Online And Traditional Classroom Learning

Over the past decade, researchers have demonstrated that technology can be a useful and effective tool to administer education. Although, nothing can take the place of the teacher in terms of developing students’ education, online education is making their way into classrooms and homes now. The teachers are not the only ones who can open the door to education for students whereas the computer plays an additional role in helping student’s education technologically as a useful tool. Although you can’t get the direct interaction; online learning provides convenient learning. (Shoeman-Jones 2009) With the economic conditions changing people are opting to go online. More people are working and going to school which will make them competitive and give the working man options about his education. However, online learning can be effective for students if it’s used wisely. The main focus of online is convenience but it can also be an alternative to get outside beyond the walls and connect to society rather than sitting in a classroom. Computers are used for just about everything but can it really replace the classroom? In fact, education and technology, if we understand it in its broadest sense, is changing everyday in every way. Therefore students have several different options that can best suit their needs. Researchers agree that Technology is so advanced and sophisticated but can it really take the place of the teacher who can motivate, organize and manage the whole class by creating the pleasant aura of active teaching and learning process, but many have drawn quite different conclusions in addressing the following questions:
1. What are the advantages of a classroom setting?
Classroom Vs Online 3
2. What are the disadvantages of a classroom setting?
3. Can Online Education be just as effective as the classroom?
4. What are the implications of Online Learning?
This review of Teacher Vs Online focuses on these four questions.
What are the Advantages of a Classroom Setting?
In an influential article, Neobrain, Wright, and Cleaver (2009) argued that everyone need a person who can both understand their needs, their weak points and strong points and also know the most effective and suitable methods for the students to make them realize themselves what they are going to do is right or wrong. For the students in the classroom, computers are amazingly useful machines that, in almost no time, can perform sophisticated operations and solve difficult questions, which even the teacher, let alone students, cannot do. With that said the teacher can know who is following his teaching and who is not and give relevant examples during his teaching to keep the class interested in the subject he is explaining. Another advantage of classroom learning is that the teacher can give students the real essence of education by nourishing students’ hearts and opening students’ minds during the classroom teaching. Also, students have the advantage of having face-to-face interaction with the teacher which enhances their classroom experience. (Wonacott 2002) Teachers feel that they can assess their students better through weekly interaction in the classroom. In classrooms with a smaller teacher-to-student ratio, students can even get more direct assistance. Because there is real time interaction and students and their instructor speak instead of typing, more ground can be covered in less time. An instructor or student can point to a page in their text. The instructor can write
Classroom Vs Online 4
information down on a white board. Students can discuss information with each other, and because they are speaking in person, there is less chance that one of them will be misunderstood.
One thing that is affected by the Online Learning is the social interaction. (Anderson 2007) Social Interaction is important because traditional classroom teaching also provides students with the opportunity to have real social interaction with one another. This interaction in turn allows for the students to help one another in terms of academics or in terms of personal issues. “Good learning…is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated” (Fulford, 6). When students sit in chairs next to each other they learn from each other’s mistakes and learn social interaction skills. Also, traditional schools offer sports, recreation, student clubs and organizations, and other activities that allow you to form friendships and social networks. Good social interaction is a key part of living well. Study after study shows that good friendships, family relationships and health as the most important things to have in order to be happy and fulfilled. In this sense, again the computer’s performance is nothing compared to the traditional classroom.
What are the Disadvantages of a classroom setting?
In a traditional classroom environment, there are usually anywhere from twenty to thirty children and one teacher. In some cases, that teacher might have a “teacher’s aid” or an assistant teacher. This is where the disadvantage starts- it is simply impossible for one person to give each student the one-on-one attention or instruction that may be required. In a classroom of twenty to
thirty students, there are going to be several students with differing learning styles and academic strengths and weaknesses. (Alavi & Gallupe 2003)
Classroom Vs Online 5
Which brings to light the next disadvantage of a traditional classroom. In a traditional classroom environment, it’s not uncommon for students to become bored or frustrated. Some students learn better by visual means, others will learn better with auditory means, and still others are going to learn better with a hands-on approach.
It is virtually impossible for a single teacher to accommodate all methods of learning when he or she is responsible for teaching a large number of students. Thus, children who do not fall into the “traditional learning method” category are far more likely to “fall through the cracks,” become bored or discouraged, or to display behavior problems in the classroom. (Shoeman-Jones 2009)

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The traditional classroom environment works well for a large number of students, but there are many others who simply have difficulty learning in this environment, have difficulty interacting with peers, or who require more one-on-one attention and time to grasp certain concepts. In traditional classrooms, lecture is the main form of learning. One characteristic of traditional learning is: The student is forced to be in the same time day in and day out. With the economic changes we are facing in today’s age and tuition cost rising, students are working. The career fields are more competitive and people are not alone seeking employees with an education but also experience. So with that said, students are seeking alternative options for acquiring an education so they can remain competitive in today’s job market. Sitting in a classroom is not an ideal setting for some students. Being able to pace and not have strict time constraints on
assignments can be beneficial. Some students have odd working hours and don’t have the time to get to class on time and that can cause stress mentally and physically. Also, students have
Classroom Vs Online 6
finally found themselves able to help themselves and get self-educated even long after finishing the class. (Shoeman-Jones 2009) Perhaps this may be the most significant fact that makes the difference between the teacher and the machine. You can cover more material and ground at your own pace and complete the class early. On the other hand, Classroom learning does have its disadvantage especially competing with convenience.
Can online education be just as effective as the classroom?
With so many advancements with the internet you have many options for online learning. From websites that exists to help elementary students prepare for statewide tests, to middle and high schools having the opportunity to take classes online and complete make up work. The internet has certainly made learning convenient and a much simpler process. Giving student’s flexibility in learning may push someone that may otherwise decide not to finish high school or even enroll in college into completing to a different decision. Also most students work either full or part time therefore having the option to take classes online is a great advantage for them. “Education is now one of the many opportunities available for consumers on the Internet. The online student population is expanding by 30 percent a year, with over 75 percent of traditional colleges and universities getting into the market, according to experts. With the Internet, distance degrees have become a viable and valuable option for the individual who may not be able to enroll full-time in a traditional brick-and-mortar institution.” (Neal) What is online education? Who can take online classes? Is an online degree the same as a degree from a college that you
take on campus? These are some questions that you may want to know the answers to before deciding to enroll in online classes. According to, www.blackboard.com online education can be
Classroom Vs Online 7
defined as an approach to teaching and learning that utilizes Internet technologies to communicate and collaborate in an educational context. This includes technology that supplements traditional classroom training with web-based components and learning environments where the educational process is experienced online. Anyone with access to the internet can take classes online. Whether you obtained your degree online or on a campus your degree is treated the same as long as the institution is accredited. Colleges offering online or blended classes have online learning tools that you take your classes at and participate in discussions. At Florida State Community College they use a platform called Blackboard. On Blackboard you can also view your grades and email other classmates, teachers also use this site to post messages to the students. You can also take exams and quizzes on blackboard. Unless there is scheduled maintenance Blackboard is accessible twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. This is convenient for the students, and makes life much easier. “Since September 11, 2001, the number of overseas inquires about online learning has jumped 40 percent.” (Neal)
There are many advantages and disadvantages that students take into consideration before enrolling in online classes. One of the best advantages to online classes is flexibility. Online classes do not require you to commute. In some cases, students travel from more than one campus. Most students like that they can make their own schedule, choosing to take your classes during the day or even in the middle of the night. When taking online classes you don’t have to sacrifice a lot of your free time, especially when you can do work any time day or night.
Classroom Vs Online 8
Students really don’t have to leave the comfort of their own home, not to mention time saved on traveling to class and the amount of money saved on gas. You don’t have to worry about what you’re going to wear to school. Some students dread participating in class, they may not be scared to speak to others but sometimes having all eyes on you may make your uncomfortable. Participating with online discussion gives you a voice that may have otherwise have never been heard. Moving away from shyness and also giving you a better participation grade. If you’re not a good note taker, don’t worry, most of the lectures are already written out for you and you can go back and look at it anytime that you would like. If you have small children you can care for them and take your classes without having to send them off to daycare. We’ve seen the commercials on television all the time, mostly of students in their pajamas and imagine that it could be us. Not having to go into a classroom and listen to a long lecture that you may think is so boring can otherwise be seen online and you don’t have to worry about dosing off. Some students may have otherwise recorded the lectures in order to listen to again at a later time, now they can go back to it on the schools learning tool. Being able to complete assignments at home without any distractions from other classmates is also an advantage, especially for those who have a short attention span. Another advantage of online learning is the accessibility of learning materials. No matter your program of study you will more than likely able to find classes pertaining to your degree. Being able to control the timeframe in which you obtain your degree is another advantage, most colleges offer accelerated degree programs. Even though you may be earning your degree faster than most does not mean the task will not be difficult, you have to be dedicated in obtaining your degree or you may fail. You can also work on more the one degree
Classroom Vs Online 9
program at a time. Make sure that you have a laptop so that anytime you have free time you can pick it up and get to work. Another advantage is that in some online classes most tests and quizzes are given online giving you the opportunity to use your textbooks. Even if the tests are timed you are more likely to score higher if you have the information in front of you to pass the test or quiz. If you have good time management skills and do not find yourself procrastinating often then online learning may be a good option for you.
What are the disadvantages of Online Learning?
There are many disadvantages as well to online learning. One disadvantage that students complain about is face to face interaction with other students and the teachers. One of the most common disadvantages that students have is the lack of supervision which leads to procrastination. Some students need constant motivation from teachers and students in order to succeed, so if you are not able to work on your own you shouldn’t consider online classes. Even though you can wake up in the middle of the night to complete a paper at the last minute you find yourself doing it more often due to the lack of supervision. Usually students with poor study habits fail at online learning. Self-Pace is a lot of hard work and dedication. Usually online classes require you to read more and complete more assignments versus traditional classroom whereas you would take notes. Another disadvantage is that most online classes usually cost more than the classes taken on campus. With the rising cost of tuition and books, online fees are not far behind and doubling every year. Be sure to check with your college of choice when making this decision. Even though you may be saving with travel expenses you need to make sure that you are not paying so much more for your classes that saving on the traveling is not a
Classroom Vs Online 10
big difference. If you’re only reason to take online classes is to save money on traveling you may want to check on the cost of your online course first before making your decision. You also have to be very computer savvy or succeeding with an online course will be nearly impossible for students. With most online courses you are on the internet most of the time so you may want to make sure you are very familiar with the internet before starting an online class. To develop your computer skills to take online classes, you can take a computer course on most college campuses, and this should be done before signing up for online classes if you think you need better computer skills. Some online credits may also not be transferable so you may want to make sure that you check with your advisor before trying to transfer any credits. Not every school in the nation has migrated to virtual world completely. Make sure that you also that you find a fully accredited program.
Conclusion
Taking the advantages and disadvantages into consideration will make your decision easier when considering your education. Whatever path you decide to go be sure to weigh all of your options, and do what is best for you and not what others may think is best for you. We all have different learning styles so what may be the best option for me may not be the best option for you. Many have earned their degrees online or through blended classes and their degrees is just as good as the person who earned it in a traditional classroom environment. Just be very careful in choosing am program that is accredited or the classes you’ve taken could not only be a waste of time but also money. When it comes to education, there simply is no “one size fits all” answer. The teacher has got a unique human brain that can perform teaching in a way that the
Classroom Vs Online 11
computer, a mere artificial brain, cannot do. Well when it comes down to it, traditional classroom will always win, you cannot put value on the long time study of a profession that’s proven to be effective but if you’re willing to step outside box consider taking at least one class online, just to see if it’s right for you. Remember you have to fail sometimes in order to succeed.
Classroom Vs Online 12
 

Regulations and Policies of Online and Social Media

Introduction

The sole goal of the media is to reach mass audiences with the transmitted message. Earlier the main sources of information would include the traditional media like Newspapers, Magazines, Radio, Television etc., Now people have started depending on the contemporary media for information .Subsequently, the online and the social media are gaining prominence.
What are the principles governing the Online and the Social Media? What would be the standards of Online and the Social Media? Does the Media law regulate the content to the stipulated extent? Is ethics followed in Online and Social Media? While practicing ethics in Online and social media what are the issues faced , the constraints confronted and the opportunities that we come across?
Considering the Online and the Social media that have become an inevitable part of life of any individual today, a thorough study will reveal the opportunities and the threats.

