Soft or Work Skills Development of Students for Employment

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Soft or Work Skill Development

We often hear talk about generic work skills, soft skills or digital related, but what are they and why are they important?

Hard skills may shortlist you for a job interview, but soft skills will have you selected, and may include the following which could also be described as personal attributes or selection criteria:

 

Communication, Organization, Teamwork, Punctuality, Critical Thinking, Social Skills, Creativity, Interpersonal Communication, Adaptability and Friendliness (Berger 2016).

 

According to Harvard Business Review article ‘DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES: The Soft Skills of Great Digital Organizations’:

 

Smart organizations have recognized that introducing new technology into the workplace isn’t about hardware or software: it’s about wetware, also known as human beings. If you want to be the kind of nimble business that can make the most of successive waves of tech innovation, you need human beings who can adapt to change. That means equipping each person in your enterprise with the skills and mindset that will help them successfully adapt whenever you introduce new tools like Slack, Basecamp, or even Google Drive into your workplace. But what exactly are these digital skills? They may be more familiar and low-tech than you think (Samuel 2016).

 

These could include goal focus, collaboration, communication, learning, troubleshooting and enjoyment.

 

Another view from traditional work of soft skills would designate planning workload, communication, reports, presentations, collecting/using information, note taking, data literacy, projects, ethics, problem solving, decision making, team work, meetings, negotiation, stress management and reviewing one’s own personal skills and development (Bingham and Drew 1999).

 

How does one develop these soft or work skills for work, community and life?

 

According to Open Colleges Australia the following tips are needed to teach students soft skills:

30 Tips to Teach Soft Skills

  1. Give students authentic choices about how they’re going to learn and be assessed.
  2. Provide a learning environment where trust, initiative, and taking risks are encouraged.
  3. Hold all students to the same high standards.
  4. Model perseverance by not giving up on students.
  5. Support students by helping them find their own way.
  6. Demonstrate alternate paths to content mastery.
  7. Teach to the whole person (not just the “student”).
  8. Treat your students as mature individuals, even when they aren’t following instructions.
  9. Talk about tailoring communication styles for different audiences.
  10. 1Build students’ interpersonal skills through an environment of humility and respect.
  11. Help students practise taking on different roles in different situations.
  12. Differentiate opportunities for personal growth and opportunities for team growth.
  13. Cultivate a sense of responsibility through meaningful and unique contribution.
  14. Assign group exercises that give people the opportunity to speak, listen, write, organise, and lead.
  15. Assess learning through interactive evaluations that demand real-world demonstrations of learning.
  16. Challenge students’ reactions to new obstacles and situations.
  17. Emphasise that the same solution doesn’t necessarily work every time, even in the same situation.
  18. Incorporate exercises in delayed gratification in order to build persistence and grit.
  19. Start grading students on how well they listen to their peers.
  20. Discuss the importance of social-emotional intelligence in the real world.
  21. Design opportunities for students to build and demonstrate resilience.
  22. Make learning a personal experience, highlighting the way education shapes personality.
  23. Create opportunities for students to innovate, both on their own and in groups.
  24. Draw attention to the differences between online and in-person social etiquette.
  25. Reward students who are willing to admit they’re wrong.
  26. Recognise students who are committed to communicating ideas to others.
  27. Hold brainstorm sessions in which students list the possible uses for various soft skills.
  28. Help build motivation through principles of self-reliance (read: Emerson, Thoreau).
  29. Keep an open ear and encourage students to develop new thoughts and ideas they may have.
  30. Develop learning ability through greater awareness of individual learning processes (Briggs 2015).

 

Teaching, training or tutoring approaches to learning need to be centred upon student centred andragogy for adults not teacher centred pedagogy for children, see related article blog FLIPPED Model – Pedagogy or Andragogy in Higher Education Teaching Learning.

 

 

References:

 

Berger, G 2016, Data Reveals The Most In-demand Soft Skills Among Candidates, LinkedIn Talent Blog, 30 August, viewed 30 March 2018, < https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2016/most-indemand-soft-skills >

 

Bingham, R & Drew, S 1999, Key Work Skills, 1st edn, Gower Publishing Ltd., Aldershot.

 

Briggs, S 2015, 30 Tips to Cultivate Soft Skills in Your Students, Inform Ed – Open Colleges, 1 May, viewed 30 March 2018, < https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/30-ways-to-cultivate-soft-skills-in-your-students >

 

Samuel, A 2016, ‘DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES: The Soft Skills of Great Digital Organizations’, Harvard Business Review, 5 February, viewed 21 March 2018,
< https://hbr.org/2016/02/the-soft-skills-of-great-digital-organizations >

Focus Group Feedback – Qualitative Data Analysis – Grounded Theory & Coding

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Focus Group Feedback – Qualitative Data Analysis – Grounded Theory & Coding

 

Potential respondents must have the ethics of research explained before any interview or feedback, not only verbally at start of an interview or related interaction, but inclusion on a briefing document explaining study and research, storage of data, along with ethics.

Focus Group Interviews

 

Focus interviews, individual or via a group, based on psychoanalysis, can be very adaptable, allow expression of body language, in addition to concept checking or informal communication which would be precluded by the written form.  However, there are disadvantages, interviews can be very time consuming to conduct, transcribe, code and analyse when using open questions to elicit perceptions, attitudes and experience of the research area, plus they can be subjective or prone to bias.  On the other hand, they are useful to explore same perceptions etc., then importantly, used to inform a valid survey or data collection instrument or further research (Bell, 2005).

 

Types of interview include structured e.g. answering survey face to face, semi-structured and unstructured, the latter allows good quality data to be offered.  The unstructured interview can offer an opportunity for an industry person to explain and elaborate on issues that have emerged organically, that would have otherwise remained unknown and ignored (Ibid.).

 

Focus Group Interview Feedback Respondents

 

The ‘Focus Respondents’ for this research study included two former international students now professionals with digital literacy, two international education marketing (and admissions) managers for large multinational education providers and two more senior ‘Focus Respondents’ who manage within international education, but without formal marketing background.

 

‘Focus Respondents’ were asked open questions based upon the literature and round the information search process with any critical issues, key words, processes or phenomenon to be expressed, not in long narrative for full transcription, but abbreviated for notes and action coding.

 

It was explained to focus respondents, to give them structure or context, that the general focus was decision making behaviour process, represented by a five-stage model:

 

Purchase Decision Making Model

 

Five Stage Purchase Decision Behaviour Model or Process (simplified)

  • Recognition of Need
  • Information Search
  • Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Purchase Decision
  • Post Purchase Behaviour

(Kotler & Keller, 2012).

 

From same focus interviews regarding information search or discovery process, the research elicited factors or latent variables, then quantified by survey to analyse for significance of these factors in ‘optimal marketing and communications’.  These factors and construct can then be used to develop an information seeking construct and a useful template for industry.

Next step is to deliver survey to a hopefully significant sample population to then ground any marketing strategy development.

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012) Marketing Management. (14th Ed.) Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education – Prentice Hall.

Focus Group Research then Survey for Digital e-Marketing Strategy Development

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Digital or e-Marketing Research for Strategy Development

 

Conducting Qualitative and Quantitative Feedback – Focus Respondent Interviews for Survey Instrument Development

 

Following outlines steps in applying research techniques for marketing using a MBA cohort of professionals of diverse backgrounds mostly based in Europe.

