MOOCs – their value in the HE sector



What is a MOOC?

  • It is a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people. There are over 700 different courses created by different services and over 8 million students taking MOOC courses from over 225 different countries. The best thing about MOOC courses is that they are available to everyone. The main purpose of  a MOOC is to promote independence and innovative thinking.



The cost of taking a MOOC course

MOOC courses are free for anyone who is able to access a MOOC online course from anywhere in the world. The aim of a MOOC course is to deliver higher education for people who cannot attend university but want to achieve a degree of the same level. However if you want to receive credit from a specific university there may be a fee involved.  Top universities such as Harvard and Stanford all credit MOOC courses.

The advantages of a MOOC course:

  • It is a cost effective way of gaining a qualification/degree
  • Able to reach a large number of learners beyond universities.
  • The forums allow work to be peer reviewed by a range of people
  • Able to learn when you want and where you want as the MOOC course allows 24 hour access to learning
  • MOOC courses are FREE learning which appeals to a range of people
  • MOOC are available in multiple languages so users can take courses in alternative languages if they want to
  • MOOCs enable users to learn at their own pace and fit it in with their own schedule so it will accommodate peoples busy schedules.

The disadvantages of a MOOC course:

  • In the overall scheme of education a MOOC degree is low in value in comparison to a degree
  • 90% of students do not finish a MOOC course
  • Not everyone has access to the internet so not all people can access a MOOC course.
  • People who take MOOC courses need to be extremely self motivated to complete the tasks in order to pass the assignments set.
  • People may have to set self motivating goals to get through the MOOC course
  • Participants create their own content during a MOOC course which can feel unstructured and at times chaotic.
  • People who want to take a MOOC course need digital literacy skills.

Overall a MOOC is an advantage to people who have a busy time schedule and want to achieve a qualification. However it is not the equivalent to a degree so students would find it more beneficial to complete a degree course rather than  MOOC as employers find it more credible to have a degree compared to a MOOC qualification.














Google Power Searching – helping students search the web

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When conducting a search on the internet it is critical to think about what words are being used in the search and the way the words have been written. For many students they do not use key words and simply just type whole questions in which may result in poor search results being shown.

To help students google has given students the options on enrolling on power searching tutorials to show how to correctly search for information on the internet. The course is self paced meaning students can learn at their own pace and not feel rushed to learn the new techniques. The course offers a syllabus for example:

  • Pre-course assessment

  • Unit 1 – Introduction

  • Unit 2 – Interpreting results

  • Unit 3 – Advanced techniques

  • Mid-course assessment

  • Unit 4 – Find facts faster

  • Unit 5 – Checking your facts

  • Unit 6 – Putting it all together

  • Post-course assessment

  • Power Searching with Search Experts Video

  • Hang Out with Search Experts Video

This is an example of the structure to a google power searching tutorial: 


After three online tutorials there is a mid online test which is then followed by another three online tutorials incorporating more advanced skills and then finally another test. The google power searching tutorials allow students to join in on a forum to see how others interpret the course assignments.

In the tutorials the students will learn useful skills which they can apply when searching for any type of information. For example many students might not know that applying quotation marks around a word or set of words means the search will look for those words in particular.

Also when searching for information students want to gather as much relevant information as possible on current events, historical news and stories. To get information form other countries all the students have to do is search different country codes. For example if as student wanted to get to Google Korea all you would have to do is  search using the country code of Kr for Korea,its that simple.

The benefits of power searching

  • Save time – Every student likes to get information in the quickest time possible and power searching enables them to do this. Using only key words and techniques learned in the google power searching tutorials will enable them to do this.
  • Competitive intelligence – When moving into a work environment having the skills that can be achieved after completing a google power search course will set the candidate apart from other candidates. Employers want employees who can do the best job possible in a short space of time which is why the techniques learnt on a google power searching course can be transferred into the work place.

Overall power searching is something students may not have heard of before but it could set them apart from other students. Having the skills to narrow down searches will ensure they gather the most relevant information. Following this, having the google power searching tutorials at their finger tips means they can learn key skills at their own pace and gain a qualification at the end of the process.






Digital Analytics – What value can good data analysis tools add to business decision making?


