Moocs their value in the Higher Education sector

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are an emerging tool in the educational sector with an estimated 4200 courses available globally and over 35 million registered users to some form of MOOC course (Shah,2015). A MOOC is essentially an online course that can comprise of several online components such as videos, text, forums with other students and quizzes all aimed to develop students’ proficiencies in a given subject (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2013). The majority of MOOCS are free and last several weeks with the course structure comprising of weekly instalments to gradually increase knowledge of the given subject. Also certain MOOCs can provide the students the opportunity to gain a recognised qualification from a higher education institution (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, 2013).

To ensure a thorough knowledge of MOOCS, our lecturer advised us to select a MOOC that interested us and actively engage with the course. I decided to select two MOOC courses provided by Coursera.org. Though other MOOC providers are available such as EdX and Canvas Network. The two courses I selected were Business Analytics provided by the University of Pennsylvania and Search Engine Optimisation provided by the University of California since they are both beneficial towards my business degree. I found it initially difficult to engage with the courses since I prefer direct interaction with teachers and fellow students and find that classroom interaction is more stimulating and leads to more critical thinking than would be available on a forum setting. I also found it difficult to concentrate attentively during the online video lectures for a prolonged period since I had easy access to other websites.

After a final review, I believe that MOOCs will be a more prevalent part of higher education due to various factors such as the increase in tuition fees in the United Kingdom potentially deterring part time students from enrolling on courses and monetary restraints imposed on universities affecting contact time between students and lecturers (Shaw, 2015). I also believe more universities will engage with MOOCs since this provides the opportunity to engage with prospective students who may wish to complete a full higher education qualification at their establishment (Swain, 2015).

References

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. 2013. 7 things you should know about MOOCS. EDUCAUSE. Available from https://library.educause.edu/resources/2013/6/7-things-you-should-know-about-moocs-ii. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

Shah, D. 2015. By the numbers MOOCS in 2015. [Online].  Class Central. Available from https://www.class-central.com/report/moocs-2015-stats/. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

Shaw, C. 2015. Dissatisfied students want more contact time with teaching staff. The Guardian, 4 June. [Online]. Guardian. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/jun/04/dissatisfied-students-want-more-contact-time-with-teaching-staff. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

Swain, H. 2015. This change will be the end of the Open University as we know it. The Guardian, 20 October. [Online]. Guardian. available from: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/oct/20/open-university-strike-ou-regional-centres-moocs. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

 

 

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How Blogging Helps with Student Reflection

Computer usage has become an ubiquitous presence in education and is often actively incorporated into learning practices. A key method used to integrate computers into the classroom is blogging. Blogging can be defined as an online informal journal or diary where students can frequently convey ideas about the subject content (Bryd, No Date).

This tool is used within the E-Business module I am currently studying and has been a useful study aid. The benefits include our lecturer frequently using blogs as homework and classroom activities to aid us in developing an appropriate writing style for blogging. This was invaluable when commencing the blogs as part of the assessment (Lumos Learning, No Date). They will also potentially aid me when doing revision for the end of year examination. Another benefit of blogging has led me to constructively reflect on the content taught within the lectures and then interpret the concepts into my own language and do further research helping me gain in-depth knowledge of the subject (Couros, 2013). Another advantage of blogging is, if managed effectively by the lecturer it enables group debate within class. It also encourage higher learning, for example in my previous year’s E-Business class, our lecturer would take different segments of each student’s blogs and then reflect upon them during revision sessions. This facilitated engagement from students and led to the group developing more comprehensive knowledge about the subject.

However, despite the advantages outlined above there are some disadvantages associated with blogging. One disadvantage is it can be a time consuming activity which if poorly utilised by the learner can divert attention from fully comprehending the subject content (Sandlar.2009). Another issue could be the student using inappropriate language for their audience so they may not fully comprehend the subject (Keesee.2012). Another issue within blogging is that as the blogs are created by the students then there is a delay in using this information in the class (Keesee.2012).

References

K, Byrd. What is a blog?. No date. [On-line].  Blog Basic. Available from http://blogbasics.com/what-is-a-blog/. [Accessed 22 Febuary2016].

G, Couros. 5 reasons your students should blog. 2013. [On-line]. The principal of change. Available from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3721. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

G, Keesee. Blog in Education. 2012. [On-line]. Teaching Learning resources. Available from http://teachinglearningresources.pbworks.com/w/page/19919542/Blogs%20in%20Education. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

Lumos Learning. The Benefits of Student Blogging. No Date. [On-line]. Lumos Learning. Available from http://lumoslearning.com/llwp/teachers-speak/the-benefits-of-student-blogging-marisa-adams.html. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

R, Sandlar. Advantages and disadvantages of blogs. 2009. [On-line]. Online Edu Blog. Available from http://www.onlineedublog.com/blogs/. [Accessed 22 February 2016].

