By Jim Wong

Do you know why you instantly eliminate up to 90 percent of available job candidates when you limit your search to temporary workers?

If your firm struggles with efficiency or redundancy, do you know why immediately filling your full-time vacancy with a full-time employee can cause you to squander time and money?

Do you know why you should avoid sharing your company, department and job role needs before questioning candidates during your interviews?

These are innocent mistakes that nearly everyone makes when filling vacant positions. But with some simple knowledge, youll have no problem avoiding them the next time you hire new staff.

First, understand that determining whether you need a consultant, temporary or full-time employee comes down to four factors:

1. Are there large fluctuations in work load?

2. How much bandwidth (knowledge/expertise and/or time) do you have internally to accomplish your goals?

3. Is the role and career defined for a full-time employee?

4. How much flexibility do you need with labor cost?

The benefit of using consultants and temporary employees is flexibility. You might need additional staff during peak workloads or to complete a short-term project. In these cases, consultants and temporary employees offer greater cost savings than a permanent hire.

Also, from a consultant perspective, you may not need a particular level of expertise all the time. In situations where niche knowledge is required, a consultant can share insight, develop best practices around a particular expertise, and then transfer the knowledge to you.

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But if a temporary worker or consultant leaves and the transition is not handled properly, you risk losing time, money and, most importantly, the knowledge.

Are You Willing to Take These Additional Risks?

Temporary employees are frequently used on a try before you buy basis, which offers obvious benefits, including:

You get greater flexibility when unsure about filling your position with a full-time employee a fact thats especially helpful in uncertain economic situations.

You get to evaluate a person from a technical perspective for an extended period of time. You also get to assess cultural fit and character traits, as well as how well the perspective employees values fit into your organization.

Although these benefits outweigh the disadvantages, you should still consider the drawbacks.

For example, temporary employees may be presented with additional opportunities. So if your worker is lured away by a better situation, the time, money and training you invested departs with that person.

Also, if you only consider people available for hire on a temporary arrangement, you eliminate a large pool of candidates to fill your position, including anyone who is currently employed.

Remember, most candidates available for temporary jobs are in between opportunities. If you take into account the general unemployment rate which today is approximately 10 percent targeting temporary employees means you miss out on evaluating 90 percent of the other candidates (i.e., candidates who are currently employed) for your position.

3 Critical Mistakes That Lead to the Wrong Type of Hire

A common mistake that leads to ineffective hiring is not having a clearly defined role and an idea how that position might evolve. For managerial roles, smart companies hire a consultant first to do the job on an interim basis. That way all opportunities to improve efficiency, reduce redundancy and address future needs are evaluated.

This approach makes determining the best candidate for the role easier. If youre hiring for a staff level position, an overqualified temporary employee can help with the evaluation process. The end result of using flexible labor before hiring a full-time employee is it provides you with a better understanding of your full-time employee needs, which results in making a better hire.

Another common mistake is giving little consideration to how a person fits in a companys culture.

And although these two oversights are important, theyre minor compared to the most common mistake of all hiring a candidate based only on technical knowledge and experience, without considering character traits.

The best run departments and companies view character traits as important (if not more important) as experience, knowledge or skills. You can train candidates to reach technical requirements, but character traits and values are not teachable.

How to Conduct the Interview Process

To ensure the best candidate evaluation, you should avoid sharing your company, department and job role needs before asking questions. If you begin by describing anything related to your company, or the roles from your vacant position, candidates will often shape their responses around your perceived needs.

Here are several questions you should incorporate into your next interview:

Why did you want to leave your current role? And why did you leave your previous three positions?

Listen for logic in a candidates career moves. This question also allows you to gather an understanding of what motivates them. (Incidentally, candidates who only leave positions for more money are a red flag as are candidates with frequent personality conflicts.)

Describe your ideal role, company and manager you would like to work for.

This response allows you to get a clean look at your candidates desires. And, because you didnt reveal your needs ahead of time, you can better determine if the candidates objectives fit your job requirements.

How do you see your career progressing?

Your candidates future should align with what you offer.

If we spoke to your current manager, what would he/she tell us were your biggest accomplishments?

The phrasing of this question makes your candidate believe youll contact a former manager. As a result, youll hear more honest responses.

What motivates you?

This question allows you to evaluate how your candidate fits your management style and company culture.

What is the biggest misperception people have about you?

