Dr. Diane Hamilton's Blog

Advantages of Peer Interaction in Online Learning

One of the most important ways students learn in online courses is through peer-to-peer interaction.  In my experience with traditional classrooms, there were far more lectures and much student involvement.  The professors spoke “at us” in traditional courses. In online courses, there is more of a group discussion. Students receive the professor’s perspective as well as viewpoints from every student in the course.  In my opinion, this makes for a much more interesting and interactive classroom.

Not all students are fans of lecture-based learning.  MOOCs may experience high dropout rates due to their lecture-based format. According to the article MOOCs: Will Online Courses Help More Students Stay in School, “Critics of MOOCs are quick to point out their low completion rates (fewer than 7% of students complete the courses on average). They also note that the courses take the ineffective lecture format and make it the primary mode of learning.”

The types of online courses I have taught rely very little, if at all, on lectures.  The courses include more peer interaction and written assignments. The peer interaction revolves around discussion questions.  There are usually at least two discussion topics posted each week.  Students must respond to the initial question and respond to their peers’ postings as well.  This requires students to address the question, discover other students’ perspectives, and develop critical thinking skills.

Students’ responses to their peers must include substantive comments and well-constructed follow-up questions.  These questions often develop the conversation and create a dialogue.  Every student can see these discussions.  Every student can interject their comments.  It creates a pool of information that would not be provided to students in a lecture hall.  It allows for much more depth to the exploration of the topic.

In a traditional course, the professor may give their insight and opinions about a topic.  In an online course, this is possible as well. What is different is the amount of interaction required by the students.  Granted, things may have changed since I took traditional courses in the 80’s.  However, based on what I read and what I hear from my students, traditional college courses have not changed that much.  I believe that is why there is such an interest in MOOCs.  They add a new dimension that traditional courses have lacked.  However, MOOCs may not provide the peer interaction is the same way that regular online classes can.  The reason for this is due to the number of students in class.  MOOCs are massive.  Most online courses I teach include fewer than 20 students. When there are too many students, the discussions become overwhelming and no one takes the time to read all of the postings.

The best part of peer interaction is that students can learn from everyone’s experiences. Many online students have had decades of experience. This provides a wealth of knowledge that may be added to the professor’s perspective.  This allows everyone, including the professor, to garner important insight.

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Hiring Graduates Based on Personality Skills

HR professionals within organizations have given personality assessments to potential employees for many years. I was asked to take a personality assessment for a pharmaceutical sales job in 1987.  The changes I have noticed since that time include the type and frequency of personality tests given.  What also may be trending is the fact that leaders of schools have become more interested in personality assessments. In the Wall Street Journal article Business Schools Know How You Think, but How Do You Feel, author Melissa Korn explained, “Prospective MBA students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience, and dozens of others.”  Schools may be interested in these traits because organizations value these traits.  Korn also explained, “Measuring EQ-or emotional intelligence quotient-is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars.”

I find this trend to be particularly interesting because I teach business, I am a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, a certified EQ-i instructor, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I have also witnessed that online schools have placed more importance on personality assessments. Many of my first-year students must take a Jung-like personality test.  Many of my undergraduate and graduate business students have to assess their EQ.

I think it is important for these personality preference and emotional intelligence issues to be addressed in online courses.  Some of the things that may hurt a graduate’s chance of obtaining is job include having poor self-assessment skills, poor interpersonal skills, and a lack of concern for how they are perceived by others.

When I was in pharmaceutical sales, they rated us each year on our concern for impact.  It was such an important part of what they believed made us successful in the field, that there were consequences to poor judgment and rude behavior.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there is a chapter regarding concern for impact, as well as one for Myers Briggs MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, DISC, and many other personality assessments that may help young adults in the workplace. One of the universities for which I teach requires students to read this book in a foresight course.

It is important for online students to learn about these assessments because employers use them.  Some personality traits stay with us throughout our lives.  The MBTI is an example of an assessment that determines preferences that may not change.  This assessment may be helpful to students who are not sure about career paths.  Other assessments like the EQ-i determine emotional intelligence levels.  The good news about emotional intelligence is that it may be improved. Marcia Hughes has written several books about how to improve EQ in the workplace.  The savvy online students will work on developing their EQ and understanding personality preferences before they graduate.  By being proactive, students may have a better chance of being successful in a career that matches their personality preferences.

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Use of Media and Copyright Issues in Online Courses

Some students like to present papers with a bit of pizzazz. Many may add pictures or charts they have found on the Internet.  Unfortunately many of the things they try to incorporate into their work may create a copyright violation.  The good news is that there are sites where students can find media to share that is not protected.

