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How to Use Technology to Make a Better Workplace

How to Use Technology to Make a Better Workplace

In recent years, employers have offered more ways for employees to customize how they see their work environment. These extra features can often go a long way toward improving their productivity and comfort in the office, but they are often held in check by the problems that such technology can create. A smart office was created with the purposes of keeping these technological shortcomings from crippling employee productivity.

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No More Pencils, No More Books: Technology in Education

No More Pencils, No More Books: Technology in Education

In a world that is increasingly centered around technology, it is becoming more important that there is a familiarity with this technology in the younger generations. This is a major reason that many educational institutions are taking strides to adopt and encourage the use of technology in the classroom from an early age. As a result, there have also been some observable benefits.

Technology in K-12
Again, the world is more reliant on technology than ever before, with no indication that this reliance will decrease - or even stop increasing - anytime soon. This means it is only more important for students to be introduced to technology early and taught to use it for productive, practical applications.

More immediately, education technology carries with it numerous potential benefits for both educators and those being educated.

  • Personalized Approach - Any educator worth their salt will tell you that the methods needed to teach one child can be (and almost definitely are) vastly different than the approach it takes to properly teach another - not to mention the differences in progress that can be seen in just about every classroom between the students. Technology can be used to not only assess each student’s progress, but also to customize their experience so they can progress at a rate that suits their learning style.

    Speaking of their learning style, technology also enables each student to learn they way that they are best suited to as an individual. Again, programs can evaluate the most effective way to teach a particular student and present the material in that format. This also helps the student feel more in control of their own education, and thereby invested in it, motivating them to work harder and learn more.
  • Improved Insights and Data - One of the most important parts of teaching is to identify if a classroom isn’t effectively progressing as they should be, and why. Educational technology can contribute to that end by providing data into the precise places that their students are encountering difficulty in their work. This information could allow teachers to adjust their lessons and address the true pain points that students have, rather than relying on them to raise their hands and ask.
  • Increased Responsibility of the Student - Students require engagement in order to effectively learn, something that teachers find it increasingly difficult to provide with swelling class sizes and a corresponding decrease in the time that can be spent with each of their pupils. Again, thanks to the personalization and independence that technology can supplement their education with, a student doesn’t necessarily require as much direct attention from their teacher to learn. This allows a teacher to direct their focus to those students who may still need additional, one-on-one assistance.

    Furthermore, entrusting devices to students encourages them to be more responsible. Those in younger grades can be taught concepts of respecting possessions (especially those that don’t belong to them), while older students can be taught the importance of safe and responsible technology usage.
  • Skill Development and Cooperation - The purpose of education is to prepare children for their lives as adults, to practice learning so they will have the skills they need to adapt more efficiently to new circumstances and responsibilities in the future. As mentioned before, the world is increasingly tech-reliant, so a familiarity with the concepts of technology is going to be crucial for students later on in their lives. Furthermore, the world is also a highly collaborative place, so allowing students to leverage technology now to practice using it to work together only prepares them better for the expectations of adult life.

Collegiate Technology Use
Of course, technology has also taken a much larger role in colleges and universities, as evidenced first and foremost by the existence of online degree programs. However, this is by no means the extent of technology use at this level. Many schools now manage the majority of their student affairs online, from submitting assignments through email and online portals to signing up for classes. This has all led to college being much more accessible for many, as physical distance or other responsibilities no longer have to stand in a potential student’s way.

Is It Enough?
While it may be easy to view education technology as a means of minimizing a teacher’s role in the classroom, perhaps to ultimately replace it, many teachers see it in a very different light. In fact, the biggest criticisms are made for a very different reason: many educators are concerned that the solutions being developed aren’t fulfilling their real needs.

Educators across the United States have spoken out, stating that developers and designers are creating educational tools that aren’t effectively addressing the real shortcomings that educators are experiencing. However, rather than simply casting criticism, these educators are also calling for an open dialogue so that the solutions that they really need can be created.

For instance, when considering the needs of education, the administrative side of things is easily overlooked. A means of digitizing student records or ensuring compliance to special education standards would also be a huge benefit to a district.

What Comes Next?
As with anything, education will continue to evolve as new technologies are released, and teachers and students alike will have to adapt. Of course, some things will stay the same - as one teacher said, “My Chromebook wasn’t charged,” has become the new “My dog ate my homework.” There is going to be a definite learning curve, so to speak, but as educational technology becomes more the norm and improves, education will likely improve with it.