If youre hiring at a supervisory, director or managerial level, you must address this question to ensure your candidate has self-awareness and maturity. You can live with negative issues how your candidate addresses those problems is whats important.

The bottom line: Take a strategic approach to selecting the best employee for your situation, and you wont get stuck trying to undo mistakes later. When you consider everything you lose when you hire a worker who isnt a good fit for your firm, the extra time you put in is well worth the extra effort.

About the Author: Jim Wong,CPA is the founder of Clear Focus Financial Search, Brilliant Financial Staffing and Numerate Partners in Chicago. In addition to more than 15 years of experience in accounting/finance executive search, temporary staffing and consulting, he on the advisory board for Northern Illinois University Department of Accountancy and a board member for the NIU Executive Club. Get his free weekly email which provides useful insider information on accounting/finance, career management and recruiting by visiting http://www.clearfocusfs.com or http://www.numeratepartners.com.

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Major US bankruptcy reform bill signed into law

Thursday, April 21, 2005 

U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law Wednesday a major bankruptcy reform bill, making the most sweeping changes to the laws of personal bankruptcy in the past two decades. Bill S.256 is predicted to reduce the chances of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy for 30,000 to 210,000 families per year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

The legislation was strongly opposed by some consumer advocates and by some Democrats in Congress, who complained about the lack of debate on exemptions they attempted to introduce and tried to derail the passage of the bill. Those who are unable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will then be forced to file under Chapter 13, which requires payment of some debts by order of a judge based on the financial resources of the debtor.

Opponents said the bill will end a chance for a fresh start in the financial lives of the American people by keeping them in debt to collection agencies, as well as credit card companies and banks who have made it easy to obtain high credit limits amid mounting consumer debt.

In his remarks before signing the bill, which he supported, Bush said, “The bipartisan bill I’m about to sign makes common-sense reforms to our bankruptcy laws. By restoring integrity to the bankruptcy process, this law will make our financial system stronger and better. By making the system fairer for creditors and debtors, we will ensure that more Americans can get access to affordable credit.”

The bankruptcy bill received a 302-126 approval in the house, after receiving a 74-25 vote in the Senate last month following strong, mostly partisan debate.

The US bankruptcy system was established in 1898. It allowed judges and debtors to come to terms with the costly medical bills that can follow a relative’s death, or a family illness. Such cases form nearly half of all bankruptcies filed in the USA, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Now many of those people will have to work out repayment plans suitable to creditors instead of having debts erased by a judge, according to the new law, which takes effect in six months.

In the past, a judge or court representative would calculate an individual’s income and subtract necessities of life to come up with a practical repayment plan of some debt. The new law stipulates that a graph, showing the poverty level in whichever state the consumer is living will be the criteria. It assumes that if people can subsist at that poverty level, then everything over that can be used to repay creditors.

Additionally, a provision that allowed debtors to file their own Chapter 7 fresh start bankruptcy has been changed to require a lawyer, paid by the debtor, to do the filing.

The new law also erased “usury” provisions in lending laws, with some lawmakers saying that paying 30 percent interest was not too much when a debtor was behind on payments.

But Bush said that credit will “be more affordable because when bankruptcy is less common, credit can be extended to more people at better rates,” meeting demands of the credit card companies which they have been pressing for the last eight years.

“The big winners under the new law will be the special interests that literally wrote it, particularly the credit card industry,” said Travis B. Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America. “This is particularly ironic because reckless and abusive lending practices by credit card companies have driven many Americans to the brink of bankruptcy.”

The forces arrayed on the losing side of this bill said it will hurt low-income working people, single mothers, minorities, and elderly and will end a safety net for people who have lost jobs or face major medical bills. People who fail (refuse) to pay or refuse to go to court will punished by a fine and or arrest warrant made out in their name. About fifty thousand Americans will be punished by a fine and or warrant about three thousand Americans every year will go to jail under the new bankruptcy law. For some people this will be a third strike so they will be put in jail for life.

But Mallory Duncan, a lawyer for the National Retail Federation, said “Bankruptcy has gone from a stigma to a financial planning tool for many.”

New personal bankruptcy filings have increased from 172,423 in 1978 to 1,599,986 last year, an increase of 828% during that time; however, it edged down slightly last year.

About 2 percent to 13 percent of those who dissolve their debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy each year in exchange for forfeiting some assets will be disqualified from doing so under the law, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Bankruptcy lawyers anticipate a rush to the courthouse to beat the six-month window before the new reforms take effect.