For any business gaining data on a company’s website is vital to improving the businesses marketing efforts. Information such as site traffic,bounce rate and exited pages help to indicate if your business is targeting the right people with the correct message, checking the usefulness of your company’s marketing strategy. Furthermore, this information provided by analytics helps to understand user behaviour and preferences.

The most frequently used business analytics tool used is google analytics. The application offers a range of tools to help new and existing businesses to enable novices and experts to reach their target demographics.

However gaining analytical information can sometimes fail to paint a correct picture of user behaviour. The information gathered does not tell the business why that user has visited the site and it does not tell business owners how engaged those users are.As a result it can be difficult to measure the extent to which the marketing strategy is working so it is difficult to judge if any changes need to made.

One of the main benefits of using data analytics is that it helps to develop a good strategic business plan and allows a business to benchmark future goals. The whole business process can be optimised over time by using more innovative way to reach users, so in the eyes of the user the business is differentiated from other businesses.

Analytics applications can also help a business to see the trends influencing users. Changes in consumer wants,economic trends and demographic shifts can all be analysed by an analytics application. Having a knowledge of what factors drive users can help to improve a businesses decision making process, ensuring the business does not waste time and money on a strategic plan which is out of date and not matching the current trends in society.

Overall data collection and analytics provides a greater insight into user lives,economic trends and user preferences and desires. For a business, analytics is the main component of a business strategy as without having any data on the target market there is no way to measure if the business is becoming successful. An analytics application provides concrete actionable information on which to base important decisions in a myriad of business contexts.

Below is a link to a google analytics which helps to show what a business can look at in order to gain data….





E-Commerce websites vs. Brick and mortar shops

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As technology was advancing more shops were appearing online to meet consumers demands. However as time has gone on brick and mortar shops have become more practical for many different product types. Physical stores increase consumer awareness and can draw consumers into the shop. For products such as clothing, eyewear and jewellery having the opportunity for consumers to touch and try the products on makes them for inclined to buy the products.

Statistics show that 61% of consumers still shop in brick and mortar shops and only 31% of people shop online. Also statics show people spend more money than they originally intended to in brick and mortar shops. Whereas people were more conscious of how much they were spending online.

The benefits of an online store…

From an e-commerce business owners point of view having an online shop means less expenses. For example owners do not have to pay for expensive shop signs and they do not have to pay for clothing rails and tills ect. Instead e-commerce business have more cost effective warehouses to hold inventory. This means with more warehouses consumers can receive their products quicker. Convince is the biggest advantage of e-commerce shops.



The advantages of a brick and mortar store…

An advantage of brick and mortar shops is that consumers feel trust in retail when they know where they purchased the products from. For consumers the security of working into a shop and knowing they can speak to a human for help makes it more appealing than shopping online.

Another advantage of brick and mortar shops is that consumers can check the quality of the products. Whereas online shops consumers cannot do this and consumers often will not purchase the products based on not knowing the quality of the material the product is made out of. Brick and mortar shops can then afford to sell riskier items such as boutique items as consumers can check the quality of the products.

However it is hard to see which kind of shop produces higher sales as e-commerce and brick and mortar shops are two completely different kinds of stores. Many businesses often try both e-commerce stores and brick and mortar stores to then find out which generates the highest revenue.

Returns policies…

Brick and mortar stores often have complicated returns policies which customers are not always aware of. But e-commerce shops make returning items much easier, resulting in another reason consumers chose to shop online.  A physical store needs to figure out a way to make returns both viable and clearly stated in the store so that customers don’t use the shop as a showroom for another online shop.

This is an example of an online returns policy. The policy was easy to find and stated clearly what their returns policy was. Brick and mortar stores often fail to make it simple to consumers what the stores return policy is.

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The future…

It is now emerging in the current market that online shops and brick and mortar shops are merging together. Experts say we will never live in a world without brick and mortar shops so having online shops merge with brick and mortar shops makes a lot of sense. It appeals to various types of consumers helping the shopping market to grow and develop with new and innovative trends.




How does blogging help with student reflection?


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Reflective practice is often a challenging task for many people, as it is the in depth studying of their own experiences to improve the way they work. Reflection often leads to increased confidence within the individual doing the reflective practice and creates someone who is proactive.

