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- Remote learning in a pandemic
For many years advocates of e-learning and online approaches to education touted the many benefits. Ultimately, however, it was the emergence of a novel coronavirus that gave us the COVID-19 pandemic that made e-learning an essential rather than a luxury for many students the world over. Research published in the International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning, looks at how school and university closures, lockdowns, quarantines, and the urgent need to quash the virus, have pushed us into a world of online and e-learning as never before.
Mohammed Akour, Hiba Al Sghaier, and Yazan Al Shboul of Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan and Mamdouh Alenezi of the Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, make the obvious point that students are the focus of education but this is often overlooked in the rush to recruit students, fulfill curriculum obligations, and achieve targets. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major changes in our outlook and approach, however, and students are now more properly the focus once again. As such, educators need to consider the way in which remote learning has affected their students over the months since the pandemic arose and to see how e-learning might be implemented for the benefit of future students after the pandemic and ahead of the almost inevitable next emergent pathogen.
The team writes that while the pandemic has pushed us into an unprecedented educational position, "E-learning can be an opportunity for teachers, students, and university administrators to stay connected; a tool to guarantee continuous learning; and a means to provide psychosocial support until students can go back to university." They point out that the success of e-learning approaches to education are obviously highly dependent on access to appropriate technology – a computer, tablet, and, of course, the internet, the role it plays is only as effective as the educators make it and the response of students. "Transitioning to e-learning requires time and preparation for both students and teachers," the team adds, "as well as from a technological standpoint."
In the current study, a survey of students revealed a somewhat negative attitude towards e-learning at this point in education history. The main cause, the team suggests, lies in the urgency with which the pandemic forced us to adopt e-learning and the lack of preparation, despite many years of development of the tools and technologies on which educators and students have now relied for almost two years. There are, as it were lessons to be learned, regarding the implementation of e-learning that will hopefully allow educators to help their students in the future should we once again come to a time of lockdowns, school closures, and self-isolation.
Akour, M., Alenezi, M., Al Sghaier, H. and Al Shboul, Y. (2021) 'The COVID-19 pandemic: when e-learning becomes mandatory not complementary', Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.429–439.
- The wicked gaze of tourists in a pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected lives the world over in unimaginable ways. Society has been disrupted massively as have the economies of nations as travel and commerce were restricted by various measures to try and control the spread of the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, that causes the disease. The tourism industry and all its dependents has suffered immeasurably. Now, writing in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, cultural theorist Maximiliano Korstanje of the Department of Economics at the University of Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, discusses the figure of the "undesired guest" and our right to travel. Tourism is not a modern phenomenon and underpins culture in many parts of the world. However, tourism cannot exist without tourists, and specifically the "tourist gaze", a term coined by British sociologist John Urry.
In the new normal, how do we reconcile the need for tourism and tourists, who were previously seen as agents of economic prosperity and wealth but are now perceived as putative carriers of a lethal virus. We might talk of controlling borders, COVID-19 testing, and vaccine passports, but we are in a world of high-risk decision making. The pandemic is pushing us towards a new paradigm in recreational travel, which may well never revert to the old, familiar opportunities that many people enjoyed in the boom years after World War II and well into the 21st Century.
At a fundamental philosophical level, are we to perceive the opportunity to travel as a human right, is the hospitality that might be offered a right too? Has the emergence of a novel and lethal coronavirus not changed all of this? It could be that our "right" to travel is largely an invention of the late 20th Century. Moreover, for many millions of people whether they have a right to travel or not is irrelevant because they live in a state of extreme poverty or under highly restrictive totalitarian regimes, or where resources and opportunity limit every aspect of their lives, tourism does not feature on their life agenda in any way. That said, education and opportunity in the developing world might allow them to dream of such a lifestyle.
It is a moot point. "Tourists who were historically marked as ambassadors of civilisation are now labelled as carriers of a lethal virus," writes Korstanje. They are now undesired guests, their tourist gaze is now a "wicked gaze".
Korstanje, M.E. (2021) 'The COVID-19 and the figure of the undesired guest: the right to travel in scrutiny', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.336–349.
- A right to music
Music is an incredibly powerful part of what it means to be human, but should it be a human right? Should the human right to music be bundled with the right to freedom of expression, the right to culture, the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion and alongside the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples and the right to self-determination? New work published in the International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies seeks to answer these questions.
Peter Kirchschlaeger of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland suggests that there is a strong ethical justification for making music a human right. Once an ethical grounding is in place, a legal right might eventually flow from this.
Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 states that "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits." There has recently been a call for a formal acknowledgement of the 'composite' right to music at least through jurisprudence and in practice.
"For a right to be transformed into positive law, a political opinion-forming and decision-making process is necessary leading to the political conclusion of the need for the human right to music," writes Kirchschlaeger.
Ultimately, a human right to music might embody the following ethos: "The human right to music protects the freedom of expression in the form of music; the freedom to participate in music and to enjoy music; the freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to play, perform or listen to music as form to manifest his or her religion or belief in teaching, practice, and worship; music as a dimension of the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples; and music as a dimension of the Right to Self-Determination."
Kirchschlaeger, P.G. (2021) 'A human right to music – an ethical justification', Int. J. Human Rights and Constitutional Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp.284–297.
- Economics between crises
Wars and geological disasters aside, two major crises have affected world economies acutely so far this century – the international financial crisis that peaked around 2010 and the COVID-19 pandemic which emerged a decade later. Research in the International Journal of Teaching and Case Studies, has looked at how governance and gross domestic product (GDP) during the period 2010 to 2019 affected the level of venture capital investment after the financial crises and before the pandemic.
Sebastian Schaefer, Felix Ashu, and Michael Neubert of the ISM International School of Management in Paris, France, suggest in their paper that politicians, investors, and entrepreneurs need to have a clearer understanding of the factors that affect total venture capital investments, without it they cannot facilitate economic growth. The received wisdom is that developed and well-governed countries attract greater investment, but there is a dearth of research evidence to support this assumption quantitatively.
As such, the team has looked at the period 2010 to 2019 and looked at how governance indicators are correlated with GDP across 25 developed European nations. By choosing this period the findings might be to some degree independent of the two major factors that affected global economics before and after the period in question and so could offer a general finding. A multiple regression analysis allowed them to extract new insights but also revealed a mix of effects between countries and so generalisations are difficult to make. Moreover, the team could explain the mixed findings of earlier work better through their own analysis. However, they do offer that overall "a certain minimal level of political governance has an impact on venture capital investments."
The team proposes that future work will need to increase the sample size and cluster countries into groups. This, they suggest, might allow them to come to more general conclusions regarding each variable considered and the effect it has on venture capital investments.
Schaefer, S., Ashu, F. and Neubert, M. (2021) 'The impact of GDP and governance on venture capital investments for the period 2010–2019 (after the financial crisis and before the Covid-19 pandemic)', Int. J. Teaching and Case Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp.219–232.
- Strategic corporate social responsibility
Corporate social responsibility is vital to our future development as it will control many of the excesses and mistakes that might otherwise be made by businesses around the world. However, having an appropriate and active strategy in this realm can also boost a company's competitiveness. New research published in the International Journal of Sustainable Strategic Management, looks at how a business might more effectively develop such a strategy to the benefit of us all and to the benefit of its bottom line.
Sarah Margaretha Jastram and Zara Berberyan of the Hamburg School of Business Administration in Germany, point out that there are many well-documented advantages to strategic corporate social responsibility. Despite this, however, they point out that there is a dearth of coherent models to guide managements towards developing such a strategy. Moreover, there are many practices in this realm that are not strategic. As such, the team has developed – based on fifteen years of experience – what they refer to as a well-grounded framework based on specific analytical tools that can help with the effective formulation and assessment of corporate social responsibility.
Such a framework will preclude diffuse and non-targeted investments in corporate social responsibility that would otherwise not lead to the desired benefits to society and the business itself. A strategic approach can, the team suggests, guide core business choices and so substantially strengthen competitive positioning as well as reaping the wider rewards of taking a stance on corporate social responsibility.
"With this practical framework, we aim to encourage firms to formulate more competitive corporate social responsibility strategies comprising more innovative and unique approaches," the team writes.
Jastram, S.M. and Berberyan, Z. (2021) 'How to develop a corporate social responsibility strategy', Int. J. Sustainable Strategic Management, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.51–62.
- Entrepreneurial co-working spaces
New research published in the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Venturing suggests that co-working spaces can benefit entrepreneurs that make use of them by boosting social capital.
Victor Cabral of the Centre for Applied Research on Economics & Management at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, in the Netherlands, draws on previous work from various social science disciplines to build a conceptual model reveals the links between co-working spaces, social capital, and performance benefits. Through interviews with nineteen entrepreneurs using three co-working spaces, the research reveals the many benefits in terms of networking and other aspects of business that might be wrought by the use of such spaces.
