Building from Within: Why SMBs Need Intrapreneurship
American businessman Farrah Gray has the famous saying, “build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs”. This statement gives the impression that company employees are always solely working to make an employer’s idea come true. This, however, is not always the case, thanks to intrapreneurship.
Intrapreneurship — a term that interestingly doesn’t circulate around very often — refers to a system where employees can take agency and conduct entrepreneurial projects within a company. An intrapreneur, therefore, can be thought of as an entrepreneur within a company. In all cases, the employee sees opportunity in a business idea and acts on it, developing a new product or service that could potentially bring in more revenue to the company. Intrapreneurship can also be based on other initiatives, such as to enhance corporate social responsibilities. It is particularly important for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as intrapreneurship is where business ideas are generated, and where employees get to unlock their creative potential.
Intrapreneurship vs. Entrepreneurship
A common question is how intrapreneurship differs from entrepreneurship. Intrapreneurs work on their business ideas within the confines of the companies they already work for; entrepreneurs, on the other hand, have their own projects and businesses.
In simple terms, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs are different because of where they work on their ideas and how they handle risks and resources. Intrapreneurs are people who work on new ideas within the company they already work for. They use the company’s resources and share the risks and the rewards with their company. This means they have some support and help from the company while working on their ideas.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs work on their ideas independently, starting their own businesses. They have to find their own resources, like money and people to help them, and they make their own decisions about their projects. Entrepreneurs get to keep the profits they make, but they also have to deal with all the problems and risks on their own.
One well-known example to illustrate intrapreneurship is the invention of Post-it notes at 3M, a multinational conglomerate that applies scientific ideas to product creation. In the 1960s, 3M employee Spencer Silver invented a low-tack, pressure-sensitive adhesive (albeit somewhat by accident – he originally wanted to invent a stronger adhesive). Years later, his colleague Arthur Fry decided to “bookmark” his hymn book with a piece of paper that had this low-tack, reusable adhesive on it. The idea was a success, and post-it notes became a globally-known intrapreneurial project at the company for decades to come.
While 3M as a company was not originally established with the idea of selling post-it notes, this innovation within the business is a classic example of outstanding intrapreneurship. With this intrapreneurial idea, the business had an excellent product to manufacture, which not only grew the business but also increased the company’s innovative power. Crucially, 3M gave its employees the resources and the stage to experiment ideas, ultimately developing a new product. This showcases how Intraprensurship can only truly take place with adequate insight and support from the company’s higher-ups.
Benefits of intrapreneurship
There are multiple benefits of Intrapreneurship, which can be analyzed from the perspectives of both the business and the employee:
From the perspective of the business
Intrapreneurship implies the open-mindedness of business, demonstrating that top-level executives have trust in their employees to innovate. With intrapreneurship, the higher-ups of a business would open themselves to more perspectives and creative ideas. The goal of business is ultimately to expand, and intrapreneurship is where new projects are born. This, therefore, is key for cultural transformation, and it also drives innovation by introducing novel ideas, products, and services that help a business appear more competitive.
From a more technical perspective, intrapreneurship allows a business to truly use its human capital, allowing employees to give their best ideas with their existing expertise. It creates room to innovate with what the existing company infrastructure can offer, taking up less financial investment. Intrapreneurship also allows testing of new business ideas with a business’s existing resources before it is fully launched as a product, with more efficient adaptation based on team feedback.
From the perspective of the employee
Intrapreneurship motivates employees to actively contribute to a business’s innovation, beyond just completing their assigned tasks. This can lead to greater job satisfaction, reduced turnover rates, and a sense of belonging and being for the employee. An intrapreneurial culture encourages employees to keep thinking out of the box, putting a close eye on what could be considered the best ideas in their fields.
It is also necessary to mention that with intrapreneurship, employees would run less financial risk compared to entrepreneurship. This could be an opportunity for employees who aren’t risk-takers by nature, but who still have innovative ideas for business nonetheless.
Challenges of intrapreneurship
Fear of change
It is common to fear intrapreneurship as a concept, as it is not as often discussed as entrepreneurship, and there are fewer resources to learn about it. Remember, however, that intrapreneurship is all about continuous learning, as well as trial and error; both success and failures are seen as a chance for the company to grow.
Intrapreneurship takes time and resources, and it may be a challenge in the beginning to set that aside. Financial investment can also be another common concern, so the efficient use of lean methodologies to experiment with ideas, without putting in heavy investments, would be something to keep in mind.
Maintaining alignment with the core business
It is important for intrapreneurial projects to not interfere with the progress of existing projects, so it is critical to establish clear parameters for what can and cannot be done with intrapreneurial projects. Whether or not the intrapreneurial business idea sits well with the company brand is also another important one to address.
Steps for SMBs to embed intrapreneurship into their company
Intrapreneurship may sound like a novel, challenging idea, but here are some steps to help you facilitate the process:
1. Create communication channels for your employees
To foster an intrapreneurial culture, the first step is to encourage employees to voice their business ideas through simplified communication channels. Whether it be suggestion boxes in common areas, or monthly brainstorming sessions, you would need to create a space where employees feel welcome to share their creative thoughts. The importance of open communication is well-documented in organizational psychology, showing a direct correlation with increased employee engagement and innovation. Avoid bureaucratic procedures that may put off employees from speaking their minds, as this can stifle creativity and hinder the free exchange of ideas.
2. In-house training
Each of your employees–even if they share the same title–likely have different skill sets. Harness this diversity by having them use their expertise to teach fellow coworkers valuable skills or brainstorm new ideas for your company. Structured interactions, such as peer learning programs or hands-on workshops, can serve as an important learning experience for all employees. It also serves as an important catalyst to meld different perspectives into coherent, novel ideas.n Intrapreneurship, after all, is based on a culture of continuous learning.
