Control Strategies for a Robot for Interaction with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Socially assistive robotic has become increasingly active and it is present in therapies of people affected for several neurobehavioral conditions, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In fact, robots have played a significant role for positive interaction with children with ASD, by stimulating their social and cognitive skills. This work introduces a mobile socially-assistive robot, which was built for interaction with children with ASD, using non-linear control techniques for this interaction.

Linguistic Competence Analysis and the Development of Speaking Instructional Material

Linguistic oral competence plays a vital role in attaining effective communication. Since the English language is considered as universally used language and has a high demand skill needed in the work-place, mastery is the expected output from learners. To achieve this, learners should be given integrated differentiated tasks which help them develop and strengthen the expected skills. This study aimed to develop speaking instructional supplementary material to enhance the English linguistic competence of Grade 9 students in areas of pronunciation, intonation and stress, voice projection, diction and fluency. A descriptive analysis was utilized to analyze the speaking level of performance of the students in order to employ appropriate strategies. There were two sets of respondents: 178 Grade 9 students selected through a stratified sampling and chosen at random. The other set comprised English teachers who evaluated the usefulness of the devised teaching materials. A teacher conducted a speaking test and activities were employed to analyze the speaking needs of students. Observation and recordings were also used to evaluate the students’ performance. The findings revealed that the English pronunciation of the students was slightly unclear at times, but generally fair. There were lapses but generally they rated moderate in intonation and stress, because of other language interference. In terms of voice projection, students have erratic high volume pitch. For diction, the students’ ability to produce comprehensible language is limited, and as to fluency, the choice of vocabulary and use of structure were severely limited. Based on the students’ speaking needs analyses, the supplementary material devised was based on Nunan’s IM model, incorporating context of daily life and global work settings, considering the principle that language is best learned in the actual meaningful situation. To widen the mastery of skill, a rich learning environment, filled with a variety instructional material tends to foster faster acquisition of the requisite skills for sustained learning and development. The role of IM is to encourage information to stick in the learners’ mind, as what is seen is understood more than what is heard. Teachers say they found the IM “very useful.” This implied that English teachers could adopt the materials to improve the speaking skills of students. Further, teachers should provide varied opportunities for students to get involved in real life situations where they could take turns in asking and answering questions and share information related to the activities. This would minimize anxiety among students in the use of the English language.

Enhancement of Higher Order Thinking Skills among Teacher Trainers by Fun Game Learning Approach

The purpose of the study is to explore how the fun game-learning approach enhances teacher trainers’ higher order thinking skills. Two-day fun filled fun game learning-approach was introduced to teacher trainers as a Continuous Professional Development Program (CPD). 26 teacher trainers participated in this Transformation of Teaching and Learning Fun Way Program, organized by Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia. Qualitative research technique was adopted as the researchers observed the participants’ higher order thinking skills developed during the program. Data were collected from observational checklist; interview transcriptions of four participants and participants’ reflection notes. All the data were later analyzed with NVivo data analysis process. The finding of this study presented five main themes, which are critical thinking, hands on activities, creating, application and use of technology. The studies showed that the teacher trainers’ higher order thinking skills were enhanced after the two-day CPD program. Therefore, Institute of Teacher Education will have more success using the fun way game-learning approach to develop higher order thinking skills among its teacher trainers who can implement these skills to their trainee teachers in future. This study also added knowledge to Constructivism learning theory, which will further highlight the prominence of the fun way learning approach to enhance higher order thinking skills.

Web-Based Instructional Program to Improve Professional Development: Recommendations and Standards for Radioactive Facilities in Brazil

This web based project focuses on continuing corporate education and improving workers' skills in Brazilian radioactive facilities throughout the country. The potential of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) shall contribute to improve the global communication in this very large country, where it is a strong challenge to ensure high quality professional information to as many people as possible. The main objective of this system is to provide Brazilian radioactive facilities a complete web-based repository - in Portuguese - for research, consultation and information, offering conditions for learning and improving professional and personal skills. UNIPRORAD is a web based system to offer unified programs and inter-related information about radiological protection programs. The content includes the best practices for radioactive facilities in order to meet both national standards and international recommendations published by different organizations over the past decades: International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN). The website counts on concepts, definitions and theory about optimization and ionizing radiation monitoring procedures. Moreover, the content presents further discussions related to some national and international recommendations, such as potential exposure, which is currently one of the most important research fields in radiological protection. Only two publications of ICRP develop expressively the issue and there is still a lack of knowledge of fail probabilities, for there are still uncertainties to find effective paths to quantify probabilistically the occurrence of potential exposures and the probabilities to reach a certain level of dose. To respond to this challenge, this project discusses and introduces potential exposures in a more quantitative way than national and international recommendations. Articulating ICRP and AIEA valid recommendations and official reports, in addition to scientific papers published in major international congresses, the website discusses and suggests a number of effective actions towards safety which can be incorporated into labor practice. The WEB platform was created according to corporate public needs, taking into account the development of a robust but flexible system, which can be easily adapted to future demands. ICTs provide a vast array of new communication capabilities and allow to spread information to as many people as possible at low costs and high quality communication. This initiative shall provide opportunities for employees to increase professional skills, stimulating development in this large country where it is an enormous challenge to ensure effective and updated information to geographically distant facilities, minimizing costs and optimizing results.