Major US bankruptcy reform bill signed into law

Thursday, April 21, 2005 

U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law Wednesday a major bankruptcy reform bill, making the most sweeping changes to the laws of personal bankruptcy in the past two decades. Bill S.256 is predicted to reduce the chances of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy for 30,000 to 210,000 families per year, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

The legislation was strongly opposed by some consumer advocates and by some Democrats in Congress, who complained about the lack of debate on exemptions they attempted to introduce and tried to derail the passage of the bill. Those who are unable to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will then be forced to file under Chapter 13, which requires payment of some debts by order of a judge based on the financial resources of the debtor.

Opponents said the bill will end a chance for a fresh start in the financial lives of the American people by keeping them in debt to collection agencies, as well as credit card companies and banks who have made it easy to obtain high credit limits amid mounting consumer debt.

In his remarks before signing the bill, which he supported, Bush said, “The bipartisan bill I’m about to sign makes common-sense reforms to our bankruptcy laws. By restoring integrity to the bankruptcy process, this law will make our financial system stronger and better. By making the system fairer for creditors and debtors, we will ensure that more Americans can get access to affordable credit.”

The bankruptcy bill received a 302-126 approval in the house, after receiving a 74-25 vote in the Senate last month following strong, mostly partisan debate.

The US bankruptcy system was established in 1898. It allowed judges and debtors to come to terms with the costly medical bills that can follow a relative’s death, or a family illness. Such cases form nearly half of all bankruptcies filed in the USA, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Now many of those people will have to work out repayment plans suitable to creditors instead of having debts erased by a judge, according to the new law, which takes effect in six months.

In the past, a judge or court representative would calculate an individual’s income and subtract necessities of life to come up with a practical repayment plan of some debt. The new law stipulates that a graph, showing the poverty level in whichever state the consumer is living will be the criteria. It assumes that if people can subsist at that poverty level, then everything over that can be used to repay creditors.

Additionally, a provision that allowed debtors to file their own Chapter 7 fresh start bankruptcy has been changed to require a lawyer, paid by the debtor, to do the filing.

The new law also erased “usury” provisions in lending laws, with some lawmakers saying that paying 30 percent interest was not too much when a debtor was behind on payments.

But Bush said that credit will “be more affordable because when bankruptcy is less common, credit can be extended to more people at better rates,” meeting demands of the credit card companies which they have been pressing for the last eight years.

“The big winners under the new law will be the special interests that literally wrote it, particularly the credit card industry,” said Travis B. Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America. “This is particularly ironic because reckless and abusive lending practices by credit card companies have driven many Americans to the brink of bankruptcy.”

The forces arrayed on the losing side of this bill said it will hurt low-income working people, single mothers, minorities, and elderly and will end a safety net for people who have lost jobs or face major medical bills. People who fail (refuse) to pay or refuse to go to court will punished by a fine and or arrest warrant made out in their name. About fifty thousand Americans will be punished by a fine and or warrant about three thousand Americans every year will go to jail under the new bankruptcy law. For some people this will be a third strike so they will be put in jail for life.

But Mallory Duncan, a lawyer for the National Retail Federation, said “Bankruptcy has gone from a stigma to a financial planning tool for many.”

New personal bankruptcy filings have increased from 172,423 in 1978 to 1,599,986 last year, an increase of 828% during that time; however, it edged down slightly last year.

About 2 percent to 13 percent of those who dissolve their debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy each year in exchange for forfeiting some assets will be disqualified from doing so under the law, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Bankruptcy lawyers anticipate a rush to the courthouse to beat the six-month window before the new reforms take effect.

Sunday, October 7, 2012 

A Norwegian University of Science and Technology study released Thursday found electric vehicles have a potential for higher eco-toxicity and greenhouse impact than conventional cars. The study includes an examination of the electric car’s life cycle as a whole rather than a study of the electric car’s environmental impact during the use phase.

The researchers conducted a comparison of the environmental impact of electric cars in view of different ratios of green-to-fuel electricity energy sources. In the case of mostly coal- or oil-based electricity supply, electric cars are disadvantageous compared to classic diesel cars with the greenhouse effect impact being up to two times larger.

The researchers found that in Europe, electric cars pose a “10% to 24% decrease in global warming potential (GWP) relative to conventional diesel or gasoline vehicles”.