Online and Social media

Definition

The Online media and Social media refer to the digital media in which information is made available in the forms of music, photos, videos etc., which are distributed in the internet. These media entertain socialinteraction among people in which they create, share or exchange information, photos, video and ideas in virtual communities andnetworks.
(Wikipedia)
The mobile phone and the internet have transformed to an integral part of the human schedule or in other words, life itself. The usage of mobile phones is increasing vastly not only in the urban but also rural areas with innumerable mobile operators entering the market day in and day out. The slashing down of the internet charges and the internet services being made available in the mobile phones have drastically increased the prominence of the online and the social media.

Principles

The Online and Social Media can transmit the message instantaneously. This media is also a more personalized version of all the other media or in other words we have the complete authority to edit the content. Certain principles govern the social media and these principles decide the success of communication in the media.
The information that is shared in the social media ought to be authentic. This authenticity of information be it personal, or of the company helps in building trust.
The length of the post determines the number of views. Minimize on the length – Be crisp and clear.
Social media is being used as a marketing tool to earn likes for the specific products or for the company. Creating a community determines the success in SMM and it happens in a slower pace. Sharing some useful or interesting piece of information that would interest the group as well as sharing and showing interest in the information shared by the peers would help in nurturing a larger group.
The interaction plays an important role as well in the social media. As a company, a response is a must, be it for a compliment from the customer or for a complaint.
(Jon Reed, 2013, 7 principles of Social Media Marketing)
(Five Basic Principles of Social Media, 2014)

Standards

The Association of Fundraising Professionals ( AFP) has defined the standards for the Organization leaders and the staff, affiliates, consultants etc., to follow certain these set standards.

Industry laws and guidelines are also applicable in social media.
The information should be updated at all times and people should be open to criticisms/ appreciations
While opposing, maintain a polite language.
Take responsibility for all the content .
Respond to queries/ comments .
Be responsible for the content and think before you post.
Adhere to moral principles, honesty and be open .
Know to differentiate the personal and the professional boundaries.
Be authorized and official.
Avoid violations of standards .

The Association of Fundraising Professionals ( AFP) has defined the standards for the Organization leaders and the staff, affiliates, consultants etc., not to do certain activities .

Do not share or disclose material that the organization or affiliate organization considers is forbidding, harassing, illegal, obscene, defamatory, libelous, or hostile towards any individual or entity.
Do not share or disclose phone numbers or email addresses of yourself or any other individual or entity
Do not display material that violates on the rights of the organization or any individual or entity, including privacy, intellectual property or publication rights. This includes the unauthorized use of (but is not limited to) images, logos, videos, content, documents, white papers, etc.
Do not publish material that promotes or advertises a commercial product or solicits business / membership or financial or other support in any business, group or organization.
Do not post chain letters, post the same comment multiple times as this would be termed as spam.
Do not permit any other individual or entity to use your identity for posting in or viewing social medias.
Do not use multiple identities or the identity of others.

(AFP’s Social media guidelines,2013)

Ethics

Social Media is a form of media in which the information intended reaches instantaneously as well as globally and fetches response due to the inherent quality of interaction. Balancing ethics in social media is a difficult task as access to social media is available to all and there is no control over the content.
Like any other media, Accuracy and authenticity are two main points of ethical importance. The information shared in the social media is available to a community when shared and when it gets shared repeatedly there is no control over the content.
The professionals, journalists, public figures etc., are expected to possess the quality of Impartiality to be ethical. The social media networking with political parties, organizations would create notions of “biasing” which is unethical.
Avoid defaming statements against individuals/ organizations in the social media. Subsequently ,avoid commenting on the customs, culture, beliefs of different religions, countries etc., Recommending publicly in a social media is also considered unethical.
(NPR Ethics handbook, 2012)

Regulations

The protection of privacy of the customers is ensured using the regulatory laws. The employer’s level of inspecting the social media updates of the current and future employees is governed by the regulatory law. Marketing of products using social media, revealing financial reports of companies etc., are governed by a guidance law. Defining of procedures for the employees‘ business use of social media, the inspection and the control is also covered by a law. Guidelines that clearly explain on what situations the company can obtain and use it for legal investigations are also available.
(Five Common Legal & Regulatory Challenges With Social Media, 2013)

Ethical Practices on Online and Social Media

Issues

The employees of a company when communicating on behalf of a company have to be ethical in terms of complimenting their own company as well as avoid criticizing the competition in a social media. The access to social media in business hours for personal reasons is an unethical practice.
Professionals like lawyers, judges involved in the same case could be friends and their interactions in social media could cause negative references for the case.
Social networking with the political parties or with the important leaders of the political parties could create negative remarks in the professional profile.
(Ethical Challenges of Social Media, 2011)

Constraints

Updating business profiles by the professionals like the doctors, lawyers are legal advertisements even when they are not intended to and could cause ethical problems in their profession.
Sharing of confidential information both professional and personal have to be avoided to be ethical.
The security factors whilst using a social media are to be dealt with paramount importance. Neglecting or ignoring such factors could push us to unnecessary complications.
The recruiting companies demand social media personal account details for monitoring the emlpoyees’ activities. The borderline between the personal and the professional activities becomes indistinct.
(10 Tips for Avoiding Ethical Lapses When Using Social Media, 2014)

Opportunities

Being present in most of the social media with the same identity also helps in building brand image and trust. Social media does not stop with sharing information but it extends till the peer group responds either positively or negatively. The secret of success lies in the unique posts in social media to reach the maximum audience.
Knowledge Sharing : This is a very significant opportunity of the Social Media. People in the same professional line can share information on specific cases and the success stories which could be of great use to the others and sometimes the others in the cimmunity could come out with different ideas.
Life Sharing : Social media is a powerful tool to share photos, videos using Youtube, Flickr etc., to get the actual feel of events.
Social Networking : This networking helps in sharing the status, photos , video etc., with the friends, relatives living in different places. One post updates the whole set of friends/ relatives in the group.
Business Networking : Business networking using social media like Linkedin helps in procuring information on job opportunities and freelancing from the community.
Community Building : Social networking communities like Collaborate, Collect etc., is a common platform for messaging, document sharing etc., with a mobile apps used in an i-phone.
(Social Media Constraints and Opportunities Project,2011)

Conclusion

The online and the social media also has to be treated as important as the traditional media and one has to understand that the media laws govern these media as well. The access to online and the social media is available to all unlike the other media and so it is important for us to know the regulations and the restrictions failing which legal actions are also feasible. Sharnig persona or confidential information can also lead to cyber crimes.

References

Ethical Challenges of Social Media ,2011, http://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/briefings/ibe_briefing_22_the_ethical_challenges_of_social_media.pdf

AFP’s Social media guidelines: Ethical, safe and effective practical standards, 2013, http://www.afpnet.org/files/ContentDocuments/SocialMediaGuidelines_OnePage.pdf

Christina Vassiliou Harvey, Mac R. McCoy, Brook Sneath, 2014, “10 Tips for Avoiding Ethical Lapses When Using Social Media”, http://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/01/03_harvey.html

Nick Hayes, 2013, “Five Common Legal & Regulatory Challenges With Social Media” http://blogs.forrester.com/nick_hayes/13-07-31-five_common_legal_regulatory_challenges_with_social_media

NPR Ethics handbook, 2012, http://ethics.npr.org/tag/social-media/

The Loudpixel Blog, “Five Basic Principles of Social Media” http://loudpixel.wpengine.com/blog/five-basic-principles-of-social-media/

Jon Reed, “7 principles of Social Media Marketing” http://www.getuptospeed.biz/2013/09/7-principles-of-social-media-marketing/

Michael Palenchar, University of Tennessee & Shari Veil, University of Kentucky, 2011, “Social Media Constraints and Opportunities Project”, available from http://www.ncfpd.umn.edu/Ncfpd/assets/File/Social_Media_Webinar.pdf

 

Professional Development Plan (PDP) for Online Faculty

Abstract

Academic faculty benefit from professional development training as it provides opportunities to periodically self-assess one’s current professional skills to ensure alignment with personal and institutional goals. The process of engaging in digital age professional development training also creates an escape from day-to-day instructional tasks and duties and facilitates fresh ideas useful in classroom instruction. This training plan offers an approach to professional development training for faculty at Adiatu University faculty and emphasizes the importance of instructional technologies.

Introduction

Supporting faculty includes providing them relevant professional development training. Faculty should not be expected to learn on their own time or attend unpaid training seminars; they should have access to professional development that allows them to explore the functions of the LMS and education technologies so that they will learn to effectively use them in instruction. A 2015 Samsung survey found that 90% of teachers believed that technology infused lessons are important for student success, yet 60% responded that they were unprepared to use technology in the classroom setting.  According to Bates (2015), “Moving to blended, hybrid and online learning requires a much higher standard of training for faculty and instructors. It is not just a question of learning how to use a learning management system or an iPad. The use of technology needs to be combined with an understanding of how students learn” (p. 420).

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This Professional Development Plan (PDP) addresses the professional development needs of online faculty. Purchasing various education technologies, upgrading infrastructure, and modifying the curriculum are important, but instructional technology is only as strong as the competency of the instructor integrating it. University leaders should ensure that faculty is committed to learning innovative technologies that expand learning opportunities for online students. According to ISTE, “Educators need ongoing training to keep up to date with rapid changes in educational technology”, and “Educators also need to carve out time in their busy schedules to assimilate their new knowledge, practice new skills, learn from each other and work together” (iste.org). In the PDP, faculty will participate in a professional development workshop on how to effectively integrate technology their instruction. The following beliefs have been used to set goals for this plan: 

Proper use of technology can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an academic institution.

Faculty should routinely integrate technology into their instruction.

Technology can improve students’ ability and capacity to access, create and communicate information and ideas.

To successfully use technology, University leaders should ensure that faculty has access to the following:  technical support, access to adequate hardware, and access to appropriate software.

Based on the technology beliefs listed above, the University should foster an environment where faculty has optimal access to relevant digital-age training. 

Technology Integration Workshop Overview

The workshop will pilot with a five-day online workshop focused on specific technology integration strategies; modifications to include additional strategies will be made when appropriate. The workshop focuses on how faculty should and can shift their pedagogical knowledge to enhance student achievement, and how to make technology integration common instructional practice. A learning management system (LMS), namely Canvas, will be used to deliver the professional development training. There will be discussion sections that allow for asynchronous collaboration and communication between the professional development trainer and faculty.

To get a clearer view of the type of training support needed for effective technology integration, faculty will be required to complete a questionnaire prior to registering for the workshop. The questions are designed to assess their current use and perceptions of instructional technologies, and their current needs and future aspirations.

