Five ways to make the most of your commute

Commuting can be a drag – especially if you are already running late, your train or bus is delayed, and there’s nowhere to sit down. However; for some people, their commute to and from work is their favourite time of day, mainly because they don’t see it as a waste of time, instead choosing to reclaim these moments as valuable ‘me time’. To help inspire you, try five benefits of maximising your daily commute, making it work best for you.

You can use your commute to learn

In 2018, time is one of our most precious commodities. It is difficult enough to balance the time you spend working and socialising, let alone anything else. Fortunately, your commute is the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into your interests, without having to carve out time specifically for this. Whether you want to know more about politics, history, science or just gain some insights into improving personal relationships, this is the time to get it done!

You can improve your mental health

Commuting might seem like an odd time for focusing on your mental wellbeing, but arguably, it is the perfect opportunity to set yourself up for the day ahead or to decompress after a long day’s work. The better you are at looking after your mind, the happier and more relaxed you will be. Mindfulness is a great technique to try out on your commute and there are plenty of sensations to focus on. No idea where to start? I suggest giving Search Inside Yourself by Chade Meng-Tan, or Meditation for Fidgety Sceptics by Dan Harris a read or listen, to get yourself started.

See also: What is learning in ‘blinks’ and why you should do it

Maximising your time prepares you for the day ahead

Perhaps a more obvious one, but you can use your commuting time to prepare yourself for the day ahead. Mentally check your to-do list, think of your priorities for the day and if you have a meeting first thing – take time to figure out what you want to discuss and the questions you want to ask. Doing this on your commute means that you won’t waste any time at the start of the day, making you more productive and efficient as you go about your day.

Listening to podcasts while travelling makes you open to new ideas

If you like to spend your commuting time listening to podcasts, then congratulations, you are already spending this time wisely. Listening to podcasts makes you more aware of the opinions and ideas of others, whether the hosts are discussing science, comedy or politics. Being aware of the perspectives of others is likely to make you a better listener, as well as more accepting of others. If you haven’t listened to any podcasts yet, I’d suggest Simplify, a podcast which hosts amazing authors, discussing anything from productivity, through to sex and happiness.

You can teach yourself to be more comfortable in your own company

Lastly, commuting is the perfect opportunity to just be in your own company (mentally, at least!). If your day-to-day life is all about meetings, conversations, kids and socialising, these moments of quiet can help you focus on yourself, your needs, your interests and anything else you might have neglected in the last couple of weeks. Make a concerted effort to leave your phone in your bag or pocket, so you’re not tempted to scroll mindlessly through social media, and spend time with your own thoughts, working out what you need to do, and not to do, to feel more relaxed and at ease.


Ben Hughes is Head of Content at micro-learning platform and app Blinkist

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The films and TV series to help English speakers learn a foreign language

We all know that book-learning can only take you so far when it comes to learning a language. The real challenge (and even fun!) comes when you start applying it to real life scenarios. One way to ease yourself into applying all your hard-earned language skills is by watching foreign films and TV series.

By virtue of being something that you can pause and rewind, both films and series are great for helping both new and experienced language learners alike ‘get their ear in’ to the different tones and speeds of language, as well as helping you learn a little slang and cultural knowledge along the way!


  1. Skam (TV Series) – This is a great watch for those who want easy and everyday conversations. Based on the daily lives of Norwegian teenagers, watching this TV series is a great way to pick up slang and other cultural insights.
  1. Frikjent (TV Series) – If you’ve picked up on the Nordic Noir obsession, then this is the one for you. Centred around a businessman who returns to his Norwegian hometown, this intrigue-fuelled crime drama is great for language learners as the characters often repeat the crime and mystery at hand to different members within their community. If at first you don’t succeed, this TV series lets you try and try again!
  1. Askeladden – I Dovregubbens hall – This film is based on a well-known Norwegian folk tale, so perfect for those who want to learn a little more about the culture. It follows the story of a poor farmer’s boy who goes on a quest to save a princess and defeat a vile troll. With an easy to digest plotline, this film allows the language learner to focus on the language and not need to understand every word to keep up with the story.


  1. Millennium Trilogy – From a country famous for its crime dramas, the original Swedish version of this trilogy is one of the most successful franchises to come from Sweden for nationals and non-nationals alike. Beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the entire series of films is great if you want a mix of everyday conversation and the thrill of a gripping plot line.
  1. Anything based on the books of Astrid Lindgren – A popular topic of small-talk in Sweden, this author wrote books for children that have now been turned into films that are great for adults and children alike. Titles such as Pippi Långstrump and Barnen i Bullerbyn are perfect for those who want to pick up Swedish, as they use a lot of language that you might hear every day and include a lot of repetition.
  1. En man som hete Ove – This Oscar nominated feature film is centred around an old man who becomes friends with his neighbours of varying ages, so great for anyone that is keen to learn more about Swedish culture! This feel-good comedy also includes a lot of short conversations, so it’s perfect for helping language learners pick up new vocabulary.

See also: Why, and how, do we swear?


  1. El laberinto del fauno – This award-winning film is a fairy tale for adults that mixes the stark reality of a post-civil war Spain, with a romantically grim mythical world of a young girl. As well as being a must-see film, the vocabulary that can be picked up from this film cuts to the core of Spanish history and mythology.
  1. El secreto de sus ojos – Another blockbuster hit is this Argentinian film, which is great to learn more about Spanish speaking countries outside of Spain. Based on a court case, this film is filled with useful vocabulary around crime, justice, and society.
  1. Las chicas del cable (TV series) – If you like watching series and learning in short bursts then this entertaining TV program is great to picking up everyday vocabulary. Though it is set in 1920s Spain, the themes of love, friendship and work provide some great insights into Spanish culture.

See also: Five reasons why you need languages, not muscles if you want to find love


  1. Alles is liefde – This romantic comedy was inspired by Love Actually and even won several Dutch film awards. Language learners will be able to immerse themselves in the fun-loving film and pick up vocabulary for everyday conversations, as well as some Dutch culture. The title song was recorded by BLØF – a famous Dutch band!
  1. Ja zuster, nee zuster – Originally a successful series from the 1960s, this film was updated for a 2002 audience, and turned into a great musical film. Great for music lovers, this film uses lots of repetition in the songs and the everyday vocabulary used is easy to understand.
  1. Gooische vroouwen – One of the most successful films of all time, this movie is centred around the lives of four female friends. Set in the Netherlands, language learners will be able to spot some stunning pieces of Dutch architecture, as well as get a feel for the everyday vocabulary used by the characters.


  1. Que horas ela volta? – Sundance Film Festival award-winner, this film is perfect for those who want to learn more about Brazilian society. The plot follows a mother who works as a housekeeper in a wealthy family home, and how tensions rise when her daughter comes to live in the family’s house. The conversations had in the film are a highlight for Portuguese learners, as they are easy to follow but also highlight some key differences in language and grammar between Portuguese from Portugal, and the Brazilian variety.
  1. 3% (Netflix series) – For Portuguese learners who like their content on the go, this TV series is a must-watch. It’s great for picking up the odd word of Brazilian slang (and even the occasional swear word!).
  1. O outro lado da rua – A romantic thriller, this film takes place in Copacabana in Brazil and follows the story of an elderly and lonely woman turned investigator. Portuguese learners are bound to appreciate the slow dialogue in this film, as well as giving them a view into one of the most well-known neighbourhoods in Brazil.

Miriam Plieninger is Director of Didactics and part of the Management Team at Babbel, where, if you’re hooked by international film, and want to learn more, their language courses in 14 different languages are here to help!

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How to drive traffic to your company website

So you’ve got a shiny new website. That’s great. But building your site is just the beginning: you also need traffic – to encourage as many people as possible to come and look at it. If you sell goods or services off that website, then getting people to see your particular part of the internet is likely to be what drives your business.

You’ll need to start with ‘search engine optimisation’ – the techniques that help your website appear high up in the list of results when someone uses Google or another search engine to look for something relevant to your business.

