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Online Work

Taking the Edinburgh Fringe’s Madcap Energy Online – The New York Times

LONDON — David Chapple began planning his trip to the 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe a year ago, since you can’t be too prepared when you hold the world record for the most Fringe performances attended in one season.

Having seen a record-breaking 304 shows in 27 days in 2014, he was planning another Fringe viewing marathon this year for his wife’s 60th birthday. But in early April, the event — the world’s largest arts festival — was canceled for the first time in its 73-year history, because of the coronavirus.

For Chapple, a civil servant who estimates that he spends half of his income on watching live comedy and keeps chickens named after British stand-up comedians, it was devastating. “Edinburgh is everything, really,” he said. “It’s the focal point of our year.”

ImageDavid Chapple, a record-setting Edinburgh Fringe attendee, with the comedian Jayde Adams at the 2018 festival. 
Credit…Steve Best

The festival’s cancellation has been a big blow to long-term fans — and to the 30,000 performers who travel to the Scottish city each August to show their work. To fill the gap, some artists have gone online to try to capture the anarchic, diverse and somewhat overwhelming experience of being at the Fringe.

Among them is Francesca Moody, a London-based theater producer who took the original stage version of “Fleabag to the Fringe in 2013 and had planned to stage three plays in Edinburgh this month.

When the festival was called off, her fellow theater-maker Gary McNair joked that he would have to stage a “Shed Fringe” from his garden instead — a pun that “set cogs whirring” in Moody’s producer brain. Six weeks ago, she came up with Shedinburgh, an online festival of comedy and drama that streams live from a garden shed for three weeks starting on Friday.

In fact, there are two sheds, each measuring six feet by eight feet: one onstage at London’s Soho Theatre, the other at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. Both venues have been closed since March, when the British government ordered theaters to shut to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Credit…Richard Lakos

Setting up the sheds inside is a nod to the questing spirit of the Fringe, which takes over every corner of the city of Edinburgh each August, transforming pubs and gardens, gyms, parking lots and lecture theaters into performance spaces.

“The cancellation of the Fringe has left a massive hole,” said Moody, who has attended the festival for 17 years. “This is an opportunity to acknowledge how magical the festival is, how important it is to me and to a lot of the artists who have had success there.”

Thanks to social distancing rules and space restrictions, the “Shed-ule” is dominated by one-person shows, from artists like Jack Rooke, Deborah Frances-White and Tim Crouch. Audiences will watch on Zoom after donating at least 4 pounds ($5) per ticket, and profits will go toward a fund for artists aiming to stage a show at the Fringe next year.

Before planning was halted because of the pandemic, this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival had confirmed more than 2,200 shows from 48 countries in about 230 venues, said Rebecca Monks, a spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. They were preparing for a similar-scale festival to last year’s, in which over 3,800 shows were staged and more than three million tickets were sold.

Credit…Karla Gowlett

Edinburgh is “the way that arts organizations, venues, TV production companies find new work — the fact that it doesn’t exist this year will have a significant impact,” said Moody, who knows how life-changing a successful Fringe can be.

When she and Waller-Bridge took “Fleabag” to a dank vault under Edinburgh’s George IV Bridge seven years ago, they raised money on Kickstarter, didn’t pay themselves, and gave away tickets for the first week to fill the 60-seater room. It became one of that year’s most talked-about shows, which led to a run at London’s Soho Theatre, where it caught the attention of the BBC’s head of comedy.

This year, such opportunities have essentially vanished. “For all those artists who were taking their first shot at the Fringe this year,” Moody said, “that work might never resurface, because they might not have the strong foundations, or the support, to carry on.”

Credit…Esme Allman

“Shedinburgh” is just one way theater makers are keeping the Fringe flame burning. Fringe on Friday is a weekly hourlong cabaret streaming from performers’ homes; Edinburgh Unlocked is a comedy festival in audiobook form from Penguin Random House, featuring 15-minute sets from stand-ups whose shows were canceled; Zoo TV is offering on-demand streaming of past Edinburgh performances; and Fringe of Colour is screening daily films by artists of color.

Corrie McGuire, a comedy producer and agent who has staged the raucously interactive midnight show “Spank!” at the Edinburgh Fringe for the past 15 years, estimates that her agency lost £60,000 “overnight” when the theaters closed in March. A quarter of that would have come from Edinburgh.

Last week, she staged the first online “Spank!” with the stand-up comedians Lauren Pattison and Emmanuel Sonubi performing from their bedrooms; Magical Bones, a break-dancing magician, doing tricks in his kitchen; and Vikki Stone singing songs from her attic.

To combat the “Zoom fatigue” that many people are feeling amid the plethora of online events and meetings during the pandemic, McGuire said, she created a virtual front row in which 10 audience members could volunteer to “sit up front” and have their microphones taken off mute so that performers could hear their reactions.

“Being able to have people from all over the world watching the same gig gave it real Edinburgh energy,” she added.

Credit…Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The comedian Mark Watson — who made his name in 2004 with a 24-hour comedy gig in a basement in Edinburgh’s Old Town — has embraced the festival’s madcap, have-a-go, collaborative essence more than most, over 20 years of performances.

Having staged a number of marathon shows, Watson now plans to host a 24-hour Fringe gig from his sofa in south London at the end of the month to raise money for comedians whose livelihoods were flattened by the pandemic.

His plan, which he describes as “insanely ambitious,” is to recreate the feel of the monthlong festival in a day — its “general mayhem and the wild outpouring of ideas” — by hosting the gig on the livestreaming platform Twitch, with guest spots from well-known comedians and newer talents.

The Fringe is a sort of “state of the nation for comedy,” Watson said.

“I don’t think we can let something like the Fringe die,” he added. “It’s gone for now, but the spirit of it needs to stay alive — for good.”