The researchers suggest to improve eco-friendliness of electric vehicles by “reducing vehicle production supply chain impacts and promoting clean electricity sources in decision making regarding electricity infrastructure” and using the electric cars for a longer time, so that the use phase plays a more important role in the electric vehicle life cycle.

Best Tips On Home Renovations And Designs

Submitted by: Kim Colt

Renovating a home and obtaining garden services in Melbourne is definitely a fascinating experience similarly as well as on contrary, it may be unpleasant also. It doesn’t just enhance your home but additionally add worth into it. On the other hand, home renovation takes a bit of effort, creativity, as well as course- expenses. Below are great tips which you’ll apply when you choose for landscape solutions, garden architects and choosing renovations design for your home to make it an attractive haven to reside in:

Be aware of type of house and garden design you wish

Lots of people buy a home then get it rebuilt. Professional may help you for cool renovations design since business of home renovation Melbourne is well flourished and you can get it through online query too. It s not just about garden or home designing, one can also find professional service for pool landscaping in Melbourne as well.

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Basically, whenever you buy a home, the dwelling and design might not be fully suitable for your living or family capacity. If you wish to reconstruct or redesign it, make sure you get something what you are looking for indeed. You are able to surf the Internet for modern house and landscape solutions if you wish to allow it to be newer or look at different companies for house renovation ideas. Hiring reliable home renovations professionals will help you in getting the type of house you dream. It needs to be your individual choice so at the conclusion from the renovation, all of the efforts and money spent makes it worthwhile.

Set a specific budget

There are two methods to set the budget for that renovation. One you are able to plan for that type of reconstruction you would like, thinking about the rooms, wall surfaces, floors, home furniture, fittings along with other areas you need to change. Then compute for that budget necessary for renovation. Additionally, you could have an estimation of how much you need to invest in renovation. Then renovate the home thinking about your budget. When looking for home builders experts you might first inquire them a good estimation for that house restructuring according to your plan. Budget is essential and prior to the real revamping of the home, you should look at that which you offer prior to the task gets started.

Secure the base and begin renovating the weak spots

Lots of home owners give more focus on the pool landscaping Melbourne and other designing aspects they need rather than things that actually need enhancement. If you wish to add more rooms or maybe an additional floor to create your home three-stories rather than two, you should know first when the foundation of the home is firm enough to resist it. You may even need to look for weak and destroyed areas in your house. Have specialist for home renovation Melbourne to check up on the ceiling, flooring, along with the strength from the walls. After remodelling the weak places within your house, you can begin with matching all of them with beautiful architectural designs. You can contact garden architects and get beautiful renovations design with wonderful garden services in Melbourne.

Don t forget – home renovation is an investment not just money-spending stuff

Whenever you modernize, make certain to select top quality materials. You might want to give a garden and perform some landscape designs and broaden your garage. Obviously including structures is d3etermined by your wants. For those who have a big family it is much better to make the home bigger. Upgrading a home is much more than the usual desire to live inside a comfortable and delightful home. At present, renovation is a type of investment. Real estate properties are becoming increasingly more expensive. Decorating your home and garden through architects can also add value into it as well as in any situation you choose to market it soon, you’re certain to possess a return on investment.

Yes, it is satisfying to reside in a secure and guaranteed house. And redesigning your property is one method to do it.

About the Author: Modern Outdoor Living offer landscape solutions, pool landscaping, home renovation and garden services in Melbourne. You can also get professional and expert garden architects to enhance your garden space in a great way. Visit at:

modernoutdoorliving.com.au/landscaping_design.php

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Excellent crafts from indigenous peoples showcased in Taipei, Taiwan

Saturday, June 28, 2008 

To promote the craft design of indigenous peoples in Taiwan, the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Executive Yuan, the show organizer, made an inception on crafts of indigenous peoples with the “2008 Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Craft Exhibition” in the Ketagalan Culture Center in Taipei, Taiwan.

As of the organizer, this exhibition was set to discover more excellent artisans from indigenous peoples and promote the excellent crafts of indigenous peoples in Taiwan to bring on the sustainability of the traditional indigenous tribes.

Not only this show until June 29, but the 2008 Taiwan Designers’ Week from tomorrow (June 28), in addition to 2008 Taipei In Style from July 10, will bring on the other opportunities for cultural, creative, and the fashion-related industries.

