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Archive for February 2011

Using e-learning right

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When you get a bunch of text on a computer scene, it is known as a wall of text. And when you post a wall of text on internet forums, this will probably be the end result of anyone trying to read…

As far as e-learning is concerned, it is a concept that many people have heard of. Learning with a computer is something that have been done since a long time ago, since the early days where computers were first adapted as a luxurious machine at people’s homes.

I personally remember playing educational games at my very technologically savvy aunt’s place, ranging from word puzzles to solving mathematical equations to save the world – all of these in the days where a dial up modem was considered razor cutting edge.

But in the last 2 decades, e-learning have not caught up with the likes of e-commerce, where computers and internet have totally reinvented the way people do business these days. It is only very recently that schools and educators began their baby steps in embracing this new field of learning with a connected computer.

It was not too long ago that, sci-fi geeks would have portrayed the future of learning to be one where students could flick buttery smooth user interface (UI) and get running lines of information at the blink of an eye.

But that haven’t really materialized. In fact, the current state of learning is so far away from what we imagined it to be, that students today still lug heavy textbooks to school, take notes on pencil and paper.

Now picture this; an educator is forced to use e-learning as part of her lesson, hence, she uploads chucks of text only word documents and some quiz online, to some content management system (CMS).

This educator would be quickly and sorely disappointed that not only her online classes have totally fallen through; students would not get to learn anything at all.

Once bitten twice shy, this educator would swear he/she would never use this gimmicky way to conduct her lesson, and be reluctant to use it again even when asked to.

In my opinion, the problem of slow adaptation of technology in the fields of education, lies with the way e-learning is built – the attention span of a student in front of a computer is way shorter then he/she sitting in a classroom.

Any standalone computer could run simple games that are more interesting then the boring text he/she is supposed to read. Internet connected computers are in magnitudes more interesting then a standalone computer, and the rest is history.

Online learning materials have to be concise, interactive, complimented with interesting media like videos, pictures or audio, and especially, be easy to read.

These are the very same elements why younger people can actually get addicted to internet, so why not embrace these same elements in e-learning?

Well, a few schools here in Singapore have finally made baby steps, by issuing their students with the Apple iPad – in hopes that the interactivity these tablets offer could actually help students in ways a teacher could not.

Girls from Nanyang Girls High were issued with iPads as part of a pilot project to embrace technology for better learning in classrooms.

Students from Nanyang Girls High were issued with iPads, where they could use these tablets as a compliment to classes. As a measurement of success, a Secondary 3 girl was quoted saying such a device actually helped in hard subjects like math, where she could better visualize trigonometry and geometry – a field where visual animation would work a lot better then static pictures.

While e-learning haven’t caught on the success of e-commerce, it is making baby steps towards the right direction, and hopefully, the scenes that wow-ed us in sci-fi flicks could come true one day.

PS: I was half alive during Tuesday’s class, and was on MC on Friday’s class. Have been nursing a flu that doesn’t seem to go away, so if this post isn’t very related to class, pardon me. 🙂

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Written by garygoh

February 27, 2011 at 2:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Change or die, you decide

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Classical motivational book, Who Moved My Cheese by Dr Johnson Spencer.

In the classical motivational book by Dr Spencer Johnson, “Who Moved My Cheese”, Dr Spencer portraits 4 different characters – of which, 2 miniature humans and 2 mice. The book touches on how the mice were able to stay in advantage by being a little forward looking, while the human duo was being contented with what they had.

As the plots develops, Dr Spencer describes how the humans ultimately lost to mice, of which the latter foreseen the stash of cheese they shared with the humans would ultimately dwindle and deplete. Hence, before the original supply of cheese depletes, the mice went exploring the unknown to discover other cheese stashes, while the humans stood by their original supply until it was depleted.

While this fictitious story was entertaining to read, it demonstrated the importance of staying ahead of the changing times by constantly innovating and predicting change to stay ahead of the game.

Borders, a multi-national chain retailer specializing in books, have just announced for bankruptcy.