Limited interviews, both face to face and email based, were conducted with selected former students and industry stakeholders for experiential feedback to ascertain or confirm important factors.  After analysis of feedback, this led onto the development of a simple survey instrument with the factors or clusters of elicited, making up dimensions or phases (Saunders et al., 2009).  One could then measure or relate the importance of each factor in the information search amongst a related population or student cohort, then drawing inferences, but neither correlations nor causal relationships.

 

While optimal language and communication skills are important for questionnaires, there must be a process of researching, identifying and forming the questions to be included in a survey, that leads to valid and reliable data for analysis; one cannot go back after collecting survey data.

 

Ordinal Likert scales can be used to assess the strength of perceptions on relevant factors, on a three, five or seven-point range and can indicate order e.g. not very important through neutral to very important.  Ideally scales are applied to many factors or questions leading to inference of a construct explaining the research focus.  In this study, simply assessing relevance of each factor grouped as phases or dimensions for inclusion e.g. if deemed to be important or very important by students (Bell, 2005).

 

While the quantitative data collection or survey was a ‘probability sample’ or ‘representative sampling’ i.e. all from the same online MBA cohort, to allow inferences to be made about the population, the ‘Focus Respondents’ informing the survey development represented ‘non-probability’ sampling for convenience or streamlining.

 

By accessing ‘Focus Respondents’ and gaining input from potential population, also including informed input from industry personnel, industry and scholastic research; a valid survey instrument could be developed (Saunders at al., 2009).

 

The sample population of university students surveyed represent the population’s ‘information seeking’ behaviour, through collecting quantitative data from this representative sample of enrolled European University students in online MBA program.

 

Ideally this could have been expanded further amongst other sample populations for comparison and cross tabulation, but the scope of this study precluded inclusion, however actual colleges, public organisations and SME business workplaces can replicate the process.

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

 

How to Research the Digital Customer Journey

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Related Research on International Student or Customer Information
Seeking Journey

 

This study started with individual focus input from a limited number of former international students and stakeholders giving open and related feedback on information seeking factors; mirroring grounded research techniques allowing issues to emerge within time and resource constraints (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

 

This study, through qualitative techniques of literature review, with stakeholder feedback from both students and marketers, was followed by quantitative measurement of data from a modest but relevant sample student population, using descriptive statistics i.e. data tables, informing a construct with analysis, then discussion and recommendations.

 

Good starting point for qualitative research is ‘grounded theory’, a methodology to allow issues to emerge from focus respondents; this was partially replicated, but in an abbreviated or streamlined version.

 

Qualitative Research – Grounded Research Theory & Inductive Approach

 

Qualitative data from interviews or focus respondent feedback can be used for the ‘Inductive Approach’ (to inform survey instrument) exemplified by fluid theoretical framework, identification of relationships in the data for potential hypotheses, then theory emerges from this process.  Further, there are various types of approach e.g. summarising meaning or ‘condensation’, categorisation or ‘grouping’ and structuring or ‘ordering’ leading to a narrative, this approach avoids becoming caught in a deductive process of proving theory (Saunders, 2009).

 

Further, analysis of the emergent qualitative data allows comprehension, integration, pattern recognition, then potential development or testing of theories.  Also significant are language terms that emerge from the data, which also appear in existing literature, that are used by participants and relevant industry (Ibid.).

 

Language analysis is especially important to inform good website design, SM usage, content marketing and SEO keywords and phrases, reflecting the language or communication means that students prefer, use and can find.

 

Why Mixed Methods & Grounded Research Theory?

 

The reasons for using mixed methods include ‘triangulation’ to corroborate both facilitation and complementarity through qualitative and quantitative, ‘generality’ assessing importance through quantitative, and ‘aid interpretation’ with qualitative explaining quantitative.  This approach can solve a puzzle through analysis i.e. asking students directly versus guessing or assuming the latent factors driving their behaviour when planning a purchase (Saunders, 2009).

 

Grounded theory emerges from induction through the study of a phenomenon, e.g. study of student information searching preferences to derive a ‘grounded’ marketing and communications strategy or approach.  However, qualitative via grounded theory follows a process of systematic data collection and analysis related to a phenomenon so that data collection, analysis and theory relate to each other; it’s not subjective opinion (Strauss & Corbin, 1990).

 

Using mixed methods of data collecting or multi-method approach, adds up to enhanced validity and reliability through ‘triangulation’ (Bell, 2005).  Coding can also be done in a selective manner in choosing the core category for which relationships and other categories are viewed (Ibid.). Process or linking up of elements in the research or study emerges as a sequence of events, exemplified by identifying need, information search, analysis and decision; mirrors many cyclical processes including those outside of marketing (Ibid.).

 

The research process in this case, using grounded theory, allowed flexibility provided evaluation criteria are satisfied, leading onto empirical grounding (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). How or where do we start?

 

 

Reference List:

 

Bell, J. (2005) Doing Your Research Project. (4th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990) Basics of Qualitative Research – Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques. Newbury Park CA: SAGE Publications.

 

Focus Group Research for Digital e-Marketing Strategy Development

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Digital or e-Marketing Strategy Development
Research Design & Methodology

 

Optimal research is based on triangulation between scholarly and industry research representing a process with related factors, then analysis and coding of key stakeholder feedback according to same process.  Thirdly, it can be followed by quantitative data gathering or survey of customers’ attitudes on the factors that emerged, joining the circle or triangulation.

 

The literature review can highlight research and industry issues or views of marketing and communications for international education or related products and services, leading to an optimal marketing and communications construct to inform strategy and professional practice.  Additionally, to inform or validate any construct, qualitative data needs to be collected through focus type respondents from industry or target market, coded and analysed for inclusion of important factors in a survey instrument.

 

Quantitative data can be collected, described and analysed; resulting in a practical process and template for both small and large entities. It is limited neither to education nor marketing, but applicable to any workplace investigation or consulting, not unlike good investigative journalism or detective work or training needs analysis.

 

Research Approach Rationale

 

This data collection and qualitative research use the inductive approach, with grounded research methods, which informs development of a survey instrument, and represents the purchase decision process model.  The focus is ‘information search or discovery process’, produces data for analysis and then informs a generic marketing and communications model or template, for marketing and communication practitioners, through a process.

 

This is opposed to taking the deductive approach of testing a hypothesis already formed from previous research or practice, assuming data and a hypothesis or rationale is publicly available.  However, the deductive approach is precluded by the lack of the following: transparent marketing strategies, access to data, direct process based KPIs key performance indicators and ROI return on investment, meaningful analytics on student marketing and communications, and access to statistically significant sample population(s).

 

 

Effective medium or long-term strategy may be precluded by a short-term sales or ROI type of analysis of an annual marketing investment budget, evaluating only selected inputs and outputs, but neither processes nor future income streams.  Accordingly, with related scholastic research lacking in this field, a contemporary framework or construct reflecting both target market and changing technology, is needed to aid analysis and future marketing.