Wikiversity:Learning projects

This page provides a general discussion about Wikiversity learning projects: their purpose, how to start and manage them, and how to support the learning goals of Wikiversity participants through the development of learning projects. To look over existing learning projects or start a new one please proceed to Portal:Learning Projects. For a conceptual overview of what some others believe learning projects to be please continue reading here.

A “learning project” is one of the primary units of which Wikiversity consists. Wikipedia has articles; Wikiversity has learning projects. But what is a learning project?

Anyone.

In practice, the participants at any one time are often members of a real-world class at a real-world educational institution. You don’t have to apply or register anywhere. If you are a teacher, you can simply go ahead without any further permission and create a learning project. If you are a student, you can join any learning project without restriction.

In theory, any of the following variants might occur (or variants not listed here):

What is significant about this is its openness. Schools and universities often set up Learning Management Systems or Virtual Learning Environments which are restricted in their membership. For example, in a typical Moodle installation, you need a password to enter the whole system, and probably further passwords to enter any particular course. Restrictions are everywhere in these kinds of learning environment. Wikiversity does not have restrictions on participation – not even on course creation!

The principle of openness means that as a teacher, you can’t actually stop anyone joining your course. In other words, there is no such thing as an uninvited participant, because everyone is invited. Normally surprise guests are unusual and everyone is very well-mannered, though, and you aren’t obliged to actively teach everyone who joins. If you find you have some surprise participants, please remember the wiki-principles of assume good faith and don’t bite the newcomers. If an uninvited participant becomes disruptive, you should ask a custodian to help (see request custodian action). Custodians have administrative powers that can prevent disruption, but it is rare that their action is needed.

Possible question: I’ve read all this stuff so far, and it seems I can just jump in here and use Wikiversity to set up some pages to organize and teach my own class. Surely this is hardly in the interest of a global project like Wikiversity? Surely there must be some kind of limitation on my exploitation of Wikiversity’s resources?

Answer: of course you can jump in and do your own class stuff here!

The reason why this helps the world at large is a piece of deep, subtle and somewhat speculative wiki-wisdom, however. The theory of wiki-dom looks at the very long-term effects and fate of the learning resources you create. At first, a new resource may be so specific and particular in terms of time, place and people, that it is of absolutely no use to the wider world whatsoever. Your resource may only be used by you for a few weeks (the time); its content pretty well limits it to your own lesson planning and classroom events (place); and the people involved may not extend outside your class (and people). However, unlike a non-wiki webpage, others can come after you and find the resources you have left behind. Rather than reinventing the wheel, they may re-purpose your resources to save themselves time. During the process of repurposing, it is likely that the universality (wider usefulness) of the resource may increase by a small, perhaps almost insignificant amount. The universality will tend to increase, because the resource has now been used on two occasions in different times, places and by different people. Of course, each time the repurposing occurs, the universality may not increase much, or may even sometimes decrease. But in the long run, the resource will incrementally become more valuable and of more universal appeal. This is something which is scarcely visible at the beginning, or not at all visible. But it is the theory of the wiki.

Funnily enough, pretty much the first thing that happens in any learning project is for the learners to learn how to edit the wiki. Whether it’s a learning project on astrophysics, microbiology, principles of corporate accounting or witchcraft 101, in most real-world situations most of the class may not yet know how to edit a wiki. Don’t let the necessity of this put you off as a teacher. You don’t have to bring wiki-house-trained students here – you can bring entirely novice wiki-editors as well.

There are two basic approaches to teaching wiki-editing: the sandbox approach, and the task-orientated approach. Both can be applied together. The sandbox approach involves setting up a subpage where participants are free to do anything at all (see here for the general Wikiversity:Sandbox). The task-orientated approach involves giving a series of simple editing tasks, escalating in difficulty. A good idea is to reserve part of your learning project for these purposes – use one or more subpages.

Borrowing from other projects: as almost all learning projects have to face this same challenge, it’s worth scouting out other learning projects to see how they do it. Borrow and modify their resources freely to save time creating your own.

Custodians and the wiki-illiterate: if you’re planning on bringing dozens of completely uninitiated students onto Wikiversity for their first editing lesson, you don’t need to ask anyone! You can go ahead just like that. On the other hand, it’s advisable to find and tell some custodians what’s going on. Custodians are like your local IT department handymen, who try to keep things vaguely shipshape. They wander around Wikiversity, helping or tidying up messes. A custodian who finds a bunch of clueless and rather randomly editing students will always try to be helpful, but may help wrongly if s/he doesn’t know what you’re planning. It’s a good idea, as a teacher, to create an account for yourself at Wikiversity, and then contact some active custodians in advance of your first and most chaotic lessons. They can then help your students find the right “room” (pages) and even help when they make their first mistakes. See: custodians.