SEO specialists make a good living from advising businesses on the tricks of the trade, but there is plenty that SMEs with no budget for such help can do for themselves. Partly, this is a technical task – you need to set up your website in the right way for search engines to find it. But it’s also a creative exercise – Google’s famous algorithms are top secret but the company says they favour sites with interesting and original content that is regularly updated.

In fact, the best source of advice on SEO are the search engines themselves. They all publish free guides packed full of information on how to improve a website’s search engine ranking. See Google’s Webmasters pages for a start.

See also: Six ways to improve your website’s SEO

Another option is to pay for advertising on the search engines through services such as Google Adwords and Bing Ads. These guarantee your business will appear prominently in search results in certain circumstances and you can target precisely – with adverts placed in response to particular search times, in particular locations and at particular times of the day, for example. You’ll need to spend money, but you can set a daily budget.

Social media, meanwhile, presents another opportunity to drive traffic to your website and to raise your business’s profile. Which social media platform provides the best fit for your business will depend on the nature of your trade, so do your research before deciding where to focus your efforts. Equally, don’t be half-hearted about your social media– aim for engaging content rather than an outright sales pitch and keep working at it, posting as regularly as you can.

Don’t overlook the way traditional marketing methods can be adapted to digital technologies. For example, email marketing campaigns can be a highly effective way to reach out to new customers.

That doesn’t mean bombarding random groups of people with spam emails. Plenty of companies sell bespoke data lists, which should enable your business to purchase the contact details of key groups of potential customers who will be susceptible to your message. Make sure your campaign is as relevant as possible to the target group to give yourself the best chance of good conversion rates.

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What is learning in ‘blinks’, and why you should do it

For many of us, studying is over the minute we leave school or university. However, as we settle into our adult routines, many find that the craving for new information returns. Sadly, as an adult, it can be a little more difficult to find the time to learn new things, as we are often juggling many tasks and responsibilities. This is where learning in blinks comes into play.

Think of that non-fiction book you wanted to read to improve your career, to become a more mindful person or to simply learn something new. Well, a book-in-blinks is that book, condensed into a fifteen minute text and audio format, that you can dive into on your commute or as you workout, while cooking, or whenever you have a spare minute.

Why should you do it?

Blinks teach you new things

The most obvious benefit of a book-in-blinks is also the most important one – it will teach you something new. You don’t need to carve out time and money to attend an after-work class, or make painstaking notes as you read something new. Learning in blinks gives you information in short bursts, making it easier to commit to your memory and, if you forget something, the information is right there, kept safe on your phone.

Blinks help you maximise your downtime

In a world where every moment is filled with something and every minute is spent rushing from A to B, a tool that can maximise your downtime is invaluable. By learning in blinks, you don’t have to worry about finding the time to read, or fret about freeing up time on your schedule to sit down with a new book. Every spare fifteen minutes can be used to learn something new, instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media or worrying about your to-do list.

Blinks give you choice

If you are someone who is interested in a bit of everything, you might often be faced with the difficult choice of prioritising. Do you want to focus on improving your productivity, or would you rather discover new ways of being healthy? Should you find out about your subconscious or learn about great historic events? Books-in-blinks give you the chance to do all of this, switching from listening to one of the world’s greatest thinkers, to reading about corporate culture, in the blink of an eye.

Blinks allow you to stay up-to-date

Whether you are worried that you don’t have enough to contribute during work meetings, or perhaps you are the one left listening while your friends converse about the issues of the day, learning in blinks will make you feel more interesting. You can woo your friends with your knowledge of psychology, or impress your boss with your insights into sustainable business models, or maybe discuss the main points of Fire and Fury on your next date.

Ben Hughes is head of content at micro-learning app and platform Blinkist.

See also: There is more to learning that Ted Talks

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How to survive a hangover in different countries

If you enjoy traveling and drinking, you probably have suffered – or will at some point suffer – a debilitating hangover in a foreign country. Hangovers do not discriminate on the basis of race or creed: it matters not whether you are drinking Napa Valley merlot, delicious Belgian microbrews or Vietnamese rice wine (although the latter will almost certainly give you the worst headache). Hangovers are all the more painful for being completely self-inflicted.

While throbbing headaches and delicate stomachs are universal, the ways in which different cultures talk about hangovers and try to fix them varies considerably. Bearing in mind comedian Robert Benchley’s sage advice – that the only cure for a real hangover is death – experts at language learning app Babbel, put together a short guide to help you express your pain, and do something about it regardless of where you are.


What to say

Ich habe einen Kater. The Germans get a Kater (tomcat) after a big night. The expression probably came from Katarrh, a flu-like symptom. Katzenjammer, roughly “caterwauling”, is fun, but rarely used.

What to do

You’ll certainly need a Katerfrühstück (hangover breakfast) to deal with the pain. It might well include Rollmops, pickled herrings with gherkin and onions. Electrolytes are very important. If you subscribe to the “hair of the dog” theory, then try a Konterbier (counter-beer).


What to say

Tá póitín orm” is modern Irish for talking about your hangover (literally “there is a small drinking-bout on me”), which shouldn’t (or maybe should) be confused with poitín, an Irish beverage that was most likely responsible for your discomfort in the first place. “Brown bottle flu”, “in Lego™” (i.e. in bits) and “an inexplicable headache” (no one does irony quite like the Irish) are also good. You can even refer to it as “Irish flu”, but perhaps it’s best not to do that in Ireland. Unless you’re Irish.

What to do

You can follow the Irish proverb, “leigheas na póite a hól arís” (“the cure for a hangover is to drink again”), but, if you’re not a “hair of the dog” type, a full Irish breakfast is the way to go. Bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, mushrooms, fried tomato, fried eggs, baked beans and of course soda bread. You can combine it with a quick dip in the Atlantic to really kick-start that heart attack.


What to say

У меня похмелье (U menya pokhmel’e): a Russian hangover, pokhmel’e, is literally “after being drunk”. Mind you, many Russians claim that if you drink vodka the right way – neat – you won’t get a hangover. Сушняк (Sooshnyak) is that feeling when your mouth’s as dry as a desert.

What to do

This requires some preparation. Get dried black or rye bread and soak it in sugar and yeast until it forms a mildly alcoholic beverage called kvas. Drink and/or throw up and enjoy! If that doesn’t do the trick, try mixing brine and tomato juice, or simply head to the sauna for a bout of self-flagellation with birch branches.


What to say

J’ai la gueule de bois – “I’ve got a wooden gob (mouth)”. Typically happens when you “drink like a hole”, boire comme un trou. If you ever find yourself in this situation, tell your tormentor j’ai les dents du fond qui baignent – literally “my back teeth are soaking”, also used when you’ve had too much food – and they may take pity on you.

What to do

Cassoulet or onion soup are recommended. Having French friends (who are not hungover) willing to cook these delicacies for you is a plus.


What to say

Ho i postumi della sbornia. A hangover is postumi della sbornia, “the after-death of drunkenness”. Not that you’ll ever hear an Italian say this—not that Italians get drunk, mind you (or at least they never appear to be drunk).

What to do

Get a double espresso into you and hit the road.


What to say

Estoy crudo… Did you wake up feeling a bit cruda, (“raw”), this morning? Other Central American countries use goma (“rubber”), and if you head south to Colombia you can describe your hangover as “having a guava tree”, tengo guayabo.

What to do

Give your stomach a bit of a challenge with a Mexican shrimp and shellfish salad. A combination of lime, onions and cilantro, vuelva a la vida, will indeed bring you back to life.


What to say

二日酔いしてる!(Futsuka-yoi shiteru!). The Japanese consider a hangover to be futsuka-yoi, “two-days drunk”. If sake and karaoke were involved, you may require additional Japanese drinking phrases.

What to do

You will be advised to eat umeboshi. These are salty pickled plums, so extreme that they are sometimes soaked in green tea. An energy drink (or three) – good for rehydration – and miso soup might also be on the menu.



The Babbel app for web, iOS and Android makes it easy to learn 14 different languages from 7 display languages. Bite-sized lessons fit into everyday life and are split into useful real-world topics, from introducing oneself, to ordering food and making travel arrangements. The app’s effective game mechanics ensure that learners stay motivated to achieve their goals, with the average user continuing to learn with Babbel for more than 12 months. Uniquely, every course is created specifically for each language pair by a team of education experts, linguists and language teachers.

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How to create a content strategy to grow your brand on YouTube

Having a YouTube channel is now considered a basic part of any company’s digital footprint. It’s just normal. But what do you put in it? Having a content strategy specifically designed to both get your messages across and to grow your number of subscribers.

See also: How to create a YouTube channel

You should have a content strategy specifically for YouTube, so, while you’re pulling that together, take these tips onboard:

When you’re scripting a video, it should be a precis of your company’s approach to a product or a topic. It shouldn’t be everything. Making key points, rather than attempting to cover the whole of an issue.

When you’re talking about a topic (rather than a product), try and have a point of view.  ‘Balanced’ content may be easier to deliver within the culture of your industry, but it does not drive understanding or engagement. A stronger voice is helpful to gain audiences.

Don’t be afraid of using a more obviously clickbait approach – titles which ask questions, for example encourage people to click and watch for the answers.

Make it shareable – the sort of tone, approach and product which people will pass on. Easier said than done, and will come from experimentation, A+B split testing and, probably, some videos which will fail, but the ability to experiment is key.

Storytelling is vital. A point about changes in your industry or market is better made through the story of a single consumer than in the data of millions. That data can be used and related, but finding a story which illustrates the broad thrust of the argument will resonate with users much more.

Engagement is a key factor. It’s not wise to encourage your staff to participate in debate below the line (ie react to comments), but small engagements, like encouraging users to vote on videos can boot algorithms in your content’s favour and keep users connected to your brand.

Actively encourage subscription. In newsletter, emails, messaging across your digital estate, encourage users to subscribe more than watch. Watching a video can be singular, subscribing encourage repeat and return visits. Building subscriptions should be key, the views will rise accordingly. For more tips on that, see:

Three ways to get more subscribers to your YouTube channel.

See also: The teacher’s guide to using YouTube in the classroom

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Essential apps to download before you travel solo

The key apps to make your travel so much easier.

Ensure your electronics are easily protected


Before you travel solo it can be a good idea to get your belongings insured. However, in the rush of planning and packing for your trip, this is often put to the bottom of the list and easily forgotten. An app that allows you to quickly insure common electronic items is Trov, which offers protection for items such as laptops, mobile phones, and cameras, allowing users to turn insurance on and off with a simple swipe within the app. Available on iOS and Android. Available to download for free, with price dependent on cover

Get the lingo


Babbel is the perfect app to download if you want to pick up a bit of local lingo before you set off on your travels. Available in 14 languages, from Spanish to Indonesian, the app will get you talking no matter your level – beginner, moderate or advanced. Not only can you practice your language skills and work on your accent from the first lesson, but the content you learn can easily be applied to real life situations, helping you feel confident no matter where you are travelling to. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download, and price to use from $6.95 per month (based on a 12 months subscription)

See also: The 9 easiest languages for English speakers to learn

Remember your trip


LiveTrekker is the app every solo traveller needs to help document their travels in a digital travel diary. LiveTrekker maps you wherever you go, creating a map of the routes you take and the places you walk by. As you create the map, you can add audio, video and text, bringing your travels to life and allowing you to look back and share your travels with friends and family whenever you want. It is also great for active travellers, as it monitors your speed and altitude, as well as the route. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.

Eat like a local


Foursquare is an app you need to download whenever you travel to a new city, whether travelling in a group or alone. The fantastic tips from the locals will make sure that you don’t get stuck in the typical tourist traps, instead exploring all the hidden secrets the city has to offer. The app shows you the best of the local food, drinks and attractions, meaning that you will experience the true spirit of each place you travel to. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.

Say hello to your personal organiser


One of the most stressful things about travelling alone is keeping track of all the important documents. A great app to help organise essential information, and keep it all in one place, is Tripit. Tripit collects all the small pieces of information from your confirmation emails – flights, hotels, bookings, rentals, and everything else, and puts it together into your own, bespoke itinerary. All you need to do is forward the emails to the app, making it easy to manage the travel admin.  Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use. A Pro version is available for $49.00 for an annual subscription.

Find an internet connection anywhere


While you may be trying to put away your smartphone and tablet and embark upon a digital detox while travelling, the chances are that at some point you may require Wi-Fi, whether it’s to look something up, or update your friends and family on where you are. In this situation, a good app to have to hand is Wifimapper. Wifimapper allows you to see all the available Wi-Fi spots in your immediate vicinity, and even gives you a description of the venue, ensuring that you can pick a location that you will be happy to visit. Available on iOS and Android. Free to download and use.


See also: Seven apps to learn seven new skills

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Why it’s time to regulate social media in schools

It is spring time, and once again I am planning a new network security plan for a school. The same issues as always, and the same questions, many involving social media.

All questions usually have answers with a price tag attached. Value in such planning is very subjective. After all, we spend money every year managing free apps on iPads, how does that make financial sense?

One question cannot be answered. Regardless of my due diligence and the school’s willingness to fund a comprehensive plan, students will still have phones. Those phones will have data plans. Those data plans circumvent all the work we do. Parents do not seem to care, because they are worried about having that device for logistics and emergencies.

These devices are addictive, and the applications are purely for entertainment and dopamine-driven feedback loops.

Yes, the network can manage the problem when students are on Wifi; but not when the students are on their own network.

Jamming signals is not legal in most countries, and localized jamming seems to cover very large spaces. Even if it was legal, it would impact other services.

I believe all problems can be solved, and I believe I have a solution for this one. Generically, I like to call it Social Media for Education.

Social Media for Education Explained

The core concept is simple. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., would offer an educational package. I firmly believe this should be a paid service for schools that can afford it, and free for schools that can demonstrate hardship. If you consider the cost of properly  blocking Apps on Wifi ($10-50 USD per student per year), this service would be viable if priced appropriately.

The social media companies would follow a Google Apps or O365 model for schools to join. They would require any person under the age of 18 to register as a student connected to a school.

For example, schools who sign-up would be given a school code, and could provide a student ID based roster for cross-referencing. Any person under 18 would be required to connect their profile to a school or education program of some sort(some students are home schooled or have other types of educational plans).

Unless they are connected to some type of educational plan, they simply cannot use social media until they are 18 years of age.

Schools who join would receive these benefits:

  1. Social media profiles are deactivated from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm everyday, in the timezone set by the school. This prevents VPN access from spoofing the clock.
  2. Schools could centralized a two steps homework system. Teachers would use Social media to circulate messages related to the school, and unless students confirmed all messages have been received (read), their profiles would not be activated. Although confirming a message has been seen does not equal work completed, it does mean the student acknowledged receiving the message. Blocking all other activities until all messages are cleared would prioritize the school’s notifications.
  3. Since all students can be identified and connected to a school or program, cyber-bullying would be easier to manage. Schools would need to make a request for data, but that data would connect to a student ID (most likely), and a verified location.

I have thought of more options, but, I would consider the above a tier one solution.

See also: The DOs and DON’Ts of social media for teachers

It Cannot Work Unless There is Regulation

It is clear from current practices, such as not enforcing the age restrictions for users, that social media companies will not offer services to schools that help disconnect students during their academic day.

In places like France, the government is physically banning phones from campuses. Other schools follow strict device confiscation policies. These measures only create a black market for phones, theft among students, and a burden on families who are victims of theft.

Trying to regulate property, and potentially facing liability issues related to property, is not the path to follow to solve this problem.

Governments need to simply require social media companies, or any company making a communications product, to provide the an identity and connection management system for those under the age of 18.

Those over 18 already have to use multiple methods to verify themselves when making new accounts. However, students seem to be able to join social media using devices and phone numbers that are not even legally in their own name. Think about that? I give my child a phone and number, they use it to join Facebook? How is that legal or even verified?

Not Enrolled in School = No Social Media

Compulsory Education around the world varies. Very few countries report having no compulsory education requirements.

No Requirement Based on Previous Data
Oman 0 2007
Solomon Islands 0 2002
Cambodia 0 2008
Holy See (Vatican City) 0 2007
Tokelau 0 2007
Bhutan 0 2008

The world-wide impact of adopting social media regulation of this caliber would equate to those under 18 not being allowed on social media, if they could not demonstrate they were enrolled in some type of educational program.

Likely, many countries would not participate in such regulation at all. However, it really only has to be country by country. As international as these platforms seem to be, connections students have are usually very local. Most students have their primary social network within the school they attend. That means their social media time is literally just interacting with people they could easily look at and speak with.

If Facebook in India were not participating, that would not impact a school in Korea. If students were to move from country to country (or school to school), they would have to re-register. The meta data from that behavior alone would help confirm drop-out rates, possible issues within school districts, etc. I believe the unknown benefits of the data would be substantial. Observer effect issues and data manipulation by school administration would be reduced.

I have been working with teenagers since 2005. I have worked with students from over 100 countries. I have been a technology disruptor, more times than I have supported the status quo. I believe in BYOD programs, and any students I have worked with will confirm I empower them to lead and make decisions. I know when I see a problem in the plan and the patterns. I know when students are not engaged, and when they are not learning. Mobile devices with addictive applications are a real problem. The design is an addictive design, and the effects are powerful. I hate regulation, but unfortunately, I think we are there.

More from Tony DePrato here. 

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Able2Extract Pro 12: A Professional PDF Tool Giveaway

For some, dealing with PDFs in an ongoing, everyday struggle. For others, a tedious task that hampers productivity from time to time. The bottom line is, almost everyone needs a professional PDF tool in their productivity toolbox to get the job done accurately and efficiently.

Nevertheless, obtaining a powerful piece of software means spending money. Free services and tools developed to tackle just a single issue simply won’t cut it when it comes to serious PDF work.

That’s why we’re glad to present you with the opportunity to win 1 of 5 lifetime licenses for Able2Extract Professional 12, an all-in-one PDF suite, already featured in a round-up of DailyGenius’ 5 best productivity tools for your business. (Here’s a tip: the linked article can help you answer the question needed to enter the contest.)

To see all the requirements for entering the giveaway go to the developer’s website and read a short blog post explaining the process step-by step here.

Here’s what you need to do to participate in a nutshell:

  1. Be an Investintech/Able2Extract follower on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter
  2. Properly fill in PDF entry form
  3. Have a little luck in the random draw

If you want to know every little detail about the giveaway, we suggest you read the Official Rules. But, since we know that it’s not the most exciting thing you could be doing in your spare time, we’ve decided to break them down for you:

  • The worldwide giveaway lasts until midnight April 27th (EST)
  • 5 winners will be announced on May 4th
  • Entrants must be the age of majority in their home countries
  • Entry limit is one per person/email address/social media account.

If you are interested in the giveaway and want to know more about the main prize, we got you covered. In the next paragraphs, we’ll explain how Able2Extract can help you kick your PDF productivity up a notch.

Create PDF

Able2Extract can create PDF documents from all printable formats. The program installs a PDF printer on your system which makes it possible to create PDF files by selecting Able2Extract’s PDF print option in any document processing tool. The same can be accomplished just by opening the document you would like to create PDF from in Able2Extract. The process is automatic and fast.

Furthermore, Able2Extract can encrypt your documents during the PDF creation process, and set passwords and file permissions to make sure your PDFs are safe and secure.

Convert PDF

PDF conversion is the feature users will find most useful. With Able2Extract, you can convert PDFs to more than a dozen popular file formats such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, AutoCAD, Image, etc.

If you need to convert multiple files at once, there’s a Batch conversion feature and if you have scanned documents to deal with, Able2Extract’s OCR feature can extract all the data from what is essentially just an image of text and graphics.




Edit PDF

Able2Extract also lets its users edit PDF on the spot without the need for conversion. You can add text, change fonts, insert pictures, and more to otherwise non-editable file formats by default.