Categories
Southern recipes

25 Best Okra Recipes – How to Cook Okra – Parade

Pecan-Crusted-Okra-6
(Spicy Southern Kitchen)

Okra, a common ingredient featured in Southern cooking, is actually a fruit eaten as a vegetable! Famous for its slime, Okra is delicious if it is prepared properly. It can be cooked in many ways: steamed, stir or deep-fried, stewed, or baked. When steamed or stewed, it can get slimy, but there are easy tips to minimize it and cook a delicious plate of food! The recipes in this list of best okra recipes would make for a great main course or side dish, even. If you love the taste of okra, these recipes are a must-have in your repertoire.

What is Okra?

These long, green veggies are actually the seed pods of the okra plant (scientific name, Abelmoschus esculentus). They’re commonly known as ladies’ fingers (because of how they look!), or ochro, or gumbo. Originating in West Africa and South Asia, okra is featured in many popular indigenous recipes.

When is Okra in Season?

The okra plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate regions around the world. Because of where these veggies thrive, they are is popular in the southern United States, parts of Africa the Middle East, the Caribbean, and South America.

What Does Okra Taste Like?

Okra has different flavors depending on how it is cooked. When fried, it has a nutty flavor. When steamed, it does become quite slimy, but has a rather sweet flavor. It definitely is an acquired taste, but is savored by millions around the world! Give it a try—you’ll like it!

Related: 15 Best Hearty One-Pot Lentil Recipes

Try Pickled Okra, for example, for a zingy treat. Another crowd-pleasing favorite is the Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Okra. The Persian-Style Okra Stew takes okra to another level, and so does the humble Buttermilk Okra Panzanella Salad! Every Southerner has a favorite recipe and we’ve curated a list of 25 great recipes (that are not just gumbo) starring versatile okra as the hero ingredient. Let us know your favorite way to cook okra in the comments and be sure to pin the dishes you want to try next.

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Louisiana gumbo

Local Artist Puts Louisiana Memories in Downtown Mural – kpel965.com

Downtown Lafayette will have a new mural adding some vibrant color and special meaning to Jefferson Street. Local artist Hannah Gumbo is the talent behind the mural. She was inspired by her love and the special memories she carries for Lafayette and our unique culture. The mural will feature a local musician, symbols of downtown festivals, and even some of Acadiana’s favorite snacks.

Hannah’s love and passion for Lafayette go deep. Hannah shared with KATC that when she was growing up she and visiting downtown they would go to the library every single week. She said they would grab some food from Dwyer’s and walk around. She added that becoming an artist added even more memories as she would go to Art Walk and Festival International every year.

Hannah Gumbo’s biography on her Facebook reads: “I was raised on cornbread & milk, Paw Paws & Maw Maws with a Cajun tongue, & a large family of colorful characters that fought as hard as they loved. These Acadian roots stretch deep & wide in my heart, influencing all the work that I put my hands to.”

The mural was commissioned on the side of the building where Pop’s Poboys is located thanks to the Downtown Development Authority and the property owner. Anita Begnaud, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority told KATC that they wanted to support a local artist during these hard times. Begnaud says they wanted to be able to financially support someone that is adored and someone they want to make sure thrives in our community. At the same time, providing something beautiful and vibrant for our community to enjoy.

It’s very inspiring and nice to be able to bring my artwork to them. Normally I would be able to set up for Art Walk or things like that that have been canceled so just having that connection point where people can enjoy the work but also see the process and it kind of integrates in their day to day and their weekly routine is kind of cool. – Hannah

The mural is expected to be complete next week.

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Freelance jobs Online

Factsheet: The evolving models of tech talent matching in Africa – TechCabal

You are reading Factsheet, our series of specific guides on experiencing and using technology platforms in Africa. Whether you are looking for knowledge on getting your African film on Netflix, raising a seed round or finishing an online design course, we are covering all that.

Andela has started hiring senior software engineering talent as contractors. Now a fully remote company, no geographical limitations preclude it from working with developers across Africa from rural to urban cities. 

Buoyed by Andela’s early success and enticed by the prospect of filling the junior talent space, tens of job matching sites have sprung up around the continent. Each proposes one tweak or twist to its value proposition but the ultimate promise is to connect companies who need software developers to African talent, and vice versa.

The past five months of 2020 have aided the growth of this sub-industry by creating an environment for testing the practicability of distributed work.

Companies big and small have had an elongated taste of what it feels like to function in work-from-home mode and while many are returning to the office, some will retain elements of remote work. That opens the door for more remote hires for part-time and full-time positions, a prospect that especially suits the software programming labour market.

In this regard, we can expect to see more activity in the gig economy value chain in Africa. Advances in the intersection of payments technology and ecommerce – exemplified by pandemic-time solutions like Paystack Commerce and Flutterwave Store – favour freelancers who have more tools with which to send invoices and receive payments for services.

In the same vein, job matching sites for technology skills are building up capacity to take advantage of the moment. Here’s a look at how they describe themselves in 2020 and what differentiates one from another. 

Andela

Omowale David-Ashiru, Andela’s vice president for global operations, told TechCabal in July that the company hasn’t deviated from its founding mission of helping companies find distributed teams of software engineers. By moving to a fully remote model, the company says it now has a pool of over 500,000 talents to employ from. 

Present and former Andela engineers are recognised among the best in Africa. As such, the opportunity to even work on a contract basis for the companies’ clients remains appealing. 

Each gig is time-bound ranging from a few weeks to up to 6 months. They do not come with workplace benefits like stock options and health insurance offered to full-time employees. But for the senior engineer exploring secondary income streams, an Andela gig should be a lucrative opportunity.

Gebeya

Founded in 2016, Gebeya describes itself as an online talent marketplace. Starting from Ethiopia, the startup has plugged into the talent market in Kenya, and Senegal where it has helped telco Orange hire developers.

Gebeya started off with training talents before matching them to jobs. It still does training but its strongest focus is on being the company to contact when in need of talent. 

They have four product lines in this regard: G-Talent is for companies looking for short or long-term talent, G-Subscription has fixed rates per hour ideal for SMEs in need of temporary fixes, G-Made is for companies who want their projects built directly by Gebeya engineers, while G-Box is for those who want to order pre-written code perhaps to finetune a prototype or minimum viable product.

