rise above challenges, especially if it’s business survival that’s at stake. Whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur, you can still be productive and profitable despite the coronavirus outbreak.

Here are tips to help you continue with your work or business under the new normal:

1. Choose the remote work or business setup

You’re safer working or running your business from home because you don’t need to go out and travel where you are going to be with other commuters or motorists. This reduces your chances of being exposed to the virus and getting sick. So if you have the means to stay at home, take advantage of the remote work or business setup.

You’ll need a smartphone, laptop, and desktop computer, as well as reliable Wi-Fi service, as basic productivity tools. It will also help if you create a dedicated workspace, so you feel as if you’re still in a real office.

2. Create a new normal routine

Setting up a routine offers a sense of normalcy and certainty, so it’s a good coping mechanism during this time of chaos. Your new normal routine can be as creative and flexible as you want, as long as it lets you organize your day-to-day schedule, which will help you have a proper work-life balance.

Your new normal routine can look something like this:

  • Start your day with a cup of coffee that you yourself made, instead of buying it from your favorite coffee shop near the office. Eat a healthy breakfast to fuel your mind and body for the day ahead.
  • As you begin your workday, make sure to check your inbox to know what’s happening in your team and reach out to your teammates if there’s something that needs to be discussed. Pick the online communication channel that you feel comfortable in or use video conferencing to stay connected with your colleagues or catch up over lunch.
  • Try to resist the temptation of going to bed late at night. Staying home can give you a false sense that you have enough time in your hands, but this can also disrupt your body clock and leave you feeling tired in the morning.
  • If you’re not able to go to the gym, you can work out at home on your own or with your family to make it as fun as your regular gym sessions.
  • Spend your weekends doing your family’s favorite things or having your me-time so that you can remain happy and positive.

3.  Discover new opportunities for yourself or your business

If your employment or business has been severely affected by the pandemic, this is the perfect time to reassess your options. Take a step back to help you see the bigger picture clearly. Perhaps you’re finding it a challenge to sell your products or services, which are considered non-essential during a pandemic.

What new offerings can you provide to consumers in your target market to make your business more relevant during these times? If your salary has been reduced due to limited operations in your company, perhaps you can look for a second job to make up for lost income.

Closing Message You can survive and thrive despite the challenges brought about by the pandemic. The key is to have a mindset that focuses on the things you can do and control under the new normal.

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Edited by Temitope Adelekan

The Fastest Way to Achieve Financial Freedom: A Visual Roadmap


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Imagine life without financial constraints. Perhaps you’d be buying the things you want and need without hesitation or live the lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of without the fear of straining your budget. Doesn’t this inspire you to work hard and manage your finances better for a secure future?

Financial freedom and literacy are crucial elements that can help you build your wealth for a sustainable future. This is why many people take the initiative to attend personal finance classes or seminars to improve their financial wellness.

While financial freedom may be different for everyone, it may look something like being able to go on an international trip every year without draining your bank account or retiring a few years early.

If you’ve always felt a certain panic setting whenever you see your monthly bills, it’s high time that you make changes to your spending and saving. Here are some good financial habits you can start practicing to kick-start your journey to financial freedom.

  • Identify your financial goals
  • Spend less; save more
  • Track your spending
  • Hold off on big-ticket items
  • Buy experiences, not things
  • Pay off your debt
  • Find other sources of income
  • Invest in your future

The road to financial freedom is hard and full of obstacles. It’s not going to be easy, but it certainly is possible. Know that gaining complete control over your finances takes commitment, discipline, and sacrifice. Once you obtain a sense of financial freedom, you won’t have to worry about choosing between getting your car repaired or buying groceries. With the right strategies and mindset, you can reach financial success and live life comfortably in the future.

Have a look at the visual graph below for the step-by-step guide on how to achieve financial independence. Soon, financial freedom will be within your reach.