3. Celebrate small wins
To truly foster intrapreneurship, it is necessary to celebrate any progress made and to make it clear to employees that their innovation is appreciated. This does not have to be in the form of huge financial awards– even a genuine letter of encouragement from the CEO may go a long way in cultivating an ongoing intrapreneurial culture. When employees perceive their efforts and contributions as valued, it fosters a sense of belonging and reinforces their commitment to organizational goals and the intrapreneurial project. By consistently recognizing and celebrating small wins, organizations can cultivate an environment where innovation thrives, and employees are motivated to contribute their best ideas.
4. Project management and feedback mechanism
For intrapreneurship to work, effective project management must be implemented. This would entail regular check-ins, meetings, reviews on feasibility, and channels for feedback to implement the idea. The need for meticulous project management in intrapreneurship is highlighted by the inherent uncertainty and risk involved in pioneering new ideas. For SMBs, where resources are typically limited, the impact of well-structured project management is even more pronounced. While these entities may already employ robust plans and strategies for existing projects, applying sound project management principles is imperative when navigating the uncharted territories of intrapreneurial initiatives.
Recognizing intrapreneurship as a productive way to run a business
Regardless of a business’s size,it is crucial for top leaders to be open to the innovative potential within their teams since the best ideas may not always emanate from the top. It is productive for a company to recognize intrapreneurship not just as a way to collect profitable ideas, but also as a channel to develop an encouraging company culture wherein employees feel valued and empowered to contribute original ideas. Intrapreneurship is a gateway into today’s competitive world of commerce, so take your first steps today to implement intrapreneurship into your SMB.
Ten Healthy Habits You Need to Start Doing at Work
A large portion of our lives is spent in the workplace, and over time, the habits we develop at work can begin to influence our health long-term. As such, it is essential to establish good practices that can not only improve our health but also be a key booster for productivity. Here, we explore ten positive habits you can start doing at the office, discussed in terms of physical and mental health.
1. Maintaining proper posture
If you have a sedentary job, less-than-ideal sitting positions and prolonged hours in your chair can cause long-term health problems. Bad sitting positions can be caused by sitting too high, too low, or having the screen at an unideal distance away from you. As such, purchasing a comfortable, ergonomic chair, getting the right equipment, and positioning yourself at a good distance away from your computer are the first steps to maintaining a healthy posture. Acer, for instance, has produced some robust guidelines on how to maintain proper posture in front of the computer.
2. Prioritizing eye care
Many jobs today necessitate that workers spend a significant amount of time in front of screens. In a world where many meetings and tasks are handled online, it's not uncommon to spend entire days in front of a computer. Extended screen time can cause not only eye strain and discomfort but also occasional severe migraines, and in extreme cases, may even lead to temporary short-sightedness.
For this reason, it is crucial to go through regulations on Display Screen Equipment (DSE) – an informative guideline on how best to position your screen and other electronic devices used at work. This healthy practice also acts as a reminder for you to pay heed to things such as your screen’s brightness levels, text size, contrast, and color temperature.
Additionally, taking a break from the screen every 20 minutes– even for a short duration of 20 seconds–can help prevent eye strain. During this break, it's ideal to look away from the screen and focus on an object at least 20 feet away. The benefits of doing so extend beyond eye health – by taking reasonably paced screen breaks, you can increase blood flow and clear your mind, reducing the chances of aches and mental burnout.
3. Limiting caffeine intake
Globally, many rely on a morning coffee to jumpstart their day. Coffee itself isn’t inherently unhealthy, provided it's not loaded with milk or sugar, and moderate caffeine consumption can even offer some health benefits. However, workplace stress could tempt individuals to consume excessive amounts of coffee, a condition otherwise known as ‘caffeinism,’ which can lead to caffeine-induced anxiety or sleep disorders. As tempting as it is, it’s prudent to limit visits to the coffee machine— a reminder that’s particularly important if the coffee at your workplace is free!
4. Staying hydrated
Given the predominant focus on caffeine in office culture, the importance of hydrating with water can often be overlooked. Not only is drinking water a simple and healthy choice, but it can also boost your blood circulation greatly on a day with intense schedules. Water can cool you down when emotionally stressed, and also lubricate your potentially achy joints after an entire day of work.
5. Practicing mindful eating
Closely related to caffeine overdose, there is also the concern of excessive snacking at work. For some people, eating snacks (particularly sweet ones) is a coping mechanism for stress, but a long-term habit of doing so could lead to an unnecessary build of sugar in the body, leading to diseases such as cancer. Conversely, opting for the right snacks at work, particularly those rich in complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and essential nutrients, can significantly enhance productivity by providing sustained energy, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and improving cognitive function. By prioritizing nutrient-dense snacks, such as nuts, fruits, and yogurt, and maintaining proper hydration, employees can counteract energy slumps, bolster focus and concentration, alleviate stress, and foster overall well-being.
6. Incorporating office exercises and walks
Long hours of focusing on the same thing can easily generate stress, particularly if you’re constantly on the computer. Time permitting, there are multiple benefits of taking a walk during work – not only does it boost your physical and mental health, but research also suggests that taking a walk can stimulate the brain to be more creative and productive. A true win-win situation indeed! A similar activity would be office exercises – there are several simple exercises you can do at your desk, such as squats or desk push-ups.
