1. Articles in category: Latest News

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    1. 10 CEOs Share Their Leadership Goals For 2017 | Fast Company | Follow @2elearning

      10 CEOs Share Their Leadership Goals For 2017 | Fast Company | Follow @2elearning

      CEOs across industries share the leadership lessons they learned in 2016 and the leadership goals they plan to pursue in 2017.

      Fast Company asked CEOs across industries—social good, sexual health, beauty, tech, and more—about how they would like to bolster and improve their leadership style in 2017. Here's what they had to say:

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    2. Was Apple’s Innovation Tied to Steve Jobs?

      Was Apple’s Innovation Tied to Steve Jobs?

      December 23, 2016

      It looks like 2016 may either mark the beginning of Apple’s decline, or maybe it only marks a reset of an overly successful 2015.  The question that always troubles the investor community, of course, is whether Apple can keep up the pace of innovation ‘demanded’ by Steve Jobs. 

      Nothing seems to be able to replace the stability of the iPhone in Apple’s recent growth.  But now that most competition has caught up, perhaps we have to look at the pace of innovation in the iPhone to see if that caused the first time dip.  

      At the beginning of the year, the money Apple generated from iPhone sales dipped for the first time in recent memory.  And although Apple has a large portfolio of products that support its success as one of the most valuable companies in the world, most experts agree that its primary driver for that growth has always been the iPhone.   Every year, Apple has been able to come out with a newer and better iPhone.  In turn, that introduction has been able to tap into an insane amount of consumer demand, which then created a blowout performance, as well as set the stage for the next iteration.

      Then, 2016 happened. With the iPhone 6s being largely a modest iteration of the iPhone 6, and with the demand for a larger phone from Apple finally satisfied in the marketplace, the company essentially entered a holding pattern for the year until its next iPhone came out.  The iPhone 7, of course, came as expected — but it remains to be seen as to whether it’ll be a breakout success as much as the iPhone 6 was when it was introduced.

      So back to the question that perplexes investors:  Knowing that the lead time for development of new products can lead actual product introduction in the market by 3-5 years, has Apple lost its ability to innovate without the influence of Steve Jobs on its development team?

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    3. Three Rules for Giving Effective Feedback

      Three Rules for Giving Effective Feedback

      December 23, 2016

      Giving feedback is critical to developing your people to their next level of performance, but many times it can be painful to both the giver and receiver.  In a Harvard Business Review study, they showed that although givers hated to give negative feedback, the receiver found it as valuable as the positive feedback.

      Many receivers even welcomed the negative feedback, provided it’s given well. And as that HBR study of nearly a thousand employees both in the U.S. and abroad showed, 92% believed that negative feedback is effective at improving performance—"if delivered appropriately."

      So although a vast majority of managers hate to give negative feedback, it’s important if we want to achieve appropriate behavioral change.  It just has to be done correctly.  So how is that done?

      Experts who coach executives on how to give meaningful and effective feedback follow three fairly simple rules: 

      1. Is the feedback true?
      2. Is the feedback necessary? And
      3. Is the feedback kind?

      So as long as managers and supervisors ensure that their feedback is unprejudiced, critical, and courteous, it’s fairly certain to be an effective way to help an employee grow.  And better yet, it’s supported by existing research.


      Although one of the most challenging responsibilities for any leader, it is worth the extra effort to do it right.  All the research has shown that employees recognize the importance of feedback—both positive and negative—to their career development.



      According to experts, a key to curbing biases is to develop awareness and insight into them. This is one of the hardest to overcome, as we are all either consciously or unconsciously influenced by our own personal biases. When biases come into play, it’s always more about the person giving the rating than the actual performance of the person being evaluated. In an NYU study, it was found that men and women received different evaluations after demonstrating altruistic behavior towards a coworker, even though there was a possible personal consequence.  If you want to test your own biases, here’s a test from Harvard on Implicit Association: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/.


      Studies conducted at two southern universities concluded that the more feedback a participant received in a management simulation, the lower his or her subsequent level of performance. Performance seems to improve when feedback is given, but only up to a certain ‘tipping’ point, after which, performance significantly decreases.

      As a leader, pay attention to how often you are providing feedback, particularly of the negative variety.  When you do have to provide negative feedback, make sure that it is measured and rationed.


      Substantial research talks about the damaging impact of negative feedback on employee attitude, performance, goal commitment, and satisfaction. This seems to run counter to why employees would want negative feedback, but the answer lies in how feedback is delivered.  It has to be delivered in a constructive and respectful way.   That coupled with a predominate atmosphere of ‘fairness,’ seems to do the trick for both parties.


      If the point of feedback is to change behavior and improve performance, all the research seems to support the three components shown above.  And what leader wouldn’t be willing to use these three simple rules, if the outcome was increased productivity and increased revenue?

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    4. Tim Cook Tells Employees Why He Met With Trump

      Tim Cook Tells Employees Why He Met With Trump

      Tuesday, December 20, 2016

      Question: Last week you joined other tech leaders to meet President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments? 

      It’s very important. Governments can affect our ability to do what we do. They can affect it in positive ways and they can affect in not so positive ways. What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy and security, education. They’re on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. They’re on the environment and really combating climate change, something we do by running our business on 100 percent renewable energy.

      And of course, creating jobs is a key part of what we do by giving people opportunity not only with people that work directly for Apple, but the large number of people that are in our ecosystem. We’re really proud that we’ve created 2 million jobs, just in this country. A great percentage of those are app developers. This gives everyone the power to sell their work to the world, which is an unbelievable invention in and of itself.

      We have other things that are more business-centric — like tax reform — and something we’ve long advocated for: a simple system. And we’d like intellectual property reform to try to stop the people suing when they don’t do anything as a company.

      There’s a large number of those issues, and the way that you advance them is to engage. Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be. The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many ways, it’s a debate of ideas.

      We very much stand up for what we believe in. We think that’s a key part of what Apple is about. And we’ll continue to do so.