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Edited by Temitope Adelekan

Remote Management Best Practices: How to Improve Employee Productivity


Remote-Management-Best-Practices-How-to-Improve-Employee-Productivity-03-1024x527

The so-called new normal is a worldwide phenomenon, where things as we used to know them have taken a significant shift. This piece is to help people and organizations learn to cope with the recent challenges brought about by the infamous novel coronavirus outbreak.

One of the most affected sectors is the workforce. With safety protocols being recommended by health experts, it has become necessary to implement remote management practices in many offices. The idea is to let employees stay at home or other appropriate spaces where they can still work so that there’s no need for them to travel and come into physical contact with other people.

Apart from health and safety issues, remote work is also ideal for a whole lot of other reasons. Perhaps you want to save on office building maintenance costs or help promote the concept of work-life balance among your employees. As long as your business operations can continue amidst a remote work setup, you may consider trying it out in your organization.

If it’s the first time that you’re adopting this type of work arrangement, you need to brainstorm with your team and come up with a plan that you can implement across the organization.

As a business leader or manager, your role is to make sure that your employees have a comfortable workspace, first and foremost. With a proper remote workstation, it will be easy for your staff to perform their everyday tasks with high levels of efficiency and productivity. It also gives them a well-defined area where they can focus solely on their work so that they don’t mix office responsibilities with personal life.

Telecommuting can work better for your business and your employees if you set clear expectations and guidelines for everyone. Based on the accompanying infographic below, there’s no shortage of remote work tips to help you see how other companies are doing it to improve employee productivity.

 

Remote-Management-Best-Practices-How-to-Improve-Employee-Productivity-01-708x5685

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Edited by Temitope Adelekan

The Enlightenment and Advancement in Education


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According to Israel (2013), the ‘Enlightenment’ was the most significant and profound intellectual, socio-economic and political evolution of the Western world since the Middle Ages and the most developmental in shaping modernity. This philosophical revolution started not as a definite ‘thing’ or even as a chronological age, but as processes involved with the central place of reason and of experience and experiment in grasping and developing human society (Withers, 2008). The ‘Enlightenment’ is generally thought of as a “European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition” (English Oxford Living Dictionary, 2019). This period is also often referred to as ‘The Age of Reason’ to denote a time when individuals began to utilise reason to confront matters of philosophy, government, and society. The philosophical Enlightenment was intertwined with the Scientific Revolution. Guider (2015) argues that this “period was characterized by discoveries in mathematics, physics, astronomy, biology, and chemistry, and these discoveries would not have been possible without the use of reason” (p. 5).

In education and educational history, the Age of Enlightenment (1680-1800) created important changes. In an effort for humans to release themselves from the dogmatism that symbolised the ‘dark Middle Ages’, during the Renaissance and Reformation periods in the West, such changes began to exert influence in both philosophy and technology (Abu‐Rabia‐Queder, 2008). This age of modernity seemingly started the move towards the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th Century Europe (Horkheimer, Adorno, & Noeri 1969/2002). In terms of describing the Enlightenment, historians have found it extremely hard to provide a fully acceptable description, but I would use the description put forward by Israel (2013) due to its conciseness. He argues that

Enlightenment is, hence, best characterized as the quest for human amelioration occurring between 1680 and 1800, driven principally by ‘philosophy’, that is, what we would term philosophy, science, and political and social science including the new science of economics lumped together, leading to revolutions in ideas and attitudes first, and actual practical revolutions second, or else the other way around, both sets of revolutions seeking universal recipes for all mankind and, ultimately, in its radical manifestation, laying the foundations for modern basic human rights and freedoms and representative democracy. (p. 7).

With that in mind, to deepen my argument and to give appropriate background on how modern universities came to be; and how the Enlightenment values that reflected education as an instrument of development and social reform remains the fundamental features of any educational system, I will trace the history of the Enlightenment Age up to today briefly by highlighting the key ideas and milestones.

