Week 5: Can we learn with e-learning?

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Growing up, I don’t remember my learning experience to be this cool. All we had were these SMART Boards that were collecting dust because our teachers hardly used them, perhaps for fear that students would spoil these expensive equipment (we had students who accidentally used normal whiteboard markers to write on them before).

Reflecting on my other experience with e-learning, I realize that learning with digital media is just a tool; I feel that it doesn’t, can’t, and shouldn’t replace the traditional learning method entirely.

However, it does has its perks as well. Because I have a rather bad memory, I would just review the various tools used by my instructors here at UB which I felt helped made learning more effective!

Videos

Showing videos in class plays a huge part in most of my lectures here, so let’s start with that!

1. Giving examples

I remember for SOC 101 (Intro to Sociology), we would be watching really cool and interesting videos for most of our classes, some of which sorta grossed me out (I think it was a vid on plastic surgery or something). My instructor for both COM 217 (Org Comm) and COM 337 (Comm Theory) also shows us really funny videos taken from TV shows (like The Office and Friends) to illustrate her points. Videos like these help to give us examples that would not only reinforce our learning, but also help us think in a different way about the concepts that we had learned.

2. Teaching concepts

Our instructor for SOC 294 (Soci Stats) really loves to use videos to teach certain concepts that we need to know! She showed us a video of a song about mean, median and mode, and the chorus of this song is still stuck in my head. But it’s actually a good thing because I can remember the positions of the mean, median, and mode for a skewed distribution graph! Here’s what I mean:

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If you’ve checked out the video, the chorus goes, “Mean, median, and mode…” which corresponds to the order of the mean, median, mode on the left skew!

Although the video was kinda lame, it was super useful because this concept was actually tested in our first exam! 😎

3. Going beyond the classroom

Outside classes, we watched TED talk videos for COM 225 (Interpersonal Communication). I feel that these videos helped to expand the breadth of our knowledge because we are listening to experts in the field sharing about their experience and new discoveries. These are really out-of-the-class experiences as the videos usually don’t follow our syllabus. Because of the nature of this types of videos, I feel that they can inspire students to research further on other areas of interest, so these videos have the potential to spark self-directed learning. Here’s a really cool vid about how our brain works when we communicate with people to create shared memories.

4. Concising an entire textbook chapter (I’m not kidding)

This is something new for me: For UGC 111 (World Civilizations I), we don’t exactly need a textbook because our instructor uses Crash Course videos to prep us for her lessons–the same way we would do using the traditional method of reading the assigned textbook chapters before class.

These videos are super helpful because they condense the key points into short 15-minute videos and take the chore of reading wordy texts. It really saves a lot of time, and I feel that they help me to remember the facts better so that I am more prepared for class.

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That being said, this is why videos are just tools to help us learn: An instructor is still needed (apart from the TED talk videos). After showing us videos to give examples, our instructors would usually comment on them, and link them back to the lessons. This is the same for videos that teach concepts; our instructor still teaches us the concepts herself. As for the Crash Course videos, those were just another way for us to prepare for class; our instructor still goes through the lessons, which actually cover way more than the videos themselves.

Games

We hardly have games here though. The only form of game that we have, so far, is an online quiz game (Kahoot!) that our SOC 294 instructor uses to see if we know our concepts. The ranking system that is based on giving the fastest correct answers only just makes this super engaging and exciting! It’s really fun to see how so many students can suddenly get so excited about answering stats questions! Honestly, it’s something that I really look forward to, and I actually do feel bummed out whenever I can’t connect to the game because of the school’s Wi-Fi. ._.

And it’s a good gauge for her to know how the overall class is doing because the results would let her know how many students made the same mistakes and chose the wrong option. This is a super hilarious example when the whole entire class failed to get the right answer:

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The “null hypothesis is true” part threw everyone off as we failed to realize that it mentioned “Distribution” at the start… FAIL.

Our instructor usually steps in to explain again on concepts that many people get wrong, which is a super excellent way for us to learn from our mistakes! I feel that learning from mistakes leaves the greatest impression on us, which would make us remember about them and so, not making the same mistakes again in the future!