How frequently do you use technology for the following:

Daily

Weekly

Monthly

Yearly

Communication with parents (e.g., newsletters, e-mail, class Web page)

Teacher-student communications (e.g., response to written work, posting schedules and activities)

Record keeping (e.g., grades, attendance)

Preparation for instruction (e.g., lesson and unit planning, downloading materials such as pictures)

Student inquiry (e.g., student research using search engines and databases)

Curriculum development (e.g. Cool Math, Starfall)

What percent of your technology professional training during this school year involved the following:

0%

25%

50%

75%

100%

You sat and listened to lectures

Instructors responded directly to your needs and requests

You worked with other participants during the training to achieve common goals

You experimented with technology during the professional development

Training Strategy

According to Knowles et al. (1984), adult learners are independent and self-directed, have more life experiences to draw from and incorporate into their learning, gravitate to learning subjects that are relevant to their careers and personal lives, acquire knowledge for immediate use, are motivated by internal incentives such as improved self-esteem, feelings of accomplishment, etc., and are better at setting learning goals and managing their own learning. Creating a learning environment that supports the characteristics of adult learners requires trust, so the workshop will start with an icebreaker so that participants will learn more about one another and feel more relaxed with each other. On Day 1 of the workshop, faculty will be asked the following seven questions and share their responses in the discussion section:

What is your name?

What content-area do you teach?

What do you hope to get out of the course?

What is the most amazing thing that could happen if course expectations are met?

What’s the ideal dream job for you?

Are you a morning or night person?

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction?

The workshop will be conducted for five consecutive days, and training on days two through four involve self-paced activities. Additionally, to encourage active participation from each faculty member and extract a variety of relevant experiences, the course will consist of both group and individual activities. Information gained from group work will be used to complete individual tasks. Faculty will be instructed to journal their reflection throughout the workshop and note how they intend to use training lessons in their online classroom.

Project based learning (PBL) will play a huge role in the workshop. The goal is for faculty to create authentic products that can immediately be deployed in the classroom.  Further, Tiwari et al. (2017) determined that project-based learning is motivational for students learning methodology skills because it is engaging and gives them ownership over their own learning. In their study of 99 students and faculty, they found “90.91% students agreed that there should be continuation of PBL in subsequent batches. 73.74% felt satisfied and motivated with PBL, whereas 76.77% felt that they would be able to use research methodology in the near future.”

Once a faculty member has completed training in the workshops, he/she will be rewarded a digital badge that will be attached to their profile. A badge is considered effective in motivating adult learners because it ”helps students set goals and envision success” (iste.org). The online tool “Credly” will be used to create digital badges, which will be encoded with meta-data that communicate details of the professional development accomplishments to anyone wishing to verify it, or learn more about the context of the achievement it signifies.

References

Advantages of Online Professional Development. National Research Council. 2007. Enhancing Professional Development for Teachers: Potential Uses of Information Technology: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/read/11995/chapter/3#11

Bates, A.W. (2015). Chapter 12: Supporting teachers and instructors in a digital age. In Teaching in a digital age (pp. 420-444). [eReadings]

Davis, S.  (2002).  The effect of one-on-one follow-up sessions after technology staff development classes on transfer of knowledge to the classroom.  Action Research Exchange, 1(2). Retrieved from http://chiron.valdosta.edu/are/vol1no2/PDF%20article%20manuscript/davis.pdf

Framework for 21st Century Learning. (2013). Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/overview/skills-framework 

Smith, M. (2019, June 18). Survey Finds Majority of Teachers Do Not Feel Prepared to Use Technology in Classrooms. Retrieved from https://news.samsung.com/us/survey-finds-majority-of-teachers-do-not-feel-prepared-to-use-technology-in-classrooms/

Strickland, D.S., Ganske, K., & Monroe, J.K. (2002). Supporting struggling readers and writers: Strategies for classroom intervention 3–6. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Tiwari, R., Arya, R. K., & Bansal, M. (2017). Motivating Students for Project-based Learning for Application of Research Methodology Skills. International journal of applied & basic medical research, 7(Suppl 1), S4-S7.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed ability classrooms (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Appendix

5-Day Workshop Rubric

Modified. Original retrieved from: http://ldt.stanford.edu/~tacyt/projectrubric.html

Novice

Apprentice

Proficient

Expert

Content and Curricular Connections

The project has no connection to class content or curricular goals and does not support school or department goals for learning and technology.

The project has a tenuous connection to the course curriculum. The technology use addresses some but not all of the school and departmental goals.

The project’s technology use effectively supports content and curriculum. It also addresses school and department goals.

The project’s technology use effectively supports and links with curriculum. It affords new possibilities. The project’s uses of technology directly support school and departmental goals or technology use and for student learning.

Student Learning Goals

There are no clearly stated learning goals

Educational goals are present but may not be appropriate or measurable.

There are clear, age appropriate and measurable learning objectives. These goals accommodate different learning styles and abilities.

Educational objectives are clear, age appropriate, and measurable. These goals accommodate different learning styles and abilities. Students are able to set their own learning goals and achieve them within the context of the project.

Role of Technology

The project’s use of technology treats students as passive recipients of information, is not well defined, does not support student learning, or is a trivial or inappropriate use of the medium.

The project’s use of technology is focused but does not take full advantage of the medium. Students use technology but do not learn to manipulate the technology to express ideas or concepts.

The project’s use of technology is appropriate for the medium while helping students reach identified learning objectives. The choice of technology is age appropriate and supports different learning styles and abilities.

The project’s use of technology helps students achieve learning objectives and is both an appropriate and creative use of the medium. The choice and integration of

technology is age appropriate and supports different learning styles and abilities. Students are engaged and demonstrate a deeper conceptual understanding of

key concepts. Student learning, thinking and communication skills show improvement as a result of this use of technology.

Project Design

The project seems incomplete or poorly conceived. The project’s scope is too large or too small. The teacher has not considered student learning needs.

The project may be complete, but lacks depth. It does not offer strategies or adaptations for students with special needs or learning style preferences. The class time invested in the project may be too great given its education value.

The project is complete, goes into depth as appropriate and provides some adaptations for students with special needs or learning style preferences. The teacher has considered scaffolding learning for both beginning and advanced students and fades away when appropriate. Students explore concepts by designing and creating a product.

The project is complete, deep, well-scaffolded and adaptable. It offers extensions for more motivated or experienced learners and/or adaptations for students with special needs or learning style preferences. Students have opportunities to actively engage with the concepts and with technology by creating or designing a product themselves.

Role of the Teacher

The teacher models helpless terror in the face of new technologies and gives up with faced with a problem.

The teacher has planned a lesson with clear goals but has not anticipated how technology use will influence class dynamics, timing, learning and activities.

The teacher has designed and prepared an appropriate lesson and models good problem solving techniques by trying multiple solutions and incorporating others’ ideas. The teacher’s role is more of a facilitator than a directive leader.

The teacher is well prepared and has planned an engaging, effective and meaningful lesson. The teacher demonstrates effective problem solving, exploration, creativity, and multiple solutions and effectively facilitates student learning and experiences.

 

Benefits of Online Learning for Working Adults

Abstract

With the rise of new technologies, working adults are forced to stay relevant in this constantly changing job market. Today, many organizations expect their employees to keep up with what is happening in the world around us. As a result, online learning is becoming popular among working adults. Online learning refers to learning and other supportive resources that are available through a computer. This paper examines the benefits that working adults enjoy in studying online such as flexibility, savings, new career opportunities, accelerated learning program, collaborative learning opportunities, self-paced learning opportunities, and self-responsibility. It also provides counterarguments such as online learning is difficult for ESL students, students with no access to computer, and students who constantly need an instructor because they could not work alone.

Working Adults Should Be Studying Online

 With the rise of new technologies, working adults are forced to stay relevant in this constantly changing job market. Today, many organizations expect their employees to keep up with what is happening in the world around us. As a result, lots of working adults including myself are seeking ways to advance their career. I don’t know how it would have been possible for me to balance education with work, family, and other obligations without studying online. Study online is similar to learning online; and “online learning refers to learning and other supportive resources that are available through a computer” (Carliner, 2004, p.1). According to Friedman (2018), 6.3 million students in the United States, took at least one online course in 2016. I strongly believe that working adults should study online. The purpose of this paper is to show the importance of online learning, especially for working adults.

Definition of online learning

The literature presents online learning with various definitions. First, online learning and e-Learning are often used interchangeably. According to Piskurich (2004), “e-Learning is defined as: any form of learning that utilizes a network for delivery, interaction, or facilitation” (p.8). For example, this network could be the internet, a college LAN or WAN in which learning takes place individually or as part of a class (Piskurish, 2004). In general, the terms e-learning or electronic-learning is used in business and industry training literature or international education and training information. For instance, in the United States, the term online learning or online instruction is preferred than e-Learning (Davidson-Shivers, Rasmussen, & Lowenthal, 2018). Another definition of online learning is associated to online instruction. Online instruction is defined as “instruction delivered via an electronic medium with instructor and learners separated by space, but connected through the Internet and Web” (Davidson-Shivers et al, 2018, p.5).

Types of online learning

There are three types of online learning: (1) asynchronous online courses, (2) synchronous online courses, (3) and hybrid or blended courses.

Asynchronous online courses. First, in asynchronous (or non-real-time) courses, instructor and students are not online at the same time (Carliner and Shank, 2008). For example, asynchronous tools may include “course announcements, student web pages, e-mail to instructors and class members, threaded discussion boards, wikis, blogs, and file sharing” (Piña, 2013, p. 3).

Synchronous online courses. Second, synchronous (or real-time) online courses refer to courses in which instructor and students are online at the same time (Carliner and Shank, 2008). Examples of synchronous online tools include tools found in an LMS ranging from “text chat and a sharable whiteboard to full-featured videoconferencing, including multiple video streams, polling, and sharing of presenters’ desktops, applications and files to all participants” (Piña, 2013, p. 3).

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Blended courses. Finally, blended or hybrid courses refers to the mix of face-to-face and online learning (Garrison & Vaughan, 2008). According to Stein and Graham (2014), “Blended courses provide the opportunity for teachers to mix the best of onsite and online to create a new learning environment for their students” (p.9). For example, in a blended format, students may read course materials before attending class and discuss challenging topics with their instructor or participate in group activities in class to solve practical problems.

Now, that we have a basic understanding of online learning and know about the various types of online learning, we can proceed in discovering why I believe that working adults should be studying online.

Reasons for studying online

There are many reasons for studying online. I believe that seven main reasons are important to consider why working adults should be studying online: (1) flexibility, (2) savings, (3) new career opportunities, (4) accelerated learning program, (5) collaborative learning opportunities, (6) self-paced learning opportunities, and (7) self-responsibility.

Flexibility

The first reason why working adults should be studying online is flexibility. Flexibility allows learners to study where and when they want (Collis & Moonen, 2004). It also refers to being able to access your course 24/7 around your schedule and from anywhere in the world (Wang, 2010). From example, I can access my course in composition and research from home and study when everyone is at sleep. I also like the convenience that online courses offer. In addition, I could be on a business trip for example, and still complete my homework online and meet the deadline. I don’t have to necessarily go to my campus to complete my homework or attend a lecture. Furthermore, flexibility also means convenience. For example, a stay-at-home mother can still take care of her family and attend class online. Another example will be shift workers such as registered nurses that may prefer online courses because they can study any time they like, either night or day (Wang, 2010).