SEO how does It help SME compete?

Search engine optimisation can be defined as the practice of utilising techniques such as alteration of layout, content and inclusion of key terms to be perceived more favourably by search engine providers (Laudon and Traver, 2015). This tool applied effectively will increase the volume of visitors generated and give your website a higher ranking status from search engine providers such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to your respective website.

Search Engine optimisation comprises of analysing search terms extracted from search engine providers to your respective website and analysing existing visitors’ behaviour patterns whilst online such as the terms inputted into the search engine to find your website and whether they came to your website from a direct source such as typing in the uniform resource locator (URL) address or via indirect means such as search engines or click links. This tool is invaluable in aiding small to medium enterprises  establish a presence within prominent search engines who rely on search engine algorithms to find the most appropriate results.

Incorporating search engine optimisation techniques into any business online marketing strategy is crucial to truly understand potential and existing user behaviour patterns when online and ensuring that content is relevant to our key target audience. Also it is detrimental for firms not to engage with search engine optimisation since search engines provide access to a wide audience for example over (5,740,000,000 searches are done on an average day globally through Google [Statistics Brain Research Institute, 2015). This means that through effective use of search engine optimisation opportunities for greater sales and public presence are plentiful.

In the section below are key advantages associated with search engine optimisation briefly summarised.

If SEO is applied effectively your website will increase its positioning on search engine providers such as Google and Bing. This is highly beneficial since over 92% of Google search engine users do not go past the first page (Logan, 2013). This means you have greater access to a new client base.

Incorporating SEO techniques into your business strategy will potentially generate more awareness about your website and the product and service you provide. If effective promotional strategies are put in place this will lead to higher profitability via sales (Davies, 2012).

SEO can help to establish or maintain an advantage over competitors based within the same sector. Providing that you use the data gained from SEO to create innovative, relevant and targeted promotional campaigns (Charlton, 2007).

References

Charlton, G.2007. Business benefits of SEO. 13 July. [On-line]. Econsultancy.  Available from https://econsultancy.com/blog/1484-business-benefits-of-seo. [Accessed 22 January 2016].

Davies, M. 2012. Why use SEO? Here are five good reasons. 17 March. [On-line].  Soap Media. Available from https://www.soapmedia.co.uk/why-use-seo/. [Accessed 21 January 2016].

Laudon, K. and Tracer, C. 2015.E-Commerce 2015 Business. Technology. Society. 11th ed. USA. Pearson Education Limited.

Logan, B. 2013. Just how valuable is the first page of Google? SEO statistics you need to see to believe. 18 September. [Online]. SEO North Sydney. Available from http://www.seonorthsydney.com.au/. [Accessed 21 January 2016].

Statistic Brain Research Institute. 2015. Google Annual Search Statistics. [Online]. Statistics Brain Research Institute. Available from http://www.statisticbrain.com/Google-searches/. [Accessed 21 January 2016].

Google Power Searching- Helping Students search the web ?

Google is the world most prominent search engine with over 5,740,000,000 searches are done on an average day globally through Google (Statistic Brain research Instutite,2015) for various forms of information advantageous for students such as news articles and research documents. However google has access to over 30 trillion websites this means that finding relevant information regarding your search entry could prove difficult due to the sheer volume of information available (Koesiter,2013). Fortunately Google has Google Power searching tools, which can be defined as search refinement tools or as google refers them as operators that enable you to thoroughly analyse the search entry and utilise built in features displayed below to narrow your search.

operators

(Source: Business insider,2014)

These filters are an example of some of the invaluable tools Google provides to narrow your search entries to find the most applicable result. Students would benefit greatly by incorporating these tools when sourcing information since it can filter the information so that is accessible from one source. To illustrate its applicability an example is shown below of how the site tool is applied for farmers weekly an agriculture publication and searches related to Asda.

screenshot of google power searching

Authors Own

The results displayed above outlines how the site feature can focus searches towards one source. In this situation information from farmers weekly related to Asda, this information is potentially invaluable for students when studying an exact topic and also for businesses trying to understand a single industry by only using credible sources such as publications related to that given industry. Google power searching tools have numerous benefits such as refining searches to ensure valuable time is not wasted on misdirected searches and browsing irrelevant information.