So, don’t belittle the power of games because they are really super awesome digital media tools that help us to learn!

Social Media

Perhaps the only class that really uses social media as a way to learn is UGC 111. Our instructor is pretty tech savvy, so she uses Twitter to facilitate our learning.

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Welcome to our instructor’s Twitter account for UGC 111!

I think this kind of learning is more peer-based, where we learn from the thoughts/comments/insights/questions that our classmates have. However, personally, I don’t think it is a good way for me to learn because I hardly use social media (maybe more like I hardly post stuffs on social media, apart from the rare moments on Instagram). This means that I only use Twitter just for the sake of completing the Tweet assignments given, which would also mean that I wouldn’t be looking through my classmates’ Twitter feed to learn anything from them.

HOWEVER, I would say that I still learning something. Even though I may not be learning classroom-related content, I’m learning how to use social media (although this statement might be kinda weird coming from someone who grew up with social media). This also includes this blog!

Digital Access Courses

So far, the only experience that I’ve had taking an entire mod online is PSY 325 (Health Psych). If you have not taken a DA (Digital Access) class before at UB, here’s what it’s like:

Basically, we would get our lecture slides uploaded on UBLearns (Blackboard), which is pretty much the same for any course. However, the only difference is that these slides have NOTES in them in the presenter’s notes section. Because we don’t get to see her in real life teaching us, writing to us the way she might have conducted her classes was the only method.

I would say that DA courses is really learner-independent. Although they allow you the freedom of doing it on your own time, at your own pace, you still need to be consistent to keep up with the work.

Personally, I feel that learning in this method can be effective as well, even though we lack contact time with our instructor. This is because we are able to take our time to slowly digest whatever content that we have. Moreover, we have our instructor’s verbatim notes to guide us. This means that we would not miss out any key points, which is totally impossible if we took the module the traditional way. This is especially useful for students who genuinely want to learn but aren’t able to give their 100% attention in class.

Flashback to PSY 101 (Into to Psych) – I think this is a module that most of us have taken by the same instructor: If you get distracted for just a second in that class, you might have just missed a highly important examinable question. Agreed?  

However, this would never be the case for a DA course. Hence, I feel that students who are more independent, such e-learning can actually be effective.

BUT! One thing that we have to deal with is the large chunks of text to be read to explain each slide, which is a rather big drawback for this e-learning method. Moreover each lecture contained at least 40-70+ slides…

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I wasn’t kidding about the large chunks of text…

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Overall, I feel that digital media needs to be paired off with an instructor’s teaching so that we can learn better. Of course, these e-learning tools have to be something that the instructor is comfortable with so that they can be best used to enhance students’ learning. 😀

I’ve withheld instructors’ names to maintain their privacy (and not because I dislike them or anything).


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Week 4: Traditional + E-commerce = :D

I don’t know if you have realized it before, but it feels like almost all the malls in Singapore are pretty much the same (in the sense that you can roughly find the same kinds of shops in any mall you go). This means that if I wanna get something, the chances of me being able to get what I want from one of the 3 malls that we have in Tampines is super high.

Take for example, Sephora, or even H&M! I mean, I used to have to travel to town if I wanna shop at H&M. Now I don’t have to.

But to take a step further than that, I don’t even have to step out of the comforts of my room (yes, that’s where I practically spend 99.99% of my time) to buy anything now, because I can just go online to do it.

Presenting…

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Click for the full infographic!

Even though there may be a shift in consumer preference for online shopping (which has a huge negative impact on traditional brick-and-mortar stores), I feel that it should be more of an integration of the 2, rather than one VERSUS the other.

Why so?

Omnichannel experience

*cue dramatic music*

Everyone knows what Amazon.com is right? It’s an online store, and it has its very own physical bookstore. Yes, you read that right–an actual, physical, brick-and-mortar shop. You might be wondering, why do they even need to do such a thing when they’re already doing so well with their online store?

Well, for online companies, having a physical presence not only helps improve their marketing efforts and build better customer relations, but it also drives traffic and sales to their online stores. This is especially important when the online environment is an unfair gameplay of strategic ad placements and high SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts that only the bigger players can afford to splurge on. Hence, the physical store also then becomes an alternative channel for a business to create awareness of its online presence.