Savings

The second reason why working adults should be studying online is cost. Many studies indicate that online learning reduces cost. According to Piskurich (2004), online courses allow you to save time and expenses associated with travel. For example, it will be easier to go to your computer desk at home or work than to travel 10 miles across time or even to another building in your workplace. In addition, online courses “reduce costs by eliminating class – related travel expenses as well as the costs of disseminating training materials” (Carliner & Shank,2008, p.31). Furthermore, Young (2018) described a study in which savings for online courses ranged from $12 to $66 per credit hour when the overall costs of online courses were compared with the average costs at four educational institutions. For example, I was able to save lots of money in gas last semester because I didn’t have to attend all my classes on campus.

New career opportunities

The third reason why studying online is important for working adults is because they can upgrade their professional skills and stay relevant in this digital economy allowing them to embrace a new career in different sectors of the economy or be promoted in their current field. For example, I have been working in customer service for a while and I am now interested in learning healthcare management for a new career in the healthcare industry. According to Stoltz-Loike (2017), taking courses online could help you round out your resume so that you can compete in the job market.

Accelerated learning program

The fourth reason why studying online is important for working adults is that working adults could benefit from accelerated learning program. For example, traditional MBA programs require about two years of full-time study. But professionals from all industries can benefit from earning an MBA in a year. This is the case of Missouri State College of Business, where students who have satisfied 80 hours of undergraduate work in business with a 3.0 GPA may qualify to participate in the accelerated Master of Business Administration program. If accepted, they will get a jumpstart on graduate studies by taking 6 credit hours of work during their senior year. Most approved courses are available online and explore marketing, finance and computer information systems. In total, the degree calls for 18 credit hours of foundational work and 33 credit hours of business core curriculum (Affordable College Online, n.d.).

Collaborative learning opportunities

The fifth reasons why studying online is important for working adults is that working adults could collaborate with peers from different geographical locations. According to Dunlap and Grabinger (2003), online learning offers a collaborative environment in which students benefit from  belonging to a peer group, from networking and mutual support within that group. Moreover, online collaborative learning offers the same benefits of computer- supported collaborative learning (CSCL). CSCL is a new educational approach based on the use of technology and collaboration to improve learning (Goodyear, Jones, & Thompson, 2014). According to Yang et al (2018), CSCL helps build a learning community, improves social interaction and student motivation to learn, and enhances student engagement and understanding.

Self-paced learning opportunities

 Self-paced learning is often described as individualized learning or self-instruction. The central idea is that self-paced learning allows the learner to control their learning experience. Not only that learners are responsible of what they learn but they learn at their own pace regardless of being slow or advanced learners (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2013). There are many benefits of self-paced learning such as no time pressure, no need for a schedule, suitability for different learning styles, and improving memory (EasyLMS, n.d.). For example, if you are a slow learner you can take your time to complete your readings without worrying about time; and you are free to learn the course materials as you like. It offers a certain degree of freedom for all kind of learners; and it focuses on addressing learners’ specific needs compared to learning that takes place in the traditional classroom (Morrison et al, 2013).

Self-responsibility

 Online learning promotes self-responsibility. Working adults are known to be organized and self-directed. It also encourages autonomy for learners because they can identify future goals and develop planning skills. In addition, it allows students to be self-motivated since studying online requires considerable planning and organization (Ohashi, 2018). For example, every semester, I develop a personal study schedule that I paste in every corner in the house to keep my family and I informed about how I use and spend my time; this allows me to effectively balance my school with work and family activities.

 Effectiveness of online learning

Although online learning offers many benefits, some scholars question the effectiveness of online learning and argue that it may not be suitable for all students. According to Hudson, Maslin-Prothero, and Oates (1997), online courses are not effective for all students. They believe that English as a second language (ESL) students, or students who do not have access to computer technology, and students who are not able to work alone will find online learning difficult. I believe that these arguments are very weak.

First, the argument that ESL students will find online learning difficult is weak. I believe that an important number of colleges through the help of their instructional designers develop orientation courses for students on how to study online and navigate throughout online courses. For example, Blackboard, the current learning management system  used in my school offers orientation courses on how to navigate throughout the platform and access course content.

Second, the argument that students who do not have access to computer technology will find online learning  difficult is also weak because working adults during breaks can use their smartphones to study online or stay late in their office and use computers available at their workplace.

Third, the argument that students who are not able to work alone will find online learning difficult is very weak. I believe that students who study online can still communicate with the instructor or their classmates. For example, most online courses offer collaborative work or participation in discussion boards in which students can share ideas with others and ask questions about things they don’t know.

Furthermore, Davidson-shivers et al (2018) also described five challenges of online learning including isolation, technology barriers, digital literacy, computer anxiety, and confusion about topics and assignments.

First, their argument that learners could be isolated from instructor and their colleagues is not valid and is similar to the third argument addressed above by Hudson et al (1997).

Second, the argument of technology barriers is not a valid argument because this new economy is essentially digital and most working adults know how to use a smartphone or a computer. According to Statista (n.d.), the number of mobile phone users was around 266 million in 2017 and represented over 80 percent of the US population.

Third, digital literacy is also an invalid argument because most college libraries offer orientation courses on how to use new technologies and address  common issues such as plagiarism, cyber bullying, copyright, digital citizenship, and accessibility.

Fourth, computer anxiety is also a weak argument because we are in the era of information technology and our daily lives are surrounded with new technologies such as smartphones, smart TVs, and smart cars.

Finally, confusion about topics and assignments is also a weak argument because most instructors explain at the beginning of the semester through a syllabus what they expect from their students and instructors even offer online meeting to address students needs or provide feedback whenever students needed help in something they did not understand.

Conclusion and future study

In conclusion, working adults should be studying online because online learning offers many benefits. Although online learning offers many benefits, some scholars believe that it is less effective. I believe that desiring to study online or not is not the central issue instead  how to facilitate the learning experience of working adults should be more important to explore. Technology may change but how people learn will remain the same. Thus, improving working adults’ learning experience should be the focus of future research studies.

References

Affordable College Online. (n.d.). ACCELERATED ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS. Retrieved February 23, 2019, from https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/degrees/mba-programs/one-year-accelerated/

Carliner, S. (2004). An overview of online learning. Amherst, MA: HRD Press.

Carliner, S., & Shank, P. (2008). E-learning Handbook: Past Promises, Present Challenges (Pfeiffer essential resources for training and HR professionals). Pfeiffer.

Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2004). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Goodyear, P., Jones, C., & Thompson, K. (2014). Computer-supported collaborative learning: instructional approaches, group processes and educational designs. In: Spector, J. M.; Merrill, M. D.; Elen, J. and Bishop, M. J. eds. Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology (4th Edition). New York: Springer, pp. 439–452.

Davidson-Shivers, G. V., Rasmussen, K. L., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2018). Web-based learning: Design, implementation and evaluation. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Dunlap, J.C., & Grabinger, R.S. (2003). Preparing students for lifelong learning: A review of instructional features and teaching methodologies. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 16 (2), 6 – 25.

EasyLMS (n.d.). Self-Paced learning meaning. Retrieved February 23, 2019, from https://www.easy-lms.com/knowledge-center/lms-knowledge-center/self-paced-learning-definition/item10384

Friedman, J. (2018). Study Says Enrollment in Online Courses Is Rising. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/articles/2018-01-11/study-more-students-are-enrolling-in-online-courses

Garrison, D. R., & Vaughan, N. D. (2008). Blended learning in higher education: Framework, principles and guidelines. San Francisco (CA): Jossey-Bass.

Hudson, R., Maslin-Prothero, S., & Oates, L. (1997). Flexible learning in action: Case studies in higher education. London: Kogan Page, in association with the Staff and Educational Development Association.

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2013). Designing effective instruction. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Ohashi, L. (2018). Self-Directed Learning and the Teacher’s Role: Insights from Two Different Teaching Contexts. Research-Publishing.Net.

Piña, A. A. (2013). Learning management systems: A look at the big picture. In Y. Kats (Ed.), Learning management systems and instructional design: Metrics, standards and applications (pp. 1–19). Hershey, PA: Information Science Research.

Piskurich, G. M. (2004). Getting the most from online learning. Pfeiffer.

Statista. (n.d.). Mobile phone users United States 2012-2020 | Statistic. Retrieved February 23, 2019, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/222306/forecast-of-smartphone-users-in-the-us/

Stein, J., & Graham, C. R. (2014). Essentials for blended learning: A standards-based guide. New York: Routledge.

Stoltz-Loike, M. (2017, February 10). 4 Reasons Online Learning Works Well for Working Adults. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.usnews.com/education/online-learning-lessons/articles/2017-02-10/4-reasons-online-learning-works-well-for-working-adults

Wang, V. (2010). Handbook of research on e-learning applications for career and technical education. Technologies for vocational training. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.

Yang, N., Ghislandi, P., Dellantonio, S. J. E. T. R., & Development. (2018). Online collaboration in a large university class supports quality teaching. 66(3), 671-691. doi:10.1007/s11423-017-9564-8.

Young, J. R. (2018). Do Online Courses Really Save Money? A New Study Explores ROI for Colleges and Students – EdSurge News. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2018-04-12-do-online-courses-really-save-money-a-new-study-explores-roi-for-colleges-and-students

 

Business Intelligence to Predict the Usefulness of Online Reviews

1. Theme:Identifying the ‘helpfulness’ of online customer textual reviews to make business decisions.

User-Generated Content (UGC) help to reduce the perceived risk of online shopping when customers decide to make any purchase decisions. However, with the increase of online reviews posted in social media and online shopping websites is virtually impossible for costumer to read all the reviews before making any purchase decisions, especially for products that have been reviewed hundreds of times. Classify such a large volume of unstructured data that can be presented easily for the customer’s eyes has become a management challenge.

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Using Business Intelligence to predict and analyse the ‘helpfulness’ of online customer textual reviews would be an excellent implementation to facilitate customer’s final purchasing decisions and reduce marketing costs by better understanding customer preferences and implementing market segmentation. It is useful to understand the perceived helpfulness of online reviews, as helpful online reviews play an important role in purchasing decisions.

2. Scope and boundaries:

Scope: Apply business Intelligence for online e-commerce in customer textual reviews that allows making business decisions such as, segmentation of customers and selection of the best products for them (marketing), managing inventory according to costumers demand (logistic) and web merchandiser (merchandiser).

Boundaries: The study will be implemented in firms where their primary business is sale and purchase of goods on an online platform, such as Amazon, eBay, Iconic. Other kinds of business such as manufacturing, and services are excluded from the scope of this study.

 

3. Business functions:

Data provides insights about customer behaviours and businesses make use of those insights for market intelligence and to bring strategies for their business functions. In an e-commerce platform main business functions are represented as follow:

A) Marketing: Analysing reviews and categorizing them to give support in online purchasing would facilitate the marketing team. The selection of products that have been popular in the business and reducing inventory in those products that don’t exceed customer’s expectations.

Online review helpfulness could be influenced positively by the selection of the best products and to generate marketing strategies that support the growth of the business.

B) Logistic: Knowing the best products, segmentation of customers and number of sales are the key elements to provide an excellent logistic process such as inventory.

C) Web merchandiser and web design: How the products are organized and how an e-commerce business designs their websites are key elements to sell their products and target customer according to their preferences and analysing their reviews. With a deep understanding of customer’s comments/ feedback, the business strategy would have a better implementation and a business’ profit increasing.