Useful blogging sites:

A blog is a place which allows individuals to express themselves to the world and is a piece of work that is frequently updated. Blogging goes hand in hand with reflective practice as a blog is a place to share thoughts and feelings which can be turned into a reflective piece of work. Furthermore, blogging allows students to be expressive by combining aspects of thinking-writing with aspects of presentation writing, whilst allowing a conversational tone to the piece of work the student has created.

For students blogging daily could help them become more confident and help them to develop a clearer voice of their own. This increased confidence can be transferred into their work when asked to reflect on how things could be improved. Blogs give students an insight into different styles of writing, helping to expand and develop the students own writing style.

Blogging allows other people to read the students work and to leave comments which can help further improve and inspire the students. Following this, blogging can help students to develop analysis and critique skills. This can later be transferred into reflective work when students look back at how to improve on the work they have previously completed.

Blogs are less formal than written assignments which will encourage students to become more open with their writing as well as being able to put in media elements to further back up their points. Furthermore, blogs allows students to enter into discussions in topics which are not covered in class which can be useful for when students are asked to develop their own views and opinions on various topics. Blogs allows students to reflect on readings which interest them helping to broaden their knowledge and learning skill set. Blogs offer more advantages to students than standard paper submissions.

By students keeping a blog over a period of time it can help students to actively reflect on their work while it is still fresh in their minds. This helps to remind the students how they felt about the work they were doing for example if they found it challenging or if they completely did not understand the task that had been set.
















The benefits of using Word Press as a blogging tool

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What is word press?

Word press is one of the most powerful website content management system(CMS) and blogging system in existence today.  It is 100% free and open sourced allowing businesses and the general public to manage their blogs and create the highest quality websites.

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The benefits of using word press for your business:

  1. It is easy to manage, setup and update!

For any business ease of use of a blog or website is a must, to ensure consumers and employees can all work the soft wear correctly to save time and overall save money. Word press contains an admin panel which allows multiple administrators to look at the content and to make any changes necessary. Word press is also useful as it allows you to manage content with a word processor type interface. In non-geek terms this means it is easy to change the font,add images,spell checker to avoid embarrassing mistakes and enables the function of  adding links to other websites which may be useful to users.

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     2. It is mobile friendly!

Not only does word press allow your business blog or website to look good and function on a computer it is now available on mobile apps too. The word press dashboard allows users to access their word press blogs all over the word from the use of just their mobiles phones. The tried and tested systems ensure users have access to the word-class publishing system, Word press.

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   3. Media management!

Reading thousands of words about businesses and how they function and work can become tedious. Word press allows users to upload images and media quickly and easily just by dropping the images into the media up-loader which adds it to the blog or website. The up-loader has features such as editing tools and captions which can be added to all the images to enhance the look of the pictures.

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4. Flexibility!

Word press is unique as it allows users to create: personal blogs,photo-blogs, a business website, professional portfolios and even a network of websites. This appeals to a broad range of users making it easy to pick an application suitable for each user.

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Limitations of using word press

  1. Security

Due to thousands of people using word press, this means thousands of users are viewing word press blogs and websites. This means there is a higher risk of hackers stealing information from various companies, as the security on word press is not as advanced compared to other applications.

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    2. Word press does not allow you to upload plugins

Word press prizes its self on giving users the ability to customise their blogs and websites to make each one unique. However, word press only allows users to use plugins which are available on word press it does not allow users to upload their own plugins. Word press still offers a comprehensive but still limited set of features, which does set it apart from other applications which do not offers such a comprehensive list.

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     3.  Word press does not allow you to upload themes

For many bloggers having the ability to personalise and create a blog which portrays the message the blogger wants to put across is essential. Word press only offers a very limited choice of themes for bloggers to do this and users are not able to modify or change any of the themes in any way.

Word press will allow users to pay a fee of £30 to add customised fonts to certain themes or to buy special themes but users still can not modify theme functionality or features in any way.  This is a major disadvantage of using word press as a blogging tool, is that it limit’s how unique a blog post or website can be. Which means websites cant be as unique making them less memorable to users.

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