 

Research Design & Methodology

 

The research can start with question or proposal round ‘information seeking’, review of marketing research literature and education industry reports with expert focus respondent feedback.  From the latter, a survey instrument can be developed, piloted, data collected, then analysed according to descriptive statistics through e.g. Survey Monkey, then data tabulated, presented, analysed, reported and linked back for business applications.

 

Inductive Approach to Qualitative Research

 

One can take the approach of ‘theory first’ and test deduced hypotheses to verify theory, or conversely ‘theory after’, not starting with theory but collecting data to generate a theory or model.  This is not unlike inferring the significant factors that impact how Google and Facebook Page search algorithms affect SEO, when the algorithm is commercial in confidence.

 

The research is based on eliciting relevant process or factors to inform and develop a latent construct of optimal marketing and communications for students as purchasers, especially related to the information seeking phase or journey.  This construct, developed through inference, should suggest good industry practice that includes latent factors or (re)sources that allow students to find relevant information to analyse for a future purchase decision.

 

Advantages of this approach are that it allows one to take a research direction, it does not force respondents to adopt a restrictive theory or framework that may preclude relevant feedback (Saunders et al., 2009).  Such a construct can be used to develop a marketing and communications strategy or template, then used to develop initial, or compare existing, strategy and evaluate, according to users, clients or students; creating systematic process and utility in the sector.

 

Research Proposition

 

How do students’ or customers’ information seeking behaviours relate to marketing and communications strategy in international education or related service industries?

 

The research proposition posits that there is a relationship between more recent information seeking factors exemplified by digital, and the older WOM word of mouth, for a purchase decision process, with development of grounded, practical marketing and communication strategy.

 

This data collection and research focused mostly upon the similarities in recent digital based ‘information search or discovery process’, the factors that are related to this process and could be used to infer an optimal information seeking construct or model (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

 

Reference List:

 

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012) Marketing Management. (14th Ed.) Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education – Prentice Hall.

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

 

Changes in Digital Behaviour – International Education Marketing

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Advances and Changes in Digital Behaviour

for

Digital or e-Marketing Communications

 

Digital technology and education related publishing companies have researched youth markets well to understand their target market and confirm previous industry research around digital behaviour of millennials (plus generations X and Y).

 

Student Decision Making

 

Student decision making is a process over time including decisions based on information about course, country then institution, fees, satisfaction, graduate outcomes, destination marketing, security and up to date websites.  Accordingly, student engagement through social media SM is important, and students need to be tracked and supported in discovery process through to application and ongoing feedback and analysis (Hobsons, 2014).

Further, according to stakeholders in the SM space, youth including diverse sub-sets is engaged and online whether social media or via mobile, requiring optimism and personality in communications.  (FacebookIQ, 2014).  Due to this changing technology environment and human computer interaction (HCI), millennials now conduct their ‘information seeking’ differently from the past (Scanlon, 2006).

 

Market Research of Youth, Social Media and Word of Mouth

 

Market research concurred with other industry-based reporting, i.e. showed increased use of SM by both consumers and businesses, with former using online for information search and post purchase review (Sensis, 2016). Related, another consumer report cited the need for leveraging of word of mouth WOM and ‘Consumer-Generated Media’ (CGM), suggesting bottom-up strategy has become more important than top down according to advertisers or commissioners (Nielsen, 2009).

 

Application to International Education Marketing

 

Additionally, much of the above has been confirmed by other industry research in international education highlighting the need for new ways of doing things. For example, identifying broader ROI KPIs, student led marketing content, mobile focus, skilled human resources and becoming more integrated with agents or distributors including assistance with cooperative digital strategy (Educations Media Group, 2017).

 

Another viewpoint from international education industry research came up with ‘Myths Busted’, including: admissions is no longer the most important source of information, rankings not so relevant, but SM, mobile and web search are central, Facebook is declining in importance with teens, and institutions must understand the nuances of their target market (Rogers & Stoner, 2015).

 

Finally, important for institutions to match students’ decision-making and discovery process to have multiple information sources, WOM, peer reviews, course, student body, employment outcomes and warn that sub-optimal university websites and social media can turn prospective candidates away (Karzunina et al., 2016).

 

The question nowadays should be how does an institution or any business develop, implement and maintain and informed digital or e-marketing strategy according to their clients or customers?

 

Reference List:

 

Educations Media Group (2017) International Higher Education Report: Marketing + Recruitment Trends. Available at: https://www.educations.com/file/1055/download (Accessed on: 23/04/2017).

 

FacebookIQ (2014) Coming of Age on Screens: An in-depth look at teens and young adults around the world. Available at: https://fbinsights.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/comingofageonscreens_whitepaper_120814.pdf (Accessed 03/01/2017).

 

Hobsons (2014) Beyond the Data: Influencing international student decision making.  Available at: http://www.hobsons.com/emea (Accessed: 3/1/2017).

 

Karzunina, D., Bridgestock L. & Philippou, G (2016) What Matters to International Students: Global Overview. Available at: http://www.qsdigitalsolutions.com/resources/what-matters-to-international-student-global-overview/ (Accessed 03/01/2017).

 

Nielsen (2009) Nielsen – Global Online Consumer Survey. Available at: http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/newswire/uploads/2009/07/pr_global-study_07709.pdf (Accessed on 07/05/2017).

 

Rogers, G. & Stoner, M. (2015) Mythbusting Admissions: Where Prospects and Professionals Agree – and Disagree – on Enrollment, Marketing, Messages and Channels. Chegg Enrollment Services. Available at: https://www.uaf.edu/files/provost/MythbustingAdmissions.pdf (Accessed on 23/04/2017).

 

Scanlon, M. (2006) Information-Seeking Behaviour of Millennials.  SLA Annual Conference.  Available at:  http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/dam_blog/files/Information-Seeking_BehaviorofMillennials.pdf (Accessed on: 23/04/2107).

 

Sensis (2016) Sensis Social Media Report 2016. Available at:  https://www.sensis.com.au/asset/PDFdirectory/Sensis_Social_Media_Report_2016.PDF (Accessed on: 23/04/2017).

 

Student Youth Marketing Communications – Digital Technology – Social Media

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Marketing & Communication Strategy – Digital Technology & Young Adults

 

According to industry market intelligence and those targeting youth markets, it’s very important to be abreast of digital technology for information, communication and recommendations with social media, internet, mobiles, friends, WOM (word of mouth), etc., used for sharing of credible information and brands (ICEF Monitor, 2016f).  Marketers and institutions need more insight into student information digital or online research journey factors e.g. importance of student testimonials, easily navigable website, and direct rapid responses to enquiries (ICEF Monitor, 2016a).

 

International education and youth marketing using digital technology and social media

Digital Technology and Social Media Marketing Communications (Image copyright Pexels)

 

Prospective candidates and in many cases families, need access to information and multimedia any time or place fitting their behaviour, not what fits institutional culture, personnel or strategies (ICEF Monitor, 2016c).  Further, to access youth or millennials, mobiles and related marketing are important, as are speed, messages, images and multiple channels (ICEF Monitor, 2015a).

 

It is not sufficient to access only students, but also stakeholders such as parents influential in decision-making via their mother tongue, suggesting the importance of translated information that can be found (ICEF Monitor, 2012a).  Additionally, European based industry groups and practitioners have confirmed the key influencers on student decision making during information seeking process, include peers, academics and advisors (ICEF Monitor, 2016b).