The Creative Commons site is a good place to go to find content. According to their site, “If you’re looking for content that you can freely and legally use, there is a giant pool of CC-licensed creativity available to you. There are hundreds of millions of works — from songs and videos to scientific and academic material — available to the public for free and legal use under the terms of our copyright licenses, with more being contributed every day.”

Some famous sites like Google, Flickr, and Wikipedia use Creative Commons to access media. Wikipedia’s Public Domain Image Resources page also provides some great links to media that is not copyright-protected.  This site provides general as well as government resources.

Some students incorporate images they have found using the insert clipart function in Word. According to the Microsoft site, “The Clip Art and Media gallery provides a compilation of artwork. See the use terms for the description of permitted uses. If those terms do not meet your needs, our Clip Art partners at Office Online provide a variety of images you can license directly. Sample Art may be used for personal use only. You may not sell, lease, or distribute Sample Art, or any materials you create that use Sample images, for any commercial purposes.”

If students submit a Word document that has clip art obtained from Word, they may have questions about how to cite it in APA.  According to Owl Purdue’s site it is, “unnecessary to provide citation on a document presented via the Microsoft program for stock images that a specific to that software package.”

It may be difficult to find free clip art simply by searching for it on Google. Many sites that come up offer some free clip art that is usually not that great.  The better clip art usually requires a fee.  I am often contacted by people about the clipart used for my online education blog.  I have used a couple of sources that charge a fee, including Shutterstock and iStockPhoto.  The really good pictures like these usually require a fee.

When students insert pictures that are copyright protected, professors should explain this to them.  There are many students who assume they can copy and paste just about anything from the Internet into their assignments. Students may benefit from reading:  How to Avoid Copyright Infringement and Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images.

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The PayPal Mafia: What is a Serial Entrepreneur?

The PayPal Mafia refers to a group of individuals who created multiple companies that created a frenzy of growth in the Silicon Valley.  The entrepreneurs created PayPal before they set out to develop other multiple successful technology-based companies.  These men are serial entrepreneurs or individuals who, “continuously come up with new ideas and starts new businesses. As opposed to a typical entrepreneur, who will often come up with an idea, start the company, and then see it through and play an important role in the day to day functioning of the new company, a serial entrepreneur will often come up with the idea and get things started, but then give responsibility to someone else and move on to a new idea and a new venture.”

To learn more about some of the individuals associated with the PayPal Mafia check out the following members and how their initial success led to other serial successes:

For a more complete list of the PayPal Mafia members and their accomplishments, click here.

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Creative Disruption or Destruction?

Leaders often have to deal with the effects of creative disruption. According to CreativeDisruption.net, “Creative disruption intentionally brings the challenge or change right to the organization to force it to change and adapt in advance of a random, unpredictable challenge that will eventually reach the organization.” With the creation of innovation, there may be fallout in terms of lost jobs.  However, with loss, there may also be creation of new jobs.  A computer may replace work that was done manually.  At the same time, someone must run the computer.

Creative disruption may be necessary in order to remain competitive. If the competition embraces innovation, they may gain a foothold in the market.  The key is being able to recognize the type of innovation that will allow companies to grow.

Some ideas have actually led to the demise of companies.  An example is the invention of digital images and its impact on Kodak.  The invention of digital images occurred in a lab at Kodak.  This invention not only changed the industry but caused the eventual demise of the company.  Kodak tried to embrace changes, but lacked foresight.   Companies like Kodak may need to embrace new business models when faced with innovative changes.

According to the article Big Data and the Creative Destruction of Today’s Business Model, having a grasp on the importance of managing and understanding data is critical.  “Companies are increasingly experimenting with and implementing ways to capture big data’s potential for both short- and long-term advantage. The crucial success factors are to first think of data as an asset—as the foundation upon which to build propositions and business models—and then to diligently build out the capabilities necessary to capitalize on big data’s potential. And perhaps most importantly, embrace the creative destruction of today’s business models.”

Uber is Uber Cool

Uber is an app (iPhone and Android) that allows you to request a black Towncar or SUV rather than a typical cab in the U.S. and Canada.  When you use the app, it finds your location and allows you to order an “Uber”.  You can see all of the black cars in your area on a map.  You can simply pick the closest driver and the system will send you an alert on your cellphone to let you know the car is on its way.  The service alert includes your driver’s name and his cell phone.  You can even watch the vehicle coming toward your location on the map.

I spoke to a frequent user of Uber who told me that it normally takes about 5-10 minutes for the vehicle to arrive.  The driver opens the car door for you.  They usually have bottles of water, candy, gum, and other handy items. The price is a little more than a standard cab.  However, she felt that the few dollar difference was well worth it.