This also works the same for traditional businesses as e-commerce would literally just be an extension of the ongoing business. It’s pretty intuitive that having an online site would naturally extend a company’s reach to its potential global market, while saving their pockets from the high costs that’s normally involved in building a brick-and-mortar empire.

And the best thing is, by creating an omnichannel experience for customers with the merging of both traditional and e-commerce, a company wouldn’t lose its potential customers in the purchase process (when it’s a normal thing for people to frequently transit between the offline and the online worlds). And this is proven too! A study done on over 46,000 customers actually shows that customers who utilize the omnichannel experience offered by a company spends at least an average of 4% more in-store and 10% more online as compared to single-channel customers (i.e. online-only or store-only customers).

Even though this integration is a great solution on both ends, I feel that the synchronicity between the two might have a drawback…especially when it comes to the make-or-break considering factor for customers.

PRICE.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’m quite a cheapo. The main reason why I would  buy anything online (on top of the ultra convenience that it brings) is the price. Why pay for something when I know I can get it cheaper online? And that’s where the problem with the integration of both traditional and e-commerce lies. The price that you get in-store would be pretty much the same as the price offered on their online counterpart (apart from any online discounts that they may choose to throw in to attract customers).

So naturally, when I want to choose the cheaper online alternative to a product that I want to get in-store, I would go to other 3rd party sites instead that sell to me the same thing for a considerably lower price.

To give you real life example, I wanted to buy a lip balm from Burt’s Bees. However, the problem is that it’s only sold in the States, so the only way for me to get it was either from its online store (which was NOT feasible because they don’t ship internationally) or from Sephora. So technically, Sephora becomes the representative brick-and-mortar store for Burt’s Bee in Singapore. BUT, it’s so expensive!!! 😕 If you know how much lip balm I use on a daily basis, spending $10 on a small tube is really pricey.

This is when a 3rd party site comes in useful.

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Lookit lookit!!! 😀 It’s only $4.50!!!

The price difference really is crazy. I can actually buy 2 tubes of Burt’s Bees lip balm online for the same price as 1 of it from Sephora. Moreover, my online purchase even included delivery to my doorstep! Double yays for lazy cheapos like me! 😁

Although this may prove to be a possible threat to the traditional retailers (and perhaps support the shocking stats from the earlier infographic), I think this only goes to show how important it really is for businesses to also include e-commerce in the first place. There will always be users like me who will abuse the system and exploit the brick-and-mortar stores by only browsing their physical products (in order to test and feel the real deal), before buying them online from a different source. However, if a traditional retail business has its own official online site, chances are that customers would actually buy from them instead.

Personally, I feel that when I know a particular online shop has an actual physical store, I get a sense of reassurance that this online shop is a legit business that I can trust its products, because sometimes, it can be hard to trust an online business when I can’t even see the products they are selling to me. The pictures that online businesses use to advertise their products would only remain as pictures to us until we see the real deal. Even though online customer reviews play a part in convincing us, buying things online still carries a lot of risk.

And hence, the reason of building customer relations is one of the reasons why online businesses ultimately still need a physical store in the long run.


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Week 3: @Wendys Roast me

I happened to chance across this video during the rare moments when I’m on Facebook. So I thought, why not take a look at how Wendy’s does its marketing strategy on social media for this next blog post? *genius* (or not)

But first, have a look at the video to get some context.

I can’t imagine the kind of reaction that you might have had, but all I was thinking throughout the video was like, “Can they even do such kind of thing…? On social media…?” Sure, the responses were witty and hilarious, but still, we are talking about a legit fast-food company that runs an actual business here. Wouldn’t such online behavior somehow affect its reputation or business?

Apparently not.

In fact, Wendy’s has been garnering rather positive attention instead. Its most recent tweet response to a user who questioned Wendy’s fresh, never frozen beef patties has certainly caught a lot of media attention.

I can’t really defend the taste and quality of their burgers (because I did not get to try them when they still had their restaurants here in Singapore *sobs*), but if Wendy’s wants to stand out from the crowd in a land of fast-food joints with big players in the industry that can easily overshadow it, making use of social media to its advantage may be the way.