 

The challenge for now and the future is how can digital technology resources be leveraged to improve marketing, communications and recruitment or sales?  Speaking to your target market is not only logical, it is also confirmed by industry, the need to track and analyse behaviour so targeted digital based marketing matches the target market (Saunders et al., 2009).

 

Expanding further, including the significance of inferring the Google search algorithm through outcomes, international education marketing and communication strategies can be improved by the same thinking.  This is through using the inductive approach to delineate key factors in the information search phase, according to students and stakeholders, and inform good SEO (search engine optimisation) based marketing and communications.

 

Reference List

 

ICEF Monitor (2016a) Global survey highlights the importance of peer review and detailed insights for prospective students. Available at: http://monitor.icef.com/2016/07/global-survey-highlights-importance-peer-review-detailed-insights-prospective-students/ (Accessed: 03/01/2017).

 

ICEF Monitor (2016b) New report tracks key influencers for international students. Available at: http://monitor.icef.com/2016/02/new-report-tracks-key-influencers-for-international-students/ (Accessed: 03/01/2017).

 

ICEF Monitor (2016c) New research provides fresh insights for reaching and engaging millennials. Available at: http://monitor.icef.com/2015/04/new-research-provides-fresh-insights-for-reaching-and-engaging-millennials/ (Accessed: 03/01/2017).

 

ICEF Monitor (2016f) Where the devices are: New study updates global stats on Internet usage. Available at: http://monitor.icef.com/2015/04/where-the-devices-are-new-study-updates-global-stats-on-internet-usage/ (Accessed on: 03/01/2017).

 

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2009) Research Methods for Business Students. (5th Ed.) Harlow UK: Pearson Education Ltd.

 

Diversity in Digital or e-Marketing Communications Strategy

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Marketing and Communications
in Diverse Digital World

 

Hofstede Cultural Dimensions

 

Hofstede’s four cultural dimensions: ‘Power Distance, Avoidance of Uncertainty, Self vs the Group, Male vs Female’, all have significant impact on WOM and brand communication, plus a low or no negative WOM being important when engaging with target audience (Lam et al., 2009).  Hofstede’s dimensions are now six after being expanded further to include ‘Long-Short Term Orientation’, and ‘Indulgence-Restraint’ (Hofstede, 2011).

 

Marketing research and mapping of customer journey in digital and social media marketing

Diversity and Culture in Digital or e-Marketing Communication Strategy (Image copyright Pexels)

 

Some issues with this model include being culturally specific to IBM or the sample population at the time, predated wider access to travel, communications technology, newly emergent broad middle classes, with very significant regional and language differences within target market nations e.g. India and China.  Additionally, there are now demographic and cultural dynamics in societies along with globalisation; but the process of investigation of culture is very worthwhile, especially within a specific business or organisational environment (Myers & Tan, 2003).

 

 

This research study focused upon similarities of individuals when searching for information, not differences between nationalities, precluded by constraints of this study.  However, for utility or at a practical level any marketer or institution must be aware and sensitive towards cultural or national differences, that need to be accounted for in marketing and communications strategy, without national stereotyping.  As suggested, there is no one common behaviour or culture, however, a skilled marketer would understand the importance and how to assess, then account for in any regional or nation specific strategy under their purview.

 

e-Consumer Behaviour – What do they do?

 

Another more contemporary approach has three dimensions in e-consumer behaviour for brand trust: ‘Brand Experience’ and ‘Search for Information’, ‘Brand Familiarity’ and ‘Customer Satisfaction’, both cognitive and emotional (Ha & Perks, 2005).  Again, ‘brand experience’ and ‘search for information’ are highlighted as significant dimensions of consumer behaviour, underpinned by both rational thinking and feelings, including or represented by WOM.

 

Importantly, WOM referrals have longer or greater impact, if part of marketing communication strategy to leverage lower costs and speed of message via internet to persuade consumers, but little if any measurement or research has been conducted (Trusov et al., 2009).

 

Relationship Marketing, Interaction & Consumer Input

 

This leads onto to relationship marketing and online interaction that have become more important with internet due to two-way or multi-lateral communication potential (Liu, 2007).  In related ‘youth’ industry i.e. tourism and travel, youth users of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and SM have changed their behaviour on how they search for information on products, and can contribute to or participate in design, development and distribution of new products (Bizirgiannia & Dionysopoulou, 2013).

 

This highlights the fact that purchasing is a process over time, youth expect interaction around the product, two-way communication helps inform them and they can contribute to new products, including the marketing and communications strategy e.g. SEO.   In other words, talk systematically with and analyse your target market for feedback on products and experience, in addition to preferred distribution or communication channels and behaviour, to ensure any strategy works well.

 

Reference List:

 

Bizirgiannia, I. & Dionysopoulou, P. (2013) The influence of tourist trends of Youth Tourism through Social Media (SM) & Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) at the 2nd International Conference on Integrated Information. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042813003959 (Accessed 18/11/2016).

 

Ha, H. & Perks, H. (2005) Effects of consumer perceptions of brand experience on the web: Brand familiarity, satisfaction and brand trust. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. 4(6) pp. 438–452.  Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cb.29/abstract (Accessed on: 18/11/2016).

 

Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing Cultures: The Hofstede Model in Context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014

 

Lam D., Lee A. & Mizerski R (2009) The Effects of Cultural Values in World-of-Mouth Communication. Journal of International Marketing. 17(3) pp. 55-70 Published by: American Marketing Association Harvard system

 

Liu Y (2007) Online interaction readiness: conceptualisation and measurement. Journal of Customer Behaviour. 6(3) pp. 283-299. Available at: http://www.yupingliu.com/files/papers/liu_interaction_readiness.pdf Accessed on: 10/01/2017.

 

Myers, M. & Tan, F. (2003) Beyond Models of National Culture in Information Systems Research. In Tan, F. (Ed.) Advanced Topics in Global Information Management Vol. 2. pp. 14-29. Hershey PA: Idea Group Publishing.

 

Trusov, M., Bucklin, R. & Pauwels, K. (2009) Effects of Word-of-Mouth versus Traditional Marketing: Findings from an Internet Social Networking Site. Journal of Marketing. 73(5) pp. 90-102.

 

 

International Education Marketing – 4P Products 7P Services and Word of Mouth

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4Ps for Products to the 7Ps for Services

and WOM Word of Mouth

 

While many focus upon the promotional aspect of the 4Ps model of ‘product, price, place and promotion’, research has emphasised that education marketing must use ‘7Ps’, not just ‘4 or 5Ps’.  This would also include people, facilities and processes, thus broadening any analysis and perceptions of the market (Ivy, 2008).

Further, the ‘7Ps’ model was developed to account for differences in service industries versus sub-optimal ‘4Ps’ model for physical goods (Rafiq & Ahmed, 1995).  The ‘People’ and ‘Process’ are very relevant for this research, as they focus upon need to communicate openly with target market through skilled personnel, while viewing marketing, communication and sales as a process, not an instantaneous purchasing event e.g. buying a consumer product or staple (Acutt, 2015).