The breakdown is certainly interesting, specifying the particular solutions offered for each need. With its $2m seed funding closed earlier in the year, Gebeya plans to make its marketplace more pan-African than it currently is.

Decagon and Semicolon

Chika Nwobi, Decagon’s founder and CEO, explained to TechCabal that his vision is to create 10,000 software developers in Nigeria over 10 years. 

In June, the three-year old company moved into its new training complex based in Lagos. There, they hold in-house training for software developers in a six-month programme after which the engineers are matched to jobs in the industry.

They also retain a proportion of these trained devs, forming an internal talent pool that executes projects for clients. Like Andela and Gebeya above, this is a B2B offering to which developers cannot directly apply. 

But enrolling for the training, which happens frequently within a given year, affords an entry point into the world of tech. The downside is that this requires the intending developer to be physically present in Lagos and, to get the full benefits of the programme’s intensity, live in residence within Decagon’s facilities for six months.

By contrast, Semicolon’s training programme does not require boarding. Also Lagos-based, the company’s model is similar to Decagon’s only that training lasts a year.

WeJapa, GetDev, and Africave

Where the four companies above focus on business-focused talent solutions, a number of relatively smaller players have paid attention to catering to developers as well as companies.

These upstarts hope to replicate the opportunities provided by global freelance platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer.com and the more specialised tech job sites like GitHub jobs, Stack Overflow and Toptal.

Africave co-founder and COO Duke Ekezie-Joseph says they have a pool of vetted developers who they connect to companies according to skills demanded. 

They invite developers to sign up on the platform and undergo some screening of their competence. The devs are onboarded, pending when jobs become available. 

WeJapa, launched in April and counts the Bank of Kigali among its business-side clients, and GetDev – which has had success connecting local talent to local companies – follow a similar onboarding process.

getdev_tech_talent_matching
How GetDev connects tech talent to companies. Source: GetDev

Each company’s job matching system mirrors each other too. Instead of being just platforms for connecting the talent to the employer, they receive the job description from the client and then scan their talent backend for those who suit the description. 

In some cases, there is an added layer of interviewing/screening between the talent and the client. Essentially, these upstarts function as mediators in the marketplace rather than being platforms for direct contact.

Where is the evolution headed?

The landscape for tech talent has changed over the years in Africa. From relying on foreign developers, African companies are now able to source talents locally with the rise of training institutes and the availability of online courses for self-tutoring.

See: Frontend developers are in high demand. Here’s how to become one.

For aspiring and current programmers more opportunities exist in Europe and North America than in Nigeria. The discussion above has focused on software development because other tech fields like cybersecurity and machine learning are still too nascent to have large talent pools necessitating Africa-focused job matching platforms.

That should be the next frontier for the continent. A few data science and AI learning communities have begun laying foundation through training and courses in related disciplines. 

The dearth of core AI companies in Africa means the pace has been slow but with the rise of big data – an essential component of the AI industry – accelerated demand in this aspect of tech talent matching may be around the corner.

Categories
Freelance jobs Online

One on One: Mutua Matheka | Nation – Daily Nation

Mutua Matheka is an internationally recognised photographer, traveller and all-around cool guy whose work has been showcased all over the world, including, most recently, on Beyoncé’s (yes, that Beyoncé) website. He spoke to Life&Style

Do you think school actually prepares you for a career as a creative, or in art?

Absolutely not. As a photographer, I don’t think photography school will make you a better photographer. Not in the way I think school is supposed to, anyway. Now that I am a photographer, I would go back to school because I know I am not going to go back to learn how to take pictures.

I am going back to learn about the history of photography, movement in photography – yes, based on white systems and white history, but that would be interesting to me now as well, in theory. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am really anti being told what to do and when to do it.

As a photographer, he doesn’t think photography school will make one a better photographer.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Have you always been anti being told what to do and when to do it?

I can’t remember the first instance of when I started being like this, but growing up, I’d always been against being told what to do. Not because I won’t do it. I will do the thing you want me to do. But more because it is not what I want to do right now. You understand? I understand that you (i.e. my mother, for example) want me to do it now because you require obedience from me, but know that I love and respect you. Still, I don’t want to do this thing right now. In a half-hour, I will do it.

And then you went to campus, being this guy, and did architecture. What is it with architects who don’t become architects? You, Nameless, Dela, Osborne Macharia…

Creatively, there is no academic discipline that makes you an overall excellent creative, like architecture. When you study it, you discover that it is a good segue into many things. The first year is basically a fine art class. We drew so much – and people had to learn to draw things without using rulers. You would think architecture is about using rulers, right? Not first year. We would be taken to town and told, draw the old parliament building. Left there for the whole lesson. You would be learning how to translate what you see, then draw it, to scale, and basically translate what you see into something that makes sense, or was communicating – without having yet touched a single tool. Your tools were your hands and your brain. And isn’t that what art is? Then, also, the degree takes six years. That teaches you long-suffering, which is essential in business. Then, we had hours of critique sessions – also crucial for an artist.

He has always been anti being told what to do and when to do it.

Photo credit: Courtesy

Was there something that you finished school and said you would never do? Like, I don’t know, wake up early or something?

 Wash my own clothes. My mother made me wash my own clothes from when I was in Class Five because that’s a lesson she wanted to teach me at the time. We had a househelp, but the househelp was for her. So the help would wash mom’s clothes, and I would be there next to her, washing mine. I went to boarding school in Class Seven. We were not rich, so I didn’t have ati seven shirts – I had two, which meant I was washing shirts every day. The first day I found out what a mama fua was, on the first day of campus, I said never again. And I never looked back. When I met my wife, she initially wanted to wash clothes, even though I had clearly said that it would not make me like her more or less or make her more wife material or anything like that. She didn’t listen and tried one time. She too said never again – after that one time.

And these experiences brought you here, from being in architecture school to being featured on Beyoncé’s website. How do you even explain that?