7. Power napping
If allowed at your workplace, consider taking some power naps of 10 to 30 minutes. Power naps cannot only temporarily rejuvenate you (in case you haven't had enough sleep from the evening before) but also lead to better work performance after your nap.Studies suggest that a short nap can improve mood, alertness, and cognitive performance, particularly in areas such as reaction time and memory. It can also alleviate stress and potentially reduce the risk of heart disease.
To optimize the benefits of power naps, find a quiet and comfortable place to avoid disturbances, block out light and noise, and set an alarm to prevent oversleeping, which can lead to grogginess. Avoid late-day naps to maintain regular sleep patterns at night. While the duration and environment for optimal power naps can vary individually, they are not a substitute for getting 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night, which is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and optimal health.
When time is tight, even simple stretches can level up your energy. The importance of stretching is that it prevents your muscles from shortening and tightening, which, in the long run, can help prevent strains, joint pain, and even muscle damage. Additionally, regular stretching can improve flexibility, increase blood flow to the muscles, enhance range of motion, and reduce stress and tension, contributing to overall well-being and improved physical performance. It’s advisable to incorporate a variety of stretches targeting different muscle groups and to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds to gain maximum benefits.
9. Meditating and practicing breathing exercises
Work life can be hugely stressful, so it can be beneficial to try meditation exercises during break time. Meditation doesn’t necessarily entail sitting cross-legged with eyes completely shut–you can meditate at any moment when you’re not actively doing something intense, such as when taking a walk during lunch or enjoying your coffee break. Meditation works by shifting the brain’s focus from stress-producing thoughts to a more relaxed state, promoting a sense of peace and calm. The 4-7-8-4 breathing technique is also said to ease anxiety when things get intense–try breathing in for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7, exhaling for 8 seconds, and redoing it four times. Regular practice can make it easier to return to a state of balance and calm in the midst of workplace challenges.
10. Building social connections and a supportive workspace
Lastly, since most people spend a considerable number of years working throughout their lifetime, it is important to create a working culture where socializing is the norm. While it is enjoyable to organize and attend dinners or parties, a supportive workplace doesn’t have to be based on grandiose events. Sometimes, a daily check-in with your colleagues–a kind gesture to inquire about each other’s well-being–could help construct an encouraging and mentally healthy workplace.
Work takes up around one-third of our lives, and the habits we create in this space will determine how healthy we are in the long run. A healthy work routine is essential not only for your own good but is also heavily linked to your physical and emotional well-being. Health at work, therefore, should be a collaborative effort between both the employer and employees.
How a Secure and Eco-Conscious Investment Can Benefit Your School
From pre-school to post-grad, the way we learn and teach is increasingly integrated with technology. Whether your school uses the flipped classroom model, hybrid learning, or simply provides learners with tablets or laptops for in-class activities, chances are technology benefits both students and educators in your school.
In this era of technological interdependence, striking a balance between innovation and sustainability becomes crucial. Schools are facing the challenge to not only integrate advanced, efficient, and engaging technology into the educational system but also to do so responsibly and sustainably.
When it comes to investing in student laptops and other IT purchases, have you considered eco-conscious, sustainable technology? Sustainable schools are an important part of our future, but we must also protect students’ information and privacy. In this article, we will discuss the importance of making sustainable IT investments, and then go on to introduce ways to ensure that student and staff data is protected.
Eco-conscious investments: A necessity for the future
As educators, we must lead by example. We are entering an era where studies indicate that our planet is beyond the safe operating space for humanity, making the teaching of eco-conscious values to our youth vital. A small, yet significant part of this is making secure, eco-conscious investments in our schools.
IT purchases, such as student laptops, typically go through a meticulous decision-making process. This process involves a needs assessment to identify the requirements, such as the number of units, technical specifications, and budget. Following potential vendor selection, pilot programs may be conducted before making procurement steps. After the laptops are delivered, software and security should be installed, to ensure ongoing data protection. A well-planned deployment strategy should be put in place, with training and ongoing support offered to both students and faculty.
How can schools be more sustainable?
In order to reduce your school’s carbon footprint, eco-conscious decisions in the procurement of laptops and other equipment must be implemented. Investing in laptops made with recycled materials can contribute to your school’s sustainability. Educational institutes are a fertile ground for integrating energy-efficient solutions. Some common examples include eco-friendly landscaping, occupancy sensors, building automation, and LED lighting. Enhancing your school’s sustainability should also encompass energy education and community outreach to educate pupils, parents, and staff alike. By addressing these issues and making eco-conscious investments, you will elevate the standing of your school in the community, attracting both students and staff.
Spotlight: Microsoft Intune for Education
Offering a cloud-based solution for set up and management of IT devices for both teachers and students, Microsoft Intune for Education maximizes your time. Designed around the needs of students and educators, Intune for Education encourages increased productivity, while protecting your school’s information. This mobile device management (MDM) service allows you to manage the devices and apps that your staff and students use. Furthermore, Intune protects your data by helping to control how your users access and share it, while ensuring that devices and apps meet security requirements.
Intune for Education’s cloud-based nature offers many benefits to school IT administrators. The service streamlines the management of devices, and can be used to deploy apps via the cloud. Remote app deployment and management ensures that students can access the apps that they require, while blocking app and internet access to age-inappropriate apps across their devices. Remote wipe and troubleshooting features further minimize device downtime and device handling.
Secure and optimize classroom tech with Intune for Education
Safeguarding student data is the educator’s responsibility. Intune for Education ensures that data privacy is safeguarded in compliance with data protection regulations. The security features of Intune for Education are an attractive feature of this service, offering the protection of Microsoft’s comprehensive security solutions. Intune for Education can be integrated with Microsoft’s various security solutions, such as those available in Windows 11 Pro. These include an extensive range of features, including BitLocker, Windows Defender Antivirus, and Device Guard. To find out more, check out this article for an overview of enhancing student and teacher data privacy.
