Software testing professionals working in office

Robot Framework – Things You Must Know About

Things you need to know about Robot Framework are listed as a Question & Answer session

It is quite sure that we dreamed of building and operating or simply operating a robot at some point in our lives. With that dream or its remnants subtly embedded in our consciousness, the term robot framework may like a framework that helps you build or operate robots. Isn’t it? However, this is not the case, the term has nothing to do with any robot, although it sounds similar.
This framework has a certain amount of automation involved, which allows developers to develop and set automatic tests for testing their complex computing solutions. Although popular, this concept still stirs doubts in minds of professionals who may be considering QA Analyst as a career option or those who may be planning to pursue this course.

Question and Answers on Robot Framework

Wally Tauriac, one of the popular trainers on Robot Framework Test Concepts and a Software Engineer and Test Analyst for over 40 years of experience with several fortune 500 companies, sheds light on the importance of this framework and its implementation benefits in an online interview with Ben Xavier, CTO, Guruface.com.

Ben Xavier: What is Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: Robot Framework is an open-source automation test tool. It integrates with some common tools, such as Selenium, Appium, SAPGUI, Excel, and Python. These tools enhance its ability to provide a robust test framework for different application platforms.

 

Ben Xavier: How do you use a Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: Robot Framework is an open-source automation test framework tool. It uses the keyword-driven testing technique approach for its process design. Its capabilities can be extended by the integration of test libraries, such as, Selenium which is implemented by either Java or Python.
Robot Framework has its own set of Libraries known as standard libraries. But Selenium provides a library that can be referenced by a Robot Framework. The diagram above is a sample of a simple Robot Framework test script. The second line demonstrates an import of the Selenium library. The keywords OPEN BROWSER and CLOSE BROWSER come from the Selenium Library. Execution of this Robot Framework script would launch the Chrome browser and link to the home page of the Google website, and then the browser would close. A test results report is automatically generated.
Ben Xavier: How do I use Robot Framework in Excel?
Wally Tauriac: Excel is one of the test libraries that integrates with the Robot Framework test tool. The Excel library provides Robot Framework keywords that support reading, writing, and updating Excel and comma-delimited (CSV) files. The design of the Robot Framework supports the use of the Excel library keywords to process Excel data in a type of function called Suite Setup.
Figure 1 below is a graphic example of potential Robot Framework files that make up a script. The test case file is the main process, and then the Resource files can be called or imported by the main process. The resource files support browser actions, variable definitions, and reusable functions, respectively. In Figure 2 you can see that the variable and test functions can be replaced with Excel Sheets to support and control data management.

graphic example of potential Robot Framework files that makeup a script
Figure 1
In Robot Framework variable and test functions can be replaced with Excel Sheets to support and control data management
Figure 2

Figure 3 can be useful in appreciating a graphic picture of several Robot Framework test component file combinations. The green boxes represent the main test case file. The blue boxes represent resource files providing reusable data for Robot Framework execution. The red box is where one or more Excel test sheets are invoked to drive the testing. Then each row of the main sheet describes a test case for Robot Framework to process.

A graphic representation of several Robot Framework test component file combinations.

Figure 3

Ben Xavier: How do you open the Robot Framework RIDE?
Wally Tauriac: First, RIDE stands for Robot Framework IDE. This is a tool known as the RF integrated development environment to implement automated tests for the Robot Framework using a GUI editor.
To open or launch RIDE requires launching Windows Explorer. Go to the folder where the RIDE is installed. Locate the executable and Right-click, and then select ‘Send To’ Desktop to create a shortcut. Once a shortcut is created on the desktop RIDE can be launched by double-clicking the icon. Otherwise, you would need to double-click the executable from within Windows Explorer.
When the tool is launched it will look something like the diagram below.

Screenshot of RIDE tool launched

When a new test case is requested, the screen shown in the diagram above appears. From here a Robot Framework script can be defined. The minimum is to specify Robot Keyword statements where the line numbers appear. Otherwise, more Robot Framework functionality can be utilized by defining setup and teardown code that can be processed before and after general code at the line numbers.
For those of you who are used to high-level IDE functionality, this is a good tool. I prefer to use the native Robot Framework coding features from a generic IDE like PyCharm for Robot Framework code development.