It’s inexplicable. Some of what is my life now is not what I imagined, not even what I could have imagined. Even when I imagined being a really dope architect when I was employed, 10 years ago, I would have never imagined that I would go to the places I go to now, ati because of taking pictures. Even now, I get shocked. Mainly because I don’t consider myself the best photographer or anything, I do think my work is good. I don’t think you can be the best artist, you know, because that’s like saying you can compare two artists, and what can that honestly even be based on? 

Till now, I’m like, ok this is nice. Still, when I think about it, really, this is what it means: it means that there was someone in this world somewhere who said, we need to feature a Kenyan photographer on the website, for the curation section, and then someone else said, yes, I know someone. And then they sat down, I assume, and looked at my work, and they said, I hope, that yes, this is the one, we definitely have to have this person on here. That’s so wild to me! 

And yet even though you operate outside the system of the norm, there is a lot that you do that is very much still operating within the system of the industry, or whatever you want to call it, right? Do you think as a person, as an artist, it is possible to operate out of the system, of capitalism, or systems like it?

I think it’s possible, but you have to be one of those people who are down for whatever. You can choose to operate outside the system of things but that also comes with its disadvantages here and there which you have to be ready for.

Like having to farm, for example?

Yeah. Dealing with things not going the way you want them to. If you don’t know how to deal with those things, you might get shocked.

Just to briefly return to the Beyoncé question, and how you kind of would never have even thought to work with her…

I have never even thought of Beyoncé to work with, and not because I wouldn’t. Still, because I would love to create some really cool stuff – but I’ve never even thought about that as a possibility. It seems like something so far away; you know? Like sometimes my mind thinks about things like I will get this grand idea, and then I start thinking about how it would be possible…and then I get tired. I am very good at thinking up big thoughts. And stopping there. If that was my job, I would be so successful! But the minute I have to find the small pieces to move and manage for the big ideas to happen, I stop immediately.

But somehow you managed to make the big idea of your career happen.

How it happened was that I started out as an interior architect after I graduated. I actually picked up employment and picked up a camera at the same time. But one won.

And it wasn’t even that I hated my job or my boss. I had an excellent job. I did work that was meaningful to me. I had a huge responsibility to design things and see them built. I did things that I loved to do. I quit because, the job did not have space for my photography. And ironically, I still ended up having a job [that goes against what I said earlier about hating to be told] – being told where to be, and at what time. 

I remember when I was leaving, I tried to tell my boss that they actually only needed me for two days a week, total. If she had allowed me to do this, I might still be employed!

How exactly did you quit? And when?

Many things happened in 2010. I wasn’t using my camera much. Then I got married. Then I was like, I bought this camera. It cost money. Let me use it. I started shooting every day. I was just working and shooting and working and shooting. I would sleep three hours a day: Wake up at 6 am, leave the house at 6:30 am, be in the office by 7:15, then I would be online, posting the ‘pic of the day’ that I took the day before. I would have coffee at my desk at 8:30. During lunch, I would take my camera, walk around and try to find pictures for that day’s assignment. If I didn’t find a picture, I would come back and eat lunch at my desk. I’d head home at 5 pm and have a portrait session from 6:30 pm – form people who used to see my work from the pic of the day segments. At 8, we’d eat, I’d hang out with my wife, we watch some TV, she would go to bed at 10 pm. I’d tuck her in, get back on my computer and work till 2 am.

So picking one job was about survival. I was either going to quit my job or quit photography. Or do photography over the weekend like an average person! So I went to my job and asked my boss for a compromise – I work for half a month for half the pay, and then decide in three months whether I was going to stay or not.

 My wife has never been the type of person to stand in the way of anything I want to do. Up to today, she’s the, we’ll figure it out, kind of person. And I think that’s because we would like our marriage to be the type where people are free to do what they want. For instance – she’s a sign language interpreter, and she really loves working with deaf people, and with children. And we all know in Kenya those jobs don’t pay well because people don’t consider them essential. So I said, since this is what you really like to do, I’ll try to work to make sure that I can support your lifestyle, of giving back to people. 

The jobs kept coming somehow. That first year was outstanding. I was even like, I thought people said that this would be really rough? The roughness came, by the way. Just later.

When was it rough?

2019 was the roughest year. I did one job.

How did you survive? Are you like, a mad saver?

I don’t believe in saving; actually, I can’t save for a future I don’t know about.

I did a huge job with Hennessy, and I was on a billboard. That contract was around the end of 2018, so literally, that money paid for life through to 2019. And I opened my print shop and started selling prints and doing my prints on tees, out of necessity. If I wasn’t broke, I wouldn’t have done it.

What is broke to you?

When I have less than Sh5,000.

5k? He ok, but brokeness is different when you’re a parent.

Funny enough, I’ve never been worried about the children and what they will eat. It’s somehow never gotten there. There’ll always be a ka-rice. I’ve had a friend give me 5kgs of rice after asking if we have food. You eat rice with beans somewhere. You can’t miss beans if you look inside in the corner somewhere! My broke, at least, has people around me who can hold me when the line is slacking. And sometimes I can do the same. The kind of people who you can tell each other, listen, I need 10k, and I don’t know when I’ll pay you back.

How are you feeling about Covid-19?

It’s just freelancing every day. The whole world is living the way creatives usually live. It makes me feel like maybe if people paid us better and faster, we’d be ok [through Corona]. Because usually it takes people sijui eight years to pay…

What are you most grateful for, in this moment?

Honestly – I think I’m really grateful for this talent. It’s never lost on me how I feel my life would be so different if I didn’t have what I do. And it isn’t the doing in itself, it’s just what it makes me feel, to do the work that I do, when people receive it when I access doors that I would never have thought would open for me.

Categories
Online Work

Strategies for Engaging Students in ‘Meaningful’ Online Learning Experiences – Education Week

(Today’s post is the first in a three-part series.)

The new question-of-the-week is:

What are effective instructional strategies to use when teaching an online class?


This new series continues a 25-post “blitz” that began on Aug. 1 supporting teachers as we enter a pandemic-fueled school year.