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    5. Package Delivery Going To the Dogs - Robot Dogs

      Package Delivery Going To the Dogs - Robot Dogs

      Monday, December 19, 2016

      Marc Raibert, CEO of Google-owned Boston Dynamics, unveiled his company’s latest projects at NIPS in Barcelona, Spain. One of the strangest is a dogbot called SpotMini (video).  This dogbot is a four-legged robot that (loosely) resembles a small dog and can perform tasks like opening heavy doors and climbing stairs to deliver packages to the front door of a home.  According to Raibert, he sees not reason why dogbots couldn't compete against drones for package delivery services.  

      Boston Dynamics has previously shown videos of Spot Mini operating in a mocked-up home performing tasks like climbing stairs, opening doors, and even emptying a dishwasher using its gripper. The robot uses a neck-like appendage and a gripper that enables it to do multiple useful manipulation tasks - including delivery of packages.

      The competition for delivering packages is from Amazon, who is leading package delivery by aerial drone.  Only last week, CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted that the company completed its first trial delivery via Prime Air in Cambridge, England (video).  That maiden flight occurred on December 7th, 2016.  

      Our personal prediction is that the winner will go to the dogbots, because they appear to be capable of pizza delivery.  Obviously, these other uses will only be ancillary for people who want to see if SpotMini could deliver a 400-pound load of dog food.  We reserve the right to alter that prediction, however, as we noted that a small personal pizza could probably be handled by the Amazon Prime Air drone.  And Prime Air already promises order delivery in 30 minutes from the time you place the order.  And confidentially, we're not so sure how fast dogbots can go, nor how they would compete against the straight line of flight offered by Prime Air.  And then there would be toll charges to contend with.

      We remain excited, now that the robodog is challenging Prime Air for delivery elegance.  And even though they've both been experimenting with packages, all of us non-experts know that true market dominance will definitely go to the service that can get a hot pizza to our door.



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    6. 2017 - Can HR Transform Itself?

      2017 - Can HR Transform Itself?

      Friday, December 16, 2017

      According to Glassdoor’s chief economist, Andrew Chamberlain, 2017 is going to be the year that the human resources function transforms itself into "people science."

      The basis of that prediction is the rise of big data, and how that data has infiltrated and transformed everything from product functionality to financial offerings.  What 2016 has shown us is that as businesses generate more data from their employees and customers, good analysis of that data can lead to smarter decisions and happier consumers.

      Chamberlain points out that HR and recruiting have yet to experience the benefits that can be reaped by participating in this evolution.  According to Chamberlain, "Using data science in HR to make even small improvements in recruiting, hiring, and engagement has the potential for huge benefits to organizations."  Considering that the average cost to replace an employee that has left the company is slightly over $100,000, the potential bottom-line benefit could be enormous.  And of course, in addition to the enormous dollar savings, the reduction in team turmoil would provide an enormous morale boost with lower turnover rates.

      But if HR decides to tap into the data that can be assembled at every stage of an employee’s progression from on-boarding, through training and promotions, the potential for improvement in culture, customer satisfaction, and bottom-line savings, could be huge.  And the nice part is that these data are available at low cost through a number of third party providers.

      Other solutions are also beginning to appear in the general HR arena.  Tools like “sentiment trackers” can gather feedback in real time.  Tools like these can be used to create high employee engagement using this real-time data to gather actionable insights delivered directly to managers, not just HR or the CEO.  

      So this new Big Data era promises future-focused HR executives a very different type of role going forward.  There is a lot of “low-hanging fruit” for HR to harvest - and the good news - it doesn’t cost all that much.  For it to become a reality, HR only has to look as the cost of turnover, litigation, and non-compliance to provide adequate ROI justification for moving briskly into this new frontier.

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    7. The Secret to Employee Engagement

      The Secret to Employee Engagement

      Tuesday, December 12, 2016

      Engaging employees remains at the top of final list of key objectives for the Learning organization in 2016 and 2017.  But the challenges are still staggering.  The following are stats from our research:

      • Only 31% of employees say they’re actively engaged;
      • An overwhelming 51% of employees said they are not engaged; and worst of all
      • 18% say they are actively disengaged - meaning, they are quite possibly working against you!

      As any course on leadership will tell you, leaders are responsible for setting the tone for employee engagement in an organization.  And many times, employee engagement can be traced back to a senior staffer who engages employees more as a of ‘Manager’ then as a ‘Leader' in their day-to-day dealings with their people.

      Below is a refresher on the differences between how a manager and a leader operate:



      Focuses on Short-Term Thinking

      Assigns Blame

      Takes Credit

      Authoritarian Style of Management

      Transaction Focused

      Work Focused

      Appeals to the Head

      Seeks Comfort

      Avoids Risk

      Avoids Conflict

      Enacts Culture

      Wants to be Right

      Focuses on the Longer Term View

      Takes the Blame

      Gives Credit

      Charismatic Style of Management

      Transformation Focused

      People Focused

      Appeals to the Heart

      Seeks Change

      Manages Risk

      Uses Conflict to Teach & Empower

      Shapes Culture

      Wants What is Right


      If you think about the culture that would probably result when senior leaders default to a ‘management’ style, you can see how engagement could easily go off course.  Not many people will put forth that extra effort if they know that their boss is going to take the credit for the good work they do.  And making matters worse would be the tendency of a senior leader to assign blame when a new idea goes awry. 

      This is the season to take inventory of where you might be on that scale from manager to leader, and then putting into gear those actions and characteristics that will transform you into a leader.  It’ll take a while for the transformation to occur, but if you follow the checklist, you’ll eventually start doing the right things by reflex.  For sure, your employees will notice and appreciate it.

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    8. E-Learning Market Expected to Reach $30B by Mid 2017

      E-Learning Market Expected to Reach $30B by Mid 2017

      According to our sources, the e-learning market in the United States is expected to reach $30B by the mid 2017, and nearly $50B worldwide.  This growth has been attributed to both academic and non-academic use of these tools to deploy content.  There now is a plethora of established providers in this space including Lynda.com, Udemy, Coursera, Skillsoft, as well as a host of much smaller providers who have recently launched offerings in this growing arena.

      Internationally, as smartphone usage has rocketed, making e-learning available on those devices is now a targeted deployment.  With nearly 100 types of mobile devices - from laptops to tablets - it’s becoming easier and easier to reach new markets.  Adding to this growth in devices is cloud computing where content can easily be stored and accessed.  Companies like Amazon Web Services, the giant in the cloud marketing space, has passed along 52 price reductions to their customers in the 10 years of their existence.  Those price adjustments continue to drive a strong case for using e-learning instead of traditional classrooms when employees are disbursed around the world.