Ben Xavier: How to create a List in Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: Robot Framework supports scalar, list, and dictionary variables. Variable names consist of the variable type identifier ($, @, &, %), curly braces ({, }) and the actual variable name between the braces. A list variable starts with “@” with a variable name inside the braces. (e.g. @{vname})
Ben Xavier: How do I create a List in Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: Define a variable in the Variables section of an RF test case or resource file. An example of the syntax is: @{List} Item1, Item2, ItemX
The variable must have two spaces before the data assignment.
Sample definition and reference of Robot Framework List variables:
Robot-Framework-List-variables
Ben Xavier: How do you use RIDE Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: This editor is available with Robot Framework which helps in writing and executing test cases. The editor is easy to install and use. RIDE simplifies writing test cases by providing framework-specific code completion, and syntax highlighting. Creation of project, test suite, test case, keywords, variables, importing the library, executing, tagging the test case is easy to do in the editor.

Ben Xavier: How to run a Python Script in Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: Robot Framework was built using Python. So, it fits naturally with the Python environment. Python can be defined to run in Robot Framework. There are at least two approaches – a Run Process keyword or referencing Python internal function names.
The Run Process keyword is a simple keyword from the Robot Framework Process standard library. As an alternative, all function names in Python programs can be referenced within a Robot Framework script as keywords. This approach also requires a Resource reference in the SETTINGS section of a Robot Framework script.

Robot-Framework-settings-Resource-reference

Ben Xavier: How do you write Robot Framework test cases?
Wally Tauriac: There are two file types associated with Robot Framework scripts – the test case file and the resource file. The test case file is the main file and is sufficient for a Robot Framework script. The test case file contains up to four sections labeled: SETTINGS, VARIABLES, TEST CASES, and KEYWORDS.
Details writing the test cases depend on whether you are using RIDE or another editor, such as PyCharm. In general, it requires specifying some settings to import libraries and resources, identifying, and required variable definitions, specifying some keywords to indicate a process flow, and defining reusable functions to reference in the test case flow.

Robot Framework screenshot

As said before, a Robot Framework test case includes up to four sections: SETTINGS, VARIABLES, TEST CASES, AND KEYWORDS. The example below demonstrates three of the four sections. The SETTINGS section is referencing a library reference and a resource file reference. It also references two SUITE keywords which execute browser keywords to Open the browser at the beginning of the test run, and a Close browser at the end of the test run. Several variables are defined in the Variables section. The Test Cases section assigns a test case name Valid Login. The remaining keywords provide test functions for the test case.
Ben Xavier: How to write test cases in Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: To write a test case using RIDE, right-click on the project. Click New Test Case. Enter the name of the test case and click OK. There are three tabs shown for the test case created − Edit, Text Edit, and Run.
Otherwise, like PyCharm, under the project, you can create a robot file. Double-click to open it and begin defining the sections and then the settings, variables, test cases, and supportive keyword functions.
Ben Xavier: How do I read a file in Robot Framework?
Wally Tauriac: The Excel library for Robot Framework supports reading XLS, XLSX, and CSV file extensions. It contains the necessary keywords to process these files.
The most important keyword from the Excel Library is the OPEN EXCEL statement. In the Test Case file, it is important to provide a Library statement referencing DataDriver. If that statement references an Excel or CSV file, the DataDriver will automatically read each row or record in the file one at a time. Otherwise, the OPEN EXCEL statement can be referenced in a Robot Framework Resource file.

What’s Next?
If you are interested in learning the framework and its implementation, you may join the online course on Robot Framework offered by Wally Tauriac on the top-rated e-learning platform – Guruface.com. This course is specially designed for those who want to improve their knowledge in automated testing by employing various features and functions of Robot Framework and exploiting its ability to integrate with Python, Selenium, and Excel.

3 Ways Your Experience Can Help You Sell Your Services – Marketing Online Courses

Here are 3 ways you can help people gain from your experience, monetize your knowledge and skills.

1. Create an Expert Guide

Set up a website or a blog, pour all your years of experience into a nice content guide, and start promoting it on social media and other marketing channels. The first baby step (read: giant leap) you have to take is to create an awesome guide. Make it as simple and appealing as you can.

GuruFace Comment: Starting a blog where you talk about your experience is a great way build an audience and market your courses hosted at GuruFace.   You will need to update the blog approximately 3-5 times a week to keep people coming back to you. After setting up a blog the next step is to set up a social network centered on your blog (and courses at GuruFace). This means going on a creating accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, etc. Tools like Social Pilot, Buffer, and Hootsuite will enable you to efficiently distribute your blog content to social media, and soon you’ll be reaching many different audiences and promoting your courses.

2. Make Ebooks and Courses

 

It is very simple these days to make an ebook or design your own online training course for free. No matter what field you are in, you can address several audience pain points using ebooks and online courses. (highlight to tweet)

GuruFace Comment:  PDF ebooks are easily created on any computer you own.  Your ebook can be a syllabus outline with brief description of your courses at GuruFace.  Once created, you can share an ebook on your blog, in emails, and in social media. PDFs are readable on computers, tablet devices, and even smart phones.   Using an ebook as a very easy and inexpensive way to build your audience and database of people interested in your experience and courses hosted at GuruFace. Consider writing one to give to people for free and get your message out to people and introducing them to your courses at GuruFace.

3. Create Videos and Webinars

YouTube isn’t the only place where you can monetize your videos—you have Facebook, Vimeo, DailyMotion, at your disposal, too. Make a cool video once a week, and earn passive income for the rest of your life! How’s that for a working retirement plan?

GuruFace Comment: We have a GuruFace channel on Youtube and will absolutely promote your video wherein you’re describing your courses hosted at GurFace.  YouTube is the second largest search engine next to Google. This gives you a great opportunity to reach people interested in your experience and courses hosted at GuruFace. So if your training videos are on YouTube, people searching on YouTube, or regular Google search can find them.

 

Top 5 E-Learning Software Tools for Complete Online Teaching Course

Unplage.com writes: A proficient carpenter uses a set of tools to create frames for new houses, install kitchen furniture and do other important work to make the house of your dream. Building an e-Learning course is just like constructing a house: The right choice of tools determines the final result, and actually the future life of the people living in that house. Course authors, professional business trainers, and teachers use certain tools to develop courses and deliver them to end users. In this article you will learn about top 5 e-Learning software tools that will help you master your online teaching.

1 – Picture your idea with XMind

XMind

A clear plan that helps envision and develop your idea is the first key to building a successful course. Our brain works like a net and actively uses associations. With XMind you can build a chart that pictures your idea as it is. You just draw what’s on your mind.   Don’t forget about essential tools from the real world: a piece of paper and a pen. All great ideas start on paper. It’s also important to take pictures of your writings and drawings to keep them safe. Use a camera on your smartphone to save your sketches and keep them organized.

GuruFace comment: XMind is mind mapping, brainstorming, or presentation software. It enables you to capture ideas and manager information easily via productivity way. Depending powerful features, XMind will enable your teaching and courses alive and breathing, help you capture the bursts of inspiration that emerge during live on line discussions, and convey complex ideas simply.  We would encourage taking a look at it and Mindomo (online collaborative mind mapping and concept mapping software for visualizing and organizing information).

2 – Make notes with Evernote

Evernote

Creating a course always involves a lot of planning, which is often based on interaction with other people or departments within your organization. Use Evernote to create plans and to-do lists, and share them with colleagues. You can also make notes on images. Everything is stored in the cloud, so it’s available everywhere and on any device.

GuruFace comment: Evernote is a cross-platform, freemium app designed for note taking, organizing, and archiving.  The app allows users to create a “note” which can be a piece of formatted text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten “ink” note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notebooks can be added to a stack while notes can be sorted into a notebook, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, searched, and exported as part of a notebook.  Alternative to also look at would be Simplenote and OneNote.

3 – Edit your graphics with Paint.NET

Paint.NET

Every effective course should have creative and captivating images in it. Even if you are not a painter or designer, you have to work with images throughout the course creation. If you are not planning to spend over a thousand dollars on Photoshop, that’s fine, because you can use its free alternative, Paint.NET.   Use it for processing screenshots and other tasks. Similar to Photoshop, it allows you to work with layers, add text and draw objects. You can then save images in .png with transparency.