During the late seventeenth century until the eighteenth century, religion was the primary means that obstructed societies from ‘Enlightenment’. Schmidt (1989), points out that religious traditions and sectarianism impedes an individual’s ability to justify the reason behind everyday events. He further suggests that the ultimate aim of the Enlightenment was to release the public from religious fears and superstitions that retracted an individual’s freedom to develop logical and reasoned thought. However, support for religious toleration was hard since the Catholic Church had a significant stake on European societies, and the public recognises the church as the government of the day (Bovey, 2015; Steinfels, 2008). During the Enlightenment Age, scientists who formed theories that the church deemed unacceptable were persecuted (Leveillee, 2011). For example, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) were two scientists who published books that went against accepted belief, and as a result, the books were banned (Leveillee, 2011). Under the ban circumstances, Galileo was tried by the Inquisition, and was forced to recant. Until his death in 1642, Galileo was kept under house arrest. In 1938, he published Two New Sciences in Holland – a work on the foundation of mechanics and engineering (Hilliam, 2005; Finocchiaro, 1997). These scientist philosophers were among the first to consider a new way of thinking, and they brought fresh ideas that eventually transformed societies in the West. I will now begin by unwrapping the meaning of the word Enlightenment.

Enlightenment thinking in the 18th century was clearly indicated with the publication of Kant’s essay in 1784, but Lozar (2014) and Bristow (2010) think Descartes (1637) started the period while Dominiczak (2012) cites the work of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687). In November 1784, Kant submitted a response to the question in the journal – The Berlinische Monatsschrift posed by Johann Friedrich Zollner, a theologian and educational activist: Was ist Aufklarung? (‘What is Enlightenment?’) (Schmidt, 1989). According to Schmidt (1989, p. 269), Kant defines Enlightenment as

man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is man’s inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! [Dare to know! Alternatively, Dare to think for yourself or]”Have courage to use your own understanding!”

However, what exactly was it that Kant urged humanity to know? From the above basic definition of Enlightenment, Kant introduces three crucial points. Firstly, as regards to development and immaturity, he raises the question about the importance of history. Secondly, having the freedom to make public use of one’s reason raises the question of critique, and thirdly, to make use of one’s understanding instead of depending on the guidance of others raises the question about freedom (Kant, 1793).

In education, this philosophical debate that took place during the Enlightenment Age disturbed the foundation of education in Europe and many western nations that was based on religious beliefs and superstitions. The debate had a lasting effect on education, and is now what is most often called the “quarrel of the ancients [past] and moderns [present]” (Oelkers, 2002, p. 679). The debate developed during the seventeenth century, exploded in the 1690s and was taken into the eighteenth century. Oelkers (2002) describes ‘the ancients’ as people who were in support of an education founded on “canonized knowledge, taught with textbooks and methods that drew on ancient authors, and implying that all of the knowledge needed in philosophy and science is already available” (p. 681). In contrast, ‘the moderns’ were people who actively reject an education founded on canonised knowledge, but supported an education that acknowledged that “If future learning can bring new truths, old knowledge can no longer be regarded as perfect; thus, ancient authors cannot be the masters of the present.” (Oelkers, 2002, p. 681). Oelkers also cites (Keller, 2000) that argue that “to study Plato or read Homer is not to fill the mind with eternal truths in philosophy or literature. Education must be opened to a new learning, at least in terms of research and the production of knowledge” (p. 681). Moreover, Oelkers suggests “after this historically important debate, education and learning could be connected with the open experience of modern science” (Oelkers, 2002, p. 679).

After years of a philosophical debate between the Ancients and the Modern, the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers namely John Locke (1632-1704) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) introduced new ideas into education. According to Gilead (2005),

For centuries it was almost unquestionably accepted that the main aim of education was to bring man closer to God. For educational purposes, man was perceived first and foremost as the son of God and the function of education was directly derived from this perception. It was commonly agreed that the central role of education was to make man pious in this world and prepare him for a happy life in the next (p. 429).