AINA: Disney Animation Information as Educational Resources

With the emergence and development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), Higher Education is experiencing rapid changes, not only in its teaching strategies but also in student’s learning skills. However, we have noticed that students often have difficulty when seeking innovative, useful, and interesting learning resources for their work. This is due to the lack of supervision in the selection of good query tools. This paper presents AINA, an Information Retrieval (IR) computer system aimed at providing motivating and stimulating content to both students and teachers working on different areas and at different educational levels. In particular, our proposal consists of an open virtual resource environment oriented to the vast universe of Disney comics and cartoons. Our test suite includes Disney’s long and shorts films, and we have performed some activities based on the Just In Time Teaching (JiTT) methodology. More specifically, it has been tested by groups of university and secondary school students.

Motor Coordination and Body Mass Index in Primary School Children

Obese children will probably become obese adults, consequently exposed to an increased risk of comorbidity and premature mortality. Body weight may be indirectly determined by continuous development of coordination and motor skills. The level of motor skills and abilities is an important factor that promotes physical activity since early childhood. The aim of the study is to thoroughly understand the internal relations between motor coordination abilities and the somatic development of prepubertal children and to determine the effect of excess body weight on motor coordination by comparing the motor ability levels of children with different body mass index (BMI) values. The data were collected from 436 children aged 7–10 years, without health limitations, fully participating in school physical education classes. Body height was measured with portable stadiometers (Harpenden, Holtain Ltd.), and body mass—with a digital scale (HN-286, Omron). Motor coordination was evaluated with the Kiphard-Schilling body coordination test, Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder. The normality test by Shapiro-Wilk was used to verify the data distribution. The correlation analysis revealed a statistically significant negative association between the dynamic balance and BMI, as well as between the motor quotient and BMI (p

Innovation in Traditional Game: A Case Study of Trainee Teachers' Learning Experiences

The purpose of this study is to explore a case study of trainee teachers’ learning experience on innovating traditional games during the traditional game carnival. It explores issues arising from multiple case studies of trainee teachers learning experiences in innovating traditional games. A qualitative methodology was adopted through observations, semi-structured interviews and reflective journals’ content analysis of trainee teachers’ learning experiences creating and implementing innovative traditional games. Twelve groups of 36 trainee teachers who registered for Sports and Physical Education Management Course were the participants for this research during the traditional game carnival. Semi structured interviews were administrated after the trainee teachers learning experiences in creating innovative traditional games. Reflective journals were collected after carnival day and the content analyzed. Inductive data analysis was used to evaluate various data sources. All the collected data were then evaluated through the Nvivo data analysis process. Inductive reasoning was interpreted based on the Self Determination Theory (SDT). The findings showed that the trainee teachers had positive game participation experiences, game knowledge about traditional games and positive motivation to innovate the game. The data also revealed the influence of themes like cultural significance and creativity. It can be concluded from the findings that the organized game carnival, as a requirement of course work by the Institute of Teacher Training Malaysia, was able to enhance teacher trainers’ innovative thinking skills. The SDT, as a multidimensional approach to motivation, was utilized. Therefore, teacher trainers may have more learning experiences using the SDT.

Development Framework Based on Mobile Augmented Reality for Pre-Literacy Kit

Mobile technology, augmented reality, and game-based learning are some of the key learning technologies that can be fully optimized to promote pre-literacy skills. The problem is how to design an effective pre-literacy kit that utilizes some of the learning technologies. This paper presents a framework based on mobile augmented reality for the development of pre-literacy kit. This pre-literacy kit incorporates three main components which are contents, design, and tools. A prototype of a mobile app based on the three main components was developed for promoting pre-literacy. The results show that the children and teachers gave positive feedbacks after using the mobile app for the pre-literacy.