Once your students know what they’re doing, it’s mainly a matter of your imagination how you adapt the MediaWiki editing environment to your teaching needs. Experimentation is positively encouraged.

A non-exhaustive list of standard ideas: discussions, reports, resource preparation, web research and link hunting; formal learning from text segments (reading tasks); listening and video tasks (both creation and reception). In the area of interactive learning, Wikiversity has a quiz extension for you to make a large variety of quizzes from.

Wikiversity doesn’t track learner progress or performance in the same way that a full-blown Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) does. Nor does Wikiversity formally or programmatically distinguish roles such as “teacher” or “student”. In a VLE you may be able to see which resources a student has used, how often they were present, what grades they achieved on interactive tasks, and combine all this together into a grade. None of this currently exists on Wikiversity. Even quiz results are only viewable temporarily on the user’s screen.

Related learning projects are grouped into Schools and Portals. There are major Wikiversity portals that provide user-friendly introductions to groups of Wikiversity schools that are related by their common subjects of study. There is also a guide to existing learning projects at the learning project portal.

The main requirement for starting a learning project is a sense of adventure and boldness.

One of the more difficult things you have to do at the start will be to think of an appropriate title, and then fasten the new project into Wikiversity’s existing hierarchy of schools and departments.

See: naming conventions (out of date?)

There is an important distinction here between Wikipedia and Wikiversity: generally, Wikipedia has only one article for any particular topic and if two articles are created by accident, they will be merged. Wikiversity, however, does not adhere to this principle of exclusivity; Wikiversity can have any number of learning projects on the same topic. Ten introductions to knitting are just as valid and acceptable as one. As a matter of good practice, looking for ways to integrate with or communicate between similarly themed learning projects would be good. If an existing learning project hasn’t been edited for a long time, you could also take it over and re-purpose it, rather than creating a new one alongside. It may be a good idea to search for an existing project with a similar theme before starting a new one. There is also the practical matter that it is impossible to create two pages with the same title, so your title will have to be slightly different from any existing project.

In the course of time, Wikiversity hopes to be able to offer a selection of templates or boilerplate to get you started with a learning project. So far we only have this: the only boilerplate so far, and you should feel free to do something quite different from this.

In principle, no wiki page belongs to any particular user, other than your own account page and its subpages. A learning project is a public good. At Wikipedia, this community ownership concept is very obvious and visible, but at Wikiversity the practice, if not the theory, is subtly different.

In the field of open educational resources, the creation of an educational resource generally requires more time and expertise, and the result tends to be rather more personal than an encyclopedia article. In addition, because parallel projects on the same topic are permitted, there is no real pressure on anyone else to “invade” an existing project. The result of this is that as a matter of psychology of editing, or as a matter of Wikiversity culture, people tend to respect and leave alone each other’s contributions much more than on Wikipedia. So on the one hand, if you are worried that others will edit your resource beyond all recognition before your class actually takes place, do not fear – it would be bad manners and rather unnecessary for someone to interfere in this way, and you can recover your original material easily from the “history” tab. On the other hand, you must nevertheless remain aware that there is no such thing as page-“ownership” on Wikiversity. If you leave your pet project alone for a long time and find that another teacher has moved in and changed it, then your choice is either to cooperate with them, or create a new parallel project and put your old material there (which you can recover from the project “history” tab).

see also: Wikiversity:Original_research#Page_protection

If you’re someone who’s heard of open educational resources and learning objects, then you can certainly think of learning projects as the unit of organisation at Wikiversity which is the best equivalent of a learning object. One day it may be possible to define metadata for Wikiversity learning projects, so that information about these learning objects can be shared with other OER projects.

Wikiversity:Learning projects

This page provides a general discussion about Wikiversity learning projects: their purpose, how to start and manage them, and how to support the learning goals of Wikiversity participants through the development of learning projects. To look over existing learning projects or start a new one please proceed to Portal:Learning Projects. For a conceptual overview of what some others believe learning projects to be please continue reading here.

A “learning project” is one of the primary units of which Wikiversity consists. Wikipedia has articles; Wikiversity has learning projects. But what is a learning project?

Anyone.