      There are three levels of content that is supplied into this market space.  Viewed as a triangle cut into 3 parts, the base is made up of packaged, off-the-shelf e-learning courses.  The players that dominate that space include:

      • Skillsoft;
      • Lynda.com;
      • Pluralsight;
      • BizLibrary;
      • Open Sesame; and
      • Cegos.

      LinkedIn made its biggest acquisition to date in 2016, by paying $1.5B for Lynda.com - a 20-year old e-learning company that offers courses on everything from coding to business skills.  According to Elearning! Magazine and other associations that track use of e-learning, the top three content categories cluster around:

      • Managerial and Supervisory Courseware;
      • Professional or Industry-Specific Courseware; and
      • Mandatory or Compliance Courseware.

      On top of these trends, employers are also reimbursing employees for taking courses from suppliers like Coursera and Udemy, amongst others.  Yahoo and 1-800-Flowers have been doing that since 2013, as long as employees can produce a course completion certificate.  In effect, that pulls even more e-learning into the market.

      But moving up the triangle of content value, the middle tier of content is a modified, company version of pre-packaged courseware.  Usually this takes compliance type courses or project management type courses, and adding company-specific content to the courses.  This is generally considered even more valuable to a company.

      And at the very top of the triangle - the most valuable content of all - is 100% company specific.  As these authoring tools become more ubiquitous, companies are doing training on company product launches, on-boarding, and other company-unique courses via e-learning platforms.

      In short, we think this trend will continue to fuel an already rapidly growing market segment.  This trend will continue to allow training to be shared more easily without the burden of facilities and travel weighing it down.  And as the size of this training market continues, the growth for e-learning instructors and instructional designers seems to grow along with it.



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    9. Top 10 Best Places To Work From Glassdoor Research

      Top 10 Best Places To Work From Glassdoor Research

      Friday, December 9, 2016

      The top 10 best places to work were announced by Glassdoor research, and it contains some surprises this year.  Glassdoor obtained the results from 2.1 million company reviews, and uses a proprietary algorithm that takes an employer’s overall company rating combined with how employees have rated each employer’s five workplace factors on a five-point scale (1=very dissatisfied, 3=okay, 5=very satisfied).  Those workplace factors are listed below:

      • Career opportunities
      • Compensation and benefits
      • Culture and values
      • Senior management
      • Work/life balance

      And the top 10 best places to work are shown below:

      1. Bain & Company
      2. Facebook
      3. Boston Consulting Group
      4. Google
      5. World Wide Technology
      6. Fast Enterprises
      7. In-N-Out Burger
      8. LinkedIn
      9. Adobe
      10. Power Home Remodeling

      Although technology dominated the top 10, the results are pretty much distributed over several industries from fast food to consulting organizations.  Some of the more interesting callouts from the research was around perks.

      Glassdoor's research found that more than half (57%) of the respondents said that benefits and perks were among their top considerations before accepting a job.  Even more surprising was that four out of five workers say they would prefer new benefits over a pay raise.  Millennials, in particular, were more likely to be attracted by free food and services over pay considerations. So it looks like working for peanuts may not be too far awry in this new age, but you might want to throw in some team building with those free snacks as well.

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    10. Salary Outlook for 24 Education Salaries - December 2016

      Salary Outlook for 24 Education Salaries - December 2016

      Thursday, December 8, 2016

      Salaries in the world of education continue at the same pace in the corporate world as reported in January 2016.  Based on the titles of the jobs that we have been posting daily on Twitter at https://Twitter.com/2Elearning, we’re going to look at 24 different jobs in the Education space. 

      In one year since we last published these results, we’ve seen some remarkable growth in salaries in the HR world.  Both the VP of Human Resources and the Chief Human Resource Officer’s salaries grew by $51,000.  The next biggest gain was in the Director of Human Resources’ salary at $50,000.   The good news is there were more salaries in the growth category than in the loss category.

      In the lost arena, the Director of Learning Technologies job shrank by $19,000.  That job was closely followed by E-learning Designers, whose salary drop was $16,000.

      The highest salaries are still being paid to the VP's of Learning & Development and their C level equivalent, Chief Learning Officer.   At the very bottom of the list are Public School Teachers and Training Managers.

      We'll report on salary growth periodically, as well as show you where educators are earning the most dollars - regardless of title.  If you'd like to see the daily jobs that we have been posting, you can follow us on Twitter at https://Twitter.com/2Elearning.

      1. VP Learning & Development - $169,000 (no change)
      2. Chief Learning Officer - $156,000 (no change)
      3. Vice President of Human Resources - $132,000 (Up $51,000)
      4. Chief, Human Resources - $128,000 (Up $51,000)
      5. Director Learning & Development - $123,000 (no change)
      6. Training Delivery Lead - $102,000 (Up $32,000)
      7. Director of Elearning - $95,000 (no change)
      8. Director of Human Resources - $94,000 (Up $50,000)
      9. Senior Instructional Designer - E-Learning - $88,000 (Up $10,000)
      10. College Dean - $83,000 (no change) 
      11. Elearning Storyline Developer  - $80,000  (no change)
      12. Manager of Instructional Design - $76,000 (no change)
      13. Content Developer - $75,000 (no change) 
      14. Elearning Developer - $73,000 (no change)
      15. Elearning Instructional Designer - $71,000 (Up $5,000)
      16. E-Learning Designer - $61,000 (Down $16,000)
      17. Manager of Curriculum Development - $68,000 (no change)
      18. Instructional Designer - $65,000 (no change)
      19. Director, Learning Technologies - $52,000 (Down $19,000)
      20. College Professor - $52,000 (no change)
      21. Elearning Specialist - $44,000 (Up $2,000)
      22. High School Teacher - $42,000 (no change)
      23. Public School Teacher - $39,000 (no change)
      24. Training Manager - $21,000 (no change)

      Highest reported salaries still go to the top 10 Udemy instructors.  Udemy last announced that their top ten earning instructors cleared $17M in course sales.  They said that the earnings ranged from $500,000 to more than $8 million dollars.  Press release: https://press.udemy.com/sharing-economy-millionaires-top-udemy-instructors-continue-to-crack-major-earnings-threshold/.

