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A Life Less Analog Technology

Impact Hackathon: Why the geeks shall inherit the earth

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The COVID-19 pandemic is the asteroid that will finally make the dinosaurs extinct. And by dinosaurs I mean individuals and companies who still refuse to embrace digital. I truly believe this. Which is why I’m happy that Impact Hub Manila (IHM) is bringing back Impact Hackathon to create genuine change in society. This year’s Impact Hackathon will be held virtually on Aug. 17-21. It aims to reboot the economy through inclusive digital innovations in five verticals. These include climate change, education, food and agriculture, health and wellness, and smart cities.

Only those who are still in denial think that things will “go back to normal”. The COVID-19 pandemic is the end of the world as we know it. It is a turning point in human history that has accelerated digital transformation. So don’t listen to the dinosaurs. Don’t listen to the defenders of the status quo who want to go back to doing the same things. Instead of using this disruption as an opportunity to build a better post-pandemic world. Not just the new normal, but a better normal.

“I am very optimistic and I truly believe that technology is the great enabler. It has completely democratized a lot of things that we’re doing,” IHM Founder and CEO Ces Rondario said in response to a question from Digital Life Asia in the press briefing.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

Edusuite platform keeps schools running amid pandemic

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As I’ve previously mentioned in this column, education is very dear to my heart. That’s why I was happy to learn that Philippine startup Edusuite aims to help improve the educational system here with its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered school management system for
K-12 to college. This allows schools to focus less on administration and more on education.

Now, I’m a techno-optimist and a big believer in AI. I love Edusuite’s vision of having AI co-manage the school together with human administrators. Otherwise, as Edusuite Co-founder and President Niel Dagondon pointed out at the press briefing on July 29, you are using software but still just manually administering the school. But how challenging is it to get school officials to adopt this mindset and allow AI to co-manage?

“I have to admit that it’s not going to be a fast process. Sometimes we launch Edusuite with a school and it takes them sometimes as much as two years to enable all the features that Edusuite has. And what we did is to make it in a way that we can turn off the AI-specific features one by one. So if a school does not trust the system to do the AI at the start, they’ll be able to do the planning their way. For example, if they don’t want the student advising module to automatically advise the student, they can just turn it off and have someone on the backend manually approve each time a student would take a certain number of subjects. So it’s not going to be automatic, that as soon as they implement Edusuite, all the AI features are turned on,” Dagondon said.

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A Life Less Analog Technology

EdVision launched to help schools embrace e-learning

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To help schools transition to the new normal and embrace e-learning, Lenovo Philippines, in collaboration with Microsoft, has launched the EdVision program.

Even though classes in the Philippines are scheduled to reopen in August, schools will have to maintain learning through virtual platforms. This is to comply with the community quarantine and social distancing protocols. Under the EdVision program, a number of pioneer schools in the Philippines will get free access to online resources to help them through their education transformation journey. They will also enjoy complimentary or subsidized access to the latest solutions in education tech.

How prepared are schools for distance learning, not only in terms of technology but also teacher training? I posed this question to Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan at this afternoon’s virtual press briefing.

“There are really some schools that actually were prepared, and there are also some schools that are in the midst of preparing for the new normal. This education program is not just about selling the hardware to these schools. What Lenovo and Microsoft would like to really do is bring our expertise to the schools. To empower teachers, to empower the students, to adapt faster to these technologies around flexible learning. And we see a big portion of the education market today lagging behind in terms of adopting technology. And I think it’s not just going to be Lenovo there, it’s not just going to be Microsoft there. There will be other components, like our telco friends, who will have to play a big part in ensuring that flexible learning or distance learning will be carried out smoothly,” Ngan told Digital Life Asia.

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Lifelong learning now a requirement, says Apptitude CEO

In the digital age, lifelong learning is necessary if you don't want to become obsolete, according to Apptitude CEO Mars Veloso.
In the digital age, lifelong learning is necessary if you don’t want to become obsolete, according to Apptitude CEO Mars Veloso.

We know it is important to equip students with the right skills. But education should not end after graduation. Now, more than ever, every worker should embrace lifelong learning.

“I think that continuing education, or more generally lifelong learning, is no longer optional. It’s a requirement to keep up with quickly changing environments and regulations,” lawyer Mars Veloso, CEO of learning management platform Apptitude, told Digital Life Asia.