References

Koetiser, J. 2013. How Google searches 30 trillion web pages, 100 billion times a month. [Online]. Venturebeat. Available from http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/01/how-google-searches-30-trillion-web-pages-100-billion-times-a-month/. [Accessed 28 December 2015].

Onfro, J. 2014. 9 easy tips for finding exactly what you want on Google. [Online]. Business Insider. Available from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-be-a-google-power-searcher-2014-7?op=1&IR=T. [Accessed 28 December 2015].

Statistic Brain Research Institute. 2015. Google Annual Search Statistics. [Online]. Statistics Brain Research Institute. Available from http://www.statisticbrain.com/Google-searches/. [Accessed 21 January 2016].

Productive Apps within the Workplace

Apps

Due to the popularity of smartphones and tablets, Apps have become a prevalent part of technology with an estimated 102,062 million downloaded by July 2015 and an industry sector valued at $34.99 billion globally (Statistia, 2015). Outlined below is a selection of apps that can help improve productivity and creativity in the work place.

Google Docs

Google Docs is an application available on smartphones, tablets and computer formats that enables users to create documents, spreadsheets and presentation in a similar fashion to Microsoft equivalents such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However, these Apps also enables collaboration between users such as editing a document which is immensely beneficial when completing a group task in an educational or commercial environment (Murph, 2015).

Evernote

Evernote is an application available on internet, IOS and Android that allows the user to store imagery, checklists, notes and articles in a database where it can be easily retrieved when required. This would aid people who need to accumulate substantial amounts of information for tasks such as producing reports. Evernote also presents the user with the opportunity to personalise the service such as prioritising tasks and utilising features such as a timer to inform you of crucial events such as meetings and deadlines (Murph, 2015.

Shake

Shake is an app that is used within the commercial environment to create and send crucial legal documentation such as non-disclosure agreements and contracted hires between parties that requires a signature. This is highly beneficial since the documents are legally binding and can cut down on expenses such as the transportation of documents between parties and legal representation (Hughes, 2015).

Focus lock

Focus lock is an invaluable to help maintain concentration when in the workplace. This application allows the users to block out certain apps such as Facebook and Instagram and then designate a time when they can reused again. This tool is vital for ensuring your attention is focused on work and not diverted by irrelevant information such as sport updates and social media messages (Bushey, 2014).

App building section

DIY App Building present users with a multitude of opportunities to design their applications that can boost different aspects of the workplace such as profitability and productivity. A crucial benefit of creating your apps is the cost saving benefits and the opportunity to monetise popular applications to large markets.

References

Statista. 2015. Statistics and Facts about Mobile App usage. [Online].            Statista. Available from http://www.statista.com/topics/1002/mobile-app-usage/. [Accessed 21 January 2016].

Murph, D. 2015. 10 apps for a more productive workplace. [Online]. Gear Patrol. Available from http://gearpatrol.com/2015/09/25/7-apps-productive-workplace/. [Accessed 21 January 2016].

Hughes, B.2015. Top 5 Mobile Apps for Workplace productivity. [Online]. Social Media Week. Available from http://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/06/top-5-mobile-apps-workplace-productivity/. [Accessed 23 January 2016].

Bushley, R.2014. 12 very useful apps for getting stuff done at work. [Online]. Business Insider. Available from http://www.businessinsider.com/best-productivity-apps-for-work-2014-4?IR=T. [Accessed 22 January 2016].

Ecommerce Websites VS Brick and Mortar Shops

The emergence of online shopping during the mid to late 90s had a revolutionary effect on the British retail sector. British online retail attributes to over 11.3% of total retail sales in 2015 (Sims, 2015). This outline a drastic change in consumer spending patterns since online retailing was only 2.7% of total retail sale in 2007. The intent of this blog is to outline some of the key attributes of both brick and click retail outlets.

The majority of traditional brick retailers such as Whsmith, HMV and Waterstones situated on the high street have had to incorporate a website presence into their existing store based business strategy. This ensures competitiveness with online based rivals such as Amazon, Book Depository and Rakuten. One of the major factors influencing consumer spending habits is the belief that products are cheaper online than in comparisons with products purchased within a store according to Mintel (Scheggia, 2013). Another benefit that online shopping provides is that consumer are not constrained by opening and closing hours creating convenience for consumers who have relatively spare time due to living hectic lifestyles(Parker,2016). Another benefits of online shopping is that’s they offer consumers with a wider and varied range of products that would not be available in a traditional retail shop. This is due to retail outlets being hindered due to the size of their premises.