An entrepreneur's personal network is perhaps one of their most important assets allowing them to make connections with other entrepreneurs, investors, experts, and potential employees that would simply not be possible were they somehow to operate in isolation. As such, interventions that create new connections or strengthen the bridges between known contacts should almost always lead to benefits for all of those within the network.
Co-working spaces have become increasingly common in cities around the world, sometimes spring up on science and business parks, which are in themselves often perceived as a kind of meta-coworking space offering connectivity at the company level and with academia in many cases. "Co-working seems to be a response to the rise of start-ups and self-employed workers who want to work in social settings, and also reflects the shift towards flexible work approaches by firms in modern knowledge economies," Cabral explains.
At the time of writing, we are in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Given social distancing measures and lockdowns that have been used since early 2020 to limit the spread of the disease, it is likely that the use of co-working spaces for many has been reduced during this period as more and more people have been forced to remote working and online conferencing and such. However, we can but hope that humanity will overcome this pandemic and we will move forward into a world where restrictions are no longer necessary and the notion of co-working spaces can come to the fore once again.
"This study confirms that co-working spaces are suitable places that ignite social interaction, stimulate the exchange of knowledge, and provide leads to new opportunities," Cabral writes, confirming the positive outlook for co-working spaces for entrepreneurs in the new normal.
Cabral, V. (2021) 'Coworking spaces: places that stimulate social capital for entrepreneurs', Int. J. Entrepreneurial Venturing, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.404–424.
- Safety intelligence
The safety of women is high on the social agenda with molestation, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and murder, being recognised increasingly. Researchers from India have reviewed the state-of-the-art surrounding technological safety solutions and highlighted gaps and limitations in the International Journal of Adaptive and Innovative Systems.
Priyanka Kohli and Kawaljeet Singh of Punjabi University in Patiala (Pb), India, explain how an intelligent system that uses concepts from the realm of data science might be used in a mobile phone that can send an alert for help if a person is in a threatening environment. Conversely, machine learning based logistic regression might be used to alert a person to a particular place representing just such a threatening environment.
The empowerment of women underpins the development of a modern society. Inequity and violence against women cannot be allowed to persist in such a community. Of course, the empowerment of women involves educating men, but information and communication technologies have a role to play in driving us towards equity, the review suggests. This may well be even more fruitful a notion in the context of the smart city.
Although a lot of women's safety systems are already available, a more sophisticated system still needs to be developed that helps to make women feel safe when they are alone or in difficulty, the team writes. A mobile system with intelligent modes may help them out of troubling situations, consisting of modules to bring police, medical or other emergency assistance, call a friend or family member, or a combination of help, they add.
The details of a suggested smart system from the team itself would not only offer the ability to offer alerts and warnings but could be used to record evidence in a given situation. Such a system could, as social equity evolves, offer women, and others, a useful technological safety net of sorts.
Kohli, P. and Singh, K. (2021) 'Intelligent system for women's safety using data science', Int. J. Adaptive and Innovative Systems, Vol. 3, No. 1, pp.25–42.
- Brazil's nuclear industry option
The mid-1950s saw the advent of nuclear industries with the first radiological research centre in Brazil and today the country has four research reactors and two nuclear power reactors in operation as well as eleven fuel cycle facilities. Researchers writing in the International Journal of Nuclear Energy Science and Technology, explain that nuclear power represents about 3 percent of output but this in no way represents the full potential of nuclear in the country. This is particularly poignant given that Brazil has the seventh largest reservoirs of the nuclear starting material, uranium.
One of the obstacles that the team of Vitor Fernandes de Almeida, Luciana Sampaio Ribeiro, Edilaine Ferreira da Silva, Anna Flávia de Freitas Valiante Peluso, Nathália Silva de Medeiros, and Amir Zacarias Mesquita of the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) in Minas Gerais, see in changing this situation is that the general population has little comprehension of the nuclear industry, which, of course, is the case in many other parts of the world. As such approval when sought is often met with misunderstandings and misconceptions.
Given that the nuclear industries could have an important role to play in addressing climate change as well as their ongoing role in medically important radiopharmaceuticals and diagnostics, there is a pressing need to understand the level of understanding among the public to allow the nuclear industries in Brazil to mature further. Greater understanding of such issues usually leads to greater approval and the team's evidence suggests that this is the case in the situation. However, the perceived negatives often receive greater attention in the media and on social media than the benefits of the nuclear industries, often being equated with weaponry and environmental harms.