Intune can help minimize the disruption caused by damaged laptops. Administrators can quickly deploy and ensure that replacement devices are properly configured for use in the classroom. Intune for Education also helps keep students on track, by blocking students from installing unauthorized apps on their laptops. With Intune for Education, schools can configure settings to control how users install and access apps on their devices.
For example, schools can block access to administrative apps, block installing apps from the Microsoft Store for Education, require Microsoft Store for Education apps to be installed from the private store, and block installing apps from places other than the Microsoft Store for Education. This can help schools ensure that students can only install authorized apps on their laptops, contributing to a focused learning environment.
As we mentioned above, the device policy features of Intune for Education assist in device enrollment, as well as app deployment and management. On top of this, schools can implement security policies, including encryption and remote wipe capabilities.
Software update management is another feature of Intune for Education, allowing schools to schedule updates at times when they will not disrupt class activities. A welcome eco-benefit provided by Intune for Education is remote power management. Remote device management helps to save energy and lower your school’s carbon footprint by remotely shutting down devices. The service can also improve energy efficiency by optimizing device settings.
Acer’s sustainable, durable approach to school laptops
Acer’s TravelMate B series is a line of lightweight, durable and sustainably designed laptops built to last and excel. TravelMate school laptops can truly unlock student potential by combining performance, connectivity and sustainability. TravelMate laptops combine next generation hardware with intuitive design and highly functional apps, helping your students to do their best. Equipped with up to a 12th Gen Intel Core i3 processor, it offers high performance and low power consumption, while a single charge provides up to 9 hours of battery life—enough to get your students through the day’s classes.
Learners require different laptops at different stages of their education. Acer’s TravelMate B series has a laptop to suit the individual needs of every student as they progress from elementary to college.
* TravelMate B3 11 is a user-friendly laptop ideal for elementary and middle school pupils.
* TravelMate B3 Spin 11 shares the features of the B3 11, plus the added capability to be flipped and used as a writing or drawing pad.
* TravelMate B5 14 has higher specs than B3 and is a laptop geared toward high school and beyond.
The rugged, long lasting design of the TravelMate series is a notable feature, ensuring that your students will have a hard time breaking their laptops. The school day can involve some rough and tumble, but thankfully Acer’s rugged laptops are durable to U.S military standard MIL-STD 810H certification. Indeed, there are a great many reasons to invest in Acer's rugged, reliable laptops for students.What’s more, TravelMate student laptops feature spill-resistant keyboards and reinforced IO ports.
Let’s not forget the TravelMate’s mechanically anchored keys and serviceable keyboards. Serviceable keyboards are an innovative feature for quick, hassle-free keyboard replacement. Minimizing disruption to learning, serviceable keyboards can be replaced by educators or students in a matter of minutes, with no need to send the damaged laptop for repair.
The TravelMate’s ruggedness is also complemented by its sustainability. TravelMate laptops are designed to reduce waste across the lifetime of the device, and feature recycled materials as well as sustainable packaging. Molded pulp packaging uses recycled paper, cardboard, and other natural fibers, offering greater sustainability benefits than traditional plastic and Styrofoam packaging. Reducing packaging waste and conserving natural resources can be a step towards an eco-conscious investment for your school.
What’s more, TravelMate laptops boast several eco-conscious features, including the innovative OceanGlass touchpad. Acer uses recycled ocean-bound plastic on the surface of the touchpad, creating a sleek, glass-like tactile feel as your fingers scroll across its surface. The OceanGlass touchpad reduces the amount of plastic waste in the ocean and is another example of how Acer is committed to sustainability and reducing waste across the lifetime of its devices. Along with these eco-conscious features, configurations of TravelMate laptops are TCO certified in some countries as well as being EPEAT registered.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article, and now have a deeper understanding of the importance of making secure and eco-conscious investments for your school. By combining data security and sustainability, IT solutions such as Microsoft Intune for Education and Acer TravelMate series laptops provide today’s learners with the tools that they will need for a brighter, safer, and more eco-conscious tomorrow.
By reducing your school’s carbon footprint, and encouraging both faculty and students to engage with energy-efficient solutions, you will contribute to establishing a sustainable community centered around your school. Coupling these eco-conscious investments with a cloud-based MDM service can truly optimize your classroom tech, creating an organized, secure, and forward-looking learning environment. Before making your next IT investment for your school, consider the future and how your choices today can have a positive impact for tomorrow.
7 Simple Tech Solutions for Effective Classroom Teaching
Today’s young generation uses technology as an integral part of their everyday lives. Ask any young person whether or not they use some form of tech in the classroom or at home, and the answer will probably be a resounding “yes!”. Traditional education styles included a teacher delivering class content while students listened and made notes, but this is rapidly changing. Nowadays, many classrooms are embracing flipped learning, which is designed around students’ needs and relies heavily on technology to provide a meaningful learning experience. In a flipped classroom environment, students are expected to complete work at home for in-class discussions, and the onus is on them to get involved.
Young learners who are so-called ‘digital natives’ expect to see technology in the classroom, and it can help teachers create that all-important connection with students. Leveraging technology in today’s educational landscape is no longer an option — it is a necessity. As teachers and educators, our job is to embrace the digital age and leverage technology in our classes. Teaching with technology may be overwhelming for digital immigrants who did not grow up surrounded by tech, but we can still embrace new ways of teaching to help students the best we can. Recently, even games such as Minecraft have been used to enhance the learning experience by allowing students to engage with materials in unique and exciting ways on tablets and laptops both at home and in the classroom.