In practice, the participants at any one time are often members of a real-world class at a real-world educational institution. You don’t have to apply or register anywhere. If you are a teacher, you can simply go ahead without any further permission and create a learning project. If you are a student, you can join any learning project without restriction.

In theory, any of the following variants might occur (or variants not listed here):

What is significant about this is its openness. Schools and universities often set up Learning Management Systems or Virtual Learning Environments which are restricted in their membership. For example, in a typical Moodle installation, you need a password to enter the whole system, and probably further passwords to enter any particular course. Restrictions are everywhere in these kinds of learning environment. Wikiversity does not have restrictions on participation – not even on course creation!

The principle of openness means that as a teacher, you can’t actually stop anyone joining your course. In other words, there is no such thing as an uninvited participant, because everyone is invited. Normally surprise guests are unusual and everyone is very well-mannered, though, and you aren’t obliged to actively teach everyone who joins. If you find you have some surprise participants, please remember the wiki-principles of assume good faith and don’t bite the newcomers. If an uninvited participant becomes disruptive, you should ask a custodian to help (see request custodian action). Custodians have administrative powers that can prevent disruption, but it is rare that their action is needed.

Possible question: I’ve read all this stuff so far, and it seems I can just jump in here and use Wikiversity to set up some pages to organize and teach my own class. Surely this is hardly in the interest of a global project like Wikiversity? Surely there must be some kind of limitation on my exploitation of Wikiversity’s resources?

Answer: of course you can jump in and do your own class stuff here!

The reason why this helps the world at large is a piece of deep, subtle and somewhat speculative wiki-wisdom, however. The theory of wiki-dom looks at the very long-term effects and fate of the learning resources you create. At first, a new resource may be so specific and particular in terms of time, place and people, that it is of absolutely no use to the wider world whatsoever. Your resource may only be used by you for a few weeks (the time); its content pretty well limits it to your own lesson planning and classroom events (place); and the people involved may not extend outside your class (and people). However, unlike a non-wiki webpage, others can come after you and find the resources you have left behind. Rather than reinventing the wheel, they may re-purpose your resources to save themselves time. During the process of repurposing, it is likely that the universality (wider usefulness) of the resource may increase by a small, perhaps almost insignificant amount. The universality will tend to increase, because the resource has now been used on two occasions in different times, places and by different people. Of course, each time the repurposing occurs, the universality may not increase much, or may even sometimes decrease. But in the long run, the resource will incrementally become more valuable and of more universal appeal. This is something which is scarcely visible at the beginning, or not at all visible. But it is the theory of the wiki.

Funnily enough, pretty much the first thing that happens in any learning project is for the learners to learn how to edit the wiki. Whether it’s a learning project on astrophysics, microbiology, principles of corporate accounting or witchcraft 101, in most real-world situations most of the class may not yet know how to edit a wiki. Don’t let the necessity of this put you off as a teacher. You don’t have to bring wiki-house-trained students here – you can bring entirely novice wiki-editors as well.

There are two basic approaches to teaching wiki-editing: the sandbox approach, and the task-orientated approach. Both can be applied together. The sandbox approach involves setting up a subpage where participants are free to do anything at all (see here for the general Wikiversity:Sandbox). The task-orientated approach involves giving a series of simple editing tasks, escalating in difficulty. A good idea is to reserve part of your learning project for these purposes – use one or more subpages.

Borrowing from other projects: as almost all learning projects have to face this same challenge, it’s worth scouting out other learning projects to see how they do it. Borrow and modify their resources freely to save time creating your own.

Custodians and the wiki-illiterate: if you’re planning on bringing dozens of completely uninitiated students onto Wikiversity for their first editing lesson, you don’t need to ask anyone! You can go ahead just like that. On the other hand, it’s advisable to find and tell some custodians what’s going on. Custodians are like your local IT department handymen, who try to keep things vaguely shipshape. They wander around Wikiversity, helping or tidying up messes. A custodian who finds a bunch of clueless and rather randomly editing students will always try to be helpful, but may help wrongly if s/he doesn’t know what you’re planning. It’s a good idea, as a teacher, to create an account for yourself at Wikiversity, and then contact some active custodians in advance of your first and most chaotic lessons. They can then help your students find the right “room” (pages) and even help when they make their first mistakes. See: custodians.

Once your students know what they’re doing, it’s mainly a matter of your imagination how you adapt the MediaWiki editing environment to your teaching needs. Experimentation is positively encouraged.