GuruFace comment: Paint.NET is the personification of what free software should be. The program is of a very high standard and features and automatic update facility so you can always be sure you are working with the latest version – and with a dedicated team of developers, updates are fairly frequent. The program has a large and active following, and there are a range of helpful hints, tips and tutorials to be found in the Paint.NET forums. This may well be the only image editor you ever need for your course development and design. Other free alternatives to consider would be Inkscape and Artweaver.

4 – Author your e-Learning content with iSpring Suite

iSpring Suite

Eventually, you’ll need an authoring tool to create a course. It will be the core of your online learning bundle. There are many tools on the market, and this one doesn’t require any additional training. With iSpring Suite, you can turn your PowerPoint presentations into professional training courses with tests, video narrations, screencasts, and interactive elements. iSpring HTML5 conversion technology preserves all the effects from your original .pptx file including transitions, complex animations, and triggers.   With the built-in QuizMaker tool, you can create complex assessments with up to 11 graded question types, plus utilize branching features and advanced scoring options.

GuruFace comment: iSpring Learn is an all-in-one e-Learning platform, complete with a cloud-based LMS and PowerPoint-based authoring tool. Create engaging rich media courses and quizzes and publish them directly to the LMS for instant delivery. Powerful user roles system lets you control access throughout the LMS for groups and organizations. Comments section for each course helps learners and instructors keep in touch. Detailed reporting system gives you deep insight into learners’ progress through the material.  Guruface would suggest reviewing the below video.

 

5 – Capture your screen with Camtasia

Camtasia

Use Camtasia for recording screen capture if you need some sort of descriptive video in your course. Not every course contains video capture or software simulations; however, they can make it more vivid and descriptive. Ask yourself: does anyone from your learners prefer video tutorials to written instructions?   As the founder of Khan Academy has said, video education has turned out to be more effective than face to face tutoring.

 

GuruFace comment: Camtasia is a software suote for creating video tutorials and presentations directly via screencast, or via a direct recording plug-in to Microsoft PowerPoint. The screen area to be recorded can be chosen freely, and audio or other multimedia recordings may be recorded at the same time or added separately from any other source and integrated in the Camtasia Studio component of the product. Both versions of Camtasia started as enhanced screen capture programs and have evolved to integrate screen capture and post-processing tools targeted at the educational and information multimedia development marketplace.  Alternatives to look at would be JingThis software is ideal for smaller projects, as the recording time is limited to 5 minutes. The program allows you to capture images or videos from your computer and then publish them on the web or save them at your desktop. Simply download the software for free and record tutorials or demos, and then share the link with your end users. The editing tools included offer text, highlighting, and annotation features. You also have the option to share your videos and images through instant messages, email, and social media sites.  And another alternative would be  EZVid, gives you the ability to record and edit screen captures, as well as upload your tutorial, demo, or video directly to YouTube. You can record a video up to 45 minutes in length, and features voice synthesis and slideshow creation tools. Note that this program is only available for Windows operating systems and you must have DirectX 9.0 or higher. Visit EZVid to download the program and start recording screen captures or creating high quality how-to videos for your audience.

All these tools can be used on the GuruFace online learning platform to create effective presentations and learning experiences.  If you have a question about anything mentioned, contact us at GuruFace and we’re happy to walk you through the process. Alternatively, you can call us at +1-810-689-4878.

How to Add the Human Element to Online Learning

Rob Kelly for Faculty Focus writes: The online classroom can sometimes feel like a lonely place due to a lack of presence of the instructor and other students. This lack of presence can negatively affect learning and lead to student attrition. Fortunately, some relatively simple measures can significantly add the essential human element to online courses. In an interview with Online Classroom, Jennifer Merrill, instructional designer at Salisbury University, offered some design and facilitation recommendations for ensuring a sense of presence in online courses.

Design considerations
When working with instructors to design an online course, Merrill often begins by asking, “How would you design this course for face-to-face delivery” and “What kinds of things might be missing if the course is to be taught online?”   Asking questions like these can help keep presence in mind during design. For example, if group work is an essential part of a face-to-face course, it should also be part of the design of the online course. And perhaps this could be supported by the use of synchronous tools or audio tools to provide opportunities for interaction that offers the nuances and presence of the face-to-face classroom.