If you would like your business to be better prepared for the up and coming tech-savvy workers of tomorrow, reach out to Infradapt.

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Where You May be Seeing More AI Soon

Where You May be Seeing More AI Soon

The notion of artificial intelligence has played out in fiction, on the silver screen, and on the small screen for decades. Instead of having sentient cyborgs that enslave humanity, people are using A.I for our benefit. Today, we take a look at the A.I. of 2018 and how your business can leverage it for your benefit.

What is Artificial Intelligence
Today’s world is filled with data. All the experiences and thoughts humans have produced over centuries have provided somewhat of a record of what is expected from A.I. After all, if humans are going to replace workers with machines, ensuring they can do the jobs as (or more) efficiently is going to be important. For now, however, A.I. is being utilized in conjunction with people--trying to make our world better by making the applications and services we depend on more intuitive and efficient.

At one time there were the American Titans of Industry. Today we have Titans of Technology, and not one of them isn’t completely fascinated by the practical applications that artificial intelligence (in some fashion) can have for humanity. The thing standing in the way from all this glorious A.I.-fueled innovation, of course, is humanity. It seems every so often there is a report that is written suggesting that millions of workers can now be replaced with machines, and in the interest of shareholder profits, any business that has been able to leverage A.I. and increase its profitability has gone ahead and done so, often against public sentiment.

One study predicted that 47 percent of all jobs could be automated by 2033. That’s only 15 years off. If you’re looking for some current statistics, another report found in 2016 that up to nine percent of all workers are now unnecessary. Yet another suggested that 800+ of the largest businesses in the world, will cut between four and seven percent of their workforce and replace them with more efficient and less costly artificially intelligent machines.

How Your Business Could Use A.I.
You use A.I. every day without even thinking about it. Every time you use Google. Every time you use Uber or Lyft. Every time your email sends an incoming email to spam. Even as people all look forward to an inevitable permanent vacation as a result of A.I., it can be extraordinarily useful for the smaller business. Here are three ways even the smallest of businesses can take advantage of the growing A.I. market.

  • Operations - For small manufacturers or service providers many of the often-redundant parts of the job can now be automated. Since an A.I.-fueled ERP or CRM platform adjusts to the data you enter into it, it increases the level of automation that you can use to make your business more efficient.
  • Marketing - Small businesses rely on very targeted marketing campaigns, and by utilizing A.I.-driven marketing platforms, companies can reduce their marketing costs and target the audience most likely to purchase their products and services.
  • Customer Service - Customer service representatives have a tendency to flame out fairly quickly and actually deteriorate a company’s relationships with its customers. By using A.I. to automate a big portion of the customer service load, customers will get better support, and will tend to become repeat customers.

How has your business been able to utilize artificial intelligence? Do you foresee using A.I. in any capacity going forward? Leave your thoughts below and return to our blog for more great technology-related information.

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Technology Addiction is a Very Real, Very Scary Thing

Technology Addiction is a Very Real, Very Scary Thing

Technology has become essential to workplace functionality and personal productivity, but while the long hours spent glued to our tech during the workday are a necessity, the time we spend at home with our personal devices is definitely voluntary. However, more and more people - children especially - are finding it harder to let their devices power down.

This is the hallmark of technology addiction, or Internet addiction disorder (IAD). While it isn’t yet officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), IAD caught the attention of health professionals in the 1990s and 2013 saw the addition of Internet Use Gaming Disorder to the DSM-5.

What Makes IAD a Problem
Many of the features and trends that are widely taken for granted in applications today - autoplay, in-app purchases, and even notifications - are actually undermining our self-control. Instead of being able to set down the device and move on to something else, these tactics have made it so that we feel compelled to compulsively check these devices.

After all, you never know what you may miss if you don’t check right now.

Of course, needing to use technology for work and being addicted to technology are two very different things, but that doesn’t change the fact that children and adults alike have increasingly presented the warning signs of this addiction in their personal lives. That’s right - as much as the attachment to technology has stereotypically been framed as a young person’s problem, it can affect adults just as easily.