      (Source: www.Indeed.com/salary)

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    11. Customer Service is the Key To Growth

      Customer Service is the Key To Growth

      Wednesday, December 7, 2016

      For many customer-facing workers, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.  The tendency is to approach each customer interaction as though it were an isolated incident, handle it, and move on to the next customer or issue.  Whenever you find yourselves falling into this pattern, you should take a moment to step back and think about why you're doing what you’re doing, and where your activities fit in the wider view.

      Usually, if you look at the big picture, you will realize that a customer service interaction is not an event, but part of a process.  Each interaction you have with a customer is not an isolated occurrence, but instead it’s a stage in a larger cycle.

      The Cycle of Business

      The tide comes in, the tide goes out; the sun rises and sets - or so we all hope.  Customers buy, and then hopefully they will want to come back to buy again.  However, it's what happens in between that buying cycle that counts the most.  The customers must be satisfied with the service they receive or they'll not only switch vendors, but ultimately bad mouth the vendor providing the bad service along the way.  And as you've probably aware, bad news travels in 8's and good news in 4's.

      The entire purpose of delivering quality customer service is to ensure that customers are satisfied – and the purpose of satisfying customers is to ensure that they will come back.  Your job is really to create repeat customers, and to generate positive word of mouth so that more customers will join them.

      When you sell a product or deliver a service with only your own perspective in mind, you tend to think of that interaction’s conclusion as the end of the story.  In a retail environment, a customer enters a store, buys something, and then leaves.  From the perspective of the retailer, it’s easy to see this as a single occurrence in which a customer appeared, money was exchanged, and the customer disappeared.

      But for the customer, the retail store is an ever-present option when they have a need.  Their experience with the store, with its products and employees, will determine whether or not they choose that retailer again in the future.  The customer has not disappeared – they still exist – but they might, in fact, never return if they are not satisfied.

      This is why our focus should be on meeting the customer’s needs from their perspective, and with a business cycle mindset.  The customer experiences their interactions with our organization as a continuous relationship, and our real job is to keep that relationship alive.

      Feeding the Cycle

      If you recognize that your organization’s relationship with the customer is – or should be – continuous, it becomes clear that it is in your best interests to keep the cycle going, to encourage and feed it.

      One of the ways to keep the cycle of business moving is to improve the quality of the interactions the customer has with your organization.  Any business that delivers attentive, prompt, and courteous service is going to have an enormous advantage over a business that does not.  Customers want to feel valued; they will not care to continue a relationship with an organization that does not demonstrate any interest in their needs or well-being.

      You can also take steps to ensure that customers return again by increasing the number of touchpoints that occur between purchase or service interactions.  We might follow up with customer satisfaction surveys, for example, or send out birthday cards.  This keeps your business top-of-mind for the customer when a new need arises, and ensures that the relationship continues.

      Some businesses have recognized that it’s actually possible to trigger the next cycle of purchases.  Depending on the nature of the business, they may be able to do this through setting up appointment reminders, supplying coupons with expiration dates, or emailing notices about sales.  These reminders can prompt customers to return and jump-start the next purchasing cycle of the customer relationship.

      Whatever business we are in, it’s a fact that without customers, we will have no business.  This is why it’s so crucial to deliver quality service and to recognize the customer service relationship for what it is: a continuing cycle.  Customer service is forever, not just today.


      Reprinted with permission from Baker Communications

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    12. Amazon Eliminates Check-Out Lines With Go App

      Amazon Eliminates Check-Out Lines With Go App

      Tuesday, December 6, 2016

      What if you could go shopping a store that didn’t have lines or checkout?  Amazon thinks they’ve done just that, using their new Go app.  Launching in beta this year to Amazon employees at a single 1,800 square foot location in Seattle, Go is a new kind of store that doesn’t require checkout

      Customers use the Go app to enter the store.  Once inside, a combination of sensors, computer vision and deep learning keep track of what’s taken off and returned to shelves inside a virtual cart.  Once the shopper is finished, he or she just walks out of the store.  In the background the company charges their Amazon account, and provides them with a receipt.

      In the works for over 4 years, Amazon thinks this is the way shopping should occur everywhere.  However in its current version, the particular store is more like an updated version of an automat.  It serves only ready-to-eat meals and snacks prepared on-site.  The store also offers Amazon Meal Kits that can be ready to eat with a 30-minute preparation time.

      This particular store is Amazon's second entry into the retail arena.  Last year they opened a Seattle bookstore called Amazon Books.  Amazon is expected to continue to experiment with retail stores by doing pop-ups around the country. 

      AmazonFresh is also an experiment with retail, where Amazon provides grocery delivery.  Although that one started in Washington State as well, it’s been deployed in many areas around the company.

      And let us not forget Amazon’s other checkout apps like Selfycart and Instacart.  If all of this comes together as planned, Amazon would become the largest presence in this space that is trending towards the removal of checkout lines.   

      What’s not clear is what happens when an individual decides to have a shopping spree, only to find out that they can’t pay for it or they’ve exceeded their Amazon spending limit.  Short of Amazon arranging for a big robotic arm to swing out and throw the person out of the store, this could easily put them into the instant credit card business, with no bank needed as a go-between.  Interesting angle…

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    13. 5 Tips for Managing Millennials

      5 Tips for Managing Millennials

      Monday, December 5, 2016

      Millennials are expected to make up approximately half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Millennials are the most highly educated and culturally diverse group of all generations, and have been regarded as hard to please when it comes to employers… – Wikipedia

      The most recent arrivals to the current workforce are members of the generation commonly referred to as “Millennials,” also sometimes known as “Generation Y” or “Echo Boomers.”  The generation gap between Millennials and Baby Boomers is wide enough that many managers and business leaders seem to have almost given up on understanding their younger cohort, dismissing them as “entitled” and “lazy.” Boomers are prone to blaming “helicopter moms” for Millennial’s perceived lack of grit, and joking that in the real world, you don’t get a trophy just for showing up.