Why is technology important in the classroom?
Using technology in the classroom is more than just a handy tool for teachers — it brings learning to life and inspires students in ways we would never expect. Integrating technology into classrooms cultivates a more engaging learning environment for kids and lets them build on their creative skills. One of our roles as teachers is to prepare kids for life beyond school, and technology can help us accomplish this goal. Using technology in classes encourages teamwork and group learning, which are crucial life skills and can help kids pick up useful tips for their future careers.
7 technologies to leverage to run an effective classroom
Embracing assistive technology in the classroom can be overwhelming. We have compiled a handy list of technologies for teachers wondering how to integrate technology in the classroom.
1. Microsoft Learning Accelerators
Microsoft’s Learning Accelerators are tools to improve the learning experience. They help students practice and boost their skills in core subjects and provide real-time coaching to let them practice and get ahead. This leads to better engagement during classes and helps students reach their learning outcomes in a fun and exciting way.
Integrated into Microsoft 365 Education, Learning Accelerators also streamline the creation, review, and analysis of practice assignments. This saves teachers time and effort and lets us focus on doing what we do best — delivering outstanding learning opportunities for students.
Learning Accelerators are also seamlessly integrated into familiar Microsoft products like Teams, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Word. By using programs we already know and love, teachers can start using Learning Accelerators straight away without having to learn how to use yet another application.
With Learning Accelerators, teachers can create a meaningful learning environment for students of all ages and abilities. Kids who struggle to keep up with reading may benefit from the Reading Coach, which offers gentle tips for improved pronunciation, syllabification, and vocabulary retention. It also helps students become more confident readers and overcome feelings of shyness when reading.
Here’s a handy video to learn how to enhance classrooms with Learning Accelerators and create a mutually beneficial experience for teachers and students.
2. PowerPoint and Presenter Coach
Most teachers will probably use PowerPoint to present information during classes. PowerPoint lets teachers create visually appealing presentations with various design options, animations, and multimedia content to keep students engaged while learning. Using PowerPoint presentations is relatively easy for teachers to master and can help increase engagement with just a few clicks and colors.
PowerPoint also allows multiple users to work together on the same presentation in real time, cutting the time and effort it takes to send documents back and forth. Teachers can collaborate with colleagues and teaching assistants to refine classroom materials, making them suitable for young learners of all ages and abilities. Once finished, teachers can easily share PowerPoint presentations with students by uploading them to an accessible shared location or presenting them during class. This is easier for students as they can review materials at their own pace before or after class.
The PowerPoint Presenter Coach gives teachers real-time feedback on their presentation skills in pacing, pitch, and use of filler words. This lets teachers improve delivery and make classes more interesting for students, helping to boost their focus.
3. Immersive Reader
The Immersive Reader function is built into Office 365 and Microsoft Edge, making classes more accessible and inclusive for learners. It lets readers control how the words appear by adjusting aspects like spacing and color of the text, creating an all-inclusive classroom environment. The Immersive Reader can also translate entire web pages into over 70 languages, helping students who are not fluent in the language of instruction keep up with class content. This is also useful for teachers of foreign languages who are trying to find engaging and realistic ways to teach languages to students.
Moreover, Immersive Reader simplifies the layout of the text and images, providing learning accessibility tools like Read Aloud, Text Preferences, and Grammar Tools to help students expand their reading abilities. For example, Grammar Tools help enhance comprehension by splitting words into syllables and highlighting nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. By using Microsoft Immersive Reader, teachers can ensure students get the best reading guide available.
Teachers can make use of OneNote to create digital notebooks and share resources with students, enhancing organization skills for both teachers and students. This way, students no longer have to lug heavy books around and can simply rely on digital notebooks for each class.
OneNote also allows multiple users to collaborate on the same notebook in real-time. This increases classroom engagement and encourages students to contribute and ask questions while learning. Teachers and students can record and embed audio and video directly into notes, significantly enhancing the learning experience. Whether delivering online or in-person classes, OneNote helps teachers create an interactive learning experience that students will love.
5. Office Lens
Office Lens lets teachers share handwritten notes and materials, which are then turned into digital documents. This allows teachers to use Office Lens to easily trim and enhance photos of whiteboards or notes and share them with students in real-time. Office Lens removes shadows and wonky angles, increasing legibility for students with different learning abilities.
Moreover, Office Lens can convert these images into PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files, making it easy for teachers and students to edit and work on class materials. Teachers can use Office Lens to save notes and resources to OneNote, OneDrive, or a local device, keeping materials organized and readily accessible.
Quizzes and surveys are a fun and interactive way to boost student engagement. By creating forms, polls, and surveys, teachers can assess students’ understanding of course materials and gather feedback on classes. This helps teachers gather information and opinions more efficiently, which can be used to improve future classes. Teachers can personalize forms by including various question types, themes, and branching logic for instant analysis.
By creating graphs and charts in real-time, teachers can identify areas where students are struggling or require extra assistance, allowing them to adjust class materials accordingly. Forms can be integrated with other Microsoft 365 apps like Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, making it simple to share documents, create quizzes and surveys, and collaborate with others.
7. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams lets teachers create a virtual classroom and facilitates communication with students. Educators can create channels for different subjects or projects, share files and resources, and communicate with students through chat, voice, or video calls. Using Microsoft Teams, educators can host virtual class meetings to review lesson plans and host insightful class discussions. Breakout rooms help create smaller group conversations and projects.