A case in point would be the recent Borders collapse. Such an iconic name in the book selling industry, filing for bankruptcy protection a few days ago, was big news. But it didn’t come as a surprise for many in the tech industry. The reason was simple – Borders just did not have any proper online presence. They didn’t sell books online, didn’t embrace e-books soon enough, didn’t have any e-book reader early, didn’t have e-book store online that took off. That is what nailed Borders in the coffin.

Turn back the clocks a little; when Amazon started its business of selling books online in 1995, they were the pioneer in the tech world doing e-commerce. For a long while, Amazon was one of the few sites that you can actually buy something online. This relatively lack of competition, can be put towards the high barrier of entry into the e-commerce market in the earlier days of internet.

Slowly, while internet became a common place, barriers of entry were lowered, making technology for doing e-commerce a lot cheaper then before. Many other jumped, but none of them quite as established and known as Amazon. So in a way, the high barriers of entry could be credited for Amazon’s stronghold, because in the technology industry, being first is crucial.

The Amazon Kindle 3 e-book reader

They’ve also pioneered the Kindle e-book reader, which is very well known in Singapore, despite the lack of any brick-and-mortar retailer carrying such a product. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Kindle was such an overnight success was its idea of carrying a single device that could hold many books. This is not to mention the possibility of purchasing a book over the air (OTA) and reading it instantly, anywhere.

With that said, today there’s a myriad of e-books readers around, most notably the Apple iPad. But non of these products around could claim the stronghold of Amazon’s Kindle in the e-book industry, simply because the Kindle is almost synonymous to e-books – the payoff of being first, thus associating your product, to a new, more convenient way of doing something.

Borders’s lack of innovation and foresight is pretty much the human characters as portrayed by Dr Spencer. Amazon did the Kindle in 2007, and later Barns & Nobel, another bookstore came into the game with its Nook e-book reader in 2009. Apple then took the world by storm with the iPad in April 2010, which aims to be a tablet computer with e-book reading capabilities. Borders came in last with its Kobo reader a month later. With already 3 prior choices ahead, there was simply no more market left for Borders’s Kobo.

Moral of story: Be first, be innovative, and predict change. If change is happening, embrace it fully, because if you don’t you’ll be out of the game.

Written by garygoh

February 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The flock to online advertising, not a coincidence

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As inter-connectivity increases everywhere around, people are increasingly more connected online, and inevitably more disconnected offline…

Due to this phenomenon, it is not surprising that online advertisements are attracting more eyeballs then traditional forms of media.

Well, the whole point of doing advertisement is to gain more exposure, to have more people to know about your business – be it product or service. And since it’s business, the scales of economy applies, so the cheapest way to get exposure wins.

The numbers don’t lie, online advertising is ALOT more cost effective, while getting more eyeballs to you.

The StandChart Bank blog post, inviting young persons who are highly connected in the online social networking scene. In their own words, this position is the “world’s coolnest internship. (Click on picture for the actual blogpost)

Just not too long ago, Standard Chartered Bank waved S$60,000 online, looking for someone (a social media intern, to be exact) to act as bridge into their foray onto social networking. That’s SIXTY THOUSAND SINGAPORE DOLLARS for a young person, to do what the younger generation enjoy these days – connecting to people socially online.

That astronomical sum, just for six months worth. Does this deal sound a little too good to be true?

The Straits Times “rate card” where prices of advertisements are listed. No joke, almost 20,000 Singapore dollars to advertise on ST on Saturdays. Click on picture for the actual PDF listing.

Apparently, no if you look at how much traditional media is charging today. Our local Singaporean newspaper, The Straits Times, charges S$18,000 to S$20,000 dollars for a page of black & white advertisement.  1/3 of what Standard Chartered Bank pays for A SINGLE DAY on The Straits Times.

But how about the potential exposure you’ll be getting?

About 1.5 million people read Straits Times daily, far lower the internet users in Singapore. (Click on picture for PDF)

The Straits Times lists about 1.5 million readership in Singapore, while there are more then 4 million connected users online today. So for 1/3 of the price, getting double the potential, for 180 times longer in terms of advertising duration.

No wonder business advertisers are all flocking towards the online crowd. Because It’s cheap, has a way larger potential then any other forms of media today.

Written by garygoh

February 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized