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Aha Education meets USI: support the field project for master students

Aha Education has been accepted as one collaborating firm in Switzerland for Universita della svizzera italiana to support their field project program for master students. The Field Project consists in a consultancy study on behalf of a firm, conducted by a group of USI Masters’ students under the supervision of a professor (“tutor”) of the specific Master for a standard duration of 3 months.

The students who opt to work for Aha Education will work in the project of Programship.com. It is a Swiss match-making web platform serving in the field of academic mobility to connect international academic programs’ promoters and the prospective international students by offering a variety of tools to enhance their online exchanges of information and communication.

Programship aims to have a final report including the following sections:

  • User expectation
  • Usability inspection
  • Usability testing
  • Suggestions on improvement

Students are expected to:

  • conduct user expectation research by interviewing/surveying program recruiters from European educational institutions via online media;
  • conduct usability inspection as “experts” to discover and report problems of the existing user interface of the platform for both student user account and recruiter user account;
  • conduct usability testing by recruiting a group of student users and a group of program recruiters; and
  • propose advices on how to improve the existing user experience design.
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Digitalize Business Cards: 5 Steps to Boost Efficiency

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Jingjing Lin

Today, I finally got the chance to calm myself down and organize the accumulated business cards that I received over a long period. Now, I am not a very social person so the number of these business cards seem still manageable. But still in front of me, there are 175 business cards, which need to be categorized, grouped, and stored somehow.

Here I am not talking about putting them in a more bearable way to simply tidy up the space.

 

I am talking about what I call Digitalize Business Cards. And here are five steps on how to do it.

 

STEP 1 . PICK A BUSINESS CARD ORGANIZER APP AND INSTALL ON YOUR PHONE

There are a plenty of choices of apps to help you make this work much easier. You can check for instance this post ‘5 apps to help you digitally organize business cards’ to dedice on it. I picked CamCard and the experience is actually pleasant and satisfying. The only short coming is the free version only allows 200 cards in the list. If you want more, you gotta pay.

 

STEP 2 . CREATE GROUPS

You need to organize your contacts under groups. For instance, I organized mine into:

  • Business contacts
  • School contacts
  • Govenment contacts
  • Student contacts
  • Others

These groups will help you find the contacts much faster.

 

STEP 3 . SCAN BUSINESS CARDS ONE BY ONE

This part of job is very neck-challenging, I must admit. But still it is much faster than recognizing the information on the business cards all by yourself. The app usually can help to detect the relevant information, such as name, email, phone, fax number, address, company, etc, and copy them to the fields of a form, where all the information automatically gets digitalized after the scanning.

 

STEP 4 . MODIFY INFORMATION ON THE FORM

The technology of information recognition of these apps, though, is not perfect. You will find some information not correct or accurate. So after the scanning, you should examine each field of the form that was generated from the scanning, and make sure all information transfered from the paper business cards is correct. If not, you need to manually modify it to make sure you have the contact right.

 

STEP 5 . EXPORT TO EXCEL/VCARD 

After you scanned and modified every business card on your hand, you will have a list of digitalized business cards on your app.

Now, what you need to do is to have a back up in a distributable format such as Excel spreadsheet or vcard. I prefer exporting them to a spreadsheet, where I can do whatever change, add additional information, make backup copies, or share with other colleagues when needed.

Congratulations! You have learnt how to Digitalize Business Cards. To sum up, this task has five steps including:

  • STEP 1 . PICK A BUSINESS CARD ORGANIZER APP AND INSTALL ON YOUR PHONE
  • STEP 2 . CREATE GROUPS
  • STEP 3 . SCAN BUSINESS CARDS ONE BY ONE
  • STEP 4 . MODIFY INFORMATION ON THE FORM
  • STEP 5 . EXPORT TO EXCEL/VCARD

Some tips for you to take away:

  • Do not too much rely on one method of storing your contacts, because it may fail you in an unexpected way. For instance, I once used Mailchimp to organize my contacts in its account. Then GDPR came this May, and Mailchimp requested its users to take action to agree on the new terms and policies within a deadline or else the account will be closed. Of course, I missed that email and realized it three months later… Well, have to admit that I am not Mailchimp’s frequent user, as well.
  • Make sure you check the scanned information and modify when necessary. Or else, you will end up having a pile of incorrect digital business cards which cannot help you reach anyone.
  • Take advantage of the technology and carefully pick one tool that suits you. And stop manually inputting business cards anymore. It really takes a lot of time and kills your mood.

Thanks for your reading. And if you like this post and find it useful, please kindly help to share it to your social media channels.

 

About Author

Dr. Jingjing Lin, hols a PhD degree in Communication Sciences, and a Master degree in Information and Technologies in Education. She is the cofounder of Aha Education Sagl.

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ASEAN student, academic mobility is patchy

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Jingjing Lin

Student and academic mobility, particularly within the Southeast Asian regions, underpins the region’s globalisation of higher education, with concerted efforts to streamline visa procedures across the region to aid student mobility.

However, significant social and political hurdles are still to be overcome, according to a new report by the British Council.