4. Scenarios

Understanding customer reviews will help to create business functions and create business growth. Data from customer reviews are a powerful tool to align business strategies, Identifying the ‘helpfulness’ of online customer textual reviews bring the facility for customers to analyse and reduce online purchasing risk and generate data that can be used to take business strategies.

Possible scenarios would be where marketing, logistics and web merchandiser and web design interact would be:

Image 1. Conceptual model and possible scenarios

Marketing:

–          Segmentation costumers and select the best products of them

–          Adding new lines of products that satisfy customers’ needs

–          Managing promotional campaigns, such as sale products and promotional channels.

–          Setting prices and create new promotion strategies.

Logistic:

–          Managing inventory according to customer demands. Creating inventory strategies

–          Managing procurements of goods and services

–          Managing key partners: Managing warehouses, packing, storage and transport

Merchandiser:

–          Web merchandiser of products according to customer preferences

–          Create high visibility and classify products according to customers’ demands

5. Existing use of BI:

BI has become increasingly important for firms’ profit and operations. The numerous customer online reviews posted on social media and online shopping websites have sped up the demand for big data analytics and corresponding techniques. Dealing with unstructured texts is among one of the biggest challenges of big data analytics and different firms are adopting techniques to analyse and take decisions from customer’s reviews. Some examples are:

1. ‘Business intelligence in online customer textual reviews: Understanding consumer perceptions and influential factors’ (article).

This study examined costumer satisfaction and dissatisfaction towards attributes of hotel products based on online customer textual reviews. With techniques such as text mining approach, latent semantic analysis (LSA), they identify the key attributes driving customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction toward hotel products and service attributes. This study bridges customer online textual reviews with customers’ perceptions to help business managers better understand customers’ needs through UGC (Xun Xua et al. 2017).

2. ‘Mining customer requirements from online reviews: A product improvement perspective’ (article).

Extracting data from online reviews facilitated the study for a manufacturing firm to create product development. In the research, they proposed an automatic filtering model to predict the helpfulness on online reviews from the perspective of the product design. The method such as KANO was implemented in the study. It implementation brought robust data to develop appropriate product improvement strategies. Using information from JD.com (one of the largest electronic market places in China) and applying big data classic management models they conclude that they are excellent models to bring success for a big data commerce (Jiayin Qi et al. 2016).

6. BI practices

Using different practices implemented in the studies shown above, the methodology that I will implement in my BI analysis is as follow:

1. Data collection and pre-processing: Review data collection and select the appropriate data for the study such as, study market and reviews necessary to analyse. Analysing unstructured data to translate and extract customer’s valuable information.

Using LSA, understanding for LSA as an algebraic-statistical method that can detect the underlying topical structure of a document corpus and extract the hidden semantic structures of words and sentences (Evangelopoulos, 2011). LSA will be applied in three steps: pre-processing, term frequency matrix transformation, and singular value decomposition (SVD).

2. Identifying helpfulness in customer reviews: Usually, reviews are posted independently by customers immediately after purchase, providing firms with accurate feedback, however, there is a large volume of online reviews of varying quality. To extract a piece of valuable information from online reviews is necessary to measure the helpfulness and group those reviews that would help in identify business strategies. The helpfulness prediction will be executed as follow:

Step 1: Helpfulness rating. A Randomly selection of 20-30 reviews of the set of data to be analysed. Every review is scored on a 5-scale, from 1 to 5 by a team of experts. Where 1 representing the least helpful and 5 representing the most helpful.

Step 2: Model selection. Features will be designated according to the reviews selected. The features will be categorized and the group of experts will evaluate them according to their helpfulness.

Step 3. Significance analysis and helpfulness prediction. The significance of the features is analysed, and the significant features are chosen for the helpfulness prediction.

3. Factors (attributes) identified: With the results of LSA is easy to understand factors that would help to identify positive evaluations (positive features such as, excellent quality, price promotion and so on) and factors of negative evaluation (negative features such as, bad quality, price promotion and so on).

4. Text regression: Identifying the independent variables and dependent variables to run the text regression and connecting their relation, through regression vector space. Thus, will be easy to understand how changes in one variable would affect another variable for example, an increase in price, would have a big impact on the quality of products.

Image 2. BI Model

 

7. Explore other possible usages of

1. ‘Predicting the “helpfulness” of online consumer reviews’ (article).

Due to the large volume of data constantly being generated it can be considered a big challenge for both online business and consumers to understand. It can be a big challenge for customers to go through all the reviews to make purchasing decisions. Using machine learning to analyse the helpfulness of customer reviews using several textual features such as polarity, subjectivity, entropy and reading ease can be helpful methodologies to be implemented in my study. The results of ‘Predicting the “helpfulness” of online consumer reviews’ brought an easy way to understand reviews, helped buyers to write better reviews and improvement of business websites (Jyoti Prakash et al. 2017).

2. ‘Discovering business intelligence from online product reviews: A rule-induction framework’ (article).

New automated tools have emerged to analyse online product reviews, However, most lack the capability of extracting relationships between the reviewer’s rich expressions and the customer ratings. This problem is addressed with the development of a new class of BI systems based on rough set theory, inductive rule learning, and information retrieval methods (Wingyan Chung et al. 2012). Using these methods is easy to extract the relationship between customer ratings and their reviews. The result using them produce high accuracy and rules with high support and confident values helping market sentiment analysis and e-commerce reputation management.

Image 3. BI Methodologies

References

Xun X. Xuequn W., Yibai L. Mohammad H. 2017, ‘Business intelligence in online customer textual reviews: Understanding consumer perceptions and influential factors’, International Journal of Information Management, vol. 37, pp. 673-683. (Xun Xua et al. 2017)

Jiayin Q. Zhenping Z. Seongmin J. Yanquan Z. 2016, ‘Mining customer requirements from online reviews: A product improvement perspective’, Information & Management, vol. 53, pp. 951-963. (Jiayin Qi et al. 2016) .

Jyoti P. Seda I. Nripendra P. Yogesh K. Sunil S. Pradeep K. 2017, ‘‘Predicting the “helpfulness” of online consumer reviews’, Journal of Business Research, vol. 70, pp. 346-355. (Jyoti Prakash et al. 2017)

Wingyan C. Tzu-Liang Tseng. 2012. ‘ ’Discovering business intelligence from online product reviews: A rule-induction framework’, Expert Systems with Applications, vol. 39, pp 11870-11879. (Wingyan Chung et al. 2012)

Evangelopoulos, N. 2011. ‘Tracing Taylorism’s technical and sociotechnical duality through Latent Semantic Analysis’. Journal of Business and Management, vol, 17, pp 57–74.

Australiaeast

https:// australiaeast.api.cognitive.microsoft.com/text/analytics/v2.1/sentiment
 

Solving the Online Offline Channel Conflict

Adding an online channel to a pre-existing offline channel can present a variety of challenges to a company. The e-business strategy of the online channel must be properly aligned with the business strategy of offline channel, so that the two channels can work in harmony with one another (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 265). When a company neglects to do so, their operations can end in organizational demise. In order to successfully implement an online channel, a company must address a number of strategic issues.