GuruFace Comment:  The Guruface platform allows for an interactive experience in online learning for both the instructor and the student.  Students can “raise their hands” (so to speak) to ask questions during live online course delivery, instructors can answer, all students benefit and learn.

Merrill worked with a nursing instructor to create an activity that used VoiceThread (voicethread.com), a cloud-based application that enables users to record and embed audio comments to facilitate a conversation similar to one that would take place face-to-face. In this instance, a student began by posting a VoiceThread message that offered a diagnosis and treatment plan, and other students added to it and commented on it.

When designing an online course, it’s also important to be aware of students’ expectations based on their other media experiences. “Think about what television, media, and the Internet are doing right now to capture the attention of people. I think we have to tap into that kind of thing by adding things such as short videos and small chunks of information. … It’s not entertainment, but I think the audience now feels like they have to have a certain amount of visual stuff going on. They’re geared toward finding whatever information they need right now. It has to be searchable. You have to think about what’s going to be eye-catching and not by just adding a little clip art.

Videos can create the presence. These can range from a simple five-minute welcome video to lecture capture. (If an instructor is camera-shy, Merrill recommends using an avatar along with an audio recording of the instructor’s voice.)   Other videos can create a sense of presence as well, Merrill says. A message with a link to an appropriate YouTube or Khan Academy video can add presence without any need for you to create the videos yourself. Using narrated PowerPoint presentations is another relatively simple way to convey presence.

 

GuruFace Comment: You can find most GuruFace instructors online at the GuruFace YouTube site giving and introduction and outline of their courses.

Feedback
Feedback is an essential way to convey presence. You can offer feedback in many different ways. Here are some that Merrill recommends:

  • Discussion board messages—Participate in the discussion board once a week to let students know that you are there, being careful not to drive the conversation but rather to provide feedback and perhaps ask questions.
  • Email—Send individual students emails to compliment them and comment on their work.
  • VoiceThread—One of the options when using VoiceThread is to create a second icon for the instructor called “feedback,” which indicates the type of message contained in the recording. This can be an effective way to indicate to students at a glance the number of times the instructor has provided feedback.
  • Announcements—When you find relevant resources, provide a link in the announcements section of the course, saying something like, “Here’s something I found recently. This is what we talked about in the discussion.” This is a clear indication that the instructor is active in the course.
  • Polls and surveys—Feedback does not have to be one way. Adding polls and surveys (about the learning experience and/or the content) can add a human element to the course. “I recommend checking in with students [with a poll or survey] once or twice a semester, asking them where they want to take the course. That makes it more personal,” Merrill says.
  • Take note of students’ interests and experiences—Use an icebreaker activity to gather student information that will be useful later in the course. What are your students’ work experiences? What knowledge do they have in their portfolios that you can tap into? One way to use this knowledge is to have students lead discussions on topics within their areas of expertise. “It makes it more personal and values their experience,” Merrill says.

All these tools and features are available on the GuruFace platform for both instructors and students!  The “Human Element” is very important in online learning and this brings forward the advantage GuruFace offers over Udemy and other platforms.  At GuruFace both instructors and students can take advantage of  prerecorded courses and live online learning, we offer the best of both worlds, learn more at GuruFace!

Teach Online | How To Sell More Online Courses

We recently came across a useful website called “eCourseDomination.com” where Tim Cooper offers insight and guidance on how to develop and sell courses online. Recently he interviewed  John Thompson who  created his own line course titled, “SpringFramework.guru” site in January 2015 and started out sharing free content and courses as he continued to work on his ‘definitive’ spring framework course.   Tim  Cooper explores how John Thompson transformed his courses to a profitable venture. Tim Cooper writes, [in reference to John Thompson]  “However, after listening to the Online Course Coaching podcast along with other podcasts on the topic, John restructured his approach and published a number of smaller courses and made over $3,000 in January 2016.

When it comes to creating his online courses, John, as an expert in his field really has to step back and concentrate on teaching the basics. What seems glaringly obvious to him is still unknown to the student, so care must be taken to ensure all required learning is included in the course. John says becoming an online course creator is a lot of work. There are a number of skill sets you need to acquire (or outsource), setting up a website, creating content, SEO, email lists, marketing lists, the tasks seem endless and time-consuming.