The team suggests that clear and accessible information about the benefits and the limitations of the nuclear industries is needed if the general public is to accept the paradigm. Opening up visitor centres for adults, improving educational input, as well as endeavouring to drive a positive message across social media could all be done to benefit the nuclear industry and reduce unwarranted prejudice without compromising integrity and being accepting of the limitations.
"Public acceptance of nuclear power and radiation applications are important for the government, the major stakeholder of the industry because consensus is required to drive actions," the team writes.
de Almeida, V.F., Ribeiro, L.S., da Silva, E.F., de Freitas Valiante Peluso, A.F., de Medeiros, N.S. and Mesquita, A.Z. (2020) 'The current public acceptance in Brazil of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes', Int. J. Nuclear Energy Science and Technology, Vol. 14, No. 4, pp.328–338.
- Predicting and controlling dioxins
Dioxins are a group of toxic and persistent environmental pollutants. These compounds are formed through a variety of processes but commonly through incomplete combustion of organic matter. Levels are usually monitored in industrial settings for safety reasons using offline laboratory analyses that are carried out periodically. New work published in the International Journal of System Control and Information Processing offers an emission concentration estimate from soft measurements that utilises a deep forest regression algorithm.
Such an approach could offer a better approach to dioxin monitoring allowing a profile of emission concentrations to be seen almost in real-time in a way that periodic monitoring cannot. As such, this might allow optimal control of the processes to reduce the risk of noxious emissions. The team has validated the predictions made by the trained algorithm with data from a typical industrial process, municipal solid waste incineration, which is well known as an important potential source of dioxins in many places. Their approach provides a rather accurate prediction based on input parameters for the known data from an incinerator.
Municipal solid waste is increasing by up to ten percent annually across the globe. Moreover, given that practical recycling is not possible in many of the world's cities at any meaningful level, waste incineration represents one of the only pragmatic ways of addressing this growing problem. But, the issue of pollution must also be addressed if incineration is not to cause more problems than it solves. Of course, the heat generated by municipal waste incineration can itself be put to good use in heating local buildings or generating electricity.
Jian, T., Heng, X., Junfei, Q. and Zihao, G. (2021) 'Soft measurement of dioxin emission concentration based on deep forest regression algorithm', Int. J. System Control and Information Processing, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp.208–228.
- COVID-19 dynamics across India
New research published in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, has looked at the non-pharmautical interventions that were used during the lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rohit Sindhwani, Venkataramanaiah Saddikuti, and Omkarprasad S. Vaidya of the Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, explain that the exponential thread of a potentially lethal infectious disease requires a strong response from those in authority if the impact is to be limited in any way. The team has modelled the response and effects of the pandemic on ten of the worst affected states in India to see if there are any state-specific dynamics. The modelling gives them a dynamic reproductive number for the virus and its spread. Such dynamics might offer clues as to how best to deal with re-emerging waves of infection or the development of a future pandemic. Importantly, the team's study reveals the importance of understanding the heterogeneities that exist between different places, which can help to highlight what measures are useful and what measures fail.
At the time the work was undertaken, the strongest message that is offered is that in terms of non-pharmaceutical interventions, regular personal testing and self isolation, social distancing, and ongoing personal hygiene measures, such as wearing a face covering and hand-washing should be continued. Critically, it is important to identify super-spreaders and to counter the impact they might have on the development of new waves of infection.
Given that India is the second most populous country in the world, it is important for a huge number of people that science understands very clearly how pandemics unroll across the sub-continent. There are, of course, implications for its citizens, its near neighbours, and the whole world.
Sindhwani, R., Saddikuti, V. and Vaidya, O.S. (2021) 'Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Indian states during lockdown: incorporating heterogeneity and non-pharmaceutical interventions', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp.490–521.
New Editor for International Journal of International Journal of Big Data Intelligence
Prof. Lin Liu from Tsinghua University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Big Data Intelligence.
New Editor for International Journal of Lean Enterprise Research
Prof. Dag Bergsjö from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Lean Enterprise Research.
New Editor for International Journal of Revenue Management
Prof. Wen-Chyuan Chiang from the University of Tulsa in the United States has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Revenue Management. The previous Editor in Chief, Prof. Jason C.H. Chen, will remain with the journal as Honorary Editor in Chief.
New Editor for International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics
Associate Prof. Jason Papathanasiou from the University of Macedonia in Greece has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Sustainable Agricultural Management and Informatics.
New Editor for International Journal of Product Sound Quality
Associate Prof. Jinyang Xu from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Product Sound Quality.