 

There have been criticisms of this ‘7Ps’ model as being out of date, highlighting the need for new conceptual foundations and marketing methodologies representing today and tomorrow’s world (Konstantinides, 2010).  With e-marketing, digital or internet-based marketing coming to the fore, there needs to be more analysis of consumer behaviour regarding brand experience, information search, brand familiarity and customer satisfaction, both rational and emotional (Ha & Perks, 2005).

 

More recent research suggests that the ‘complex’ student decision making process is viewed as rational economic action when in fact much is emotional and relies upon peers, influencers and related WOM to assess overall or general quality, plus more practical concerns such as immigration and visa (Nedbalová et al, 2014).  How does a student or family access WOM based information and advice from peers and influencers leading to a study decision, possibly through student feedback and analysis?

 

Why is WOM Word of Mouth Important?

 

WOM is important in all communications, and for consumers to participate in social learning through WOM communication, the preference for many if not most (Campbell, 2013).  WOM is related intimately with personal and cultural factors, with informal accepted as a significant communication channel of influence (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

 

Social networks and WOM rely upon users and friends’ reviews and comments, plus helping to generate positive and negative WOM, with ‘trust’ being very important (Barreda et al., 2015).  WOM is also an essential element of digital or e-Marketing and SM, if not the most important, with a need to encourage interactivity and engagement amongst the target market about a product (Whitler, 2014).

 

WOM can now be carried further by social media, be leveraged for better marketing and communications, and it cannot be ignored, especially if negative.  WOM carried digitally across borders amongst friends who may be informed significantly by personal or national culture considerations, whether differences or similarities.

 

Therefore, logically consideration may need to be given to cultural dimensions of marketing and impacts on strategy, differences or similarities? This will lead onto investigation of cultural dimensions and e-Consumer Behaviour – What do they do?

 

Reference List:

 

Acutt, M. (2015) The Marketing Mix 4P’s and 7P’s Explained.  Available at: http://marketingmix.co.uk/ (Accessed on: 17 May 2017).

 

Barreda, A. A., Bilgihan, A., & Kageyama, Y. (2015). The role of trust in creating positive word of mouth and behavioral intentions: The case of online social networks. Journal of Relationship Marketing, 14(1), 16-36.

 

Campbell A. (2013) ‘Word-of-Mouth Communication and Percolation in Social Networks’. The American Economic Review. 103(6) pp. 2466-2498 Published by: American Economic Association. Available at: https://www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.103.6.2466 (Accessed on: 16/12/2016).

 

Ha, H. & Perks, H. (2005) ‘Effects of consumer perceptions of brand experience on the web: Brand familiarity, satisfaction and brand trust’. Journal of Consumer Behaviour. 4(6) pp. 438–452.  Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cb.29/abstract (Accessed on: 18/11/2016).

 

Ivy J. (2008) ‘A new higher education marketing mix: the 7Ps for MBA marketing’. International Journal of Educational Management. 22(4) pp. 288 – 299 Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513540810875635 (Accessed: 18/11/2016).

 

Konstantinides, E. (2006) ‘The Marketing Mix Revisited: Towards the 21st Century Marketing’.  Journal of Marketing Management. 22(3-4) pp. 407-438. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/1 0.1 362/026725706776861 190 (Accessed: 16/12/2016).

 

Kotler, P. & Keller, K. (2012) Marketing Management. (14th Ed.) Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education – Prentice Hall.

 

Nedbalová E., Greenacre L. & Schulz J (2014) ‘UK higher education viewed through the marketization and marketing lenses’. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education. 24(2) pp. 178-195. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08841241.2014.973472  (Accessed on: 21/12/2016).

 

Rafiq, M. & Ahmed, P. (1995) ‘Using the 7Ps as a generic marketing mix: an exploratory survey of UK and European marketing academics’. Marketing Intelligence & Planning. 13(9) pp. 4-15.

 

Whitler, K. (2014) Why word of mouth marketing is the most important social media.  Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/#2f76616d54a8 (Accessed: 10/05/2017).

 

FLIPPED Model – Pedagogy or Andragogy in Higher Education Teaching Learning

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FLIPPED Teaching and Learning Model in Higher Education

 

Introduction

 

Nowadays in higher education there is much talk of MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses), e-learning, blended learning and the ‘FLIPPED’ (Flexible Environments, Learning Culture, Intentional Content, Professional Educators, Progressive Activities, Engaging Experiences, and Diversified Platforms) classroom; what does it mean, what are the issues and solutions?

 

Brief Literature Review

 

One of the first issues to be apparent is that ‘FLIPPED learning’ is under utilised and even when utilised, there maybe sub-optimal delivery for good teaching and learning outcomes (Chen et al., 2014).  Conversely, whether a fee-paying program, compulsory K12 or a MOOC, FLIPPED learning can dramatically increase access (Hazlett, 2014).

 

Flipped classroom is also a benefit to both teaching and learning, with students being exposed to subject content online and participate in active lessons; moving away from teacher directed pedagogy to student centred learning or andragogy (especially important for transition of youth to adulthood).  The benefits are exemplified by less homework issues, question and answer, deeper exploration and those away with illness can keep up.  For teachers it means supporting students in application, reusable, easier individual student attention and more transparency for parents (Mihai, 2016).

 

Another view includes the following benefits: more student control, student centred, content more accessible for students or parents, and more efficient.  However, this is tempered by disadvantages of digital divide or illiteracy, requires significant preparation and front-end input, not good for test preparation and increased screen time (Acedo, 2013).

 

Other related concerns including potential side lining of teachers and their related skills, online content and instructional design can be boring versus active and interesting lessons, excusing bad pedagogy, internet access issues (e.g. Australia has internet speed and bandwidth issues comparing with less developed nations), assuring online content e.g. videos are watched, online content and instructional design can be very time consuming (November & Mull, 2012).

 

What are the issues for FLIPPED model in adult vocation or higher education teaching and learning?

 

The obvious issue is that when developed for K12 it is based upon pedagogic learning theories for children and youth, supported by teachers with strong background in theory and application of teaching, learning, assessment and technology.  However, this may not translate well to adult education, vocational or higher education requiring skills of applying andragogy i.e. matching adult learning styles with instructors, trainers, teachers or lecturers lacking the same education background.

 

What are the differences between pedagogy and andragogy in teaching and learning?

 

Firstly, what do adults bring to learning and how do they learn optimally as identified by Malcolm Knowles?  Knowles identified six principles including internal motivation and self-direction, life experience and knowledge, goal oriented, relevancy, practical and need for respect.  Contrasted with pedagogy in the following table:

 

Andragogy versus Pedagogy in FLIPPED Model for Higher Education

Andragogy versus Pedagogy for the FLIPPED Model in Higher Education

(Education Technology & Mobile Learning, 2018)

 

Reflection on issues and solutions for FLIPPED Model in Higher Education

 

One has experienced online blinded learning in higher education i.e. online MBA with webinars, CPD (Continuing Professional Development) via e-learning platform and vocational training certificate via distance learning and recorded webinars as ‘add-ons’, not well integrated.

 

Issues encountered included lack of teaching, learning, assessment and technology skills in instructional design, lesson planning, delivery of interesting lessons, developing and testing activity resources, creating opportunities for interactivity, involving all students (not just strong or dominant), using existing or old lecture slides for content, technology breakdowns with no disaster plan, not using or updating discussion forums and relying too much on ‘presenting’ versus teaching.