Teachers and students can use Microsoft Teams to collaborate on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, allowing teachers to share class notes and presentations for students to work on during class. It gives teachers and students new ways to communicate: teachers are able to send direct messages to individuals or groups to ensure understanding, or they can create a post with discussion topics and other useful information on the class Team’s channel. Microsoft Teams is full of tips and tricks and is the ultimate tech solution for effective classroom teaching.
Acer TravelMate: Your ideal tech companion for modern classrooms
You may be wondering whether or not your old classroom computer can handle all of the amazing technologies mentioned above. The Acer TravelMate certainly can. Here are five features that make the Acer TravelMate your ideal tech companion for effective classroom teaching.
As teachers, we are expected to be a beacon for students. They read our facial expressions and mouth movements when pronouncing words and as such, making it vital that students can see us clearly both in the classroom and on-screen. The Acer TravelMate features a high-definition (HD) webcam that makes it easier for students and teachers to see each other clearly, enhancing the overall learning experience through excellent video quality in virtual classes.
Privacy should be the number one concern for teachers of online classes. The Acer TravelMate gives a savvy solution to this problem by offering a camera shutter that blocks the webcam when it is not in use. Knowing that children are protected off-screen gives students, teachers, and parents peace of mind.
Teachers and students must ensure they can be heard clearly when using Teams, PowerPoint, the Presenter Coach, or other apps. Noisy environments can disturb group discussions and impact the quality of lesson delivery, so good microphone quality is essential for enhanced understanding of class materials. Dual microphones facilitate this by making it easier for students and teachers to understand each other, and is helpful when multiple people are speaking at once during group discussions.
It may seem like an insignificant detail, but upward-facing speakers can provide better and greater audio volume. This enhances the overall audio experience for apps like Teams and the Immersive Reader and lets students hear teachers more clearly. Good communication is essential for a meaningful learning experience, and upward-facing speakers can help.
Wacom AES Stylus
A dockable Wacom AES stylus is a useful tool for creating digital teaching materials and allows educators to draw more precise diagrams and charts when creating or presenting digital content. It also lets them accurately annotate documents using apps such as OneNote.
As teachers, we are responsible for helping students achieve their goals and be the best learners they can be. Technology gives teachers a huge helping hand and can help enhance the learning experience. It can aid students in improving their reading and presentation skills and create digital notebooks to reduce the amount of books they have to carry. Many educators are moving on from traditional education styles towards ones that integrate technology to facilitate a new hybrid learning approach. When combined with outstanding features like upward-facing speakers and an HD webcam, the Acer TravelMate stands to be a perfect companion for teachers to effectively leverage the latest technologies for the classroom.
10 Must Have Firefox Extensions
Firefox isn't just about speed and privacy; the extensions or add-ons make it a powerhouse. From guarding passwords to tuning your screen's brightness, there's likely an add-on tailored just for your needs.
Think Firefox is missing functionality? With almost 30,000 add-ons, an extension probably exists to fill that gap. Dive into our top 10 picks to transform your Firefox experience.
1) Grammar and spell checking: Grammarly
Stop second-guessing "effect" vs. "affect." Typos and grammar missteps can dent your online reputation. With Grammarly, your writing will improve instantly.
It rectifies grammar mistakes, amps up vocabulary choices, and fine-tunes your writing style in real time. Perfect for ensuring your content is polished and professional.
This add-on shines for folks whose day revolves around typing - be it emails, crafting social media posts, or penning down web content.
* On-the-go grammar, punctuation, spelling, and style checks whether you're drafting emails or tweeting.
* Instant suggestions to refine your text with a mere click.
* Write better without googling grammar guides or bugging a friend.
* Streamlined user experience: No need to pay unless opting for advanced features.
Every writer, novice or pro, can benefit from Grammarly. Make it your writing sidekick.
2) Dark mode everywhere: Dark Reader
Tired of websites straining your eyes? Switch to Dark Reader, a Firefox add-on that switches any page to dark mode, even sites without it.
Dark Reader inverts bright colors, making them high contrast and easy on the eyes. Turning on dark mode makes it easier to work at night with less stress on your eyes. Customize brightness, contrast, and other settings for a comfortable reading experience.
* Instantly switches to high-contrast dark themes.
* Customize settings for a tailored visual experience.
* Eye Health: Reduce eye strain to make extended browsing more comfortable.
* Better Sleep: Less blue light exposure helps you wind down better at night.
For night owls and anyone who spends significant time online, Dark Reader is a sight for sore eyes.
3) Next-Level image viewer: Viewhance
Firefox's native image-viewer is bare bones. Viewhance supercharges it, offering image manipulation, including zoom, flip, and rotate, all without ever leaving your browser window. No more toggling between apps.
* Swift Shortcuts: Over 10 keyboard commands to streamline actions.
* Easy Navigation: Hover to reveal a handy floating menu at the top-left.
* Animated Image Support: Whether GIFs, APNGs, or WEBP, extract frames seamlessly.
* Custom Playback and Display: Tailor your media experience from autoplay to volume control.
* Save Time: Get advanced features without juggling extra software.
* View it All: Catch every detail, whether animated images or SVGs.
If you use Firefox's native image tool regularly, Viewhance is your next upgrade. From easy customization to its swift shortcuts, it's designed to blend seamlessly into your browsing routine.
4) Text-to-speech voice reader: Read Aloud
Let your ears take over. Read Aloud converts webpage text to clear, audible speech. Perfect for those multitasking moments or when you want to kick back and listen.
Read Aloud uses text-to-speech (TTS) technology to transform any webpage, PDF, or EPUB into audio. Tailor your listening experience - pick from diverse male and female voices, adjust the pitch, and set your preferred pace.