CyberSecurity Malaysia: Towards Becoming a National Certification Body for Information Security Management Systems Internal Auditors

Internal auditing is one of the most important activities for organizations that implement information security management systems (ISMS). The purpose of internal audits is to ensure the ISMS implementation is in accordance to the ISO/IEC 27001 standard and the organization’s own requirements for its ISMS. Competent internal auditors are the main element that contributes to the effectiveness of internal auditing activities. To realize this need, CyberSecurity Malaysia is now in the process of becoming a certification body that certifies ISMS internal auditors. The certification scheme will assess the competence of internal auditors in generic knowledge and skills in management systems, and also in ISMS-specific knowledge and skills. The certification assessment is based on the ISO/IEC 19011 Guidelines for auditing management systems, ISO/IEC 27007 Guidelines for information security management systems auditing and ISO/IEC 27001 Information security management systems requirements. The certification scheme complies with the ISO/IEC 17024 General requirements for bodies operating certification systems of persons. Candidates who pass the exam will be certified as an ISMS Internal Auditor, whose competency will be evaluated every three years.

Iterative Estimator-Based Nonlinear Backstepping Control of a Robotic Exoskeleton

A repetitive training movement is an efficient method to improve the ability and movement performance of stroke survivors and help them to recover their lost motor function and acquire new skills. The ETS-MARSE is seven degrees of freedom (DOF) exoskeleton robot developed to be worn on the lateral side of the right upper-extremity to assist and rehabilitate the patients with upper-extremity dysfunction resulting from stroke. Practically, rehabilitation activities are repetitive tasks, which make the assistive/robotic systems to suffer from repetitive/periodic uncertainties and external perturbations induced by the high-order dynamic model (seven DOF) and interaction with human muscle which impact on the tracking performance and even on the stability of the exoskeleton. To ensure the robustness and the stability of the robot, a new nonlinear backstepping control was implemented with designed tests performed by healthy subjects. In order to limit and to reject the periodic/repetitive disturbances, an iterative estimator was integrated into the control of the system. The estimator does not need the precise dynamic model of the exoskeleton. Experimental results confirm the robustness and accuracy of the controller performance to deal with the external perturbation, and the effectiveness of the iterative estimator to reject the repetitive/periodic disturbances.

Millennial Teachers of Canada: Innovation within the Boxed-In Constraints of Tradition

Every year, schools aim to develop and adopt new technology and pedagogy as a way to equip today's students with the needed 21st Century skills. However, the field of primary and secondary education may not be as open to embracing change in reality. Despite the drive to reform and innovation, the field of education in Canada is still very much steeped in tradition and uses many of the practices that came into effect over 50 years ago. Among those are employment and retention practices. Millennials are the youngest generation of professionals entering the workplace at this time and the ones leaving their jobs within just a few years. Almost half of new teachers leave Canadian schools within their first five years on the job. This paper discusses one of the contributing factors that lead Canadian millennial teachers to either leave or stay in the profession - standardized education system. Using an exploratory case study approach, in-depth interviews with former and current millennial teachers were conducted to learn about their experiences within the K-12 system. Among the findings were the young teachers' concerns about the constant changes to teaching practices and technological implementations that claimed to advance teaching and learning, and yet in reality only disguised and reiterated the same traditional, outdated, and standardized practices that already existed. Furthermore, while many millennial teachers aspired to be innovative with their curriculum and teaching practices, they felt trapped and helpless in the hands of school leaders who were very reluctant to change. While many new program ideas and technological advancements are being made openly available to teachers on a regular basis, it is important to consider the education field as a whole and how it plays into the teachers' ability to realistically implement changes. By the year 2025, millennials will make up approximately 75% of the North American workforce. It is important to examine generational differences among teachers and understand how millennial teachers may be shaping the future of primary and secondary schools, either by staying or leaving the profession.

Changing Roles and Skills of Urban Planners in the Turkish Planning System

This research aims to find an answer to the question of which knowledge and skills do the Turkish urban planners need in their business practice. Understanding change in cities, making a prediction, making an urban decision and putting it into practice, working together with actors from different organizations from various academic disciplines, persuading people to accept something and developing good personal and professional relationships have become very complex and difficult in today’s world. The truth is that urban planners work in many institutions under various positions which are not similar to each other by field of activity and all planners are forced to develop some knowledge and skills for success in their business in Turkey. This study targets to explore what urban planners do in the global information age. The study is the product of a comprehensive nation-wide research. In-depth interviews were conducted with 174 experienced urban planners, who work in different public institutions and private companies under varied positions in the Turkish Planning System, to find out knowledge and skills needed by next-generation urban planners. The main characteristics of next-generation urban planners are defined; skills that planners needed today are explored in this paper. Findings show that the positivist (traditional) planning approach has given place to anti-positivist planning approaches in the Turkish Planning System so next-generation urban planners who seek success and want to carve out a niche for themselves in business life have to equip themselves with innovative skills. The result section also includes useful and instructive findings for planners about what is the meaning of being an urban planner and what is the ideal content and context of planning education at universities in the global age.