Creating free, quality content has been the primary driver of traffic to John’s website along with careful attention to search engine optimization.

The next step was setting up an opt-in to a newsletter. John was building his audience before he built his course. He had a list of people to market to once his courses were released. John has a free course which he offers as a lead magnet and finds a good number of students who sign up for his free online course happily enrol into his paid courses. By breaking his course up into smaller units, John found that firstly he could complete a course and get it to market and secondly students are more willing to purchase smaller courses.

It all comes down to “One problem, one solution”. Ideally, each course should be short and concentrate on proving a solution to a very specific problem.

[END]

Tim Cooper offers a course on Udemy sharing insights on how to create an online course titled,  “Creating Successful Online Courses: Expert Interview Series” that’s worth taking a look at, in addition to offering a helpful Podcast at his site eCourseDomination.com. We agree for teachers and instructors interested in developing a business online there are a number of skill sets you need to acquire (or outsource), setting up a website, creating content, SEO, email lists, marketing lists, and more. This is where GuruFace brings teachers and instructors tremendous value as we’ll handle the website, SEO, help you with the marketing list in addition to supporting all your e-commerce and merchandising needs and goals. GuruFace is your partner in creating an online teaching and training business where you can offer both live and prerecorded courses to paying learners all over the world.

5 E-Learning Trends to Watch in 2016 – How GuruFace Supports Courses, Instructors, & Students

Jay Malcom for Business2Community writes: Our top trends for 2016 are a collection of new and not-so-new (but reaching critical mass) developments in eLearning. Let’s take a look.

  • Growth of Mobile – We’ve noted the growth of mobile as a significant trend for awhile now, but we expect it to continue in 2016. It’s reached a point where clients simply expect the solutions we create for them work seamlessly on mobile devices, and our dev team has responded by taking a “mobile-first” approach. Look for mLearning solutions to become more robust and powerful in the new year.

GURUFACE COMMENT: GuruFace offers a mobile ready responsive layout for both instructors and students. You are free to use the device of your choice in the format of your choice; phone or tablet (android or iOS),  notebook or desktop PC (all browsers).

  • Augmented Reality – Some brands have already started delivering powerful experiences using augmented reality, largely in marketing applications. To put this in a learning context, imagine having a performance support tool that walks someone through completing a task, step-by-step. You can do that on a tablet or smartphone with all kinds of multimedia – checklists, photos, videos and more. Now imagine a multidimensional replica of the exact task the person is working on appearing right in front of them, and imagine they can interact with it not with a tablet, but hands-free with something like Google Glass. We’re still very early in the adoption of augmented reality, but the possibilities are endless and intriguing.

GURUFACE COMMENT: Very slick and we look forward to the adoption of “augmented reality” in practice.  This is an “emerging technology” and as of today not used in course delivery widely.  If you’re interested in seeing demonstrations of “Augmented Reality” in use visit Envision by clicking here.

  • Big Data – 2016 may be the year of data and analytics in the e-learning space. More organizations are creating long-term learning strategies and employee development is becoming a source of competitive advantage, not only in terms of product/service delivery but in employee recruitment. If we aren’t using data in a strategic way to close the loop between learning programs and business outcomes, learning strategy is greatly hindered. Look for greater reliance on third-party data analysis and reporting tools or in-house data analysts this year.

GURUFACE COMMENT:  Guruface serves all instructors on the GuruFace platform Google Analytics reports daily. At GuruFace you can employ the full spectrum of analytic marketing practices and tactics to grow your business. You’ll be able to review activity, measure, apply adjustments in your marketing, and improve your performance.

  • Cloud Solutions – Cloud-based learning management systems have been on the rise for several years, but we’re expecting 2016 to mark a major milestone in the rate of adoption. LMS users are becoming wise to the many advantages of using a cloud-based system over one that’s locally installed. We’ll be watching to see whether the benefits can outweigh the switching costs that some learning teams are struggling with.

GURUFACE COMMENT: GuruFace is cloud based but more than a standard LMS (Learning Management System).  GuruFace is a complete business growth platform for instructors that includes the full spectrum of e-commerce capabilities, digital marketings, and large scale live online training features.