You can see all the posts from this month, as well as the 60 from the spring, at All Classroom Q&A Posts on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Today, Doug Fisher, Nancy Frey, Gina Laura Gullo, and Vivian Micolta Simmons share their suggestions.

A framework for designing learning experiences

Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey are professors of educational leadership at San Diego State University and teacher leaders at Heath Sciences High.  They are the authors, with John Hattie, of The Distance Learning Playbook, published by Corwin:

This column is not about tools and apps, even though those are important considerations in online teaching.  Instead, we would like to focus on ways to engage students in meaningful learning experiences.  Naturally, this will require tools and apps, but that’s not our focus here.  As we have observed over 70 teachers rapidly move to distance teaching, we noted a pattern in the ways that they engaged students.  Lessons were no longer contained in an hourlong block (or two-hour literacy block).  Instead, time became more fluid.  Thus, we had to rethink an instructional model that would accommodate this change.  We modified the gradual release of responsibility framework for online distance learning.  We believe that there are four categories that are useful in designing learning experiences, all of which center around the learning expectations. 

  1. Demonstrating. The first area that we’ll explore we call demonstrating. What do students need to see or experience from their teachers? What modeling, worked examples, or think-alouds would help?  This is where students receive input and information but with the thinking provided.  It’s not simply a lecture (it can be recorded or live) but rather a demonstration of the cognitive or metacognitive skills students need to develop.  We particularly like tools that allow students to be assessed on the information provided during demonstrations, such as PlayPosit, which allows teachers to quiz students about the information in the video recording.  We encourage teachers to allow students to watch segments again if they do not respond correctly to the questions.  We have learned that frequent, low-stakes assessments are more likely to keep students engaged in learning online.
  2. Collaborating. Student-to-student interaction is an important aspect of learning and should be integrated into online learning experiences. Unfortunately, too many online courses are piles of independent work with limited opportunities for interaction.  We particularly like the breakout-room function in Zoom.  We use protocols to hold students accountable for their interactions, such as Text Rendering in which students read a piece of text and then, in their groups, each share a significant sentence, then a significant phrase, and then a significant word.  They scribe these in Google Docs so that the teacher can see the progress of the groups.  Next,they discuss the patterns they noticed in their collective responses to determine what the text means.  We also like five-word summaries.  After reading, each student locates five summarizing words from the reading. Next, we place students in pairs in breakout rooms where they compare their lists and reach consensus on a revised set of five words. Then we collapse the rooms so that each pair joins another pair. Here they work as a foursome to reach consensus on a final list of five words that represent the group’s thinking.  Each student then individually completes a summary paragraph of the text using the final list of five words.
  3. Coaching and facilitating. This is commonly done in smaller groups and allows teachers to provide needed direct instruction or guided learning experiences.  From our experiences, these are often done in a synchronous environment so that the teacher can adjust to the needs of the students. Typically, this process begins with a question, either from the teacher or the students. Teachers can prompt and cue students, providing just enough support for students to experience cognitive demand. We are still looking for tools to do this.  Right now, this is the heavy lifting of teachers in online learning.
  4. Practicing. This provides students an opportunity to replicate and apply what they have learned. There is no shortage of independent tasks students can complete online. They can take quizzes, write papers, complete labs, and the like.  We also like tools such as Achieve3000 (Kidbiz, Empower) that provide students practice with reading while also receiving corrective feedback. This system assigns texts aligned with students’ current reading performance. This system adjusts upward as students demonstrate success in comprehending the texts.

There are an abundance of ways that teachers can engage students in meaningful learning experiences online. We find it useful to design these experiences with an instructional framework in mind so that each module or learning unit develops students’ understanding in an intentional way.

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Modifying face-to-face instruction for a virtual setting

Gina Laura Gullo is an educational equity consultant with GLG Consulting and a researcher of unintentional bias and interventions that serve to lessen the impact of such biases. She also adjuncts and mentors in educational leadership at several Mid-Atlantic universities:

As the need for effective online instruction grows, teachers must learn new strategies to keep students engaged in learning. Several strategies for effective face-to-face instruction and classroom- management work in online settings as well. The list below provides several common in-person strategies teachers often implement to keep students engaged in instructional content with descriptions of how to use each in an online setting.

Strategies for Synchronous Learning:

  1. Think-Pair-Share: Teachers can use the breakout-room feature available in many video-conference formats, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, to have students discuss learning in pairs or triads. To do this, set the program to randomly assign breakout rooms of two to three participants each and share a screen with the content for discussion and a timer during the breakout sessions.
  2. Proximity Control: While teachers cannot walk around the classroom in a virtual setting, they can highlight students or listen in during small groups. During full-group synchronous teaching, use the private chat feature to check in with students individually. When in breakout rooms, move between the rooms as the host to listen in to discussions.
  3. Random Responses: Teachers who typically select student names from a jar to see who answers the next question can do this using a numbered list of student names and a random number sequence generator. Call on students based on their number in the list using the order shown in the random sequence to keep students engaged and include the entire class.

Strategies for Asynchronous Learning:

  1. Learning Stations: When students cannot move around a classroom to visit different learning stations, they can participate in different learning activities during asynchronous learning in a self-chosen order. Provide online content that includes several activities but allow students to select the order of the activities. For example:
    • Station 1: Vocabulary Matching Game can help students develop academic vocabulary and language.
    • Station 2: E-text Chapter can continue reading development and offer direct instruction. Many also offer “essential questions” to guide student reading.
    • Station 3: Learning Modules offer adaptive learning that often include formative assessment and targeted feedback.
    • Station 4: Virtual Museum Tour offers a field experience and nonlinguistic learning on a topic.
  2. Inquiry-Based Learning: While inquiry-based learning remains difficult asynchronously, the “flipped classroom” format offers a tool for offering a level of inquiry in the classroom. Provide students with topics to research online during asynchronous class time that are required prior to synchronous class time. Then, use this learning to guide a collaborative discussion where students serve as “experts” on each topic. After class, during asynchronous work, students can work together (virtually) or independently to merge learning during class with their inquiry topic and make sense of the content.
  3. Guided Note-Taking: Synchronous learning can offer the same note guides or graphic organizers that would be used in a traditional face-to-face setting. Rather than using these during teacher lecture, the guides can focus inquiry-based learning using the internet or streamline reading and summarization of text-based materials.