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The first issue an organization must address is to determine which products or services they will offer through their offline channel. A company may choose to offer the same products/services through both channels; an entirely different set of products/services online which are not offered offline; or a combination of new and existing products/services (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 264). When making such a decision, the company should evaluate their target audience and their preferences. They can also assess their competitors’ strategies to see how customers are utilizing the channels. Products/services offered online are often complementary to the offline channel; however, the organization must ensure that the online channel does not cannibalize the offline channel.
David’s Bridal, a wedding and formal wear retailer, for instance, offers a combination of new and existing products via their website. There is a large portion of products which are offered through both the physical store and website, as well as a group of products offered strictly online. Most wedding dresses are offered via both channels, as customers prefer to try the dress on in the store before buying; however, they offer a number of ceremony and reception products through the website only. Offering such products online helps to maintain costs in the physical store, as such products require additional shelf space and warehousing costs.
Another issue which a company must address when adding clicks to bricks is to determine their pricing strategy. A company must determine how they want to price their online products/services in comparison with their offline products/services. They may choose to charge the same prices via both channels or charge higher or lower prices online. Each of these options communicates a different message to the customer. Offering the same prices tells the customer that the additional value of purchasing online can be found in other ways than through price discounts; charging lower prices acts as a financial incentive; and charging higher prices expresses to the customer that the company incurs additional costs when offering products online (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 264).
From my personal experience, I have found that most retailers charge either the same or lower prices via their online channels. It appears that many retailers charge the same price; however, they offer additional sales and increased savings when purchasing online. Many companies have online exclusive sales, which they do not offer through the physical store. As a consumer, I would not purchase a product through a website if the same product was offered at a lower price in a physical store. I find this to be the least successful pricing strategy which a company could choose.
The final strategic issue which a company must address is how to prevent or manage channel conflict. When a company implements an online channel to an existing offline channel, there is a possibility that conflict may arise between the channels. First, the company must determine the likelihood that conflict will arise and the importance or the affected channel. If the affected channel is of little strategic importance, the company should accept the decline of the existing channel and/or ignore the conflict. If the affected channel is of strong importance, then the conflict must be addressed (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 189).
It is important to mention that a company must find ways to manage the conflict between an online and offline channel in order to advance the organization’s progress. Many companies are fearful of moving into online sales; therefore, if they find the likelihood of conflict to be high, they often avoid moving into the online world altogether. This is an unsuccessful strategy as the company may miss out on vital opportunities and can easily fall behind their competitors. Instead, the company should evaluate the opportunities and threats of each channel and determine how to “extract the most value from each” (Bendix, Goodman, & Nunes, n.d.).
Adding clicks to bricks may prove to be an enduring challenge; however, when managed appropriately, implementing an online channel can yield positive results. In today’s business environment, most companies are forced to add an online channel in order to keep pace with the competition (Gilbert & Bacheldor, 2000). Over the next decade, I believe it will be standard practice for companies to have a website advertising their business, if not, selling their products or services.
Essay Question 2
In today’s business world, most companies are beginning to implement an online channel to their existing offline channel, if they have not done so already. When adding clicks to bricks, an organization may encounter conflict between the channels. Such conflict is a common occurrence and the organization must ensure that the new channel does not cannibalize the existing channel (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 264). There are several options a company has to solve online/offline channel conflict, as discussed below.
The most obvious and ineffective way to solve online/offline channel conflict is to avoid the conflict altogether. Many organizations are guilty of discarding online implementation plans in order to avoid channel conflict (Bendix, at. el., n.d.). The online environment can provide ample opportunities to an organization. When an organization does not follow through with their plans, they will most likely set themselves up for failure. Organizations should avoid this option by all means, as they can easily fall behind their competitors and lose market share.
The most effective way to solve online/offline channel conflict, on the other hand, is to develop ways to manage such conflict. When conflict between the channels is high and the importance of the affected channel is also high, it is imperative that the organization address the conflict (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 264). Based on a case study performed on a variety of firms, the following are several options for managing channel conflict:
Alignment of goals: In order to manage channel conflict, the goals of both channels must be aligned. The channels cannot work against one another, or else the operations will fail. Online channels can be used as a way to reduce costs, support existing clients, and target a new audience. Organizational members must be made aware of the benefits of the online channel and be encouraged to contribute to online sales (Steinfield, 2004). The organization needs to develop ways for the channels to work in harmony with one another. For instance, they can integrate the online channel with their existing offline channel and create a central profit center (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 264).
Coordination and control mechanisms: Coordination and control mechanisms are another way in which the online/offline conflict can be solved. The company must find ways for the channels to complement one another. Customers should be able to utilize both channels when performing a transaction (Steinfield, 2004). For instance, they can check the availability of a product online before going to the store. The inventory of the physical store must be coordinated with the online channel. Additionally, control measures, such as the accuracy of inventory information and speed of in-store pickups, can be used to monitor the coordination of the channels (Steinfield, 2004).
Synergy benefits: Another way a company can solve conflict between channels is to create synergy benefits between the channels. Many companies lack the web development or logistic skills necessary to conduct online operations (Steinfield, 2004). Rather than develop an in-house online division, the company can build on their competencies by creating an alliance with an established e-commerce company (Steinfield, 2004). As a result, the company’s core operations are not affected by online operations.
There are a variety of options a firm can choose to solve the online/offline channel conflict. Most importantly, the company must address the conflict and find ways for the channels to complement one another. In today’s technologically savvy environment, many customers look at an organization’s website as an indication of their professionalism. Online and offline channels should be highly integrated and coordinated in order to avoid conflict and provide the most value to the customer.
Essay Question 3
Creativity is a key component to developing an innovative e-business strategy. It can be defined as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc” (Creativity, 2010). Creativity stems from an individual’s openness to new experiences. The more exposure an individual has to different experiences, the more creative their ideas will become (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 271). Case studies, in particular, help spur an individual’s creativity by opening them up to a variety of business styles and techniques.
Case studies present factual information regarding an organization’s operations, strategies, and business methodology. They enable the reader to draw conclusions and formulate ideas based on the organization’s successes and failures. Businesses can develop novel ideas and strategies by reviewing case studies and drawing insights from different organizations, cultures, or industries (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 278). Each type of case study analysis adds a different degree of creativity to a business strategy, as discussed below.
Case studies can be used as an intra-industry benchmarking tool within an organization’s own culture. This type of benchmarking involves an organization comparing their operations and strategies to those of their direct competitors. While the organization can determine where they need to make adjustments or are falling behind the competition, performing an analysis within their own culture will only provide a relativity low degree of creativity (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 278). The organization will not be able to draw upon fresh ideas which have not been used among their direct competitors.
Case studies can also be used as an intra-industry benchmarking tool across cultures. Rather than focus on organizations within one’s own culture, the organization compares their operations to organizations operating in other cultures. This type of analysis can open the organization to a variety of new ideas, technologies, and strategies which have not been achieve among their direct competitors. By looking across cultures, the organization can develop creative strategies which will place them ahead of the competitors operating in their own culture. Analyzing cross culture case studies can provide a mid-level degree of creativity.
The most innovative ideas can be developed by analyzing case studies across industries. In such cases, the organization ventures outside of the comfort of their own industry. This type of analysis can prove to be challenging, as the organization must find ways to apply these e-business strategies and techniques to their own industry. However, despite such challenges, such an analysis can provide groundbreaking results (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 278). Analyzing case studies across industries can spur high degrees of creativity, which enable the organization to develop competitive advantages.
Throughout the course of receiving my MBA, I have read several case studies in different classes. The information presented in these cases studies has opened my eyes to real organizational struggles, as well as creative business ideas. I have referred back to the case studies of past classes when studying unrelated topics. Although the topics were not related, much information was to be learned from these case studies. I believe that studying innovative companies, in particular, can provide a user with the most creative ideas.
For example, I read a case study on 3M. 3M is a highly successful innovative company. They provide their employees with designated time to explore their own ideas. This has proved to be a successful tactic, as many new product ideas are developed this way. Although 3M is a product based company, other companies can learn from their successful business approach. Their techniques can be allied in a variety of industries and help inspire readers to develop innovative strategies.
Another example is a case study I read on General Electric (GE) in my ethics course. GE began offering ultrasound machines in India; however, such technology is found to be controversial in India. While they had an obligation to provide technology which could save lives and provide early detection of life treating conditions, GE Healthcare also had to recognize a major cultural difference (Wicks, Freeman, Werhane, & Martin, 2010, p. 131). The struggles presented in the case study and the manner in which GE handled the situation can offer innovative ways for companies to handle cultural differences. This case study can apply to any type of organization regardless of their industry, as ethics is an issue which must be addressed in all businesses.
Readers of case studies must have an open mind. They must be able to look at the issues and struggles encountered by other organizations and determine ways to proactively avoid or manage such challenges. Readers must also find ways to exploit their opportunities and strengths. It is important that they read a variety of case studies before drawing conclusions. The more exposure they have to different types of management styles, business strategies, and operations, the more the creativity will flow.
Essay Question 4
Creativitypool.com is an interactive website which allows users to submit their own, personal and creative ideas. The concept of the website is for individuals to share their unused ideas with the world. Other users can view the idea and, if they choose, they have the right to pursue the idea. By submitting an idea to the creativity pool, the user relinquishes all rights to the concept. If their idea is pursued, they will not receive monetary compensation. Instead, the user can suggest a reward they would like in exchange for the use of their idea, such as a free copy of an invented product (Creativitypool.com, n.d.).
Many individuals have great, innovative ideas; however, they may not have the means to pursue their ideas. Creativitypool.com is a great way for the ordinary individual to share their ideas with others for the hopes of their idea being recognized. As stated on the Creativity Pool website, many people have great ideas and wait around for others to think of the same idea and to develop them. Creativitypool.com is a great way to speed up the creativity process for people and organizations that have the means to produce such ideas. While not all ideas are sufficient for production, the website is a fun way for users to share their quirky ideas with others.
The Creativity Pool website is broken down into a variety of categories, including, but not limited to, clothes and fashion, sports and fitness, companies and services, home and work, pets and animals, society and politics, etc. (Creativitypool.com, n.d.). When you click on a link for a certain category, a forum appears filled with users’ ideas. Users can write comments, vote on the idea, or forward the idea to their friends. Comments are available via a link titled “messages” next to each idea. When clicking on the link, a separate forum appears to discuss a certain idea. The format of the website is very clean, easy to read, and user friendly.
One idea, in particular, which I found to be very interesting and useful is a metal detector shoe. The user suggested a metal detector be placed on the bottom of a soldier’s shoe so that they could detect mines and trip wires when out in the field (Creativitypool.com, n.d.). The idea has a 95% rating and 16 comments. Users wrote messages on possible problems with the idea, as well as suggestions on how the idea could be improved.
Overall, Creativitypool.com is an interesting website to explore. Even if the user does not find any ideas to pursue, it can help open them to a variety of new experiences. Exposure to such innovative ideas can help spur creativity. Creativitypool.com is a great website for inventors and business professionals, as well as ordinary citizens wishing to share their ideas.
Essay Question 5
As an organization works through the strategy formulation process, it is important that they extend the breadth and depth of their analysis. In order for their strategy to be successful and efficient, they should cover a broad horizon and perform an in-depth analysis of each element (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 283). The concepts and frameworks presented throughout this course and in the textbook can help increase the depth of analysis when formulating an e-business strategy.
This e-business course has covered a wide range of e-business and strategy concepts. By studying the topics in this course, one would be able to look for and recognize important issues that need to be further investigated. In particular, the course has covered e-business specific concepts, generic strategic concepts, and fundamental economic concepts (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 285). By starting at the most basic level of analysis, one can uncovered deep rooted issues and continue working their way down to specific elements of the problem.
The most basic level of analysis can be achieved by analyzing e-business specific concepts. This course has covered a wide range of concepts including virtual value chain analysis, online/offline channel conflict, the ICDT model, etc. (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 285). Each of these issues is fundamental to e-business companies. Once an organization has analyzed issues specific to e-business, they must further their analysis by investigating cause-effect relationship between these issues.
Cause-effect relationship can be identified by exploring the generic strategic concepts covered in this class. Such strategic concepts include the five forces industry model, strategy formulation process, differentiation and cost leadership strategies, co-opetition, etc. (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 285). These strategy concepts can be applied to any industry or business model. They allow the organization to explore cause-effect relationships of specific elements identified at the first level of analysis. By considering such concepts, the organization will begin to question the structure and importance of specific activities within their value chain, which will help them identify their core competences and develop competitive advantages.
Once the organization has explored strategic concepts, they can continue their analysis by evaluating economic concepts. This course has covered a range of fundamental economic concepts which include transaction costs, economies of scale, perceived use value, value creation, value capturing, etc. (Jelassi & Enders, 2008, p. 285). Expanding their analysis to this level will help the organization develop effective pricing strategies and determine ways to lower or maintain their costs.
It is important to extend the depth of analysis from e-business specific concepts to fundamental economic concepts. The concepts presented in this course will help students to develop effective e-business strategies by presenting them with a broad overview of important strategic concepts. By gaining a deep understanding of such concepts, the student will have the knowledge to identify the activities and issues that require further analysis. Performing an in-depth analysis is a fundamental step in developing an effective e-business solution (ISKIV.net).
 

Fake News and Online Regulations

The dissemination of fake news by online is a threat to democracy. Should online platforms therefore be subject to regulatory control?
Professional
journalism plays an important role in our democratic societies by acting as a
public watchdog
over the concentrations of power, ensuring the accountability of these
institutions, and informing us of important occurrences.[1] However,
fabrication, fakery and falsehood have been a
part of journalism since the first journalists put quill to parchment.[2]
Therefore, statutory laws and regulatory bodies aim to ensure journalism is
impartial and accurate. However, journalism today is experiencing fundamental
transformation due to technological advancements; consequently, the public now
acquires news through digital platforms as well as traditional sources. A 2016 survey found that 35% of people in the UK now use
social media to access the news, for those under 35 years old, 41% used
Facebook and 20% used Twitter as a weekly source.[3]
Online platforms have created more news sources to larger audiences, but this
has also opened floodgates of inaccurate information pouring into our news feeds by deskilled
journalists. The phenomena of citizen journalism and ‘we media’ have
accelerated the pattern of random and instantaneous digital dissemination of
information.[4]
These activities have contributed to blurring the lines between truth
and falsehood, and created fake news, which puts professional journalism under
pressure.