Let’s look at Wendy’s social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) to understand a bit more of their strategy!

1. Defining its goals

Wendy’s use of each social media platform differs slightly, based on its goals for the individual accounts.

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Wendy’s sure does take pride in its tweets if you go take a look. (Source)
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Seems like Wendy’s would be on its best behavior on Facebook. (Source)
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Meh, pretty usual. (Source)

Based from the short intros that Wendy’s did for each social media platform, you can tell that its Twitter account sounds a little more interesting. This is because Wendy’s is most active on Twitter. You will see how this is important in Point #3 later.

2. Implementing goals in promotional messages

Although it’s probably already very common for companies to make use of social media to market their products, I’ll just like to highlight a few things that I’d noticed as I compared its 3 accounts.

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Wows. So same.

Wendy’s Twitter and Facebook are more in sync in terms of its marketing posts; Instagram joins in the synchronicity once in a while, but it offers a more artistic side instead due to the nature of the layout. (NOTE: Wendy’s Instagram account used to be super fail in the past, until it was revamped, saving its butt. Perhaps this may also explain the differences in the posts.)

Also, it makes sense for Wendy’s to post more of its videos on Facebook (and also on Youtube, but this is out of the discussion for now), rather than Twitter. So it’s quite straightforward how Wendy’s makes use of the unique characteristics of the social media platforms to best implement its promotional messages.

These singles are ready to mingle.

A post shared by Wendy's 🍔 (@wendys) on

Of course, like all good marketing messages, Wendy’s tells its customers what it’s currently offering with its short, funny copies and eye-catching visuals.

3. Communicating with customers

As taught in class, Wendy’s is using social media to build community by interacting with its customers in real-time. This also means having to deal with their nonsense requests as well. I was really impressed that Wendy’s actually tries to respond to almost every customer on Twitter. Although I can’t say the same for its Facebook and Instagram, but as already mentioned in Point #1, Wendy’s focus is definitely on Twitter.

I’ll just give you 2 examples:

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Note how Wendy’s continues to promote its single cheeseburger! (Source)
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Using social media for a little customer recovery. (Source)

To online trolls (or perhaps people who are just bored and want to have some fun), Wendy’s continues to maintain its witty humor in its responses, which also promotes the company and its products at the same time. Wendy’s also promptly replies to real customer complaints on social media to quickly address any serious issues before they get out of hand. It really isn’t an easy feat to juggle all that, together with the need to strategize how and when to post any promotional content–this is only possible because of Point #4.

4. Having its very own social media manager!

From the notes that we got from our instructor, it was reported that “only 22% of businesses have a dedicated social media manager.”

Wendy’s is DEFINITELY part of this 22%.

Meet Amy Brown, Wendy’s super ultra dedicated social media manager.

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Sho pretty! 😍 (Source)

Thanks to her and her community response team, Wendy’s sure is right on track with its social media strategy. Although building community by communicating with its customers (Point #3) takes a lot of time and effort, I believe that it’s crucial because it provides a voice to the company, which says a whole lot more than just its products alone. And by marketing its products using this voice that is well loved by its customers, it would naturally drive sales as customers would already internalize a biased preference for the brand. It was reported that Wendy’s success in early 2016 was due to its “4 for $4” promotion. (Remember the tweet that warned Wendy’s about Burger King’s move in the video? Seems like Wendy’s did a great job on that after all! 😎)

To summarize, it is important for businesses to have a goal for their social media presence so that a strategy can be implemented that is in line with that goal. And for the strategy to be successful, having a social media manager is necessary so that a company can communicate with its customers.

On a side note, did you guys notice the hidden message in Wendy’s new logo?

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I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. (Source)

Lemme know what you think about Wendy’s responses on Twitter! (And if you could find the hidden message too! 😉

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Week 2: Tag! You’re It! 🙈

After coming back from my trip to South Korea for a short winter exchange last winter break, I received comments (IRL) when I got back to Singapore.

“How was your trip to Korea? Was it fun?”

“Wah… You really look like a Korean wearing the hanbok!”

“Was it cold there?”