These strategies for effective online instruction reflect only a few of the face-to-face modalities that remain applicable with online instruction. While learning new instructional strategies remains critical to developing the best online learning environments, teachers can also use these familiar, time-tested instructional strategies to keep students effectively engaged in instruction.

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Take a break”

Vivian Micolta Simmons was born in Colombia and has been in the U.S. for seven years. She has been a teacher for 14 years and is currently working as a ESL/DLI lead teacher for the Iredell-Statesville schools in N.C:

As a former DLI (dual-language immersion) teacher, ESL teacher for K-8, and recently becoming an ESL/DI lead teacher in the county, I teach students and work on administration duties as well. At school, the administration gave us directions to set up private Facebook pages (per grade level), which parents can only access by request. Teachers are using different resources to keep the learning going. For instance, some teachers are using the Facebook private page to post links to Zoom meetings. Some are posting links to sites like the Khan Academy, and others are creating videos ahead of time to teach a lesson.

Creating these videos has been both challenging and rewarding. At first, it wasn’t comfortable deciding what to do and how to contribute to online teaching. Also, given the new responsibilities, it was imperative to find a quick, useful way to teach to set up the daily routine. The answer was: video recording. QuickTime Player is an app that allows voice and screen recording. It is easy to preview vocabulary and work on listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities.

To sum it up, here are some important points to share:

– Even though times are difficult and uncertain, we are fortunate to have a job still and do what we love.  

– Be flexible with yourself and the students: think about the due dates set and the amount of information sent. Remote learning and teaching are new for ALL of us, and some families still do not have devices or internet service. Less is OK for now.

– Check in on students. A phone call can do wonders and will strengthen positive relationships.  

– Send frequent emails or announcements but do not overcommunicate. Keeping families informed is a must right now, but do not flood them with tons of information. It is not about quantity but quality.

– Stick to just one form of communication (email, ClassDojo, Class Tag, Talking Points, Facebook closed pages) to give parents and students a sense of consistency. 

– Start small and keep things manageable.

– Provide support and feedback for students. If unable to get hold of some families, communicate with the school administration to provide guidance.

– Watch tutorials, read blogs, or check out webinars (simple K12, Cassie Create abilities, Saddleback, Edmentum, Larry Ferlazo) if you need advice or work on your CEU credentials.

– Reach out to peers and ask for help if needed, simply to reach a consensus on what is working for others.

– Follow your school administrator’s guidance and ask for help when needed. We are all in this together. 

– Take a break and rest. Self-care is a must. Unplug from social media periodically and abstain yourself from reading negative stories online. 

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Thanks to Doug, Nancy, Gina, and Vivian for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected]. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

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Categories
Online Work

Adventist Pastor Awarded Romania’s Order of Merit – Adventist Review

August 14, 2020

Corneliu Benone Lupu decorated as Knight for his work during the pandemic.

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor serving in Italy has been awarded Romania’s Order of Merit for his philanthropic work and community involvement during the current pandemic. Corneliu Benone Lupu, who serves the Seventh-day Adventist Romanian community in Italy, was appointed to the National Order of Merit with the rank of Knight, according to a decree signed by Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, on August 6, 2020. 

The recognition was shared with Athanasius of Bogdania, vicar bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Italy. According to the official release, both Romanian citizens working in Italy will be decorated “as a sign of great appreciation and gratitude for the solidarity and dedication shown in their intense social and philanthropic activity in favor of Romanian citizens living in the territory of the Italian Republic.” The government release added that the assistance work carried out by both members of the clergy “helped limit the impact that the current epidemiological crisis has had on the Romanian community and especially on vulnerable social groups.”

According to sources of the Romanian Orthodox Church, many Romanians working in Italy have a precarious financial situation. “The effects of the coronavirus crisis have brought them to the limit,” they said. Orthodox and Adventist congregations catering to Romanians in Italy have provided not only food but also medicines, hygiene products, and even cash to cover unpaid apartment rents.

In comments to Notizie Avventisti in Italy, Lupu said that it is a prize that he shares with many others. “This honor is not only mine but of all of the Roman churches and pastors who have worked together during this period.”

Lupu explained that it was awarded to him mainly for the work accomplished in these last months of the coronavirus emergency. “But we have always worked as a team, so the merit is [for] all of us, but above all for God, who accompanied and supported us. God is the only one who gets all the credit for everything we have accomplished,” he said.

The National Order of Merit is an honor of ancient tradition in Romania. Abolished after the communist revolution, it was restored by a public act in 2000. According to official sources, the two honors have been awarded under the “Order of Faithful Service.”

Lupu and his family have lived in Italy for years. He has served the Romanian-speaking Adventist communities of Turin and Rome. He is currently serving the Italian-speaking churches of Rome Lungotevere and Rieti and the Latin American community in the capital.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division news site.


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Categories
Remote Jobs

EU-Startups Job Board: 5 cool startup jobs waiting for you in the glorious Nordics – EU-Startups

Recently we re-launched the EU-Startups job board and are offering free postings until the end of August, to give the startup ecosystem a helping hand during the current climate. This means there are about 2 weeks left, so if you’ve got a cool job to promote, now is the time!

Today we’re shining a light on the cool jobs available in the Nordic countries. From countries like Norway (which is the number 1 place to live according to the UN), to Sweden (where almost one-fifth of the entire workforce works in tech), there are lots of opportunities for tech and startup enthusiasts in this region of the world.

Don’t forget you can easily search the EU-Startups job board by location, full-time/part-time, and keyword to bring up cool jobs in your area.

So without further ado, here are 5 cool jobs coming from the Nordics:

Rejsefacts.dk, based in Denmark, is all about online travel and giving information and tips for the next dream trip. Currently they are looking for a skilled Danish content writer to join their team in Aarhus. The successful person will be writing travel guides and other travel-related content, and might even get sent on some bonus free press trips.

appen provides high-quality training data to deploy world-class AI. The team is looking for a Social Media Evaluator (Danish Speakers) to join their remote-first team. If you are a critical thinker, like a challenge, and enjoy having varied tasks at work, then take a look. They are also inviting Norwegian speakers to join their Search Evaluation tasks.

Göteborg-based startup Brinja is dedicated to and passionate about improving safety for construction workers. The Swedish team is currently looking for a short-term UI Designer or graphical designer who has worked with mobile apps, to work on tasks like creating company branding, designing standard components and collaborating with programmers.

Educational technology startup Checheza are on a mission to give children worldwide access to quality education. They are currently on the lookout for a CTO (senior developer who will take on a full-stack developer and technical leadership role in the startup), as well as a Marketing Intern (to work with social media and website content). 

NCrypted is a startup enabler and end-to-end software company. The international team, which is spread over numerous countries (India, Finland and the US, with a Berlin office coming soon), is looking for a Business Development Director. The new team member should speak fluent Finnish.

To see more jobs across the whole of Europe, from Amsterdam to Roma, take a look at the job board yourself. Jobs are arriving every day, so it’s worth checking daily for new positions.

Categories
Freelance jobs Online

Just Eat to stop using gig economy workers – BBC News

Just Eat delivery person on bike Image copyright Getty Images

The boss of one of the world’s biggest food delivery platforms has told the BBC he intends to end gig working at his company across Europe.

Jitse Groen, who runs Just Eat Takeaway, says he would rather run his company with staff who get benefits and more workplace protection.

It is the model he has used at the Takeaway.com part of the business he founded 20 years ago.

Gig workers have flexible hours but normally not benefits like holiday pay.

In many industries, coronavirus has made incomes more unsteady for these workers, as companies look to cut back on discretionary spending.

Asked if the pandemic had made him more sensitive to the difficulties gig workers face, Mr Groen said: “It’s our intent not to have those in Europe.”

He said he did not like the people his company relies on to deliver food from restaurants to have to endure tougher working conditions.

“We’re a large multinational company with quite a lot of money and we want to insure our people,” he said. “We want to be certain they do have benefits, that we do pay taxes on those workers.”

Those workers have at least been busy since coronavirus lockdowns began across Europe.

In the company’s three biggest European markets – the UK, Germany and the Netherlands – orders rose 34% to 149 million in the first half of this year compared with the same time in 2019.

Mega mergers

Two huge mergers mean Just Eat Takeaway is set to be the world’s biggest food delivery company outside China.

A $7.3bn deal with US rival Grubhub was announced in June, while Takeaway, founded by Mr Groen, completed a £5.9bn deal for UK based Just Eat in January.

Mr Groen says demand for his companies’ services have recovered from an initial fall when Europe first went into lockdown, leading to a 30% fall in revenue.

“What we’ve seen in March is that our revenue actually dropped, because people were hoarding food at the supermarkets and were basically surrounded by a lot of food and therefore there was no need to order online,” he said.

Image caption Just Eat Takeaway chief executive Jitse Groen wants workers to have benefits

However, eating habits have since changed, with millions ordering food in because they weren’t able to visit restaurants.

Mr Groen said: “If you’re locked down in your house for two weeks, then you also want to eat something else, and so we saw an increase of demand from April onwards.

“And now we’re actually growing much faster than we anticipated.”

The Grubhub deal means that growth will accelerate even further, giving Mr Groen more to digest at a time when many companies are putting expansion plans on hold because of the pandemic.

He said the merger was “a logical thing” and while he would have liked more time between that deal and the Just Eat one, he said: “Let’s be realistic, probably it would not have been possible in two years.”

In the first six months of this year, Grubhub, which operates in 4,000 US cities, took an average of 581,700 orders a day.

That could mean Mr Groen hiring a lot more staff. At the moment, freelance delivery drivers take those meals from restaurants to customers.

He says: “We’re still evaluating for instance Canada and of course later on we’ll have to look at the US.”

But it doesn’t mean riders will necessarily lose the flexibility that many enjoy and some use to top up the salaries they get from a main job.

Mr Groen says there may be scope to keep the freelance model in some countries, if it is possible to pay insurance for them, but he said: “It is our intent to make the quality of life of these people a lot better than what it might be now.”

You can watch Jitse Groen’s full interview on Talking Business with Aaron Heslehurst on BBC World News at Saturday 23:30 GMT, Sundays 16:30 GMT, Monday 06:30 GMT and 13:30 GMT, Tuesday 05:30 GMT and 11:30 GMT.

Categories
Freelance jobs Online

Changing the world, one mom at a time – Manila Bulletin

How one mother’s dream is helping many other mothers achieve dreams of their own

WFH. This three-letter acronym has risen to instant global popularity in probably just a span of two months due to the current global crisis brought about by the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic. The acronym WFH I am referring to here stands for “work-from-home,” which now seems to be how most of the working population worldwide describes what they do—working remotely or outside their offices, also known as freelancing or doing online work.

Maria Korina “MK” Bertulfo, 26, chief executive officer and founder of FHMoms (Filipina Homebased Moms), had a simple dream, and that was to work from home. Little did she know that achieving her dream would inspire and pave the way for more than 200,000 other Filipinas all over the world to achieve their own. 

A blessing in disguise 

Three years ago, MK was a young mom working as a business process outsourcing employee. The daily work routine was grueling. “It started with queuing unbelievably long lines to get on a public transport to get to the office, to hours in horrendous traffic, working an eight-hour shift, then the same chaotic commute.”She wanted to be like her mom who worked overseas for two years just to provide for her family, before sadly losing her battle to ovarian cancer. She says, “I envisioned myself as a working mom just like her, but I wanted to make sure I would be able to stay home to take care of my son and my husband while earning money as a work-at-home mom.”  She knew she needed to do something, “I dreamed of making the transition to working from home.” 