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On 30th January 2017, The Culture, Media and
Sport Committee launched an inquiry into fake news and called for submissions to be made
suggesting ways to
respond to the phenomenon of fake news. Various regulatory bodies, and institutions
including the LSE Media policy
project have shed some light on this topic.[5]
Fake news can be best understood as ‘the misinformation (the inadvertent sharing of false
information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of
information known to be false)’.[6]
These types of content are being created as a result of: poor journalism,
parody, provocation, passion, partisanship, profit, political influence and
propaganda.[7] They are published on news sites and listed by
digital intermediaries (groups consisting of news aggregators, social networks,
search engines, and digital application stores) [8] causing fake news to spread across the globe. The concerning issue is the channels through which most people gain their
news from are currently subject to no statutory laws, editorial
guidelines nor regulation by organizations such as the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).
However, there is a wealth of evidence
supporting the scale, dissemination and effects of fake news. The debate has
gained significant prominence since the 2016 US presidential elections.
Statutory
regulation of digital intermediaries
A YouGov survey
commissioned by Channel 4 found that only 4% of people were able to correctly
identify fake news.[9]
This inability is concerning as many people, especially the young, acquire
knowledge, and form opinions, by what they see and read on the internet. Statutory regulation would therefore be the
most direct response to the challenge of fake news;[10]
under this approach digital intermediaries would be treated as publishers even
if they have not played an active part in the commissioning or presentation of
such content.[11] Such an approach may be necessary as a study analysing how social
media can improve citizens’ knowledge of political preferences proved that
there is a remarkable ability for social media to forecast election results.[12]
This proved to be the case during the EU referendum, where 7% of those that
voted for Brexit regretted their choice later. [13]
News reporters found voters claiming they voted leave because they believed
lies or false promises[14];
it is most likely that the sources of these false statements were from
unregulated online platforms. Therefore, enforcing legislation on digital intermediaries would hold these
platforms directly accountable, ensuring they take their civic duty seriously.[15]
Fake news is also a concern on Twitter where ‘Twitter bombs’
(the act of sending unsolicited replies to specific users via Twitter in order
to get them to pay attention to one’s cause), are being launched within days of
the elections.[16]
Despite Twitter’s attempts to shut them down it has been ineffective as these
users create fake accounts, fake replies and fake grassroots movements.[17]
These tweets target deskilled-journalists online, pressurising some to moderate
their views. Democracy is threatened if people’s views are influenced by false
statements in the guise of news. Aside from political motivations, the
spreading of fake news was also noted by users retweeting fake images of the
Hurricane Sandy disaster[18],
and pictures of the of Osama Bin Laden’s dead body.[19]
Such action usually goes unnoticed unless someone has detected and reported the
issue. This response is different for newspapers
because they are subject to the IPSO, or a similar body. Journalists employed
by regulated publishers are required to uphold the values enforced in the
Editors’ code of practice. This aims to ensure accuracy of information and a
standard of professional journalism is maintained[20] . However, digital
intermediaries are not held accountable by any body, like the IPSO, even though
they have a large audience that is affected by fabricated stories. Therefore,
it is crucial that these organisations take some responsibility in resolving
this issue.[21]
Without
implementing any strict regulatory initiatives such incidences would occur
daily and remain unquestioned, leaving users to believe false information. Statutory regulation would therefore fill the gap
in the law, bringing clarity and holding digital
intermediaries responsible for their part in disseminating fake news.
There is no doubt that intermediaries play a dominant role in the global
public sphere, but perhaps we need to address the question of whether we should
continue to consider them as mere intermediaries.[22] Unlike news providers, intermediaries have no
investment in journalism and are therefore more likely to filter out news. This limits users’ understanding of the world, as they are insulated
from opposing views. The risk is that these ‘filter bubbles’ (restrictions of a
users perspective) will promote misperceptions by
hiding the truth,[23]  which supports the economic models of
intermediaries because digital programmatic advertising follows users through
their ‘clicks’, ‘shares’ and ‘likes’.[24] By learning from the past
actions of a user, news feeds will only show similar material in their next
use. Requiring digital intermediaries to change their
approach by bursting this ‘filter bubble’ would not be in their commercial
interests, as the bubble’s content is what keeps users engaged. Statutory
regulation would therefore enforce strict rules on how intermediaries should
enforce mechanisms to detect and filter fake news instead of opposing views.
Moreover, ensuring
impartiality and accuracy is important especially during election time. ‘A BuzzFeed News
analysis found that top fake election news stories generated more total
engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets
combined’.[25]
This imbalance illustrates the significant role digital intermediaries play in
today’s society, and therefore it is particularly concerning if their news
content is fake. If
newspapers and broadcasting media organisations are obliged to follow strict
guidelines on impartiality[26] and accuracy, then why
should it be any different for online platforms?  For example, Section 319 of the
Communications Act 2003 requires TV and radio broadcasters to comply with the
standard objectives set by Ofcom. This includes, reporting ‘with due accuracy’
and not ‘misleading’;[27] furthermore, Parliament
‘requires Ofcom to develop rules with respect to broadcasters’ wider editorial
coverage of elections’.[28] Similar regulations on
intermediaries would ensure information is not personalized to a user’s
preferences, thus maintaining impartiality and accuracy, whilst avoiding the
risk of disseminating fake news to users.
Statutory regulation of online
news providers
The dissemination of fake news by online news
providers has proven to be a great concern as anonymous individuals are inventing fake news for the purpose of generating clicks and
earning revenue.[29] Such behavior
has been identified in Macedonia, where teenagers were found to be making money
by creating fake news on US presidential candidates and promoting it via social
media.[30] If statutory regulation is placed on digital intermediaries, then the same
could be done for online news providers, as the same news from online news
providers will be shared via digital intermediaries. This was proven to
be the case as various US sites claimed to be exposing ‘Russian propaganda’,[31]
was shared via other online platforms which influenced voter behavior in the US
elections.[32]
Examples such as as this suggest ‘misleading, biased propaganda’ is also part
of the fake news phenomenon.[33] It is therefore
important to set statutory regulations for both, as this type of de-skilled citizen journalism is a
threat to democracy especially because people’s views are being influenced by
biased and inaccurate information.[34]
Furthermore,
news outlets that only have an online presence,
such as AOL news, Vice, and Huffington Post, are not subject to any regulatory
controls as they are not members of regulatory bodies like IPSO;[35]
even though they are subject to
some statutory control such as defamation,[36]
copyright[37]
and data protection laws,[38]
control is not the same as the additional regulatory standards most UK press
(with a physical and online presence) comply to. Without belonging to any
recognised regulator, publishers may have to pay
exemplary damages under the Crime and Courts Act for defamation or other
relevant claims;[39]
therefore, it would be in the interests of online publishers to join a
recognized regulatory body.
Interestingly, Wikipedia recently banned
Daily Mail as an ‘unreliable’ source and excluded it as a source of reference.
Wikipedia claimed the newspaper to have a ‘reputation for poor fact checking
and sensationalism’.[40]
These claimed characteristics are another concern for UK journalism, as IPSO
regulates Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers Limited) [41]
yet they are still being labelled as an unreliable source. This indicates the
ineffectiveness of IPSO as it failed to ensure the credibility of a publisher
they regulate. Such failures generate an inclination towards statutory
regulation of online news providers as regulatory bodies are not enough, to
ensure that newspapers report accurately and without exaggeration. Not only do
such flaws lose the public’s trust in professional journalism’ but they also
create a society that is vulnerable to fake news. There is also no evidence to suggest that the levels of  accuracy are rising or that the self-regulatory
bodies set up by the major publishers, and IPSO, are having any identifiable
positive effect.[42]
Hence, it may be necessary to set up statutory regulations of online news
providers which will create a more direct and stringent approach to tackling
fake news.
The Leveson Report[43]
suggested that such statutory regulation would be necessary to underpin the
process of recognition, and reinforce the importance of statutes guaranteeing
press freedom.[44]
However, three years on from the publication of the Leveson Report, the
landscape of press regulation is still fragmented and confused,[45]
and it may therefore be necessary to re-consider these suggestions. The
implementation of statutory regulation, combined with independent regulatory
bodies, should be extended to intermediaries and online news providers. Such a
framework is an essential stepping stone towards a regulatory regime that is
entirely fit for purpose in this new era. The negative issues with this
initiative would include costs, and whether a consensus by major publishers and
online platforms can be formed.
Self-regulation
by digital intermediaries
An alternative to statutory regulations would be to enforce
a self-regulatory system for digital intermediaries which would allow them to
have significant control in filtering fake news according to methods they
believe are most effective. Mark Zuckerberg, although
first dismissing the idea that fake news influenced the US election, later
acknowledged the role of social media in helping promote fake news, and
proposed ways in which Facebook could help resolve this issue.[46] Actions include taking an
approach
that ‘will focus less on banning misinformation, and more on surfacing
additional perspectives and information, including that fact checkers dispute
an item’s accuracy’.[47]
Other ways
Facebook could reduce fake news without resorting to censorship include;
nudging, crowdsourcing and reducing the algorithmic bias.[48]
Nudging involves monitoring what users are writing in a
new post; if the content includes words they may regret posting, it notifies
them. Crowdsourcing allows users to evaluate news sources by indicating ratings. Lastly, the most
important solution is to reduce the algorithmic bias. This involves trying to
diminish filter bubbles that create an “echo chamber”, where similar ideas
bounce around endlessly which is a problem when the echo chamber blocks out
corrective or fact-checking information.[49]
Although, some digital intermediaries have already taken
steps to tackle the issue of fake news, it would be ineffective to give them
sole responsibility. More useful would be to establish
a governance mechanism, such as an independent board, that could check whether
the algorithms accord with acceptable principles.[50] This view is supported by the
Trust Project, which suggests that algorithms alone will struggle to root out
fake news, unless they can quantify indicators of trust elements, which can
help set a ‘kitemark’ for trustworthiness.[51]
This suggestion includes being able to distinguish the intentions behind the
news, and whether it is genuine, or inaccurate reporting. Therefore, remedies based solely on technological fixes or market-driven
corrections will not, on their own, address these problems. Additionally, judgments of this
kind need to be carefully reviewed hence, an independent body should be
established to perform this role. This approach will ensure tech platforms
maintain transparency in the work they carry out to tackle this public issue.
Firstly, there
is no guarantee that only one country’s statutory regulation would work as
technologic advancements allow users to create and access online news sites
from anywhere in the world. If users can create fake news, they can create fake
identities, which raises ‘concerns for verification,
accountability and accuracy’[52]; therefore,
alternative solutions may be needed to tackle the problem effectively. This view is supported by Dr Tambini from the LSE, who states that the unprecedented
number of fake news sites is a “huge and far-reaching problem that cannot
be dealt within existing legal categories”.[53] Therefore, a
possible solution to tackling fake news would be to establish a global
regulatory body that could operate across borders. Taking such an approach
would not hinder the freedom of expression nor create restrictive frameworks,
as a global collective regulatory body would find common ground, respecting the
rights of all democratic institutions, and ensure that accuracy of information
could be maintained across online platforms.
Whereas, it would be difficult to
establish statutory regulation without hindering the right to freedom of
speech, which
must be balanced against the risk of giving states excessive powers over the
expression rights of individuals and organizations creating such content.[54]
‘The only category
where there may be an argument for statutory regulation is the category of
deliberate falsehood with intent to compromise national security’.[55]
However, such a high standard will be difficult to meet and not tackle the
phenomena of fake news. Instead a global regulatory system is more likely to create an
effective solution that can monitor all types of fake news. However, the major
concern with creating a global regulatory body is forming a consensus to
establish one, and deciding some universal criteria of what constitutes as fake
news. Regardless of the flaws in a global regulatory body, it is likely to be
the most effective solution for a global problem.
A further concern that must be
addressed is the misuse
of the term ‘fake news’. The term ‘fake news’ has been used by public figures
and politicians to justify politically motivated attacks on journalists and
press freedom.[56] ‘What
was once considered a symbiotic relationship between politics, media and the
public is turning from a Golden Triangle into a Bermuda Triangle’. [57] Representatives
from the White House and President Trump have used this term on numerous
occasions to accuse media reports that oppose Trump’s views.[58]
Moreover, in the UK, headlines such as, ‘we invested £10bn extra in the NHS
last year’, and claims that, ‘Corbyn would order Labour MPs to vote for the
government’s bill triggering Article 50’,[59]
were later found to be false. Nonetheless journalists claim to have correctly
interpreted quotes from politicians, but due to the lack of clarity, and
changing views of the politicians, their journalism was labelled as ‘fake
news’.[60]
This labelling is no fault of their own, but it definitely damages their
reputation as credible sources in the eyes of the public. A global regulatory
body could establish mechanism which safeguard online journalists and
individuals that may have complaints to online content.
These mechanisms would be similar to the way the press is
currently protected by regulatory bodies such as IPSO, Ofcom, and Advertising
Standard Authority which provide all individuals with a complaints procedure to
resolve disputes.[61]
For online news sites created by individuals, however such protections and
remedies are not available. In these cases, the only way the news sites could
safeguard themselves from possible accusations of creating false news would be
to become members of such bodies. A global regulatory body could protect and
hold online journalists accountable for their reports, and scrutinise claims by
politicians in the public eye. This protection could be extended to the
existent online press, to further safeguard them from accusations and ensure
accuracy.
Traditional
gatekeeping mechanisms, such as national statutory laws and self-regulatory frameworks, can
ensure online platforms are subject to similar frameworks as newspapers and
the broadcasting media are, but this approach would ultimately fail because the internet has no borders- allowing online platforms to operate
globally, across multiple jurisdictions.[62] Fake news created in a
different country, would still be accessible and impact users from other
countries, (as proven to be the case with Macedonia). Therefore, the issue of
fake news can only be tackled effectively by all democratic institutions through
the creation of a global regulatory body.
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[2] Brian Mcnair, ‘ Fake news – a user’s guide’ (The-Conversation, 6 March 2017) https://theconversation.com/fake-news-a-users-guide-73428>accessed
11/April/2017
[3] UK Parliament, ‘Social Media and Access to
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11/April/2017
[4] Siervers and Schneider, ‘The Civic
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[5] Emma
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11/April/2017
[6] Claire Wardle, ‘Fake news It’s complicated’, (First Draft News, 16 February 2017),
https://firstdraftnews.com/fake-news-complicated/>accessed
9/April/2017
[7] Ibid
[8] Michael Wise, ‘News Plurality and Digital
Intermediaries-EJO’ (European Journalism
Observatory-EJO, 28 August 2012), http://en.ejo.ch/media-politics/news-plurality-and-digital-intermediaries>accessed
13/April/2017
[9] Jessica
Goodfellow, ‘Only 4% of people can distinguish fake news from truth, Channel 4
study finds’ (The Drum, 6 February 2017), http://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/02/06/only-4-people-can-distinguish-fake-news-truth-channel-4-study-finds>accessed online 11/April/2017
[10] Impress,
‘IMPRESS Submission on Fake News Page ‘, (Impress press, 10th March
2017) http://www.impress.press/downloads/file/research/impress-fake-news-submission-march-2017.pdf>
accessed 11/April/2017
[11] Ibid
[12] Ceron et al, ‘Every tweet counts? How sentiment
analysis of social media can improve our knowledge of citizens’ political
preferences with an application to Italy and France’ [4 April 2013] 16(2) New Media & Society, pp.340 – 358
[13] Lizzie Dearden, ‘Brexit research suggests 12 million
Leave voters regret their choice in reversal that could change result’ (The
Independent, 1 July 2016) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-news-second-eu-referendum-leave-voters-regret-bregret-choice-in-millions-a7113336.html>
accessed 13/April/2017
[14] Ibid
[15] Clive Thompson, ‘Why Facebook and Twitter have a
civic duty to protect us from fake news’, (WIRED
UK, 24 February 2017), http://www.wired.co.uk/article/social-medium-message>accessed
11/April/2017
[16] Metaxas et al, ‘Manipulation
of social media affects perceptions of candidates and compromises
decision-making‘ [26 Oct 2012] 338(6106) Social Media and the Elections
pp.472-473
[17] Ibid
[18] Gupta et
al, ‘Faking Sandy: characterizing and
identifying fake images on Twitter during Hurricane Sandy’ [2013] In Proceedings of the 22nd International
conference on WWW ’13, pp.729-7637
[19] Newman et al, Social Media and the News:
Implications for the Press and Society, (OUP, 2014), pp.139
[20] Ipso, ‘Editors’ Code of Practice’, (The
Independent Press Standards Organization), https://www.ipso.co.uk/media/1058/a4-editors-code-2016.pdf>accessed
10/April/2017
[21] UK Parliament, ‘Select Committee on
Communications Corrected oral evidence: Children and the Internet’ (Data.parliament.uk,
22 November 2016), http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/communications-%20committee/children-and-the-internet/oral/43755.pdf>accessed
11/April/2017
[22] NMA, ‘CMS Select Committee ‘Fake News’
Inquiry: NMA Response’ (News.media.uk.org, 30 March 2017), http://www.newsmediauk.org/write/MediaUploads/Fake%20News/NMA_Submission_to_the_CMS_Select_Committee_%27Fake_News%27_Inquiry.pdf>accessed 11/April/2017
[23] R.Kelly Garrett, ‘Facebook’s problem is more
complicated than fake news’ (The
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11/April/2017
[24] Ibid
[25] BBC, ‘Fake news: How can African media deal with the
problem?’ (BBC News, 16 February 2017), http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-38883347>accessed
11/April/2017
[26] Brian Mcnair, ‘Journalism
and Democracy: a millennial audit’ [2000] 1(2) Journalism Studies pp.207
[27] Communications
Act 2003, Section 319(2)(d) and (h)