Bricks are traditional retail outlet predominately situated in high streets or retail parks and still have certain advantages over online only retailers. An example is should customers have enquires about a product they can ask a member of staff questions instantaneously to inform their purchasing decisions. Some online provider do answer consumer enquires though they do take greater time to respond (Shopping Navigator, Not Dated). Another benefit is that traditional retailers situated in high streets and retail parks often have place where people can interact and socialise together such as coffee bars and pubs adding additional enjoyment to their shopping experience. Another advantage of traditional retailer outlets it is easier to return unwanted products than an online retailer since all you need to do is show your receipt and returned the products in a good condition. However with an online retailer you will need to repackage the products and file a complaint to the company online. This can be a timely process.

To surmise I believe that online retail has had a significant effect on consumer shopping. However traditional retailers can minimise the effect through competitive pricing, high standards of customer service and incorporating an online presence into their business strategy.

References

Parker, C. 2016. Web Shoppers are not killing the high Street – Poor councils and retail decision making does more harm. Online]. Economic Social Research Council. Available from http://www.esrc.ac.uk/news-events-and-publications/news/news-items/web-shoppers-are-not-killing-the-high-street-poor-council-and-retail-decision-making-does-more-harm/. [Accessed 22 January 2016].

Scheggia, C.2013. Future of Shopping: mortal and bricks vs online click. Online]. Real Business. Available from http://realbusiness.co.uk/article/23233-future-of-shopping-mortar-and-bricks-vs-online-clicks. [Accessed 22 January 2016].

Shopping Navigator. Not Dated. Online vs Traditional Shopping. [Online]. Shopping Navigator. Available from http://www.shoppingnavigator.co.uk/benefits-of-online-shopping.php. [Accessed 22 January 2016].

Sims, J. 2015. The future of shopping is both clicks and bricks. [Online]. Raconteur. Available from http://raconteur.net/business/the-future-of-shopping-is-both-bricks-and-clicks. [Accessed 22 January 2016].

Benefits of using WordPress as a blogging tool

WordPress is a website creation tool and is utilised by over 25% of existing internet websites and has an estimated 76.5 million users (Smith, 2015). Detailed below is a brief summarisation of the benefits associated with using WordPress to create your website presence rather than competitors such as Google Sites and Tumblr.

Cost effective – Since WordPress is a free piece of software so there are no cost incurred with downloading, installing, using and modifying. WordPress also offers over 2600 WordPress themes and 3100 plugins that are also freely available to users (wpbeginner, 2015). However, it is worth stating that WordPress also offers users a premium package that does incur an annual financial cost. It is highly cost effective for small companies to use WordPress to establish an online presence rather than contracting a computer designer. WordPress is also used by prominent global organisations such as Sony, Ups and eBay (WordPress, Not Dated).

User friendly – unlike other website creation tools, WordPress is laid out in a manner that is friendly to novice website designers such as utilising already existing website templates. It is also relatively easy to initially establish a website presence and this can be achieved in little over 10 minutes. In addition, it requires no knowledge of technical areas such as hosting, domains or servers (Ware, Not Dated).

Search Engine Optimisation friendly – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is actively encouraged within WordPress with all the blogs and sites already optimised for search engines (Steve Watson, no date). This is highly beneficial for commercial companies trying to establish themselves on search engines providers such as Google and Bing.

Social Media and media friendly -WordPress is able to support different mediums of the media such as video, audio and images within your WordPress site (wpbeginner, 2015). This means that your website is not restricted to just displaying word content. This is highly beneficial in establishing and maintaining user interest. WordPress also has the additional features of embedding existing websites such as YouTube, Twitter and Instagram Photos onto your WordPress site thus further engaging users.

Various themes– WordPress has a series of themes that are directly applicable for your business for example an artist can display their full galley and portfolio on WordPress. You can also create an online store which can add to the profitability of your business and expose your brand to new consumers (wpbeginner, 2015).

References

Smith, C. 2015. By the Numbers 25 Amazing WordPress Statistics. [Online]. DMR. Available from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/wordpress-statistics/. [Accessed 23 January 2016].

Ware, R. Not Dated. Beginners Guide to WordPress. 10thed. Great Britain. Black Dog Media.

Watson, S. not dated. 7 benefits of using WordPress for your website. [Online]. Steve Watson online. Available from http://stevewatsononline.com/7-benefits-of-using-wordpress-for-your-website/. [Accessed 22 January 2016].

WordPress. not dated. Notable WordPress users. [Online]. WordPress. Available from https://en.wordpress.com/notable-users/. [Accessed 21 January 2016].

wpbeginner. 2015. Why should you use WordPress?. [Online].wpbeginner. Available from http://www.wpbeginner.com/why-you-should-use-wordpress/. [Accessed 22 January 2016].