A non-exhaustive list of standard ideas: discussions, reports, resource preparation, web research and link hunting; formal learning from text segments (reading tasks); listening and video tasks (both creation and reception). In the area of interactive learning, Wikiversity has a quiz extension for you to make a large variety of quizzes from.

Wikiversity doesn’t track learner progress or performance in the same way that a full-blown Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) does. Nor does Wikiversity formally or programmatically distinguish roles such as “teacher” or “student”. In a VLE you may be able to see which resources a student has used, how often they were present, what grades they achieved on interactive tasks, and combine all this together into a grade. None of this currently exists on Wikiversity. Even quiz results are only viewable temporarily on the user’s screen.

Related learning projects are grouped into Schools and Portals. There are major Wikiversity portals that provide user-friendly introductions to groups of Wikiversity schools that are related by their common subjects of study. There is also a guide to existing learning projects at the learning project portal.

The main requirement for starting a learning project is a sense of adventure and boldness.

One of the more difficult things you have to do at the start will be to think of an appropriate title, and then fasten the new project into Wikiversity’s existing hierarchy of schools and departments.

See: naming conventions (out of date?)

There is an important distinction here between Wikipedia and Wikiversity: generally, Wikipedia has only one article for any particular topic and if two articles are created by accident, they will be merged. Wikiversity, however, does not adhere to this principle of exclusivity; Wikiversity can have any number of learning projects on the same topic. Ten introductions to knitting are just as valid and acceptable as one. As a matter of good practice, looking for ways to integrate with or communicate between similarly themed learning projects would be good. If an existing learning project hasn’t been edited for a long time, you could also take it over and re-purpose it, rather than creating a new one alongside. It may be a good idea to search for an existing project with a similar theme before starting a new one. There is also the practical matter that it is impossible to create two pages with the same title, so your title will have to be slightly different from any existing project.

In the course of time, Wikiversity hopes to be able to offer a selection of templates or boilerplate to get you started with a learning project. So far we only have this: the only boilerplate so far, and you should feel free to do something quite different from this.

In principle, no wiki page belongs to any particular user, other than your own account page and its subpages. A learning project is a public good. At Wikipedia, this community ownership concept is very obvious and visible, but at Wikiversity the practice, if not the theory, is subtly different.

In the field of open educational resources, the creation of an educational resource generally requires more time and expertise, and the result tends to be rather more personal than an encyclopedia article. In addition, because parallel projects on the same topic are permitted, there is no real pressure on anyone else to “invade” an existing project. The result of this is that as a matter of psychology of editing, or as a matter of Wikiversity culture, people tend to respect and leave alone each other’s contributions much more than on Wikipedia. So on the one hand, if you are worried that others will edit your resource beyond all recognition before your class actually takes place, do not fear – it would be bad manners and rather unnecessary for someone to interfere in this way, and you can recover your original material easily from the “history” tab. On the other hand, you must nevertheless remain aware that there is no such thing as page-“ownership” on Wikiversity. If you leave your pet project alone for a long time and find that another teacher has moved in and changed it, then your choice is either to cooperate with them, or create a new parallel project and put your old material there (which you can recover from the project “history” tab).

see also: Wikiversity:Original_research#Page_protection

If you’re someone who’s heard of open educational resources and learning objects, then you can certainly think of learning projects as the unit of organisation at Wikiversity which is the best equivalent of a learning object. One day it may be possible to define metadata for Wikiversity learning projects, so that information about these learning objects can be shared with other OER projects.

Submitted by: Sofia Caster

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US novelist Tom Clancy dies at age 66

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 

The bestselling US novelist Tom Clancy died yesterday in a hospital in Baltimore, according to his publisher. The sixty-six year old is best known for a series of novels themed around espionage, military affairs and geopolitical intrigue, many of which have been adapted into movies and video games.

The Hunt for Red October, Clancy’s first novel, sold over five million copies and was made into a movie with Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery. President Ronald Reagan described the novel as a “perfect yarn”. The protagonist of Red October, CIA analyst Jack Ryan, starred in a series of Clancy adventures featuring wars, terrorist attacks and international political power games. Ryan has been played by Harrison Ford and later Ben Affleck.

Seventeen of his twenty novels have reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list. In 2002, Forbes magazine estimated Clancy’s earnings at US$47.8m. His final novel, Command Authority, is to be published in December.