Digital Literacy only through Digital Citizenship

Digital Literacy only through Digital Citizenship

We couldn’t find better read to start the New Year than with THE EDVOCATEs article dated December 30, 2017 on Digital literacy only through Digital citizenship. THE EDVOCATE is a website devoted to advocating for education equity, reform, and innovation.

The MENA countries’ education establishments could do well to meditate on what is put forward like some sort of a precept by  Matthew Lynch, author of the article, i.e. “Embracing technology and digital literacy is a key factor to encourage learning from infancy through adulthood.”


With the increased importance of technology in society, digital literacy is gaining recognition as the most valuable tool for lifelong learning. What does this mean? Essentially, as citizens of a global society, the influence of social media, technology, and online resources is massive. For children, the access to a home computer with internet increases their likelihood of college attendance exponentially. For adults, the ever evolving tech world can either help them succeed or hold them back.

Society has changed over the last 15 years. It has become increasingly important to continue education after entering the workforce. The influence of technology on business is the main reason for this new mandate. In early learning through adulthood, digital literacy is showing the most promise for success. The edtech industry has long-focused on the value of digital competency for children. It’s time digital literacy was incorporated into adult education in the same way, but with a few adjustments.

Principal Ideas

The foundation of digital literacy has four factors. Technological skills and access, authorship rules, representation rules, and online social responsibility. For students and employees to interact responsibly in a digital society, it’s imperative to understand all four parts of the puzzle.

The core competencies of using computers, navigating the internet, and having access to broadband internet are essential to success. In today’s schools, students who utilize online research and display computer skills are more likely to graduate. Additionally, organizations like emphasize the importance of harnessing technology to find work and advance in your career.

Authorship understanding is becoming increasingly essential every day. Individuals can create and share content seamlessly in the digital age. This ability allows global citizens to interact and bond together for common goals. It also means that discerning authentic content is becoming harder to do. Those with good digital literacy skills will have the advantage of sharing ideas efficiently and knowledgeably filtering content.

Related to authorship is the issue of digital representation. Knowing how to decide what content is authentic and what isn’t is essential for every citizen. Understanding how to use resources like Politifact and Snopes will help individuals navigate representation issues more soundly.

To use technology and the internet in your life, it’s imperative to understand all the tenants of digital literacy. Lastly, and possibly most important, is digital ethics or online social responsibility. Digital ethics is the discernment of what is appropriate to say, do and share. It also includes observance of copyright laws and privacy.

Digital Citizenship

To fully embrace digital literacy, individuals must also learn digital citizenship. The tenants of this idea are much more sophisticated than those of literacy. However, they guide behavior online, safety practices and research rules. Comprehension of the nine elements of digital citizenship will make technology safer and more helpful for children and adults, alike.

Understanding the Stats

In a 2013 report by the New York City Comptroller’s Office, the educational achievement of homes without broadband access was disproportionately poor. 42% of disconnected households attained less than high school graduation, and only 5% earned a Bachelor’s degree. Similar educational deficiencies were noted in a 2011 Microsoft infographic. The infographic suggested that 77% of jobs will require digital competency by 2020. Additionally, it recorded a 6% greater high school graduation rate for students with home access to technology.

Does the research suggest that mere access to internet and technology will improve educational and career performance? Not exactly. There are other important factors to success. Students need to be digitally literate which includes an understanding of digital citizenship rules.

The ability to use technology isn’t enough to advance individuals. Technology use comes with many possible hurdles which can present themselves to halt progress. Things like improper research practices can hurt student performance. Additionally, unsafe internet practices and inappropriate online activity can harm employees. To avoid these common missteps, people need proper education on digital citizenship and literacy.

Lifelong Learning

From pre-k through adult life, technology is ingratiated in daily living. According to the International Guidelines on Information Literacy, technological education should start early. However, the report also states that teaching and improvement should continue throughout life to support personal and career growth. The European Commission Joint Research Center agrees. The commission suggests that digital literacy is essential to school success and later lifelong improvement.

Embracing technology and digital literacy is a key factor to encourage learning from infancy through adulthood. The impact of technology on learning has roots in the science of how we learn. As such, it has long been important to encourage academic advancement. However, the development of a global society has made involvement mandatory for successful individuals from all walks of life.

How does digital literacy inform your life? What continued learning tools have you embraced in your career? We want to hear your experiences.


The robot is becoming an integral part of the global economy

The robot is becoming an integral part of the global economy

Chase Johnson, senior at Colgate University majoring in History and minoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies wrote this article published on July 13, 2015 on  about the prospects of robots and how as he put it: “ The robot is becoming an integral part of the global economy. For decades, industries have been using fully or semi-automated machines to improve efficiency and decrease labour costs. Every day, new reports and stories come out about innovations in robotics that have the potential to change our lives. Yet, even with all of the coverage and excitement, it remains difficult to gauge the extent of robotic integration in many industries.”

More recently this other article of Dr. Matthew Lynch reproduced here covering the education sector has shed some light on what remain still an non treaded path towards AI.