      But is this a fair assessment of Millennials’ true character?  This is the generation that will be dominating our workforce within the next decade; if employers hope to attract and retain talent, they need to understand these new workers.

      Who are the Millennials?

      The precise birth dates for this group vary depending on the source, but they are generally placed between the early 1980’s and mid-1990’s.  This means that Millennials now range in age from around 20 to their middle 30’s. This means that they are the group currently in the process of graduating from college, obtaining advanced degrees, and establishing their careers.

      The Millennial generation are “digital natives” who have grown up with computers and advanced technology infusing their lives.  Born around the same time as the World Wide Web, they have little or no memory of a time before the Internet and email, and are at home and comfortable with smartphones, social media, and e-commerce.

      Millennials have also grown up in a time of dramatic social change, economic volatility, and increasing globalization.  The older members of the cohort were born in the Reagan/Thatcher years; some may be able to remember the fall of the Berlin Wall or the disintegration of the USSR.  Younger Millennials are children of the Bush and Clinton eras.  The 9-11 attacks were a prominent event in the formative years of most Millennials.

      Great Expectations

      Millennials tend to expect more from their employers than previous generations.  Most studies agree that Millennials, as a group, differ from previous generations in their preference for a flat corporate culture, their emphasis on work-life balance, and their sense of social consciousness.

      As digital natives of the information age, Millennials are accustomed to information flowing quickly and freely – and they carry this expectation into the workplace.  Their preference is for transparency, rapid feedback, and open communication with supervisors.  Millennials thrive in an open and supportive environment, with ready access to mentors and advisers.

      Baby Boomers’ work-centric attitude and sense of company loyalty are not shared by the Millennial generation.  They place great importance on balancing work with personal and family life.  Millennials are also socially conscious, and prefer to work for companies which are, in some way, engaged in bettering society.

      Millennials have been noted for their propensity for rapidly switching jobs, and even careers.  Despite the fact that the group is underemployed and have benefitted less from the economic recovery than older workers, they are optimistic about the future.  Many have entrepreneurial aspirations, and high – not to say unrealistic – expectations for advancement.

      The perception that Millennials are spoiled “Trophy Kids” who demand rewards for even the smallest of accomplishments is perhaps overblown, but they do expect their employers and supervisors to be supportive, encouraging, and flexible.  Positive feedback and recognition for achievements are good motivators for many Millennials.

      As a group, Millennial employees believe in letting their voices be heard, and will not hesitate to challenge the status quo or to assert their rights.  They are also less likely than their older counterparts to remain in a job that they find unsatisfying – all the more reason for employers and supervisors to try to understand and cultivate the workforce of the future.

      Tips for Managing Millennials

      A few tips for companies seeking to attract and retain Millennial talent and managers who work with them:

      • Emphasize learning, development, and coaching
      • Accommodate work-life balance with flexible schedules
      • Offer customized compensation packages and fast-moving advancement paths
      • Build a strong company culture of mentorship and social awareness
      • Capitalize on Millennials’ tech savvy and social media skills

      Reprinted with permission from Baker Communications, Inc.

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    14. Human Memory Upgrade

      Human Memory Upgrade

      Monday - December 5, 2016

      Ready to have your memory upgraded?  It’s coming soon.  

      Theodore Berger, a biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California has created an implant device that would go behind your ear.  Once in place, your ability to remember and access every moment in your life is suddenly engaged.

      The implantable device, called Black Mirror, seems to mimic the function of the hippocampus by electrically stimulating the brain in a similar pattern that forms memories.  So far it’s only been tested in rats and monkeys, but now Berger is testing one that could work in humans.  So the effect would be similar to the movie Limitless, but without the need to constantly replenish the supply of pills from unscrupulous providers.  But then again, wasn’t there another movie about someone hacking into one of those devices and turning everyone into a zombie?

      The Black Mirror device works based on a theory about how the hippocampus transforms short-term memories into long-term memories.   In Berger’s early experiments with rabbits, he combined a tone and a puff of air to get the rabbit to blink.  And just like in Pavlov’s famous experiments he replicated the blink reaction by playing the tone.

      Berger claims that he’s been able to mathematically model the general rule that the hippocampus uses to convert short-term memories into long-term memories.  Using that general rule, Berger has been able to build an artificial hippocampus for rats.  So far the tests have been pretty remarkable.

      Probably the biggest challenge to overcome in order to duplicate this success in humans is the staggering number of neurons and connections between those neurons.  There are literally billions of neurons, and trillions of connections.  But that doesn’t mean Berger won’t accomplish it with the computing power available to us today.

      The initial launch is targeted at an implant device that can help patients with memory impairment, and there is a current human trial with a different version of the device.  So far, the results have been pretty promising.  And then there’s the FDA to deal with. 

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    15. The “Internet of Food” Promises New Diet Success with DNA Testing

      The “Internet of Food” Promises New Diet Success with DNA Testing

      Friday, November 2, 2016

      Finally, new hope on the diet front arrives.  There are several new startups that are attempting to match our unique genetics, as well as our age and gender, to determine which foods are best of us on an individualized basis.

      This is good news to those of us who bounce from diet to diet trying to find the one that we do best on.  This newer research seems to be saying that there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet. 

      The other piece of the research mentions that a majority of the cells in our bodies are non-human microbes which inhabit our digestive tracts.  The research found that these microbes impact our immune systems and overall health, but there is a chance that they’ve become ‘tainted’ by our diets, lifestyles, the kind of pharmaceuticals we’ve ingested over the years, and other things.

      Net-net, the link between diet and health is quite a bit more complex that we first imagined.  But even with all of our knowledge of human DNA and human health, along with the effects of food on diet, it’s still pretty hard to use this knowledge to create healthy habits.  What seems to matter most is the precise matching of a specific person’s DNA with specific foods.  This has given birth to a whole new arena called nutrigenomics.

      The proposed solution is to use machine learning and detailed data, in combination with DNA testing and self-tracking to better understand a person’s dietary needs and then apply this to satisfy those needs, on an individual basis.  Silicon Valley and the tech industry are starting to fund a lot of new startups to leverage advances in DNA sequencing, along with other technologies to create individual, unique diets and lifestyle advice.