 

Solutions could include CPD like ‘train the trainer’ or in Australia the TAE40116 Certificate IV Trainer & Assessor, however many are not suitable for adult learners whether young or old.  In more diverse international cohorts where English is not the first language, adapt using the Cambridge CELTA (Certificate to Teach English Language to Adults) framework (applied qualification studied full time intensively four weeks including practice and observations).

 

The latter is especially well designed to include all learning theories including pedagogy and importantly andragogy, for student centred communication interaction.  It is based on the PPP model (Presentation, Practice and Production), when applied well is active, interesting, with clear learning outcomes and multi levelled hidden curriculum, in addition to communication skills, when pitched at advanced or proficiency level students (UCLES, 2018).

 

Nowadays with empowered and fee paying adult learners, top down directed teaching and learning of subject matter may neither be accepted nor acceptable?

 

Reference List

 

Acedo, M. (2013) 10 Pros and Cons of a Flipped Classroom. Available at: https://www.teachthought.com/learning/10-pros-cons-flipped-classroom/  (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Chen, Y; Wang, Y; Kinshuk & Chen, N. (2014) Is FLIP enough? Or should we use the FLIPPED model instead? Computers & Education. 79 pp. 16-27. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360131514001559

 

Education Technology & Mobile Learning (2018) Awesome Chart on “Pedagogy versus Andragogy”.  Available at: https://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/05/awesome-chart-on-pedagogy-vs-andragogy.html (Accessed on: 28 January 2018).

 

Hazlett, C. (2014) Parallel Sessions: MOOC meets Flipped Classroom. Available at: https://blog.edx.org/parallel-sessions-mooc-meets-flipped (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Mihai, L. (2016) Blended Learning: 8 Flipped Classroom Benefits for Students and Teachers. Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/8-flipped-classroom-benefits-students-teachers (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

November, A. & Mull, B. (2012) Flipped Learning: A Response to Five Common Criticisms. Available at: http://web.uvic.ca/~gtreloar/Articles/Technology/flipped-learning-a-response-to-five-common-criticisms.pdf (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

UCLES (2018) Cambridge English Teaching Framework. Available at: http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/teaching-english/cambridge-english-teaching-framework/ (Accessed on: 27 January 2018).

 

Business Simulation – Strategic Management – Higher Education – Capsim

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Business Simulation Capsim

 

Global DNA & Comp-XM – Company Exemplar – Cochlear Bionic Hearing Implants

 

Abstract or executive summary of a business simulation report presented to faculty in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Business Administration (International Business) at European University Business School & University of Roehampton.

 

 

Executive Summary

 

Cochlear Australia has potential to enter, create market share and be profitable in the Taiwanese market for bionic hearing implant devices; without need for dominating.  Taiwan has a state and private backed health sector, biotechnology strategy, middle income nation of 23.5 million, ageing population through improved longevity, almost all are insured and excellent relations with Australia.

 

Any successful strategy will be based upon research and development R&D, marketing, production and finance divisions; with commensurate excellence in human resources with strong focus upon innovation, differentiated products, customer satisfaction, forecasting, cost control and attracting further investment.

 

Through using two Capsim business simulations, Global DNA and Comp-XM, relevant and inter-dependent personnel can develop strategies, then apply and evaluate key performance indicators KPIs for testing the market, in addition to lessening the impact of silo mentality.  Simulation, risk free, exemplified the need for investment in innovation and automation to satisfy customers, good communication, forecasting and cost control for continued profitability.

 

Simulations showed the need for a suite of products for both budget and performance, while suggesting a trend towards moderate pricing to retain market share.  This was confirmed by impairment due to unexpected events including price cutting or dumping of competitor products, in addition to lagging on higher specifications on products and automation; both making forecasting of demand and sales difficult.  The lesson was never assume anything, especially market dominance or competitive share, and be constantly aware of the market, including awareness of other divisions.

 

The optimal strategy reflected the need for achieving customer satisfaction in both budget and performance segments through incremental improvements, investment in R&D, plant automation investment, leading onto cost control, profitability and then attracting continued investment through sound financial KPIs.

 

As markets mature the strategy is important, while understanding that organic profit growth is achievable even if population growth slows and market share remains static, as the population ages and suffers widespread age-related hearing impairment.

 

The first simulation Global DNA in a higher growth environment followed by the lower growth Comp-XM highlighted that markets may not continually grow thus precluding market domination and increased sales.

 

However, both simulations indicated that profitability could be maintained without dominating market share provided customer satisfaction was addressed with continual attracting of investment in R&D and product innovation, plant automation lowering costs and human resource development.

 

Cochlear could leverage such simulations further for both new or existing market strategy and planning, in addition to supporting the skills development of all relevant company personnel globally, thus achieving share and stakeholder objectives.

 

International Education Marketing – Conventional versus Digital

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Traditional International Education Marketing

 

There have been criticisms for some decades regarding the effectiveness of universities’ and related education institutions’ international marketing and their ability to identity what the market needs and communicating effectively (Nicholls et al., 1995).

 

Anecdotal complaints from within larger institutions, whether faculty or administration, is that even with high enrolment numbers, there is little understanding of ‘how’ students came to be enrolled, let alone those prospective students who did not, with indirect or invalid KPIs (key performance indicators).

 

This is compounded further in large entities by organisational structures on large campuses, leading to potentially sub-optimal co-ordination between international marketing, admissions, web marketing team, suppliers or agents and students; resulting in silos impacting analysis of communication and information sharing.

International Students - Digital Marketing

International Education Digital Marketing

(Image copyright Pexels)

Conventional Marketing or Sales?

 

Marketing strategy emerging in the 1980s relied upon travel to physical recruitment events, distribution of brochures or ‘marketing materials’ by hand, appointment of agents; mostly short-term sales and ROI model or basic ‘4Ps’.

 

This latter financial and physical ROI method of evaluation e.g. numbers of brochures distributed, and students recruited, may not be highlighting the important factors or process leading to enrolments, or missing many factors altogether e.g. WOM (word of mouth)?

 

The assumed positive outcomes from such strategies may be correlated with other factors such as ongoing WOM with peers, suitable course availability or online visibility.  Previous research had already highlighted critical factors of significance including need for innovation, quality staff and image, service culture, good use of information technology (IT), healthy financials, technical excellence and broad range of courses (Mazzarol, 1998). There is focus upon internal human and technical resource factors required as inputs for good marketing and communication, but not behaviour of those seeking relevant information.

 

Meanwhile, over ten years ago formal research recognised and confirmed in decision making of a student sample, it’s course first, over reputation and destination, along with creating awareness through search engine optimised (SEO) visible websites to be found directly and easily (Gomes & Murphy, 2003).

 

This latter study is one of the few formal research articles related to international student purchasing behaviour available in the public domain, yet emphasising the importance of SEO and digital over ten years ago.  However, Australia’s pre-eminent and university owned student marketing and recruitment vehicle IDP, like most and according to formal job description, does not view analysis of enrolled students or other prospective students as important or essential (IDP, 2016)?