The study, The Shape of Global Higher Education: Understanding the ASEAN region, released at the British Council’s Going Global conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last week, looks at policies to promote internationalisation in higher education among the 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

It notes that nine out of the 10 countries score highly or very highly on cross-border openness generally. The scoring in the study measures national-level strategies supporting inbound and outbound mobility of students and academics, openness of academic programmes, and collaborative research.

Of the 10 ASEAN countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – only Myanmar scored ‘low’ on this measure while Malaysia and Thailand scored ‘very high’ on openness of the higher education system, including student and academic mobility.

Countries in the region were working to make the recognition of foreign qualifications more transparent. Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines score well on this, according to the study.

“Interestingly, the recognition of TNE qualifications is not as advanced as that of foreign qualifications, although work is under way to improve this across the region,” the report says, referring to foreign qualifications delivered to local universities, known as transnational education or TNE.

Choltis Dhirathiti, executive director of the ASEAN University Network Secretariat in Bangkok, which for some years has been working on credit transfer mechanisms to boost student mobility, recently told University World News it was a long drawn-out process, not least because of the huge disparity between countries in the region, and within countries between universities themselves.

“Quality and standards are very obvious in the eye of the beholder – you can see clearly that this student has a higher quality [education] while that student doesn’t, and this hinders our universities’ exchange programmes through credit transfer mechanisms in a multilateral framework, meaning among universities in a big group like ASEAN,” Choltis said.

Universities in ASEAN “still prefer to do exchanges bilaterally and prefer to negotiate with their counterparts one-to-one and set up customised exchange programmes, maybe without credit transfer or with transit transfer, or sometimes with only credit and no letter grades,” he said.

Student mobility

Within ASEAN, Malaysia and Singapore are in the top 20 countries worldwide for incoming international students, with students entering from within ASEAN and from outside, according to the British Council report.

Nonetheless, “despite Brunei, Cambodia and Vietnam all having relatively low numbers of international students, there is evidence of efforts being made to develop clarity in the entry and selection criteria for international students,” the study says, adding that “much of this work is being undertaken at the level of higher education institutions themselves in developing their own policies, rather than at the sector-wide level.”

All 10 ASEAN countries have some form of study-abroad scholarship programme, but these vary greatly in size and extent, the study says.

In Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, the national government takes the lead in offering scholarships, while in other countries foreign aid plays a bigger role – particularly from countries like Japan extending mobility outside the region – although the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme offers ASEAN masters scholarships for ASEAN member states’ citizens.

The Cambodian government offers scholarships for Vietnamese and Laotian students to study the Khmer language and engineering. Singapore also has a well-funded ASEAN Scholarship Scheme and the Singaporean government also provides scholarships for Indian nationals to study at Singaporean institutions.

Academic mobility and brain drain

The study notes that there is “as yet, less evidence of policies to actively support academic mobility through preferential visa policies or working opportunities in the ASEAN region”.

However, academic staff working abroad is seen as a way to improve the academic capacity of the domestic higher education system.

The majority of countries have some form of programme in place to enable outbound academic mobility, or in the case of Myanmar, are working towards such a programme. “Where inbound academic mobility is concerned, there is less activity evident,” it says.

Many countries sending academics abroad have “safeguards” to ensure they return home.

“Understandably, there are anxieties from ASEAN nations regarding the impact of expansion of IHE [international higher education] on their internal capacities if it leads to more academic staff moving abroad and not returning,” the study says.

Brain drain is an issue in Malaysia, Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines, and it is also a concern for Myanmar, where anti-‘brain drain’ policies feature heavily in the National Education Strategic Plan for 2016-21.

Cross-border research collaboration

“Limitations in the ability of ASEAN nations to fund academic mobility does not imply, though, that they are not willing partners in working with each other and those outside the region on international research collaboration,” the study says.

ASEAN countries are not significant funders of research collaboration-building, with the possible exception of Malaysia. “But they are devoting resources within their capabilities, and some countries – Malaysia again, Thailand and Vietnam – are taking a strategic approach to partnership development.”

Singapore’s A*STAR, the national agency for science, technology and research, funds scholarships for postdoctoral training at leading overseas laboratories.

“Research collaboration in Southeast Asia is a huge challenge and we still cannot perform well in this,” the ASEAN University Network’s Choltis admitted.

While funding for collaborations is an issue, another is building trust, Choltis says. “You need to know each other very well, otherwise it is very difficult to manage cross-border research collaboration projects.”

Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Singapore have dedicated units to further such collaborations, but this is not the case in other ASEAN countries.

In all the countries of the region, “research collaborations tend to be led by particular institutions which have the necessary capacity originating from their histories and-or size,” the study says, adding that “the leading role these relatively more prestigious universities play is usually supported by policy-makers”.

Noting the development of a few elite world-class universities that conduct international collaboration in research, the study warns: “An approach to international research collaboration that prioritises the development of a small number of universities that will rank highly in particular global ranking systems may inevitably come at the expense of the development of international research collaborations across the whole of the higher education system.”