      Some of the early contenders in this space include LifeNome, Nutrigenomix, PlainSmart, DNAFit, and Habit.  All of a sudden, the “Internet of Food” has become an enormous initiative.  There’s even a company called ph360 that makes a virtual assistant called ‘Shae’ that can guide you through your daily routine of eating and exercise.

      It’s early to declare victory because of the complexity of combining the DNA tests with databases of food knowledge and then body sensors to figure out what’s best to eat.  Until then, there’s still hope that a hot fudge sundae is going to appear on your personal health list.

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    16. 6 Ways Exceptional Presenters Use Data Effectively in a Presentation

      6 Ways Exceptional Presenters Use Data Effectively in a Presentation

      Thursday, December 1, 2016

      In the course of business, a lot of us have to give presentations that rely heavily on data that may or may not be instantly transparent to our audience.  Yet data-driven presentations can be very compelling. People seem to have implicit trust in numbers that are presented to them, and are frequently persuaded by charts and graphs - as long as their meaning is clear.

      However, we’ve seen data-heavy presentations become "snooze-fests" through the use of incomprehensible spreadsheets and graphs.  When confronted by a slide deck overloaded with bars and pie slices and zig-zaggy lines, the minds of the audience can become numb, or foggy at best.

      According to the best presenters, the key to giving a data-driven message is to make the data both comprehensible and compelling.  Here are six tips exceptional presenters have shared with us for building engaging and persuasive data-based presentations.

      Provide context.  If the audience hasn’t been directly involved in generating or analyzing these numbers, they may not have a good frame of reference for what you are trying to show them.  Make sure to explain where the data came from, any influential circumstances, and what the purpose of the data is in your presentation.  Build a story around the data to help the audience understand what’s going on.

      Use engaging visuals to present data.  Even a bar graph becomes more interesting if the bars are three-dimensional, or built out of rows or towers of icons representing their subject.  Pie charts can be exploded, or layered into sunburst charts.  You may find creative uses for word clouds, Venn diagrams, bubble clusters, or scatterplot charts.  Spreadsheet programs like Excel offer a surprising array of options for charting data; investing a few minutes in learning to use these tools can take the visual impact of your presentations from blah to bam – just make sure not to sacrifice clarity.

      Use clear labeling on all charts, graphs, and visual data representations.  An x-axis, y-axis, and a bunch of little dots with a line drawn through aren’t helpful unless at least the axes are labeled.  Make sure the slide isn’t so crowded that labels are reduced to illegibility.  If necessary, provide a legend or key to interpreting the colors, shapes, or icons used in your data graphic.

      Highlight your main point.  There must be a purpose for each piece of data illustrated in the presentation.  Why is it important that the audience see it?  What does the data say?  It can be helpful to actually title each chart with the most salient data point.  For example, if your bar graph demonstrates that one of your organization’s regions outperformed all the others in sales, rather than calling the bar graph “Sales Comparison By Region” you might title it “Western Region Tops Sales By 12%.”  This draws attention to the main data point and leaves no doubt as to what the graph is meant to show.

      Give them a brain break.  Visual representations of any kind are easier to grasp than raw numbers, but they still require a lot of mental processing.  Slide after slide of charts quickly becomes mind-numbing.  Pause for a moment to let the audience review each chart, take questions to clarify any confusion, then proceed to a slide with an image, or some bullet points highlighting key findings.  Interspersing other types of slides with the charts helps the audience avoid mental burnout.

      Connect the dots.  If your design and labeling are good, hopefully the audience will understand the data, but it’s still necessary to tie that data back to your message.  So the data shows that production was down this quarter – why should the audience be concerned?  Do you believe there’s a problem?  Why?  Do you have any support for your theory?  What do you propose the audience should do about it?  Simply dumping the data isn’t sufficient – the audience needs to understand why it matters, and what to do with it.

      Use these tips in your next data presentation and watch your audience attention soar. 

      Content courtesy of Baker Communications, Inc.

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    17. Canada Opens Their Doors to Coders - Post Election

      Canada Opens Their Doors to Coders - Post Election

      Thursday, December 1, 2016 (photo courtesy of Sortable)

      Canada has passed some new regulations making it easier for skilled workers to emigrate there from the US.   More specifically, our northern neighbors are after our coders and tech-savvy citizens, trying to reverse what was perceived as a drain from Canada over the years.

      Just before Donald Trump won the presidency, a Kitchener, Ontario startup called Sortable used Trump’s photo in a tongue-in-cheek ad to hire software developers from the states.  When the advertisement appeared on Facebook, it grabbed international news coverage, capitalizing on similar celebrity promises to head north or to Australia. 

      Christopher Reid, Sortable’s co-founder, said that he was really targeting Canadians that were working in the US. But because it did cause quite a social media response, Canadian lawmakers took note and went into action.  Since the election, Ottawa has issued some new rules and regulations making it much easier for highly-skilled foreign workers to enter Canada.

      The net effect?  Trump’s election could put the Canadian tech industry back on the circuit, so to speak.  For years the Canadians have been complaining about the “brain drain” to the United States - especially to high tech areas like Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston, and Washington, DC.   But will this easing of regulatory restraints be enough?

      The new regulations are designed to reduce the waits for a visa down to only two weeks instead of the usual 26 week wait period.  And beyond this reduction, the new rules allow workers to get short term visas for things like company training programs or short term staffing needs.  You can find out more information here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/ENGLISH/immigrate/skilled/index.asp.

      Is it working?  Sortable said that the US traffic to their site increased more than 200% since the ad appeared, and those who did apply mentioned the election and political climate in the US in their cover letters.

      Other Canadian companies have been quick to take advantage of the post-election reaction to Trump, but so far there hasn’t been a rush to cross the border according to immigration officials.  So is the plan going to be to continue these recruitment ads?  The Canadians seem to be a bit more courteous on that front.  The consensus was that they would be respectful of the new president-elect, and not add to the rhetoric that seems to be dividing our country.   Don't you just love our neighbors to the north?   