Without a doubt, robotics is the next big thing in education. Like it or not, robots and robotics are the future. The sooner we accept robotics in schools and educate our children about robotics, the more prepared they will be for that future. Now, robotics is a reality at universities around the world, but imagine the possibilities if children entered those college programs already equipped with some robotic knowledge.

In this article, we have listed some interesting stories from universities to prove that there is already quite an interest in robotics after high school.

Geoffrey Louie, a former Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at Toronto’s University of Toronto, said that he fell in love with robots watching cartoons as a child, and adds that the Star Wars character C3PO was a big part of his life. He is currently developing Tangy, a nursing robot that can provide social and cognitive stimulations to long-term care residents through group based recreational activities. His current goal is to create a robot that can help people both physically and socially. Control and sensing technologies are his areas of expertise, and he uses them to design intelligent and useful systems.

Goldie Nejat, Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of IRM (Institute for Robotics & Mechatronics) at the University of Toronto, says that innovation and research in robotics have become very popular with students at colleges and universities. IRM includes a various range of disciplines such as industrial, mechanical, and biomedical engineering. Main specialization areas include food processing, healthcare, information, and communications technology (ICT), aerospace, and information.

The university has stellar relations with commercial and industrial enterprises, such as Google, MDA, General Motors, and research facilities and major hospitals.

Nejat says that there are currently 360 students studying industrial and mechanical engineering, but when she was a student, that number was only 50.

At the University of Waterloo, mechanical engineering is one of the most popular programs. Dr. William W. Melek, University Director of Mechatronics Engineering, credits the university as the first to start a mechatronics program (a combination of software and mechanical and electrical engineering) in 2003. The program was created to build and design robots and robotic systems. To date, 300 students, most of whom were international students, have graduated from this program.

Waterloo is opening a new facility called Robohub that will be used for advanced and specialized research of magnetic levitation, humanoid robotics, autonomous ground, and unmanned aerial. The facility is slated to open in either late 2017 or early 2018.

Meanwhile, at the Centennial College of Toronto, the industrial robotics program has been developed to meet new-age industries demands, per Tito Khandaker, program coordinator, and professor at SETAS (School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science).

Khandaker says that graduates learn a lot of theory, math, and physics, and the school also offers practical engineering—an innovative approach compared to other colleges.

The automotive sector has the biggest job market for robotics graduates, along with other sectors such as pharmaceutical companies.


Dr. Matthew Lynch is an award winning writer, activist. He spent seven years as a K-12 teacher – an experience that gave him an intimate view of the challenges facing genuine education reform. With that experience behind him, he has focused the second stage of his career on researching topics related to education reform, the achievement gap, and teacher education. What Dr. Lynch has found is that improving teacher education is an essential component in closing the achievement gap. Dr. Lynch’s articles and op eds appear regularly in the Huffington Post, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and Education Week. He’s also written numerous peer-reviewed articles, which have appeared in academic journals such as AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, International Journal of Progressive Education, Academic Leadership Journal, and others. In addition, he has authored and edited a number of books on school reform and school leadership. Please visit his website at for more information.


The World 2017’s Top Technology Trends

The World 2017’s Top Technology Trends

The Conversation produced this article that is a very commendable effort of Research Fellow, School of Creative Technologies, University of Portsmouth.  The author elaborates on the near future of all things robotic and The World 2017’s Top Technology Trends .  

We reproduce this brilliant piece for the benefit of all with our best wishes for a New and Prosperous Year for each and everyone.   


Why connecting all the world’s robots will drive 2017’s top technology trends

If you want to make predictions for the future, you need to find the trajectory of events in the past. So to work out what shape digital technology will likely take next year, we should look back to the major developments of 2016. And the past year’s developments point to a 2017 shaped by the next phase of virtual and augmented reality, the emergence of an internet for artificial intelligence and the creation of personalised digital assistants that follow us across devices.

Virtual world

One technology in particular has dominated the news throughout the year and made the birthday wish-lists of children and adults alike: virtual reality. VR began to bloom commercially in 2016 – with HTC, Oculus (owned by Facebook) and PlayStation all releasing their latest headsets. But 2017 will almost certainly be a pivotal year for VR, given its rather precarious position on the “hype cycle”.

This is a research methodology for predicting the commercial dominance of an emerging technology as it matures and goes through periods of increasing hype, sudden disillusionment and eventual success. Presently VR is on the precipice of the “peak of inflated expectations”, where the hype exceeds the reality and quality comes second to novelty.

In the hype cycle model, the peak of excitement is followed by an inevitable fall (the “trough of disillusionment”), as consumers realise the gap between what they expect and what they actually get. Here is where opinion is divided on VR. For some this will be a gentle dip, while for others the drop will be a portent to collapse.

The big question splitting these opinions is whether the consumer reaction to the VR games and applications currently being released will be the wrath of disillusionment or the mercy of patience. The more convincing assertion is that mobile phone-based VR platforms (with their greater ease of use, lower cost and wider range of games and applications) will help stabilise VR throughout 2017.