“Did you meet any cute Korean guys? 😉

For a moment, I was shocked. My mind went into alarm mode, and all I could say was, “How did you know sia???”

“From your Facebook lor…”

Well, that explains everything…except that I DIDN’T POST ANYTHING ON FACEBOOK ABOUT MY TRIP TO KOREA… 😨 (If you don’t know me yet, I practically live in my own world in the social media circle. Other than doing my bestest to post stuffs on my Instagram for the sake of being a Millennial, I’m almost virtually absent from the Internet. Or am I?)

Thanks to my friend who went with me for this trip, I have pictures of me in Korea all over my Facebook page. And all this is made possible because of TAGGING.

When I was thinking about the topic of tagging, meta tags came into mind (since this is an introduction to the Internet class).

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It’s all about that tag, about that tag… (Source)

Basically, meta tags help people to find things that you put on your web page. They are like bookmarks that indicate whatever content that you have, so that it makes it easier for people to search for the information that they want.

However, meta tags are meant for HTML, so they are hidden from our eyes (which make them a clever way to boost your Search Engine Optimization).

On the social media platform, tagging becomes more transparent. Based on my experience on Instagram, there are 3 kinds of tags that we can use:

1. #Hashtags

Hashtags are ways to categorize topics/trends/keywords on social media. This is pretty much similar to the idea of meta tags, except that hash tags are more explicit, and that they link you up to other posts that have included the same hashtag. Even though hashtags are often linked up to social media, people have been using them way back in 1988 when people were using Internet Relay Chat (IRC) (Do people still use IRC?). It was only in 2007 when hashtag saw its first light on social media.

On top of just thinking that hashtags merely categorize things, a hashtag in itself carries a message. Remember that hashtags are highly visible strings of words? Companies have even leveraged on hashtags to run their campaigns on social media.

Because hashtags hold the power to bring like-minded people together despite being geographically dispersed, it’s also important for users to know how to use them properly if they want to take advantage of hashtags. Don’t be like me and create your own hashtag that no one would ever use, because it kinda defeats the purpose of having a hashtag.

I want to see myself on the screen too! #only6peoplecameforclass Cr:@mxrxssx

A post shared by Charissa 임혜흔 (@charissalum) on

#only6peoplecameforclass

2. Geotags

Geotag is short for geographical tag, which, as its name implies, tags your location to your post. I guess it’s a good place to let people know where you were when you enjoyed that yummy meal, or when you saw that awesome scenery. (Alternatively, it can also be a way for people to stalk find you when you said that you couldn’t make it for that group project meeting. *ahem*)

Instagram used to have a photo map, which displayed your pictures according to the location you’d taken them at. Its intention was probably for globe trekkers to leave a mark of their travels behind, but since not many people are using it, it seemed like a better idea to remove this feature completely.

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If you watch enough detective shows, it feels like we can trace a person’s whereabouts with this! (Source)

3. User tags

User tags is somewhat self-explanatory; they are tags that you use when you want to tag people to your posts, to your photos, to your comments, etc. (I think I’d probably made this term up because I can’t seem to find it online.) In short, it’s a way to include other people to your social media life, simply by using the sign @ with their username (i.e. @charissalum).

Ultimately, this means that as long as you have a social media account, even if you choose to never post anything in your entire life, your online presence would still be made known if you socialize IRL and your friends are active social media users.

This brings me back to my trip to Korea; I didn’t have to tell my friends or people whom I know about it because Facebook told them so. And they didn’t have to be extra interested about my life because my life automatically came to them on their feed (I highly doubt anyone would want to be interested in my life anyway).

This can be a scary thing, if you think about it, when the majority of your Facebook friends may very well be just strangers. Or what if the posts/pictures that you’re tagged to are embarrassing? Perhaps before you are able to untag yourself from them, a handful of Facebook friends may have already seen them (and have secretly judged you).

Of course, tagging on social media has its advantages as well. It helps you to keep track of your entire life (if you’re active on it, that is) in a nice little timeline, which you can look back to in the future. Who knows? It might even be like the photo albums that we have that we can look together with our grandchildren next time.

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“Look, there’s grandma there! Bet you didn’t know that she had acted in a Korean period drama when she was younger right?” (Source)

 

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Week 1: The Internet VS the Web; Aren’t they the same thing?