* Voice Variety: Multiple male and female voices to choose from.
* Custom Playback: Adjust reading speed to your liking.
* Multitask with Ease: Listen to articles while cooking, working out, or commuting.
* Language Flexibility: Supports over 40 languages for a truly global experience.
Read Aloud is your go-to listening companion for those who are always on the move or just need a break from screen time.
5) Ultimate bookmark management: Raindrop.io
Eliminate bookmarks chaos. Raindrop.io lets you save and organize web content, from articles to videos. Find them quickly with tags and dedicated collections. Say goodbye to endless searching.
Raindrop.io ensures your most valuable web content remains within reach. Clip your favorite articles, images, videos, and PDFs from across the web. Even if a website goes offline, your saved content remains untouched. With free and paid plans to suit your storage needs, you can save 100Mb or 10Gb of files per month.
* Effortless Organization: Thematic collections, auto-tags, and custom filters. Plus, manual sorting with drag'n'drop.
* Full Content Access: Every web page and PDF you save is fully searchable.
* Universal Access: Access bookmarks anytime, anywhere. Available across browsers and devices.
* Time Saver: Spend less time searching and improve your productivity.
Never forget anything. For researchers, avid readers, and anyone looking to declutter their digital space, Raindrop.io will transform your bookmarking game forever.
6) Language learning while browsing: Toucan
Want to learn a new language while browsing? Toucan transforms your web surfing into a language lesson. It replaces certain words on web pages with their foreign equivalents, so you absorb vocabulary on the go!
* Subtle Word Swaps: Seamlessly integrates foreign words into your reading.
* Progressive Learning: Starts with single words and evolves to larger text blocks as you master the language.
* Diverse Language Choices: Explore 12 languages, from Japanese to French and Chinese to Hindi.
* Effortless Acquisition: Embraces the scientific approach of language acquisition. Learn not by rote but by immersion.
* Everyday Learning: Turns your daily web scrolls into practical language lessons.
* Completely Free: The extension has no costs.
Toucan's subtle immersion technique is revolutionary if you want to learn a language without derailing your day. Dive into a world where browsing meets learning.
7) Elevate your YouTube game: Enhancer for YouTube™
Turbocharge YouTube with the Enhancer for YouTube™ Firefox extension. Control your playback speed, dodge those pesky ads, and set video quality. Make YouTube bend to your every whim.
* Shortcut Supreme: Set up dozens of keyboard shortcuts. Even tweak the volume using your mouse wheel.
* Custom Controls: Personalize player settings: volume, speed, and your go-to video quality.
* Remove Ads: Control and filter out ads for uninterrupted viewing.
* Your Tube: Fine-tune YouTube to match your preferences.
* Distraction-Free: Minimize disturbances with ad controls and cinema mode.
* Enhanced Engagement: Dive deeper into your content with custom themes and controls.
Enhancer for YouTube™ reshapes your viewing experience.
8) Online security simplified: Bitwarden
Bitwarden is a free, open-source password manager that does the heavy lifting for you. Store, generate, and access passwords securely across your devices. Say goodbye to forgotten passwords.
* World-Class Encryption: Advanced end-to-end encryption keeps your passwords protected.
* Password Pro: Generate unique, random passwords tailored to each site's security requirements.
* Easy Security: Protecting your data doesn't have to be complicated. Bitwarden makes it intuitive.
* One Vault, All Devices: Access your passwords anywhere, anytime. Whether it's your phone, laptop, or tablet.
* Never Forget: With Bitwarden, your passwords are always at your fingertips.
Bitwarden is your digital bodyguard. Dive into a safer online realm with this password manager.
9) Ad and tracker blocking: uBlock Origin
* Dynamic Filters: Employ multiple up-to-date filters to block ads, tracking, and harmful URLs.
* Cookie Control: Reduces interruptions from cookie pop-up notifications.
* Streamlined Surfing: Enjoy an ad-and tracker-free browsing experience. Block ads before videos load.
* Wallet-Friendly: Absolutely free and open-source.
uBlock Origin offers you enhanced privacy to navigate with confidence and fewer distractions.
10) Tame your tabs: Simple Tab Groups
Browser clutter? Organize your tabs into visually appealing groups with Simple Tab Groups. Create, modify, and quickly change tab groups and bid farewell to tab overload.
With Simple Tab Groups, neatly categorize tabs into themed groups like "social media" or "shopping." Click a group, and all your go-to saved sites pop open. This tool is a lifesaver for multitaskers.
* Visual Organization: Group your tabs with clear, aesthetically pleasing visuals.
* Task-Focused: Easily switch between projects and tasks.
* Chaos Reduction: No more endless scrolling through countless tabs or bookmarks.
* Boost Productivity: Easily locate and switch between ongoing tasks.
* Cleaner Workspace: Enjoy a neater browser environment, enhancing focus.
* User-Friendly: Intuitive to use, no tech wizardry needed.
Tab chaos, be gone! Simple Tab Groups helps you organize your tabs for a faster, more productive browsing experience. Multitaskers rejoice!
Within Firefox lies a powerhouse of extensions, ready to serve your every need. Whether it's enhancing your YouTube experience, safeguarding your passwords, or blocking intrusive ads, these add-ons will boost your efficiency. Dive deep into the world of Firefox add-ons and let these tools empower your browsing experience.