An Inclusion Project for Deaf Children into a Northern Italy Contest

84 deaf students (from primary school to college) and their families participated in this inclusion project in cooperation with numerous institutions in northern Italy (Brescia-Lombardy). Participants were either congenitally deaf or their deafness was related to other pathologies. This research promoted the integration of deaf students as they pass from primary school to high school to college. Learning methods and processes were studied that focused on encour­aging individual autonomy and socialization. The research team and its collaborators included school teachers, speech ther­apists, psychologists and home tutors, as well as teaching assistants, child neuropsychiatrists and other external authorities involved with deaf persons social inclusion programs. Deaf children and their families were supported, in terms of inclusion, and were made aware of the research team that focused on the Bisogni Educativi Speciali (BES or Special Educational Needs) (L.170/2010 - DM 5669/2011). This project included a diagnostic and evaluative phase as well as an operational one. Results demonstrated that deaf children were highly satisfied and confident; academic performance improved and collaboration in school increased. Deaf children felt that they had access to high school and college. Empowerment for the families of deaf children in terms of networking among local services that deal with the deaf also improved while family satisfaction also improved. We found that teachers and those who gave support to deaf children increased their professional skills. Achieving autonomy, instrumental, communicative and relational abilities were also found to be crucial. Project success was determined by temporal continuity, clear theoretical methodology, strong alliance for the project direction and a resilient team response.

Actual Nursing Competency among Nurses in Hospital in Vietnam

Background: Competency of nurses is vital to safe nursing practice as well as essential component to drive quality of nursing services. There exists little up to date information concerning actual competency among Vietnamese nurses. Purposes: The purpose of this study is to identify the actual nursing competency among nurses in clinical settings in Vietnam. Methods: A qualitative study, ethnographic method, comprised of the participant-observation, in-depth interview, and focus group discussion with multidisciplinary groups of nurses employing in Cho Ray hospital, Vietnam, managers/administrators, nurse teachers, medical doctors, other health care providers, patients and family members which derived from purposeful sampling technique. Content analysis was used for data analysis. Results: Five essential themes of nursing competencies among nurses were identified include (1) knowledge, (2) skills, (3) attitude and value-based nursing practice, (4) legal and ethical competencies, and (5) transcultural competencies. Basic and advanced knowledge were identified as further two dimensions of knowledge. There were five sub themes identified as further dimensions of skills include technical skills, communication skills, organizing and management skills, teamwork and interrelationship, and critical thinking skills. Conclusions: The findings from this study provide valuable information and understanding of the actual competency among nurses in clinical settings in Vietnam. It is expected that this understanding would assist in developing a guide to nursing education and training, nursing practice and relevant policy regulation used for promoting nursing competency among nurses.

Identifying a Drug Addict Person Using Artificial Neural Networks

Use and abuse of drugs by teens is very common and can have dangerous consequences. The drugs contribute to physical and sexual aggression such as assault or rape. Some teenagers regularly use drugs to compensate for depression, anxiety or a lack of positive social skills. Teen resort to smoking should not be minimized because it can be "gateway drugs" for other drugs (marijuana, cocaine, hallucinogens, inhalants, and heroin). The combination of teenagers' curiosity, risk taking behavior, and social pressure make it very difficult to say no. This leads most teenagers to the questions: "Will it hurt to try once?" Nowadays, technological advances are changing our lives very rapidly and adding a lot of technologies that help us to track the risk of drug abuse such as smart phones, Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), Internet of Things (IoT), etc. This technique may help us to early discovery of drug abuse in order to prevent an aggravation of the influence of drugs on the abuser. In this paper, we have developed a Decision Support System (DSS) for detecting the drug abuse using Artificial Neural Network (ANN); we used a Multilayer Perceptron (MLP) feed-forward neural network in developing the system. The input layer includes 50 variables while the output layer contains one neuron which indicates whether the person is a drug addict. An iterative process is used to determine the number of hidden layers and the number of neurons in each one. We used multiple experiment models that have been completed with Log-Sigmoid transfer function. Particularly, 10-fold cross validation schemes are used to access the generalization of the proposed system. The experiment results have obtained 98.42% classification accuracy for correct diagnosis in our system. The data had been taken from 184 cases in Jordan according to a set of questions compiled from Specialists, and data have been obtained through the families of drug abusers.