“Being a bank teller today might seem like a stable job. But as UnionBank has clearly shown, these jobs can be replaced by machines in the span of a year. The BPO industry is under threat by chatbots. There have been promising AI developments in the medical fields. As an example, radiology may be quickly eclipsed in the coming years with better pattern detections.With this digital milieu, the only option to those potentially affected by the shifting tides is a new perspective on education. One geared towards optionality rather than job security.”

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Remote learning here to stay, says Mapua president

Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea says schools must be prepared not just to offer remote learning to students, but also to train personnel for remote work.
Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea says schools must be prepared not just to offer remote learning to students, but also to train personnel for remote work.

Online education has been around for many years. Yet just as the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of businesses, so too is it changing the education system. This is why schools must accept that remote learning will be part of the new normal.

“The quarantine accelerated the adoption of online education. When the schools reopen, possibly in August, many students and parents, I believe, would still be fearful of face-to-face classes. There would be a need for an online option. Having developed their capabilities to implement online education, the schools would most probably want to keep it as an alternative mode of delivery over the long term. Online education will be a facet of life in the new normal,” Mapua University President and CEO Reynaldo Vea told Digital Life Asia.

“In order to thrive in the new normal, schools must prepare themselves to implement remote learning, whether the approach be through fully online education or through distance education. The former requires learners to have the required device and connectivity for it to be effective. The latter is more forgiving. The medium of the materials could be electronic (USB, DVD) and print, and the manner of content delivery could be electronic (internet, TV, radio) and physical (postal/courier, bookstore, in-school). Aside from satisfying demand from a segment of the student market, remote learning could also help schools solve physical distancing concerns in the classroom by reducing the resident student population at any given time,” he said.

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Remote teaching: Lenovo to help schools make transition

Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan said the webinars will help schools overcome the challenges of shifting to remote teaching.
Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan said the webinars will help schools overcome the challenges of shifting to remote teaching.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the workplace, but also the classroom. To help schools make the transition to remote teaching, Lenovo, in collaboration with Microsoft, is sponsoring two presentations in the ongoing EduTech Live Webinar series.

“Education is one of the sectors that have welcomed the transformation brought about by social distancing and other precautionary health measures,” said Lenovo Philippines President and General Manager Michael Ngan in a press statement.

“Driven by our vision of ‘Smarter Technology for All’, Lenovo has collaborated with educators to create customer-centric innovative solutions catered to students. These solutions will enhance students’ digital literacy by providing them with optimal learning experiences that will prepare them to excel in the digitalizing world,” he said.

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Learn new skills at home while having fun with TikTok

Learn new skills with TikTok.
Learn a new language.

Hands down one of the world’s most popular apps, TikTok now wants to showcase its potential as a highly engaging platform that helps users learn new skills. Dubbed as the #TikTokU Program, this learning-centric campaign will be launched on May 25. TikTok is also looking for content creators in the Philippines who will become part of its #TikTokU Program, giving away a total of Php2M for their educational videos.

With most people staying home, this could be the perfect time to learn new skills through the short-form video platform’s extensive library of educational videos, which can be consumed in a minute or less. So why not learn a new language? Watch a quick art and crafts tutorial? Or enjoy trivia?

“These days, education is no longer confined to classrooms, and the ways of learning are changing, too. TikTok is giving alternative and accessible ways for the thirsty creative minds of Filipinos open to discovering new ideas. We believe that everybody deserves access to various forms of education. That is why we are launching #TikTokU. We hope users will join us in celebrating knowledge and sharing their creativity for the benefit of the wider community,” said John Castro, TikTok User, Community and Operations Manager, in a press statement.

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Digital education platform offered for free by IBM

IBM Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty said the free digital education platform will help prepare students for the workplace of the future.
IBM Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty said the free digital education platform will help prepare students for the workplace of the future.

IBM believes the digital era should be an inclusive one. To make sure students all over the world will be equipped with the right digital skills for the future, the tech giant has launched a free digital education platform called Open P-TECH. It is now available to students and teachers worldwide, who can register at the site.

“I’ve always believed that IBM is a builder of technology. It’s our job to also prepare society to interact with that technology. That’s responsible stewardship,” said IBM Executive Chairman Ginni Rometty in her session at the Think Digital conference.

Rometty talked about Open P-Tech in this session with musician, businessman, and philanthropist will.i.am. They discussed the future of education, skills development, and the digital workforce in the post-pandemic world.