 

There has been little if any related or formal research on how students find information except some industry groups, mostly in Europe about ‘how’ prospective students behave and interact.

 

For more articles or blogs on education, training, marketing and society, click through to Academia profile of Andrew J. Smith.

International Student Consumer or Decision Making Behaviour Cycle

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International Education: Student Consumer and Decision-Making Behaviour: Brief Literature Review

 

This study draws upon international education industry research and reporting; with relevant theories in marketing research literature to inform consumer and decision-making behaviour, leading to effective marketing and communications strategy and systems.  The main themes include systems, consumer behaviour, market research, purchase process including a focus on information seeking behaviour, traditional (international education) marketing, WOM, culture, relationship marketing, digital or Web 2.0 impact and human resource requirements for business and organisations.

 

Research Proposition

 

How do students’ information seeking behaviour relate to marketing and communications strategy in international education?

What is Consumer and Decision-Making Behaviour?

 

Observation and analysis of changing consumer behaviour still views influencers or peers via WOM as important, but the information seeking behaviour and access to information has changed further with digital technology; international education and other sectors are no different.

From the literature, consumer behaviour observes or delineates various stakeholders inside and outside an organisation on a pathway to achieving their needs and wants, whether it is the purchase or use of a product or service.  Further, one needs to understand the influencers that may include personal, social and cultural through research and evaluation and possibly technology, especially digital along this process (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

Consumer and marketing behaviour or customer attitudes about marketing are important, and need to be accessed through client or customer feedback, and analysed (Maria Josephine et al., 2008).  This is also follows the logic of any system whether computer, business process or learning and development; best practice and common sense requires user, customer and stakeholder testing and feedback.  Any business or organisation can learn about their unique customers or target market and marketing through systematic feedback then develop strategy as part of a dynamic cycle, contingent upon digital and human resources.

In many sectors, including international education, the digital environment or technology has changed interactions, communication and WOM in the discovery or research phase before final decision making.  Although WOM is pervasive, little is understood about personal communication processes and information seeking, although imperative for digital communication and marketing for purchase decision making (Goldenberg et al., 2001). Decision making behaviour can be represented by a simplified five-stage model of phases or dimensions above including: problem recognition or identify need, information search or discovery process, evaluation of alternatives or weighing up, purchase decision and action, start again (see Figure 1).

 

Figure 1

Five Stage Purchase Decision Behaviour Model or Process (simplified)

  • Recognition of Need
  • Information Search
  • Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Purchase Decision
  • Post Purchase Behaviour

(Kotler & Keller, 2012).

 

Information sources during the ‘Information Search’ phase can include personal, commercial, public and experiential, with personal being the most effective and trusted source of information. Further, between evaluation and decision stages of a consumer or buyer, is the forming of intention to buy which is influenced by attitudes of others e.g. WOM and unplanned circumstances (Kotler & Keller, 2012).

One study found the order of importance of the most significant factors in discovery or search phase included: friends’ recommendations, reputation of institution and quality (Ahmad et al., 2016).  Confirmed further i.e. studies of decision choice are needed, international education services are dynamic, student behaviour is not fixed, and the state should promote destinations (Vuori, 2015).

There are relationships between the five stages presented above, especially evaluation and purchase decision. However, all are contingent upon relevant information and searching for information, how is ‘Information Search’ manifested?

Previous research in an international education context had developed a dynamic representation of the international student cycle, independent of business literature, which resonates well with Kotler & Keller’s (2012) ‘Purchase Decision Behaviour Model or Process’, confirming ‘Information Gathering’ as a significant dimension.

 

Figure 2

International Student Enrolment Cycle

  • Information Gathering
  • Facilitation, Education & Non-Education Factors
  • Utilisation
  • Information Gathering & Informing Peers (start again).

(Smith, 2001)

 

The information gathering phase or dimension was represented by the following factors: information service or provision, information access, counselling, awareness, promotion and feedback; with WOM and emergent web based technologies cited as becoming significant (Ibid.).

Understanding the process phases or dimensions in more detail, especially ‘information seeking’ now impacted or dependent upon digital technology, can both highlight the phase for analysis and inform optimal marketing and communications strategies.  Accordingly, industry has conducted much similar research adding to the same process, but not scholarly, reflecting the rapid change in communications and digital technology in the ‘consumer decision journey’ (Court et al., 2009).

For more articles related to education, training, marketing and communications on Andrew J Smith’s Academia profile click through

Introduction to Digital or e-Marketing for Small Business – Instructional Design

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Topic:  Introduction to Digital or e-Marketing

for Small Business

 

Goal:

Small business owners and/or managers understand the concepts, resources and actions for a digital or e-marketing strategy.

Subject Matter Expert and/or Target Market:

Have the SME covered personally, however I would potentially approach a local business chamber of commerce looking to support local businesses in their marketing and sales.  It could also target a specific sector, like has already been done below, i.e. travel and tourism, or international education sector.

 

Rationale:

Worked in education and training small business related to study abroad in Australia developing a digital marketing strategy covering Central Europe, Turkey, UK and Australia; conventional marketing was too expensive, not transparent and ineffective.

Self-taught using available online resources, became familiar with many techniques and actions, with formalisation of learning through recent MBA course subject ‘e-Marketing’.

In my professional experience, in addition to state university and vocation school marketing managers, many small private colleges precluded any effective digital marketing strategy in favour of expensive conventional advertising and promotion via travel to one off events for international student recruitment; not financially viable in new markets nor medium term market development.

Generally Australia has low very digital literacy amongst managers and owners, including small business, due to legacy industries preferring existing processes, sub-optimal education curricula, demand for immediate simple solutions and lack of innovation.

However, the travel and tourism industry, with state agency support, have had access for over 10 years to an e-Marketing kit, designed for small travel operators to leverage their marketing and sales digitally, both locally in Australia and internationally with global network; it’s been quite successful as world’s best practice.

The advantage is that small businesses with good digital strategy can increase their target market, analyse well, work with their and gain insight into their own customer base and have more significant profile than physically larger organisations.

 

Content Delivery &/or Presentation:

Can be introduced, presented, learnt and assessed via basic understandable steps, requiring participants to bridge differences between conventional marketing or sales, with digital.

 

 The design would include:

 

  1. What is marketing? How do your customers find you? What do they say about you?
  2. Website appearance, design and management and content management systems (CMS)
  3. Social Media how does it work? Which blog and social media?
  4. SEO/SEM How to reach new audiences and markets?
  5. How to evaluate any strategy or system?

 

Teaching and learning resources would include examples of good (and bad) practice via following or analysing a business from its website (social media, blogs, customer feedback etc.), feedback from participants relating to their own business examples.

This should be leading to them being able to assess needs, develop strategy, implement and evaluate, continually.

Outcomes are assessed by learner input, producing a strategy or approach, resources and media e.g. how to create a Facebook page, open a Twitter account, find useful resources etc.; using own PC, laptop, tablet or mobile.

After this overview, e.g. even presenting to actual target audience, could lead to being commissioned for more of the same, and higher-level training courses.

Adult Learning – Andragogy not Pedagogy

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Adult Learning in Context for English Teaching and Digital or e-Marketing for Small Business

How to teach English as a Foreign Language in the UK, teacher trainers designed a good quality program with right mix of theoretical input, teaching, learning and assessment activities, discussion, observations of practice, lesson plan design and observed practice lessons with immediate feedback.

