Monday, 27 October 2008

A Whole New World

Your online alter-ego or Avatar attends an in-world educational seminar where the setup is just like a real lecture theatre, with an actual lecturer (or Avatar) standing at the font of the room, peers sitting around you writing notes on their in-world virtual notepads, and conversations going on between students and yourself regarding the lecture content.

Does this sound like some bizarre dream reminiscent of misused college years or just the next inevitable step in your learning schedule?

After reading an article in the latest Learning Magazine called “It’s Learning Jim but not as we know it,” where David Wortley talks about the effectiveness of games and virtual worlds in learning environments, I got into a discussion about it with some of my colleagues , with mixed reactions.

It became apparent very quickly that there were two very different ideas on how learning should work; those who adhere to the “I need a real teacher” mentality and those who feel comfortable with online alternatives.

Myself, being an avid supporter of e-Learning, have always found interactive methods of learning far more stimulating than the traditional classroom atmosphere and with the introduction of online in-world learning to the mainstream, the likelihood of me appearing as an Avatar in the near future is almost a definite. I have already started searching around for the most popular virtual worlds in search of some online content that interests me. Due to the amazing amount of response to sites like Second Life for the inclusion of academic content, it looks like I’m not the only one who sees a future in virtual learning.

The main reasons that I can see this type of training working are:
- Virtual learning opens up a classroom arena to all students, not just the most outspoken ones. With an Avatar as your voice, anonymity is secure and inhibitions go out the door.
- Opportunities arise for users who may not have access to classroom-based training, due to geographical or physical restrictions.
- The variety of training available online will cater to everyone’s taste.
- Chances are that you will be able to record the content to replay at a later time for future clarification.
- Online environments work on the premise that users will be from all over the world and therefore content will be available variable times, to cater to average working hours.

I am interested in hearing your thought on this? Are you currently a member of a virtual site with an online alter-ego? Do you participate in any form of online training? Would you attend an online seminar?

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

What can you do?

Today is Blog Action Day, the one day of the year that bloggers get together to unite for a worthwhile cause – Poverty.
At Clear Learning we wanted to get behind the cause by letting our readers know some poverty facts they may not be aware of. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 (U.S Dollars) a day.
2. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
3. Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
4. Number of children in the world = 2.2 billion
Number in poverty = 1 billion (every second child)
5. Approximately half the world’s population now live in cities and towns. In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 billion people) was living in slum conditions.
6. 1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity
7. A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
8. Around the world, some 26,500 children die every day.

Please help wherever you can by donating to a worthwhile cause. Heal our world by doing your bit.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Time To Get Online

When was the last time you used the Yellow Pages to find a restaurant?

...or trekked down to your local tour operator to book a flight?

Most likely you searched online for these by using or another online directory. It didn’t cost you any money, it was easy and most importantly, the results were immediate! Last year 53% of UK adults said they used the internet at some time in their lives to buy goods or services, with 78% of these purchasing online in the previous 3 months (National Statistics Omnibus Survey 2007).

If your business does not yet have a web presence, it’s time to get online…the web is more than 20 years old now! According to the Computer Industry Almanac, the worldwide internet has now reached more than 1 billion users, with the UK now ranking Number 6 for internet usage with over 35 million users. No matter how small your business is, the web has levelled the playing field. As long as you have the business support and processes in place, the potential is enormous.

Consider these benefits:

- A web presence will give your business visibility and exposure to potential customers
whenever it’s convenient for them
- Customers expect to find you online; it is seen as a sign of professionalism
- You can demonstrate your products and services online through photos and testimonials
- Promoting your site online will give you 24/7 marketing, all year round
- Retaining your customers is made easier through online marketing: informing them of
discounts, special offers and new products / services

Still not convinced? Think about lowering your costs and making workflows more efficient, the web could actually save you money! Lots of businesses use the internet to source new suppliers, order materials. Others use their websites to take bookings and raise awareness, saving on staff and marketing costs.

Visit us next week for some tips to help you determine the best way for your company to establish their web presence!

Get Paid, On Time

We are noticing an increase in the amount of small business owners attending our Getting Paid workshops recently and it doesn’t really come as a surprise considering current financial trends in the UK.

All businesses are feeling the effects of the credit crunch and want to make sure that any credit they decide to offer is going to be honoured, in the time specified.
This goes for suppliers to; how do they know that your company is going to pay them on time?

There are a few simple things that companies can do to increase your status as a reliable customer, including:

-Making sure you file your accounts on time at Companies House (if you are a limited company)
-Maintaining a good payment performance by paying invoices on time, especially those owed to large utility companies.

A company’s credit score is greatly influenced by the two variables above and credit scores are one of the most common methods of selection used by businesses when deciding credit limits for customers.

Companies such as leading provider Experian calculate credit scores by using sophisticated scoring methodologies to derive a single score and there are many different factors taken into account (as many as fifty factors in some cases), such as:

-Size and age of a business
-Legal status
-Business sector and location
-CCJs’ and bankruptcies
-Companies House filings
-Track record of proprietors
-Payment performance.

For start-up companies, getting paid by customers will be the difference between success or failure in the first couple of years for business.

To learn more about our workshops, please visit our website or call us on 0845 880 9500.