Perhaps many of you, like me, have grown up with the Web, so much so that we simply refer to whatever that gets us online as the “Internet.” However, unknowingly, there’s actually a huge difference between the 2 terminologies. I was quite surprise to find that out during class, when our instructor questioned if there was a difference between them. (And to think I belong to a “tech-savvy” generation…)

So, to clarify the differences, let’s find out more.

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Don’t be fooled by the “Internet!” (Source)

The Internet

The Internet is basically an interconnection of networks that started out in 1969 as ARPANet (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Believe it or not, the Internet is actually a hardware. You might be thinking, “How is this possible? My phone/computer is connected to the Internet, but I’m not using any cable. Such lies!” That is because you’re connecting to the Internet via wireless connections instead! Ultimately, we still need to use copper wires or fiber-optic cables (think fiber broadband from Singtel, Starhub, or M1), and that’s why the Internet is a hardware.

How the Internet works, is that it uses the Internet Protocol Suite, which is like a collection of rules and regulations that help manage data communication on the Internet, so that information can be shared among networks via the transmission of data packets. You can think of it as a postal system, where our mail gets sent from one place to another.

The Web

The Web (short for World Wide Web) came later in 1989 as an invention by Sir Timothy Berners-Lee (how cool is it that he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II!). It is a collection of pages that are interconnected using hyperlinks (like this) that are managed by the HyperText Transfer Protocol. Thus, the Web is actually a software that runs on the Internet, linking up text, images, videos, and any other hypertext documents on the Internet.I think most of you would know that in order to access the web, we would need to use a browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). It is no wonder now why the term is called “browse the net,” because it’s almost akin to browsing books at a library, moving from one book to another until you settle for one that’s to your liking. Similar to the call numbers of library books, webpages have URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) that help us to find them on the Internet.

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Here’s a cute illustration to help you visualize the relationship between the Internet and the Web. (Source)

Part of URLs, are domain names, and as we have learned, domain names and IP addresses are the same; the only difference is how they are represented (text VS numbers). Since domain names are creations that are subjected to one’s creativity, they may be unlimited (so to speak). However, IP addresses, on the other hand, are facing a serious issue of possible depletion because of the nature of how they are created. To give you a little background, an IP address (IPv4, running on 32 bits) is a series of 4 sets of numbers that are separated by dots. Each set of number can only run from 0 to 255, which means that there can only be 4,294,967,296 unique IP addresses. 4 billion may seem like a huge number, but if you think about the increasing number of devices that are connected to the the Internet, 4 billion is not going to be enough.

To tackle such issue, IPv6 was developed. IPv6 IP addresses contain 128 bits, which allows the total number of unique IP addresses to increase to 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456. (This number sure is a tongue twister! Try saying it aloud: 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion, 463 sextillion, 463 quintillion, 374 quadrillion, 607 trillion, 431 billion, 768 million, 211 thousand and 456. Did you remember to breathe?)

Hopefully, with such a development, we might not run out of IP addresses in the near future until perhaps 50 years down the road when almost everything we use would run on the Internet (imagine Internet-enabled clothing, pens, saucepans, etc.). Although both IPv4 and IPv6 run side by side, the switch over to IPv6 has been slow, with only an adoption rate of about 29% in the United States.

I must admit that I ain’t no expert in this, so hopefully I didn’t mix up anything. I got quite confused myself as I was doing this little research. So, to sum up the difference (excuse the wordplay) between the Internet and the Web, here’s a nice little table:

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The Internet VS the Web in a nutshell. (Source)

As quoted by Michael Stevens from Vsauce,

“The Internet connects participants, the web connects information.”

Now that this is done for this week, it’s time to untangle myself from the Web.

P.S. I haven’t realized how long I have been MIA from the blogging world, so much so that I was still stuck on Blogger (until today when I had decided to move my post over). Now that I’ve seen the interface and design of WordPress, I’m totally sold. It’s no wonder why so many of my classmates are using it instead. This really goes to show how quickly things on the Internet change and develop, and how fast a platform can die out if it doesn’t follow trends.

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