Within European Society at that time, particularly in France, Grandiere (1998) states that the year 1725 was a crucial point for French educational Enlightenment thinkers in the sense that man was disunited from the beliefs of religion and began to see “man as a member of society and no longer man as the son of God” (Gilead, 2005, p. 429). This radical way of reasoning embraced by the followers of the new educational thought helped to establish many ideas that continue to form the modern educational system today. To paraphrase the words of Grandiere (1998), the ancient religious purposes of education were being exchanged by new social goals. According to Gilead (2005), the followers of the ‘old’ movement “were increasingly concerned with the happiness of man on earth and in particular with his happiness as a member of society”, [whereas for the emerging modern thinkers, they] “placed the emphasis on the mundane aspects of human life” (p. 429).

During this period, there were opposing views on what precisely the emerging modern thinkers meant with their movement and how to achieve some of the ideas they introduced. Charles-Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre (1658-1743) and Claude Adrien Helvetius (1715-1771), two of the leading figures of the new movement suggest that the end goal of education was to uphold the common good of society. In 1728, Charles-Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre wrote in the first page of his book on education that “the aim of education is, in general, to make the happiness of the pupil, his parents and the other citizens much greater than it could have been without such an education” (Gilead, 2005, p. 429). Both authors alleged that education should aim at increasing the totality of happiness in society. On the contrary, Rousseau had a radically different view. He argues that the aim of education should “focused on the formation of a happy individual” (Gilead, 2005, p. 438). The former relate the purpose of education to promote the happiness of ‘individuals’ while Rousseau relates the purpose of education to promote the happiness of the ‘individual’. “In Emile [(1762)], [a book by Rousseau,] priority is given to the individual’s good and not, as in Saint Pierre and Helvetius, to the public good” (Gilead, 2005, p. 438) – what I term ‘knowledge dialectic’ – a contradiction between the humanistic and instrumental purposes of knowledge. These apparent opposing views by prominent philosophers continue to shape 21st-century education system. One can argue that just as the origins of these concepts were in tension, they are still very much present in today’s educational landscape. As argued today by some writers (Grace, 2014; Shore, 2010; Codd, 2002), the purpose of education has shifted to one that is aimed at producing raw material (knowledge and graduates), and economic opportunities for society as well as to support the personal growth and happiness of the individual.

The argument between Rousseau and other Enlightenment philosophers in particular created a new way of thinking about education. According to (Oelkers, 2002), this new way of thinking formed the idea of ‘modern education’ which can be described with three key ideas: progress, optimism, and technical knowledge. In this way of thinking, the Enlightenment faith for ‘progress’ was focused on human institutions. For example, the university because they are a place for the application of reason to human advancement (Pinker, 2018). The reformation of education during the Enlightenment based on these ideas repurpose some of the earlier limiting aspects of education. For example, that the primary goal of getting an education is to serve God. Oelkers (2002, p. 689) elaborates the meaning of ‘modern education suggesting that

`Modern’ [education] is the opposite to `traditional’ or `old’ education in every respect, and is independent from political, social or economic contexts. Thus, in 20th-century [and 21st-century] educational discourses, `modern’ [education] could embrace Bolshevist, fascist, liberal, socialist and democratic views, to name only some of its political aspects. Likewise, there have been `modern’ approaches to vocational training, general schooling, education for the handicapped, and so on. The label has only one use – to discriminate between an `old’ education that should be abandoned and a `new’ education that is seen as the only way out…Thus, today’s economic language for education has been successful in replacing the older languages of the philosophy of education because it took the lead in defining what `modern education’ is and what it is not.

The important point worth noting is that the Enlightenment thinkers philosophy was progressive for their period, and as a society, we must move past that and continuously question the state of education because of its role in the society. We (society) need to question the state of education just as the thinkers of the Enlightenment Age did. According to Oelkers (2002),

The theory of education does not need a circle of believers, only arguments that must be discussed without any warranties…critical theory of education should not refer to names, however sacrosanct they seem to be. Sacrosanct names imply two worlds, pro and con, right and left, or bad and good. It is not sufficient to use historiographical fixations; rather, we must overcome them with new and better arguments (p. 691).

Overall, Enlightenment allowed individuals the opportunity to see things for what they were, and differently; and famous words of that period such as “religious intolerance, superstition and magic were replaced by humanism, scientific reasoning and a belief in progress” (Gordon & Lawton, 2002, p. 99). That ideology, manifested today in our educational system is one of the reasons why people could argue freely over matters affecting their educational needs, personal life, and society more broadly.

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Cite: Adelekan, T. A. (2020). The Enlightenment and Advancement in Education. Retrieved from https://wordpress.com/post/temitopeadelekan.com/10612

References

Abu‐Rabia‐Queder, S. (2008). Does education necessarily mean enlightenment? The case of higher education among Palestinians—Bedouin women in Israel. Anthropology & Education Quarterly39(4), 381-400.

Bristow, W. (2010). Enlightenment. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/enlightenment/

Bovey, A. (2015). The medieval Church: from dedication to dissent. Retrieved from https://www.bl.uk/the-middle-ages/articles/church-in-the-middle-ages-from-dedication-to-dissent

Codd, J. (2002). The third way for tertiary education policy: TEAC and beyond. New Zealand Annual Review of Education, 11(2001), 31-58.

Dominiczak, M. H. (2012). Science and culture in the 18th century: Isaac Newton. Clinical Chemistry, 58(3), 655-656.

English Oxford Living Dictionary (2019). Definition of enlightenment in English. Oxford University Press. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/enlightenment

Finocchiaro, M. (1997). Galileo on the World Systems: A New Abridged Translation and Guide. University of California Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pp2jr

Gilead, T. (2005). Reconsidering the roots of current perceptions: Saint Pierre, Helvetius and Rousseau on education and the individual. History of Education34(4), 427-439.

Gordon, P., & Lawton, D. (2002). A history of western educational ideas (Vol. 65). Woburn Press.

Grace, G. (2014). Professions, sacred and profane: reflections upon the changing nature of professionalism. In M. Young & J. Muller (Eds), Knowledge, expertise and the professions (pp. 18-30). Abingdon: Routledge.

Grandière, M. (1998). L’idéal pédagogique en France au dix-huitième siècle (Vol. 2). Oxford: Voltaire Foundation.

Guider, A. (2015). Freedom of Expression and the Enlightenment (Doctoral dissertation, The University of Mississippi).

Hilliam, R. (2005). Galileo Galilei: father of modern science. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.

Horkheimer, M., Adorno, T. W., & Noeri, G. (1969/2002). Dialectic of enlightenment. Stanford University Press.

Israel, J. (2013). Democratic enlightenment: philosophy, revolution, and human rights 1750-1790. Oxford University Press.

Kant, I. (1793). An Answer to the Question:“What is Enlightenment?”. Reiss (ed)2002(54-61), 1991.

Leveillee, N. P. (2011). Copernicus, Galileo, and the church: Science in a religious world. Inquiries Journal, 3(05).

Lozar, J. M. (2014). Descartes, the Pioneer of the Enlightenment. Studia lexicographica: časopis za leksikografiju i enciklopedistiku, 7(2 (13)), 129-138.

Oelkers, J. (2002). Rousseau and the image of ‘modern education’. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 34(6), 679-698.

Pinker, S. (2018). Enlightenment now: The case for reason, science, humanism, and progress. Penguin.

Schmidt, J. (1989). Kant, Mendelssohn, and the Question of Enlightenment. Journal of the History of Ideas 50:2, pp. 269-292. University of Pennsylvania Press.

Shore, C. (2010). The reform of New Zealand’s university system: ‘after neoliberalism’. Learning and Teaching, 3(1), 1-31.

Steinfels, P. (2008). Exploring Religion, Shaped by the Enlightenment. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/11/us/11beliefs.html

Withers, C. W. (2008). Placing the Enlightenment: thinking geographically about the age of reason. University of Chicago Press.

Why use Anti-Phishing Attack Software to Ensure Cybersecurity?


Phishing

A phishing attack is a process in which an imposter or an attacker sends emails to the users at large claiming to be someone they know or belonging to a brand/ services they use. Most of these emails ask users to share their personal information such as the bank account details, credit card number and pin numbers, or other such information which can lead to identity and financial theft. The emails would also ask the users to open a link or the attached document and download a file. When the user falls prey and performs any of the said actions, the malicious virus hidden in the email will enter their computer. It will provide the attackers access to the computer and allow them to steal the information stored on it without the user’s knowledge.

Over the years, many antivirus software products, spam and malware filters have been developed to detect such emails and prevent the users from being duped. Enterprises have become a hot target for the attackers. Even if one employee in the entire organization would become a victim, the attackers could access and control the entire system of the enterprise.

Almost every enterprise has antivirus software installed along with firewalls, spam filters, and other such email security systems. Yet, a good number of phishing emails slip past the filters and end up reaching the employees. Many employees have been duped and as a result, the enterprises have suffered losses in more ways than one.

If we wonder why, the answer is quite simple. Despite the claims, the traditional antivirus software packages do not successfully detect and prevent all kinds of phishing attacks. With changing technology, attackers are creating innovative methods to slip past the security filters.

What the companies need is phishing attack software that will provide all-round protection by identifying every suspicious and fraudulent email and alerting the users. The attackers not following the old methods of sending easily detectable fake emails. Instead, they are targeting a certain section of employees with highly intelligent email techniques. It is more or less impossible for the traditional antivirus software that relies on a standard database to compare the emails to identify and detect the latest phishing attacks.

If we consider Zero Day Attack as an example, it is one of the newest phishing attacks in the market that doesn’t get detected by most software packages. On average, about 1.5 million new phishing sites and email ids are created. To keep up with the ever-increasing list of fake websites is not a solution. It takes 24-48 hours to create a signature of complex malware, while it takes less than 82 seconds for an employee to fall victim to the phishing attack.

So, we need something uses a different technique to detect fake URLs without spending hours of time on it. Only then can the employees and enterprises be saved from phishing attacks. The latest and advanced phishing attack software used artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to scan and recognize the hidden malicious code in the emails and alert the employees. The most common type of Zero Day attacks are-

  • Microsoft Office Marcos
    • Macros are one of the most helpful tools offered by Microsoft. With one click, the repetitive tasks can be automated, thereby saving time for the employees.
    • When the attacker sends an email attachment with an Excel or other Microsoft file, the macros are coded to install malware throughout the system.
    • Using the machine learning technology, the latest anti phishing software identifies the hidden code and alerts the users about the email be a phishing attack.
  • Malicious Links
    • Embedded links within emails make it easy for websites to share information with their customers.
    • The same feature is used by scammers. They include links that will lead the user to a fake website. The IP address and domain names are similar to the brand they impersonate making it impossible for users to detect it as fraudulent at a single glance.
    • The anti-phishing software uses computer vision technology to read the minute changes in the domain names and also checks the final page which the link leads to.
  • Infected PDFs
    • The attackers take advantage of the features offered by Adobe Acrobat to include malicious software in the PDF files and send them to their victims.
    • The phishing attack software identifies the malware and blocks the email.
  • Embedded Code
    • HTML emails allow employees to include code in the email, which will be executed when the email is opened.
    • The next-generation anti phishing software detects this hidden code and stops it from being executed.

The anti-phishing software works on any device in any location. It can be deployed throughout an enterprise within a matter of minutes.

Feel free to share this post on social networks. This opinion article is for informational purposes only.

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Brought to you by David Neeble

Edited by Temitope Adelekan

Why is the Mass Text Messaging Service among the Most Used Services in the Market?