In a poll, 66 percent of parents felt that their teens were investing too much time into using their mobile device. No real surprise there, right? However, the same poll measured that 54 percent of children believed that their parents were checking their own devices too frequently as well.

Symptoms of IAD
IAD has a few warning signs and symptoms that present themselves in the behavior and mood of the person affected. Repeatedly checking for incoming text messages or updates and excessive social media use are common behaviors to keep an eye out for in your loved ones, and possibly in yourself.

Those afflicted with IAD also frequently feel euphoric while using their technology, and when they aren’t, often feel restless. IAD sufferers are prone to social withdrawal and experience diminished interest in activities not centered around a gadget. Some schools have even implemented technology fasts, where students have gone without their precious devices for a week. Teachers have noted that these students often exhibit physical symptoms of anxiety while their devices aren’t accessible. Students will reach for a device that isn’t there, all the while shaking and sweating.

How to Reduce Addictive Tactics
Above, we mentioned how many modern applications have features that encourage this kind of pervasive presence and dependence. To avoid these affects, it is probably best that these features are deactivated for non-essential applications.

Notifications are some of the biggest culprits of encouraging persistent use, so if the information isn’t essential to your professional or personal life, you don’t need an app trying to get your attention. Ask yourself: do you really need to be informed that your energy has been refilled in that mobile game you play more than you should? At the very least, using the mute notifications feature will help keep your attention from being pulled away when it shouldn’t be.

Many of the same apps that spam you with notifications are also the ones that encourage users to make those tempting in-app purchases that give the user an edge, or more frequently, extend the amount of time you can use the app before you have to wait again. This is most common in the free versions of these applications, so if you insist on using the app, it is more economical in the long run to just bite the bullet and pay for the app itself.

What piece of technology can you not bear to be without? Share it with us in the comments.

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What is Nanotechnology, and How Can it Be Used?

What is Nanotechnology, and How Can it Be Used?

Technology is seemingly being made smaller and smaller. Just think about the size of the computers from the mid ‘90s until now. Sure, you can still buy huge a gaming PC with a four-foot tower with liquid cooling, or one that is a fish tank (complete with fake fish); but, the computer you use the most fits in the palm of your hand.

Nanotechnology is the smallest “technology” yet. At its core, it’s a manipulation of the smallest elements of matter, measured in nanometers. Consider that your fingernails grow at about a rate of a nanometer per second, or that a single molecule of water is about a quarter of a nanometer across, and it will give you an idea just how small a nanometer is. It is quite literally one-billionth of a meter.

That’s really the start. Nanotechnology deals with anything in that arena that measures between 1 and 100 nanometers, and largely consists of the engineering of structures that function inside or alongside nature’s nanomachine, cells.

How Is This Technology?
It really is a true combination of science, engineering, and technology. To answer the question, engineers are currently at work attempting to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors that could be used to adjust the practical uses of every material of the physical world. You could make structures stronger, cure disease, and alter matter at the subatomic level. If that’s not technology, I don’t know what is.

When semiconductor manufacturers create the latest and greatest processors or microprocessors for use in a myriad of devices, they measure their nodes in nanometers. Today, these manufacturers are working on the five nanometer chip--a feat thought impossible by many - until IBM announced they had developed one. If DNA is only two nanometers across, we may only be a short time until machines will fit everywhere.

Why Don’t People Know About It?
Nanotechnology is in its relative infancy. In 2017, Dr. George Tulevski of IBM spoke to the challenges the field faces going forward. His perspective was that nanotechnology development and research actually has slowed since the 1980s. In the same TED Talk, he opined that the use of carbon nanotubes could potentially improve computing tenfold, but the development of this technology is just in its early stages.

Is This Technology a Good Thing?
With people today only having a limited understanding of the technology, there aren’t a lot of trustworthy opinions on the issue. Intellectia even seem hedged about the applications of nanotechnology. On one hand, theoretically it could do more than any other technology to help the human race. On the other, any technology made from wonder, and with benevolent intentions, can also be manufactured for malevolent use. Like with other contemporary technologies such as artificial intelligence, researchers will have to move slowly and not let potential profits influence their release of products involving nanotechnology.

Do you consider nanotechnology to be interesting? Would you like to see how far this rabbit hole goes, or should we as a people leave well enough alone? Leave your thoughts in our comments section below, and return to read more great technology blogs from Infradapt.

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