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    18. Is Our Fear of Artificial Intelligence Based on Reality - Part 1

      Is Our Fear of Artificial Intelligence Based on Reality - Part 1

      Don’t laugh, but I was counting on seeing singularity happening in my lifetime.  If you’re like me, I kind of like having a device in my pocket that can figure out a lot of things for me without my having to stress over the mental gymnastics required to solve these things on my own.  For instance, in the morning when I’m on a business trip, I find it quite helpful to ask my Google Assistant where the nearest Starbucks is located.  Then I get my second stress relieving session by getting in my car in a strange city, and ask Google to navigate me to my business appointment.  Seriously.  Bring on the self-driving Uber cars.

      My friends say, “Aren’t you afraid of getting ‘stupid’ and giving up all of your mental processes to a device?”  Internally I say “NO!” But externally I usually lie and say, “Yeah.  I’m trying to memorize all my friends’ phone numbers again in the evening…”  They simply shake their heads.

      For sure, there is a pervasive underlying fear from generations raised on dystopian science fiction that artificial intelligence and robots will be the undoing of humankind.  Eventually, as the conventional thinking goes, artificial intelligence will become smarter than the human version and terrible things will happen as machines take over the planet.  Even Gates, Hawking and Musk are on board with this thinking. 

      In reality, however, those of us that follow AI feel it’s much more likely it isn’t going to destroy us — or even take our jobs.  In fact, it’s more likely that AI is going to help us do our jobs better.  That’s worth thinking about for a moment or two.  Although the idea that AI could help us work smarter is not nearly as sexy as the notion of robot overlords taking over Earth, in actuality, it is a much more realistic view of the artificial intelligence technology that’s evolving today.   It’s also worthy of note, that this is as true for the line worker at a factory as it is for a salesperson or knowledge worker.

      While it seems like every software engineer in Silicon Valley is trying to create the perfect algorithm to replace human workers, in most cases, they are simply trying to find ways to make you a better employee by combining the power of the computer with your creative working brains.  You’ll see that in Part 2 of this report.

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    19. Is Our Fear of Artificial Intelligence Based on Reality - Part 2

      Is Our Fear of Artificial Intelligence Based on Reality - Part 2

      In Part 1 of this report, we discussed the prevalent fear of AI taking over mankind and wreaking havoc on all organic versions that were unwilling to succumb to their superior intelligence.   In this part, we promised to show a couple of examples where the AI development is really headed in hopes of easing those of us suffering from aiophobia.

      So here goes…

      The first example is from the CTO at Accenture, Paul Daugherty, who says in his company’s viewpoint, artificial intelligence will be about enhancing humans, not replacing them — and driving tremendous economic growth in the process.  “Our goal with AI is not to make super humans, it’s to make humans super,” according to Daugherty.   While some of you are thinking that this might be a clever marketing two-step, Daugherty insists the company is focusing on solving real business problems with AI by finding ways to simplify the complexities we all face in our work environments.

      When we looked for further examples of how AI is impacting our lives, one of the arenas where we are seeing it emerge has been in sales tools from Salesforce, Oracle, SugarCRM, and others. The thinking is that sales teams can’t possibly keep track of all the competitive and economic factors that could be having impact on an individual sale.  So that’s where artificial intelligence can really help.

      Good sales people have a natural talent for communicating with their customers, as well as knowing how to push them along to the final sale.  What salespeople often lack is an understanding of all of the other external  and internal issues that could have a negative impact on a possible sale.

      That’s where AI can come in.   By providing information about how the current deal relates to other deals, what’s happening in the news that could have an impact on a deal, as well as what the tone suggests in the latest email exchanges, and other data points, AI can provide clues as to where problems may surface in a deal.  AI and a good CRM can process all of this external information, provide insight to the sales team, and let humans worry about the social interactions that are needed to close the sale. It’s certainly a point Salesforce was pushing earlier this year when it launched Einstein, its artificial intelligence platform.

      Most of the major vendors out there, including Google, Microsoft, AWS, Oracle, IBM and Salesforce.com are all experimenting with AI, and exposing these AI tools to almost every company and individual out there.  Where they’ve gone a step further is to expose these powerful tools via APIs.  That’s bound to attract even more developers to the table.

      So the point of this article is to take some of the wind out of AI replacing all of us, and thus ruining the world for human.  In fact, what’s really happening out there is that AI is improving our ability to deal with more and more of the complexities that are evolving in the market.  As for me, I’m still happy to know that I can find a good cup of coffee wherever I happen to be writing.

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    20. The Beauty of Being Different

      The Beauty of Being Different

      Alan Turing, the mastermind that cracked the Nazi Enigma code, is credited with helping the Allies win World War II.  But was he a mastermind, or simply someone with a different kind of ability?

      Would it surprise you that Alan Turing was autistic? 

      Although Turing was not diagnosed in his lifetime, his mathematical genius and social lack of grace fits the profile for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).   As his story, made famous in the movie The Imitation Game, illustrates, society can sometimes benefit when it gives a voice to those who think differently. Until Turing arrived on the scene, no one perceived the need for a computer.   Instead, they simply thought of the task in more direct terms - the need to crack the code.   It took a truly different and beautiful kind of mind to come up with that profound and consequential solution.

      So the real question is, “Are we losing out on the millions of other talented minds that occupy this space known as autism?”  There are over 70 million people diagnosed with autism around the world, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In the US alone, the number of people with ASD is projected to top 3 million by 2020.  But the unfortunate consequence of that number is that experts estimate that between 70 and 90% of them are unemployed or at least underemployed.

      Although many people associate ASD with limited intelligence and social inelegance, the truth is that almost half of those diagnosed with ASD are of average or above-average intelligence.  Who knows what lurks in those beautiful minds?  Maybe there’s a cure for cancer that the rest of us can’t see, or some simple solution to world hunger being overlooked because of society’s inability to bring this hidden potential to fruition.

      But few people diagnosed with ASD really get the kind of help they really need to live more independent lives, obtain higher levels of employment, or even establish a better quality of life.  Less than 1% of the funding for ASD goes to programs for adolescents and adults diagnosed with ASD.  Instead, most spending is on research into the causes of the syndrome and on programs for children.  That society doesn’t recognize the need to prepare these ASD individuals for a more productive life seems rather tragic.

      But the story isn’t over just yet. 