More than a gaming platform? Shutterstock

Augmented success

But stability is not the same as success. VR also has the problem that its consumer appeal is primarily recreational, limited largely to games and 360-degree videos. So far it has had relatively little impact on social or functional applications such as providing an interface for social media.

The same cannot be said for its more versatile but currently less well-known cousin, augmented reality. AR – which involves overlaying images of the real world with additional graphics or information – has enjoyed much success of late as a gaming platform, particularly thanks to the release of Pokémon Go.

Yet AR functionality already goes beyond games, and it is an ideal delivery mechanism for limitless forms of digital information. Concepts include heads-up displays attached to cyclists’ helmets that provide them with a 360-degree field of view and also alert them to potential dangers by tracking overtaking vehicles. But also applications such as visual overlays that can virtually redecorate your entire home without a single lick of paint.

The real future of AR however is in it’s potential to give us a new and improved means of accessing content and services we already cannot do without. As Microsoft’s HoloLens and Google Glass have alluded to, 2017 could see us using AR to check our emails, posting on Facebook and discovering the best route to our meeting place across town, with all content delivered straight to our eyes. Not a single aversion of our gaze or break in our stride required.

Current investment in the sector is prioritising advances in relevant underlying technologies such as depth-sensing camera lenses and physical environment mapping systems. This suggests that the industry is readying hardware to ensure these exciting ideas can materialise. It doesn’t mean that all ambitions of AR will be realised in 2017, but they are tantalising possibilities, depending on whether the underlying technology can make them a reality.

Intelligent connection. Shutterstock

Internet of Robots

The other area where we are likely to see some fascinating research developments moving into commercial applications is artificial intelligence and machine learning. And the application most likely to dominate 2017 is the Internet of Things, the connection of millions of ordinary devices, from cameras to kettles, to the internet.

The concept of the Internet of Things champions our seeming desire for constant connection, with the physical objects we use everyday all linked together in a glorious (or terrifying) chain. 2017 could be the year we’ll all be telling our telling our barista coffee machine at home to prepare us a chocolate fudge Café Cubano from five miles away, using a bespoke interface in our car as we’re driving home.

Or perhaps not. But this ethos of interconnectivity is already reaching the realm of artificial intelligence with Cloud Robotics. These systems allow robots that have been optimised for different tasks to work on specific problems individually, but to pass solutions between each other.

The robots use the cloud to share the data, enabling it to be analysed by any other robot or intelligence system also connected to the same network. One robot teaches something to another, who in turn develops it and passes it forward in a collaborative effort that could massively increase the learning potential and connectivity of machines.

Personal digital assistants

All of these trends comes together for our final 2017 prediction: the rise of humanised digital technology in the form of intelligent personal assistants. These are essentially human-emulating data hubs. They use advances in artificial intelligence to capture and interpret our data, the Internet of Things to operate everything around us, and the advances in augmented reality to project themselves convincingly into our mobile world.

This will provide a single, naturalistic interface between us and our digitally connected universe. It is the next iterative step for the likes of Siri, Cortana and Alexa: an intelligent assistant able to travel with us wherever we go, across every device we use, to assist us in nearly every aspect of our lives.




Travel between Real World and Virtual Reality

Travel between Real World and Virtual Reality

The New Augmented World . . .

A lot of people probably haven’t heard of the company Niantic and that is understandable given that until recently it employed only 41 people.  Almost everyone in the developed world, however, has heard of its primary product, Pokemon Go.  This is the latest technology craze; a game of Travel between Real World and Virtual Reality ?


Where is it ?

You can see people worldwide walking round huddled over their phones looking for cute creatures who have been etched onto real surroundings, often at points of cultural interest.

The inventor was motivated by the dichotomy that whilst children sit watch TV shows featuring children travelling outdoors having adventures they themselves spend most of their time in the house watching TV or playing computer games.

The game has drastically increased the number of children and adults outdoors getting exercise and vital sunlight.  The potential drawbacks are that people could be so focused on the game that they might be left vulnerable, at risk of accident or simply failing to see much of the world.

Virtual reality (VR) glasses, which are in the pipeline, might eliminate much of these issues.  Bigger problems are that there are always bugs in any program and there are already the inevitable hackers, at present merely cheating on the game but perhaps we will have more sinister interlopers in the future.

A Virtual Image

A Virtual Image

VR has certainly well and truly hit the mainstream market and everyone is looking for the next step.  For Pokemon Go, it seems that the creatures will soon interact with their environment.  Outside of the gaming world the possibilities are almost endless.  E-commerce development would allow you to virtually try on dozens of outfits using your size and image, for example.  Alas of course, the shopper could be bombarded with adverts as they progress along the High Street.  On a positive note, geolocation will help you find highly detailed information on businesses you are looking for, this feature is already available at some level, but the improvements are going to be huge.

Educational uses could transform the classroom; people and objects can appear in 3-D right in the room.  You might see them in action, dissected or watch an evolutionary progression.  It will aid surgery, allowing for a doctor to see a 3-D image of the patient.  Military uses will include giving for 3-D maps and this is likely to be an application seized upon as war seems to be for ever profitable.

Everyday life is going to be transformed and it is going to be an interesting journey.