  • Wearables – It’s hard to say exactly how wearable tech will impact learning this year. It’s still early in the product lifecycle, but smartwatch wearers are already receiving emails, text messages and app notifications on their wrist, which could already impact learning delivery and follow-up. Will learning content be designed for smartwatch consumption, embedding learning even deeper in the workflow than an iPad? Time will tell.

GURUFACE COMMENT: As of today neither GuruFace or any other online course providers is employing teaching with “Google Glasses” for example with course delivery. We are well aware this is being done at many Universities and Research Centers around the world. Look for this offering from GuruFace in 2017 at the earliest.

 

3 Challenges Online Education Helps Adult Learners Overcome

Darwin Green for US News World Report writes: After a long and difficult decision, I decided to return to college after a 12-year gap between my sophomore and junior years.

Things had changed since I had been to college, both for me and in education. I now had a pregnant wife and bills to pay – something I never had to consider as a young man in my early 20s. And an undergraduate degree somehow became the new high school diploma. I needed a way to find financial security while maintaining my responsibilities as a father, a husband and as an adult. I decided to apply to an online education program.

As an adult, I found there are three advantages of online degrees:

1. Online school provides flexibility in the face of other responsibilities: As a freshman and sophomore in college, I could schedule classes during the day without worrying about fitting in other things around them. Then, I would probably show up late because of parking or just because I didn’t feel like it.

Life as an adult presents a lot more challenges and results in more serious consequences when not meeting deadlines. Getting bad grades in school could make job prospects more difficult, but losing a job can potentially result in homelessness. The time investment made for work often makes going back to school as an adult more difficult.

Some online programs offer asynchronous learning, where a student meets deadlines on their own time. This gives adult learners the flexibility that many brick-and-mortar schools don’t offer.

As an online student, it becomes easier to prioritize my life. I can ensure that my son gets all the attention he deserves while filling in the rest of my time with school, part-time work and other duties.

2. Online school removes the stigma of being older: When I decided to return to college, I realized I had become an “adult learner.” This meant that I had not graduated from college in my early 20s, when many thousands of people had.

Not having a degree in my early 30s often drew a sneer from adults who expected more than just charm, charisma and a resume with only work experience. This caused me embarrassment, but the embarrassment of being the oldest “kid” in the class almost prevented me from returning.

In the virtual world, students can more easily hide their age. In fact, in the online environment, it seems like older students make up a larger percentage of the classroom than in brick-and-mortar colleges.

3. Adults can attend distant campuses: Not every adult can pack up their belongings and move into a dormitory. I’d rather attend college from home as an adult than move cross-country, away from my family, and live in a dorm room with kids two-thirds my age blaring pop music while I try to sleep or study.

The thought of having to bunk with kids on campus or look for apartments nearby with younger roommates prevented me from returning to college. Online school removes the need for relocation and allows adults to attain educational goals from around the globe.

The takeaway: The virtual world of the online campus stems from home, and adults can resume or maintain their lives while reinventing their futures through online school.

How Technology Is Disrupting Education And The Opportunity For Brands

Aaron Paquette writes:   As the growing student debt crisis painfully highlights, the cost of a traditional college education has become very burdensome for many students and new grads. It’s just a matter of time before a startup comes in and disrupts the sector, in the same way Uber did with the taxicab industry.

In fact, this disruption has already begun with the rise of startups in the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) space. The MOOC company Coursera is leading the charge, alongside TutorGroup (for learning English), 2U (for getting universities online) and General Assembly (teaching coding skills online). In a few years, more students will use MOOCs and pursue higher education online without the burden of high tuition fees and living costs associated with traditional education.

If you’re a university or a college institution, this disruption will directly impact you. To remain relevant, universities need to develop an understanding of the empowered student—not just from a technological perspective, but also of their motivations and wants. Post-secondary institutions need to engage with students and use their feedback to shape how they do business.

But this disruption doesn’t just impact post-secondary institutions. This disruption will impact the way all companies engage with both teen employees and customers. Companies need to think of ways of supporting the online education revolution now and consider how it can help them better serve their young employees and customers. Here are three ideas on how your company can do just that.