      Recently, experts have recognized that people with ASD are quite uniquely fitted for the field of cybersecurity.  And as the world witnesses the rise of cyber terrorists, cyber criminals, and even hostile cyber states, experts are projecting losses to exceed $2 trillion by 2019.  Yet because of the complexity and detailed nature of cybersecurity, the number of unfilled jobs will likely reach 1 million by the end of 2017.

      However, experts have discovered that 75% of cognitively able ASD individuals have aptitudes and interests that are well suited for these careers in cybersecurity.   A few innovative firms like Microsoft and SAP are already piloting programs for hiring people with ASD to fill sophisticated IT positions. And in addition, The Milken Institute and The Gates Foundation are also funding valuable employment and research programs that are aligned with these pilot program offerings.

      So the story hasn’t ended yet.   Alan Turing’s abilities not only helped us win a war and fundamentally created the viability for computers - that same ability may be at the foundation of what lies ahead for all of us in this next chapter of world history.  We label this phenomena the beauty of being different.

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    21. Using Imagery to Improve Your Communications

      Using Imagery to Improve Your Communications

      While most instructors and speakers are usually focused on one the five senses, research has proven that if we can engage more of the senses, using imagery and metaphors, the impact of our words will be strengthened significantly.   Perhaps one of the most famous examples of the use of imagery comes from following passage from Dr. King’s I have a Dream speech.  That speech is generally recognized as one of the most powerful public addresses ever made:

      "In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

      The imagery of a check, coupled with a bank and the “riches of freedom” engaged the audience at a much deeper level because of the visualization in their collective memories.

      According to the Baker-baker Paradox, a person is more likely to remember the profession of a person versus their name.  According to the British Journal of Psychology, this is a consequence of the associative architecture of the human brain.  According to the article it is likely that one reason for the Baker-baker paradox is that the occupation baker automatically and unconsciously activates a number of concepts typically associated with this profession, whether it be a funny hat or smelling the loaf of bread.  In contrast a person whose name is Baker - well that usually has to stand alone.

      Neurologically speaking, when you learn someone’s profession, a larger number of synapses are strengthened.  This strengthening of synapses is one way in which the brain stores memories. 

      There are many more of these seemingly “brain quirks” that can be used by instructors.  For instance a 2008 study by Yale researchers showed that a person holding a warm beverage was more likely to be perceived as having a warm personality.  In a 2009 study published in Psychological Science researchers proved that study participants perceived a book to be heavier when they were told it contained more important information.

      So how do you put this to use in your everyday dealings with students or even the people you manage?  The advice is simple.  If you’re trying to spur your audience to action, you need to offer them a story filled with imagery and metaphors.   But do this with care.  Too many metaphors, too much imagery, or too complex a visualization can cause your message to get lost in its entirety.  Simple imagery, aimed carefully at your listening audience, will do the trick.

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    22. Of The 432,000 Borrowers Applying for Student Loan Forgiveness - 0 Qualify

      Of The  432,000 Borrowers  Applying  for Student Loan Forgiveness - 0 Qualify

      About 432,000 borrowers have submitted employment forms demonstrating they would qualify for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program beginning in October 2017, the U.S. Department of Education said Monday.

      However, Department of Education data indicate zero borrowers are on pace to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness by 2017, according to Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators

      Administrative issues appear to be creating obstacles.  “If the data reveal a likely large underutilization of this public benefit, steps should be taken now to help remedy this situation before October 2017,” Draeger wrote in a letter to Education Secretary John King Jr. and Under Secretary Ted Mitchell.

      The loan forgiveness program was established in 2007 to allow borrowers of federal direct student loans who make 120 monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan while working full time for a qualifying employer in the government or nonprofit sector to have their loan balance forgiven after 10 years.

      The employment certification forms are submitted by borrowers who plan to apply for loan forgiveness, regardless of how many qualifying monthly payments they have made.  Jason Delisle, a policy analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said it’s too early to be alarmed about borrowers qualifying for loan forgiveness in the first year. That’s because income-based repayment wasn’t available until 2009.

      “I don’t think there’s anything amiss,” he said. “There can be zero people who qualify on day one. And it can also be a program where there are lots of people who aren’t eligible today and will receive loan forgiveness in the future. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive.”

      Delisle predicted that benefits provided by the program would ramp up in the future as more student borrowers learn about it. Income-based repayment plans have also become more generous since the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was established, he said.

      Stay tuned…

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    23. Black Friday 'Gizmos' for Kid Coders

      Black Friday 'Gizmos' for Kid Coders

      Looking for some hot gifts for your young coders?  New ideas abound in the learn-to-code space, all designed to inspire young minds and help them learn programming logic. Here are five new ones that we’ve seen recently, that range from add-ons to Lego’s to a host of other upgrades.  These range from 'cool' to 'crazy' on the fun scale, and some of the new ones that are making the scene this year have prices that range from a few dollars for in-app purchases to around $225:

      • Cubetto Playset - A programmable wooden robot for kids as young as 3 years old.  Cubetto is the friendly wooden robot that will teach your child the basics of computer programming through adventure and hands on play. Montessori approved, LOGO Turtle inspired. Website: https://www.primotoys.com/.  Price: $225.

      • Sam Labs Inventor Kit - Inventor lets you s-t-r-e-t-c-h your imagination. Use SAM Blocks and the SAM Space app to build awesome projects, games, inventions and hacks. Super quick. Super smart. Website: https://www.samlabs.com/shop/inventor. Price: $139.

      • BBC micro:bit programmable board - The BBC micro:bit is a programmable board designed for 11 - 12 year olds.  There’s a programmable LED display, buttons, motion detector and sensors on board — all of which can be controlled via drag-and-drop code block editors, or a text ieditor to push coding skills further.  Website: http://microbit.org/.  Price: $29.

      • Flybrix build your own LEGO drone kits - This is a very cool program from Flybrix that lets you build a drone using Lego Bricks.  Ages 14 and up.  Last Day to order for Christmas arrival is December 15! Website: https://flybrix.com/.  Price: $189.

      • Box Island learn to code game -  If you’re buying for a child who already has access to a smartphone or tablet then learn-to-code puzzle game Box Island could be a cost-effect option for encouraging programming. It’s a free download for Android and iOS including ten levels. Website: https://boxisland.io/. Price: $2.99 to $7.99 in-app purchase.


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