0

SMS (Short Messaging Service) is one of the most preferred ways of communicating with customers for business enterprises. Sending an SMS is simple, easy, and cost-effective. Targeting the new audience, expanding the market share, increasing brand loyalty and customer retention are some of the reasons why enterprises choose to use SMS as a major communication channel.

But how do enterprises send millions of messages per day? Sending one message at a time to individual phone numbers using a mobile phone is not an option.

The answer is most business enterprises use an SMS gateway and mass text messaging service to send messages to their customers in bulk. Many companies provide API integration services that will help enterprises integrate their system and database with the SMS gateway to send messages to customers’ phone numbers from a web application.

This makes it easier for them to send messages in bulk with a single click. There are many other advantages of using the API integration services provided by the companies. We will understand some of those in this post.

  • Cost-effective and Easy to Use
    • An SMS gateway allows enterprises to send messages from a computer. The support staff can simultaneously handle the task of sending messages and communicating with customers from multiple computers.
    • The interface is easy to use on both ends. Every mobile phone has the SMS feature in-built in the device. So it becomes very easy for the users as well as business owners to get acquainted with using the SMS as a potential marketing channel.
    • Users with little or no technical knowledge can also open and read the messages sent via SMS. It does not even have any dependency on the internet connection or smart phones.
    • SMS messages do not require an internet connection to be delivered to users. The mobile phone network will do the job effectively.
  • Suitable for Enterprises in Any Industry
    • Business enterprises from any industry can opt for the mass text messaging service.
    • Right from banks and financial institutions to healthcare, retail, travel, food industry, media and entertainment industries, any business enterprise can send messages to customers using these services.
    • The size and volume of the business also do not matter. Small, medium, and large scale business enterprises can opt for SMS messaging services.
  • Send Alerts and Notifications
    • Most enterprises use the bulk messaging services to send timely notifications and alerts to users.
    • Details about order confirmations, packing, shipping, deliveries, cancellations, etc. can be sent to users to keep them updated.
    • Notifications about service and payment due dates, flight and train ticket confirmations, restaurant reservation timings, etc. are a few more examples.
  • Use it as a Digital Marketing Strategy
    • SMS messages can be effective ways to promote and market a brand or a business and increase sales.
    • Capture Attention
      • Capture customers’ attention by sending them attractive deals and discounts.
      • Introduce them to new products or services they might be interested in.
    • Schedule Campaigns
      • Schedule promotional campaigns for the coming days in advance.
      • This will help plan the marketing strategy effectively.
      • Bulk messages can be scheduled in advance and automatically sent to customers on specified dates.
    • Cross-Promotion
      • Cross-promote the brand by sending attractive offers to customers with similar product preferences and purchase history.
      • Gently urge them to try a new brand by sending personalized product suggestions.
    • Exclusive Offers
      • Send exclusive discounts, coupon codes, etc. to special customers.
      • Categorize customers into groups and send exclusive offers in bulk.
    • Email to SMS
      • Messages can be sent from an email to user phone numbers using the API platform.
      • The messages from an email will be converted and forwarded to the selected list of phone numbers in the database.
    • Lead Tracking
      • Include links to the webpages in the SMS. Keep track of the leads generated through the messages to understand the extent to which SMS messages are helping in building the business.
    • Two-factor Authentication
      • Use two-factor authentication to ensure data security.
      • Send One Time Passwords and other confidential information with an added layer of protection.
      • Voice calls Fallback
        • If the OTP fails to deliver during the stipulated time, the voice call fallback option will ensure that the customer receives the OTP before the transaction time expires.
        • The option is auto-routed, and a call will be placed to the customer’s phone number from the system.
      • Two-way Communication
        • Allow customers to reply to messages sent by the enterprise.

Take feedback, ask for confirmations, or let customers initiate a message by providing them with the required codes to send as replies.

Feel free to share this post on social networks. This opinion article is for informational purposes only.

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Brought to you by David Neeble

Edited by Temitope Adelekan