When you reach your final destination, you do not have to worry about having cash, tipping, or even dealing with negotiations.  Since your information is stored in the app, the receipt is simply sent to your email. They ask you to rate the drivers so that they can be sure they have excellent service.  I was told that drivers need to maintain a 4.7 out of 5 star rating in order to continue driving for the company.

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How to Use iPhone to Connect Computer to the Internet

If you are like me, you may want to use your laptop when you travel.  One way to gain access to the Internet is by using an iPhone’s Personal Hotspot feature.  The cellular data connection on the phone will allow you to connect your laptop or desktop to the Internet.

To use this feature, go to the settings on the iPhone (3GS version or later) and chose general and then choose Personal Hotspot. Turn the Personal Hotspot to the “on” position.  The Wi-Fi password will be listed on the iPhone under the Personal Hotspot area next to Wi-Fi password.  The wireless connection should now be listed as a choice on the laptop or desktop computer.  To connect to the iPhone, go to the Internet Access area on the computer and select the iPhone connection option. Then enter that password listed on the iPhone when requested.

When the personal hotspot is turned on it may incur charges so it is important to turn it off when not using it for temporary access.  The Apple support website states that the Wi-Fi hotspot will turn off when no devices are detected, but I was told by a Verizon employee that there may be charges.  I was also told that the phone could not be used when in personal hotspot mode.

According to the Apple Support site, “While devices are connected to Personal Hotspot, the status bar will be blue and will indicate the number of connected users.  The maximum number of supported connections may vary depending on your carrier or iPhone model.”

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Are QR Codes Successful?

 

I am currently reviewing a text about marketing.  Schools hire me to do this on occasion.  One thing that disappointed me was there was nothing in it about QR codes and some of the other newest marketing techniques. QR codes have been around for a while. If you have not noticed them, they are the little barcode-looking square that appears on newspapers billboards, flyers, and even cars.

While QR codes offer some great marketing opportunities, they have not been as successful as other techniques.  In the article QR Codes are Dead! Long Live QR Codes, the author stated, “One of the most popular Tumblr blogs of 2012 is Pictures of People Scanning QR Codes. If you click through to the site you will see that it is empty. The joke here? No one scans QR codes (short for Quick Response code). It is obvious that QR codes have a bad rep and haven’t gained much traction on the consumer end of the equation.”

QR codes have been utilized well by some companies.  I am currently reading the book Neuromarketology by Brian Fabiano.  He is a marketing guru who was wise enough to put a QR code at the end of each of his chapters with the note, “scan to learn more!” Other examples of successful QR code use include:

For more information about how to use QR codes, check out the following articles:

Entrepreneurs Replacing People with Tablets

 

One of the hardest parts of getting a new business off of the ground is to have enough funding.  Many entrepreneurs use family members as personnel in order to avoid paying wages.  It may be quite expensive to hire people to take orders or process requests.  The Wall Street Journal article Can the Tablet Please Take Your Order Now included some examples of how some small businesses have begun to use tablets instead of people in the customer-ordering process.

If customers can order through a digital device, it may not only be cheaper but faster.  There are app-building tools that entrepreneurs can use to create a way for customers to input their orders.  Some companies have used QR codes to speed up the order process. Using apps is another logical alternative. With talk of increasing the minimum wage, some small businesses are looking for ways to remain profitable.  If tablets become a popular way to order, it may impact many minimum-wage workers.  “In all, one-third of low-wage workers are employed by businesses with fewer than 100 employees, according to the National employment Law Project, an organized-labor-backed advocacy group for low-wage workers.”

Not only may entrepreneurs experience some cost savings by utilizing tablets and apps, there may be some other entrepreneurial opportunities for the app designers.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Some entrepreneurs see a promising market in selling technologies to small businesses that might help them to streamline operations.”  While this may cost some minimum wage-earners jobs, it may also be opportunities to train them for higher-skilled positions.

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Linkedin Endorsements Poorly Utilized

 

Linkedin has provided an opportunity for networkers to endorse the skills of people with whom they are connected.  This was meant to be a time saver for people who normally wrote full recommendations. The idea had promise.  However, it is not being utilized well.  When users sign onto their Linkedin profile, they are given a list of people in their network and asked if they want to endorse them for a particular skill. There is the option of being able to endorse all of the people that pop up as choices.  The problem is, many people are doing that.  People may receive many endorsements from people who have not witnessed some of the skills they have endorsed.  At that point, the Linkedin endorsements become meaningless.

It is far too easy to choose the option of endorsing people as it is currently configured.  If the point was to make recommendations easier, it is understandable that there should be some way to do that.  However, if everyone is endorsing everyone for everything, there is no value to the endorsement.

To find out more about Linkedin’s Endorsements check out the following articles

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