1. Promote continuing education among employees. 

More companies are giving their workforce opportunities to go back to school. Starbucks is offering its College Achievement Plan through a partnership with the University of Arizona. This move helps attract and retain employees while giving them the education they need to become managers and executives someday. Anthem and Fiat Chrysler offer similar programs, while many other blue-chip employers offer generous tuition reimbursement programs.

These programs promote a sense of lifelong learning among team members, and they result in powerful buzz for the company. (Starbucks has received an enormous amount of positive PR after announcing its free-college program.) To ensure the success of these programs, companies should talk to their teen employees and explore how they could support their workforce’s education in a way that also benefits the business.

2. Create your own education programs.  

Some big companies like GE and Apple already have programs training employees about corporate culture and business management. But imagine if companies open up their programs to employees and customers.

Consider the example of Microsoft, a company that could sponsor a startup like General Assembly to provide coding classes. Or imagine if Disney provided MOOC animation courses, or if Chipotle sponsored supply-chain management courses. Like the Starbucks program, all of these offerings would result in positive publicity, associating the brand with learning and self-improvement. More importantly, it will build their brand with young people and potentially win them as long-term customers or employees.

3. Provide tools for communal learning.  

Brands don’t have to provide all of the educational content themselves; they can also provide a platform for those insights to be crowd-sourced. Today’s teens are used to learning from each other thanks to resources on YouTube and other social media sites. They “study” fashion, music, gaming and dating rites by learning from each other online, so why can’t the same principles be applied to more traditional academic disciplines?

Imagine if a struggling math student could reach out to peers for help on a Texas Instruments-sponsored community, or if a struggling finance student could do the same on a Citibank site. Companies should consider building online communities where this type of peer-to-peer learning could organically happen. For brands, there’s a market-research benefit too, since these conversations between teens is a potential source of insight into their target market.

While the traditional university system will probably be with us for quite some time, online learning is emerging as a strong complement to it and, in some cases, a replacement for those seeking a flexible, cost-effective education. The brands that tap into this revolution will be in a powerful position to win the loyalty of current and future employees and customers.

How Mobile Devices Have Made Studying Online Easier

Carol Trehearn for the Globaldispatch writes: Online learning already has a glowing reputation for being a more flexible alternative, as it allows students to schedule their own learning hours and doesn’t require travelling to physical classes on campus. In short, online learning can be done from sitting on your sofa, and there’s no need to change out of your pajamas and still earn a degree. However, the advancement of mobile technology is making online learning even easier, especially for those who live busy lives. Here are just some of the ways in which mobile devices can benefit online learning students.

When you sign up to an online learning program, it’s very likely that you will also be advised to download an app for your tablet or smartphone. By doing this, you will have access to all of your course materials wherever you are, providing that you have your device with you. As if being able to access everything you need for your studies from your home PC or laptop wasn’t enough, you can now load up any information that you need whilst on the go, so there’s no need to miss deadlines or be unable to check new work if you’re not at home.

Not only do most online learning schools have their own mobile applications which allow you to access course materials and work on the go, there are also a multitude of other applications that you can download on your smartphone or tablet which will be of use. Those studying an online learning course will be required to submit essays and other assignments, and these can easily be written by using the Microsoft Word app on a tablet or smartphone. This makes it easier for online learning students as they know that they are able to complete work wherever they are. Dictionary and thesaurus apps, calculator apps, and even medical apps which will benefit those studying online nursing programs from home are also available.

Gone are the days of having to schedule trips to the library and borrow books that need to be returned, or even going to a bookshop to search through thousands of stacked books for the textbook that you need. Thanks to mobile devices, millions of books are available at our fingertips, and can be downloaded and ready to read in just a few clicks. Online learning students are finding this increasingly useful as they are able to download a book to their device as and when they need it. Thanks to e-readers and e-reading apps such as Amazon Kindle, it’s also possible to read textbooks on the go meaning that online students don’t have to wait until they’re home or go to the library to look at their weekly reading list.

Are you, or have you been, a student enrolled in an online learning program? How did mobile devices benefit you, and which devices did you use the most? We’d love to hear from you – leave your response in the comments section below.