A Sneak Peek into the Ghostly Realm of OXENFREE II: Lost Signals
Oxenfree II: Lost Signals, the follow-up to the supernatural, narrative-driven thriller Oxenfree, will launch on July 12, 2023, on mobile, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Steam. The game was developed by Night School Studio, an indie games studio that was recently acquired by Netflix. Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals launches seven years after the original Oxenfree debuted its radio-tuning, time-looping, coming-of-age story. “Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals will take players on a gripping narrative-driven adventure featuring an all-new cast of characters and original story,” Netflix teased in a press release.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals
Taking place five years after the events of Oxenfree, Lost Signals follows Riley Poverly, a character who did not appear in the first game. Riley has reluctantly returned to her hometown of Camena to investigate unnaturally occurring radio frequency signals causing disturbances in electronic equipment. Riley soon discovers a long history of ghostly happenings on the nearby Edwards Island and becomes entangled in a frightening, supernatural mystery. Riley takes an entry-level job as an environmental researcher, and one of her main tasks is to plant radio transmitters around Camena to help a research group gather data about the electromagnetic signals that have been plaguing the coastal town. Not everything is as it appears, however, and soon Riley finds herself in conflict with Parentage, a mysterious collective that seems to be manipulating the same strange anomaly that was first discovered in Oxenfree.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals gameplay mechanics
Players will shape the story through Riley’s actions and dialogue choices, taking advantage of Night School Studio’s signature dialogue system. The system involves players selecting dialogue responses from options that pop up above Riley’s head in the form of speech bubbles that slowly start to fade away, imbuing conversations with a natural, organic flow. Each dialogue choice affects Riley’s character development and relationships between characters, influencing the available story paths. Throughout your journey in Camena, your conversations with Jacob, your main companion, and the other characters you encounter along the way will shape how you are perceived and the eventual story outcome.
Once a dialogue response has been selected, Riley will interrupt whoever is speaking to immediately say the chosen response, and this can feel jarring, but the game often tries to make Riley’s interruptions feel natural by having the other characters say empty sentences like “But, you know, it’s something, like,” that a player would feel comfortable cutting short. These kinds of filler sentences, which are ultimately redundant yet commonly used in everyday speech, are a big part of what makes the characters in Lost Signals believable. You can also choose to remain silent during conversations; the other characters will react to that. For example, if you do not respond to a question, the other character will assume that you either do not know the answer or do not want to answer and will react accordingly.
Through this dialogue system, you can control the pace of conversations. If you want to listen to what a character has to say, you can let them speak before responding, although dialogue options may disappear if you wait too long. If you feel strongly about something, you can interject. And if it feels appropriate, you can stay silent. This dialogue system allows the timing of responses to be as important as what is being said.
Those who have played Oxenfree will be familiar with the unique radio mechanic it featured that allowed Alex, the main character of the game, to communicate with mysterious specters and manipulate her world. In Lost Signals, this idea has evolved. Lost Signals features a new walkie-talkie mechanic that puts the player in charge of when and how Riley will engage in conversations with off-screen residents of Camena. From mysterious strangers to locals in need of assistance, the walkie-talkie adds a sense of scale and depth by bringing in side quests and an additional layer of choice. When Riley receives a call on the walkie-talkie, she can decide whether to respond to it, and if she does take the call, she can decide whether to assist the caller.
The walkie-talkie allows Riley to speak to a much wider cast of characters than just nearby companions. The walkie-talkie can be opened at just about any time throughout the game, and players can browse the radio channels until they find someone for Riley to talk to.
Time tears are rifts that Riley can open to explore a location in another timeline and see it as it was in the past. In a 2021 preview of Lost Signals, Night School Studio showcased a section of the game in which Riley and Jacob have become trapped while traversing through a cave. Riley opens a time tear to find another way out. The pair are then taken back in time to 1899, at which time the cave happened to be a mine with a working elevator shaft that facilitates their escape. Time tears at other places may open up clues to the backstories of the characters in intriguing and mysterious ways.
Oxenfree 2: Lost Signals graphics and music
The sound design in Lost Signals is one of the game’s most crucial elements and helps build the mood of the game and support its story. The distorted sounds from the walkie-talkie, other ghostly sound effects, and the deeply atmospheric music that follows characters throughout work beautifully together to capture the haunting atmosphere. The soundtrack was created by electronic musician SCNTFC.
Lost Signals features subtle cartoon-like characters that appear tiny atop beautifully drawn backdrops. When Riley and Jacob travel through time tears, the screen fuzzes out like an old VHS tape to exaggerate the time skip. These types of visual glitches, which also include sending things topsy-turvy or completely blurring out the field of vision, intensify during various creepy situations.
Netflix’s shift toward gaming
Netflix, the giant of the film and TV streaming industry, has taken a number of steps toward expanding into video games, starting with the formation of its games division in 2021 and the hiring of Mike Verdu as the company’s “vice president of game development.” Night School Studio was the first gaming studio to be acquired by Netflix. Since then, the streaming giant has acquired several other studios, including Spry Fox, Next Games, and Boss Fight Entertainment. Netflix also opened a new gaming studio in Southern California and established an internal games studio in Helsinki, Finland.
In a recent press release, Netflix revealed that it has 40 games slated for launch this year and 70 in development with its partners. This comes atop the 55 titles the company has already released since its games division was launched. Netflix is primarily focused on mobile gaming, and several of the games already launched are role-playing games. We reviewed the most popular titles they have on offer and came up with a list of the top 10 Netflix games to play.
Oxenfree 2 release date
Lost Signals is slated for release on July 12, 2023, and the game is coming to Switch, PlayStation, Steam, and Netflix. Although Lost Signals will not be released on Xbox, be sure to check out the Xbox Game Pass and see why Acer is an official sponsor.