Services-Oriented Model for the Regulation of Learning

One of the major sources of learners' professional difficulties is their heterogeneity. Whether on cognitive, social, cultural or emotional level, learners being part of the same group have many differences. These differences do not allow to apply the same learning process at all learners. Thus, an optimal learning path for one, is not necessarily the same for the other. We present in this paper a model-oriented service to offer to each learner a personalized learning path to acquire the targeted skills.

The Perception on 21st Century Skills of Nursing Instructors and Nursing Students at Boromarajonani College of Nursing, Chonburi

The aim of this descriptive study was to determine the perception of 21st century skills among nursing professors and nursing students at Boromarajonani College of Nursing, Chonburi. A total of 38 nursing professors and 75 second year nursing students took part in the study. Data were collected by 21st century skills questionnaires comprised of 63 items. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the findings. The results have shown that the overall mean scores of the perception of nursing professors on 21st century skills were at a high level. The highest mean scores were recorded for computing and ICT literacy, and career and leaning skills. The lowest mean scores were recorded for reading and writing and mathematics. The overall mean scores on perception of nursing students on 21st century skills were at a high level. The highest mean scores were recorded for computer and ICT literacy, for which the highest item mean scores were recorded for competency on computer programs. The lowest mean scores were recorded for the reading, writing, and mathematics components, in which the highest item mean score was reading Thai correctly, and the lowest item mean score was English reading and translate to other correctly. The findings from this study have shown that the perceptions of nursing professors were consistent with those of nursing students. Moreover, any activities aiming to raise capacity on English reading and translate information to others should be taken into the consideration.

New Insights for Soft Skills Development in Vietnamese Business Schools: Defining Essential Soft Skills for Maximizing Graduates’ Career Success

Within Vietnam's system of higher education, its schools of business play a vital role in supporting the country’s economic objectives. However, the crucial contribution of soft skills for maximal success within the business sector has to date not been adequately recognized by its business schools. This being so, the development of the business school curriculum in Vietnam has not been able to 'catch up', so to say, with the burgeoning need of students for a comprehensive soft skills program designed to meet the national and global business objectives of their potential employers. The burden of the present paper is first to reveal the results of our survey in Vietnam which make explicit the extent to which major Vietnamese industrial employers’ value the potential role that soft skill competencies can play in maximizing business success. Our final task will be to determine which soft skills employers discern as best serving to maximize the economic interests of Vietnam within the global marketplace. Semi-structured telephone interviews have been conducted with the 15 representative Head Employers of Vietnam's reputedly largest and most successful of the diverse business enterprises across Vietnam. The findings of the study indicate that all respondents highly value the increasing importance of soft skills in business success. Our critical analysis of respondent data reveals that 19 essential soft skills are deemed by employers as integral to business workplace efficacy and should thus be integrated into the formal business curriculum. We are confident that our study represents the first comprehensive and specific survey yet undertaken within the business sector in Vietnam which accesses and analyses the opinions of representative employers from major companies across the country in regard to the growing importance of 19 specific soft skills essential for maximizing overall business success. Our research findings also reveal that the integration into business school curriculums nationwide of the soft skills we have identified is of paramount importance to advance the national and global economic interests of Vietnam.

Study of Pre-Handwriting Factors Necessary for Successful Handwriting in Children

Handwriting is essential to academic success; however, the current literature is limited in the identification of pre-handwriting skills. The purpose of this study was to identify the pre-handwriting skills, which occupational therapy practitioners deem important to handwriting success, as well as those which aid in intervention planning. The online survey instrument consisted of 33 questions that assessed various skills related to the development of handwriting, as well as captured demographic information. Both occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants were included in the survey study. The survey found that the respondents were in agreement that purposeful scribbling, the ability of a child to copy (vertical/horizontal lines, circle, squares, and triangles), imitating an oblique cross, cognitive skills (attention, praxis, self-regulation, sequencing), grasp patterns, hand dominance, in hand manipulation skills (shift, translation, rotation), bilateral integration, stabilization of paper, crossing midline, and visual perception were important indicators of handwriting readiness. The results of the survey support existing research regarding the skills necessary for the successful development of handwriting in children.

Ads on Social Issues: A Tool for Improving Critical Thinking Skills in a Foreign Language Classroom

This paper is a qualitative research report. A group of students form a public university in a small town in Colombia participated in this study which aimed at describing to what extend the use of social ads, published on the internet, helped to develop their critical thinking skills. Students’ productions, field notes, video recordings and direct observation were the instruments and techniques used by the researches in order to gather the data which was analyzed under the principles of grounded theory and triangulation. The implementation of social ads into the classroom evidenced a noticeable improvement in students’ ability to interpret and argue social issues, as well as, their self-improvement in oral and written production in English, as a foreign language.