The newest version 12 also comes with the ability to edit PDF forms (the feature you’ll be using to enter the giveaway), insert blank PDF pages and add Bates numbering. Also, Able2Extract offers a myriad of annotation options for smooth and efficient PDF collaboration.






So, if you would you like to have this productivity-boosting tool for free and get the most out of your PDF files, try your luck and enter the giveaway. There’s not much time left until the deadline, so act fast.

And if you’re not interested, but you know someone who could use an all-in-one PDF solution to improve PDF workflows, make sure to share the news. Good luck!

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6 ways to engage your audience during a presentation

If you get presentation anxiety, you aren’t alone. Doing a presentation, whether to colleagues, to potential clients or to a conference is very exposing. Getting it right, and keeping your audience interested is both tricky and vital.

Emma Cullen, Creative Content Producer at the online, interactive presentation platform, Mentimeter has some expert tips on how to ensure that you engage your audience when presenting.

1 – Know your audience

In order to engage an audience, it’s important that when you are creating and presenting content, you know your audience. Doing research beforehand and getting to know your audience’s interests or concerns, ensures that you can create content that really appeals to them and thus catches their attention. If people in the audience feel the presentation is relevant to them, it will naturally spark their interest and ensure that they are more engaged with the material. This will also make you look like a pro speaker who knows how to tweak their content accordingly.

2 – Begin with an interesting story or icebreaker

If you want to make sure that you capture your audience’s attention from the start, then it can be a good idea to begin your presentation with some interesting facts, such as a funny anecdote, or perhaps even a high energy icebreaker. Beginning your presentation in this way enables the audience to connect with on a more personal level from the start. Once this connection has been made, the audience will be  more receptive to the material in the presentation and therefore more likely to be engaged.

3 – Keep things interactive

A great way to ensure that your audience’s attention is kept throughout, is to include an interactive segment in the presentation. Encouraging people to participate and make their opinions heard, prevents them from losing interest and enables you to check their understanding of the material presented. With platform like Mentimeter, creating interactive presentations is easy. You can incorporate features such as multiple choice questions, quizzes and scale rating systems in the presentation, and the audience can use their smartphone to answer questions and share their thoughts.

4 – Communicate clearly

One of the most effective ways to maintain your audience’s attention, is to communicate in a clear and concise way. Try to use language and words that they are familiar with, and avoid using fancy or complicated jargon that could cause confusion and cause people to be distracted with the content of presentation. When speaking, don’t be afraid to slow down in order to get your message across. Many of us tend to speed through presentations out of nervousness, but doing this can lose the attention of your audience. Take a moment to think about what you want to say it –  the most important thing is that your audience understands what you’re saying.

5 – Don’t rely on your slides too much

If you want to keep your audience engaged with the material you are presenting, it’s important that you also appear engaged. Often when presenters read off their slides, it gives the impression of being ill-prepared. To avoid this, make sure that you don’t cram too much information on each slide, as doing this can easily tempt you into reading the information straight from your screen, and prevent you from connecting with your audience. It’s often a good idea to break up text with visual aids such as infographics and graphs. Try to also practice your presentation, as the more comfortable you feel with the content, the less likely you will be to read from the slides and the more confident you will appear.

6 – Maintain eye contact

Another effective way to engage your audience, and maintain this, is through eye contact. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, creating eye contact establishes authority with your audience, as it shows you to be a confident speaker who has conviction in what they are saying. Secondly it engages the audience by showing that you acknowledge their presence, creating a bond between speaker and listener. It can also help to improve the quality of your presentation by enabling you to fix your attention on the audience, helping to calm your nerves and focus on the presentation at hand.


Mentimeter is a free-to-use, online platform that allows real-time interaction between presenters and their audiences: making meetings enjoyable, engaging, and more productive. Founded in Stockholm in 2014, and recognized by The Next Web in 2018 as the fastest-growing startup in Sweden (with over 20m people in 100 countries having already benefited from its innovations to date), Mentimeter enables speakers at lectures, corporate events, workshops, and other formal and informal meeting types, to truly engage with their audiences by providing them with easy-to-use tools, such as polls, quizzes, word clouds, multiple choice questions, to make presentations interactive.

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