The issues were then going onto work in the English teaching sector in Turkey for over a year, but missed the essential post course development from qualified native speaking DELTA director of studies e.g. expert  and/or peer observations.

Adult training and learning with andragogy

Andragogy for Adult Learning

Image Copyright Pexels.com

  1. Adult Learning Theory:

Andragogy includes need for knowledge, motivation, willingness, experience, self-direction and task based learning.  Transformational Learning is exemplified by identification of an issue, personally relevant and application of critical thinking or reflection. Experiential learning, via Kolb, revolves round concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation (Gutierrez, 2016 & Pappas, 2013).

CELTA trainee teachers are motivated, must be self-managing after training when they may not have expert support.  Teaching adults, one can use their input to guide lessons for local needs and ‘personalise’.  Kolb’s experiential learning theory is most relevant in English language learners taking on new language structures or functions in the classroom through presentation, practice and production or fluency, then applying outside the class room.

  1. Principles of Andragogy:

In the (Australian) international education sector marketing, need for ‘Introduction to Digital or e-Marketing’; few if any related personnel are motivated to learn.  Many international education marketing managers dismiss digital marketing as ‘technical’ for web team, in favour of ‘approved’ travel to international student events.

The solution is to find a senior institution leader who can support the same CPD in digital marketing with marketing managers i.e. motivated marketing managers being involved in planning and evaluation, informed by experience, relevant and problem centred, which can then be applied in the field (Ibid.).

 

Reference List:

Gutierrez, K. (2016) Adult Learning Theories Every Instructional Designer Must Know. Available at: https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/adult-learning-theories-instructional-design (Accessed on: 20 November 2017).

Pappas, C. (2013) Instructional Design: The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy of Malcolm Knowles. Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles (Accessed on: 20 November 2017).

TAE40116 Certificate IV Training Assessment Package – ASQA Review Submission

Submission for TAE40116 Training Package Review

 

Written by Andrew Smith; submitted 3 April 2018

Introduction

There has been much discussion amongst training practitioners about the updated TAE Training Package.  One of the main issues has been the perception that it has been designed for quality administration and assessment while neglecting quality of actual training delivery and learning.

ASQA Australian Skills Quality Authority Certificate IV Training and Assessment TAE40116 Review

TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment – ASQA Review (Image copyright ASQA)

This has been experienced by the writer currently upgrading BSZ to TAE via a registered training organisation (RTO) by distance learning; PO Box with ‘assessors’ and ‘trainers’ based offshore.  Further, the delivery is based upon basic pedagogy of presentation of content, regurgitation of content according to instructions while seemingly unable to offer explanations or insight for trainees, especially delivery and learning skills based upon andragogy.

 

What is the TAE Training Package?

 

Description

 

This qualification reflects the roles of individuals delivering training and assessment services in the vocational education and training (VET) sector.

This qualification (or the skill sets derived from units of competency within it) is also suitable preparation for those engaged in the delivery of training and assessment of competence in a workplace context, as a component of a structured VET program.

The volume of learning of a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment is typically six months to two years. (Department of Education & Training 2018).

At face value the TAE40116 appears to be a relevant and practical qualification for vocational education and training to deliver accredited training packages, assure quality with a focus upon assessment.  However, there have been many criticisms of the package from practitioners, industry and other stakeholders, why?

Issues with TAE Training Package and Delivery

 

According to the Resources Training Council

 

It has become a qualification for the training industry, not industry that trains. They do not understand workplaces where training and more importantly the outcomes (assessment) must be fit for purpose to achieve what VET is all about.  VET should be about producing safe, proficient (productive) workers and providing an opportunity for learning to be built on as people move along their chosen career path (Munro 2017).

 

From an experienced VET training practitioner

 

To improve assessment practices of RTOs and improve skills and knowledge of trainers and assessors we need to:

  • Update our regulatory framework and move to a real outcome-based regulation, where relevant industry stakeholders have a say in the registration/re-registration process
  • Support the National Regulator in building the required capabilities to assess compliance in a diverse and complex environment
  • Ensure the National Regulator provides an even-playing-field to RTOs
  • Identify the different issues within the assessment system, and consequently identify gaps in current workforce skills (in all AQF levels not only entry level) and update the TAE training package accordingly (Castillo 2016).

 

Research criticisms have included: one size fits all approach whether novice trainer or an already well experienced and/or qualified trainer or teacher, trainer assessor expertise or skills, questions over subsequent assessment outcomes, lack of depth related to training and learning delivery, no clear development pathway and the skill outcomes from the TAE for practitioners to deliver (Clayton 2009).

The focus of criticism has been directed at sub-optimal education and training pedagogy (learning theory for children and young adults or novices) of both the TAE and practitioners for quality delivery, learning and trainee assessment outcomes.  These revolved round, preparedness of trainers to train, opportunity to learn content knowledge, delivery quality, learning the practice of good teaching or training, learning from experts, then more about planning and assessment (Ibid.)

The latter issue of assessment has been raised within sectors whether validation between providers, or simply better understanding of assessment by practitioners (Halliday-Wynes & Misko 2013)

Further, expert input often hints at what is lacking by focusing upon learning theory or ‘pedagogy’ for children and youth, as opposed to ‘andragogy’ for youth and adults.  The latter would be exemplified by self-directed learning or training, responsibility, experience, motivation to learn and preference for real tasks and problem solving (Educators’ Technology 2013); supported by well skilled trainers.

 

Training Delivery and Learning Quality

 

However, delivery of some TAEs has more to do with education and training or ‘pedagogy’ influence from two generations ago manifested in trainer or teacher directed, or top down.  This assumes trainees have no relevant knowledge or practical input to offer, focus upon systems, processes and assessment round any given package, but not delivery i.e. developing quality training and learning skills.  Additionally, very content driven for good reason, however, it is presented or instructed (not elicited) then regurgitated or replicated for satisfying requirements for assessment, then assumed optimal for the workplace?

The significant size of the VET sector requires standard packages, systems, processes and assessment to be compliant and manageable.  However, the risk is that system quality may be based upon indirect top down paper-based systems and processes of (quality) compliance that are reactive when issues emerge, if discovered.  For example, sub-optimal training and learning, versus proactive measures through more intrusive evaluation of actual training delivery quality or bottom up informing.

Quality maybe improved by intrusive quality assessment through mystery shopping on any given TAE course, dynamic (publicised opportunities) for feedback from trainees and clients, evaluation of specific programs and trainers or evidence of dynamic quality evaluation of skills versus merely possessing a TAE qualification or ‘ticket’.

 

References:

 

Castillo, A 2016, Newly endorsed Certificate IV in Training and Assessment – Same Issues, LinkedIn Pulse, viewed 22 March 2018, < https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/newly-endorsed-certificate-iv-training-assessment-amaro-castillo/ >

 

Clayton, B 2009, Practitioner experiences and expectations with the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (TAA40104): A discussion of the issues, NCVER Melbourne, viewed 22 March 2018, < https://www.ncver.edu.au/__data/assets/file/0023/4658/nr08504r.pdf >

 

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