Her husband, Jimver “Jim” Bertulfo, then 30 years old, left the same company in which they were working together to pursue an online job. Months later, MK followed suit and applied for an online job herself. “I came across onlinejobs.ph, one of the biggest and known online home-based job portals,” she recounts. “I tried creating a profile for the first time. After only a few hours, someone had sent me an invite to work.” She and Jimver worked in the same company as email support. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Challenges won

The biggest challenge was the transitioning from being a corporate employee into a full-time work-at-home mom. “It was a combination of emotional, physical, and mental struggles, plus the negative feedback and continuous questions from the society was really not helping out,” recalls MK. “The confusion, the doubt, the worries, the pressure—all of these shook me to the core over and over again.”

Everything happened because she decided to take that leap of faith. “If I did not take that risk of leaving everything behind, especially the job and financial security that came with it, and overcoming all the struggles, to try my luck in the freelancing industry, I would not be the person I am and where I am now.”  With guts, and her son as her inspiration, she just kept going. 

Today, MK and Jim get to spend as much time as they want with their five-year old son Luke Jeshua. In fact, they get to “bring him to work” every single day.  She says, “In just three years of WFH, we were able to travel and buy our dream house. I can say that I’m the happiest mom and wife because I can take care of my family while fulfilling my dreams.” 

More to be done 

When MK landed her first online job, she simply wanted to share the good news with her friends. “Unable to contain my happiness, I gloriously shared my experience to my mom-friends who, eventually, I had helped land online jobs, too,” she says. 

Since she was new in the world of online work, she felt the need to have a support group. She built a small community on Facebook for moms where fellow moms could support one another in treading the WFH path. In 2017, the Facebook community, Filipina Homebased Moms, better known as FHMoms, was born. “The response from Pinay moms was overwhelming. I didn’t expect that there were so many moms like me who had a common dream of having an opportunity to earn while staying at home. That gave me the inspiration to do more to help them achieve their dreams,” says MK.

FHMoms is still a growing community exclusive for Pinay Moms, regardless of age, location, and civil status, whose common dream is to have an opportunity to be financially secure by earning while staying home to spend more time with their families. 

Leveling up 

MK observed that the common factors among the members were feelings of intimidation and lacking confidence to pursue WFH. And it all stems from their limited knowledge about the industry. “Aside from the livelihood opportunities, they really need a support system and a confidant. They needed to see that being a mom is not their end game—that it is a step to an exciting adventure.”

She took things seriously. “My vision jumped a hundred levels up from just a community simply offering support to a community of empowered women who have valuable contributions to the world. Women who live fulfilling family lives because they are confident and secure no matter what lies ahead,” she says. 

The journey hasn’t been a walk in the park. It was hard work for MK as she set herself out on a mission to help these moms—all by herself. “When the demand for advice from real freelance moms increased, that was when the real hard work started,” she recounts. “I had to equip myself with knowledge and skills, and then taught them myself. I did it all online.” Eventually, the demand grew far and wide, MK had to seek the help of other freelancers and experts with different skills in specific fields to provide the members the information and training they needed. What the community was doing received such good feedback that word got around real quick. “The next thing I knew, the community was already in the hundred thousands. I was overwhelmed but really pumped up!” she beams.

Dreams come true

With the current economic crisis, and restrictions on working out of our homes, the group now averages 100-200 new member requests every day. Instead of backing down, MK wants to work harder for the community. She gets inspired whenever she reaches more moms and gets to guide them in their pursuit of excellence. FHMoms provides free webinars and paid online courses about freelancing, parenting, and entrepreneurship. Aside from e-learning, the community also supports its members in having the necessary tools to start WFH, through its computer rent-to-own program, and e-commerce. For members enrolled in the courses, internship and job-matching support are also offered.

 “We cannot stop growing and improving,” MK says. “We need to supply the demand for knowledge and skills. And whenever we see our students show off the fruit of their efforts, you will be more and more inspired and driven. We learn about their stories about how they are now earning well enough to help their families. Some have fulfilled their dreams of buying their own houses or moving into their own homes, being able to come home and not needing to work overseas anymore, encouraging even their husbands to WFH.”  Jim also has his own community called Pinoy Homebased Dads (PHDads). It caters to Filipino men who want to go into or are already WFH.   

Because of one woman’s simple dream for herself, this growing community continues to empower countless women and their families. MK’s drive and determination have truly made a mark, and a number of institutions have taken notice. FHMoms has been invited and featured in countless news programs, publications, podcasts, and international summits.  MK and the group have also been noticed and awarded the Community of the Year in Freelancer Fair 2018, AIM-Dado Banatao Incubatee, Innovation for Social Impact and Partnership 2020, and Facebook Accelerator Program Cohort 2020, to name a few. Aside from the support that they give to the members, they are also able to assist local and international companies in terms of talent sourcing, advertising, and market research services. This way, they are also able to help members in getting more opportunities to earn.

More dreams to fulfill

MK is nowhere close to stopping right now. From her own personal dream, she is making thousands of dreams a reality. She has big plans for the FHMoms. “We are planning to focus on the basic foundation of an organization, policies, systems, procedures, and everything needed to keep us running,” she enthuses. Many moms look up to us as having a huge influence in shaping their career paths and lives. We are continuously developing projects and programs to accommodate their needs. We are also putting everything into its rightful place in terms of comprehensive procedures for our programs.”  MK wants to grow the community even bigger, so they can reach as many Pinay moms as they can wherever part of the world they are. She hopes they can inspire and empower more women, and that the members they have helped through their initiatives would pay it forward to other women too. 

Does she have any more dreams to fulfill? MK has this to say, “Let us change the world, one mom at a time.”

*Angel studied Political Economy but found more satisfaction working in the fashion and advertising industries as a professional fashion stylist since 2000. She took time off from work for a few years to be a stay-at-home-mom to her son Rocco. She is now back pursuing her passion as a Personal Brand and Image Consultant, and as a Certified Self-Confidence Coach.  Follow her at Style Angel Manila on Facebook and @style_angelph on IG.

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