[28] Ofcom, ‘Review of Ofcom list of major political
parties for elections’ (Ofcom.org.uk, 16 March 2015), https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/72142/major_parties_statement.pdf>accessed
12/April/2017
[29]  Jonathan Goldsbie, ‘Craig
Silverman, the man who exposed the fake-news racket in 2016’ (NOW-Magazine, 22 December 2016) https://nowtoronto.com/news/craig-silverman-exposed-the-fake-news-racket/>
accessed 11/April/2017
[30]  Andrew Byrne,
‘Macedonia’s fake news industry sets sights on Europe’ (www.ft.com, 16 December 2016), https://www.ft.com/content/333fe6bc-c1ea-11e6-81c2-f57d90f6741a>accessed
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[31] Steven Nelson, ‘Publications Called Russian-Propaganda
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9/April/2017
[32]Adam Johnson, ‘Why are media outlets still citing
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9/April/2017
[33] Lotan Gilad, ‘Fake News Is Not the Only Problem’ (www.points.datasocietynet, 23 November
2016), https://points.datasociety.net/fake-news-is-not-the-problem-f00ec8cdfcb>accessed
11/April/2017
[34]Jeremy Singer-Vine, ‘Most Americans Who See Fake News
Believe It’, (BuzzFeed,7th December
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13/April/2017
[35] NMA, ‘CMS Select Committee ‘Fake News’
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[36] Defamation Act 2013
[37] Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
[38] Data Protection
Act 1998
[39] Crime and Courts Act 2013, Sections 34 to 42
[40] Jasper Jackson, ‘Wikipedia bans Daily Mail as
‘unreliable’ source ‘ (theguardian.com, 8 Feb 2017), https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/08/wikipedia-bans-daily-mail-as-unreliable-source-for-website>accessed
13/April/2017
[41] Ipso, ‘UK Regulated publications’ (Ipso.co.uk)
https://www.ipso.co.uk/about-ipso/who-ipso-regulates/?letters=d>accessed
13/April/2017
[42]KCL, ‘Submission to: Consultation on the Leveson
Inquiry and its Implementation Department for CMS and the Home Office’ (Kcl.ac.uk)
https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/policy-institute/publications/CMCP-Consultation-Submission-for-DCMS-100117-Final.pdf>
accessed 11/April/2017
[43] Lord
Justice Leveson, ‘An Inquiry into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the
Press’ (www.gov.uk, 2012) https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/229039/0779.pdf>accessed
16/April/2017
[44] J Heawood, ‘Independent
and effective? The post-Leveson framework for press regulation’ [2015] 7(2)
Journal of Media Law, pp.130-144
[45] Ibid
[46] Mark Zuckerberg, ‘Building Global Community’ (Facebook.com,
16 February 2017), https://www.facebook.com/notes/mark-zuckerberg/building-global-community/10154544292806634>accessed
11/April/2017
[47] Ibid
[48] Jennifer Stromer-galley, ‘Three ways Facebook could
reduce fake news without resorting to censorship’ (The Conversation, 2 December 2016) https://theconversation.com/three-ways-facebook-could-reduce-fake-news-without-resorting-to-censorship-69033>accessed
13/April/2017
[49] Ibid
[50] KCL,
‘Submission to: Inquiry into Fake News’ (Kcl.ac.uk, 16 February 2017)
https://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/policy-institute/publications/CMCP-Consultation-Submission-for-CMS-Select-Committee-Fake-News-Inquiry.pdf> accessed 11/April/2017
[51] The Trust Project, (thetrustproject.org)
accessed 13/April/2017
[52] N Fenton, New
Media Old News, (Sage Publications
Ltd, 2009) pp.10
[53] PA, ‘Can the law do anything to stop fake news?’
(Aol.co.uk,12 Dec 2016), http://www.aol.co.uk/news/2016/12/12/can-the-law-do-anything-to-stop-fake-news/>accessed
11/April/2017
[54] PRCA, ‘PRCA response to the CMS
Committee’s ‘Fake News’ Inquiry ‘ (Prca.org.uk, 6 March 2017), https://www.prca.org.uk/sites/default/files/PRCA
Response to Fake News Inquiry.pdf> accessed 11/April/2017
[55] D Tambini, Fake News: Public Policy Responses, (LSE Media Policy Project Series), pp.13-15
[56] Allen and Lawler, ‘Donald Trump says fake media is
enemy of the people’’ (The-Telegraph, 24 February 2017), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/24/donald-trump-says-fake-media-enemy-people-have-no-sources/>
accessed 13/April/2017
[57] Broersma and Peters, ‘Rethinking
Journalism Trust and Participation in a Transformed News Landscape’,
(Routledge, 2013), pp.15
[58] BBC, ‘Donald Trump aide accuses BBC of ‘fake news” (BBC
News, 17 February 2017), http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39000118>accessed
13/April/2017
[59] Martin Robbins, ‘Fake news and fact-checking: Trump
is demonstrating how to outsmart an AI’ (theguardian.com, 31 January
2017), https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/jan/31/fake-news-and-fact-checking-trump-is-demonstrating-how-to-outsmart-an-ai-artificial-intelligence>accessed
13/April/2017
[60] Ibid
[661] NUJ, ‘NUJ submission to the CMS parliamentary
select committee inquiry on fake news’ (www.nuj.org.uk, February 2017) https://www.nuj.org.uk/about/nuj-resources/nuj-submissions/>accessed 11/April/2017

[62] Bfi, ‘Regulation and Censorship’ (Bfi.org.uk),
http://www.bfi.org.uk/sites/bfi.org.uk/files/downloads/bfi-media-conference-2014-changing-media-regulation-part-two.pdf>accessed
11/April/2017
 

Regulating Social Networks and Online Dating Sites

RESEACH PROPOSAL TOPIC

 

ONLINE DATING FRAUD: EXPLORING THE NEED FOR REGULATION OF SOCIAL NETWORKING AND ONLINE DATING SITES.

 

INTRODUCTION

The advent of computer, internet and related communication technologies has created huge advantages for society for example e-commerce which encompasses e-payment, online shopping and online banking, instant messaging, video conferencing, social networking sites etc. In December 1995, across the globe there were estimated to be 16 million users of the internet (Jewkes & Yar, 2010b) and this number increased to around 361 million users in 2000. (Internet World Stats, 2012). In 2018, the number of internet users has grown to a whopping 4.2 billion (See Figure 1 below)

Figure 1

 

Flowing from the above analysis, it may be correct to argue that a substantial number of internet users are also subscribers on different social networking sites. Valkenburg and Peter, (2007) claimed that social networking has now become the fourth most popular strategy in finding a date or a romantic partner. For instance, surveys reveal that there were an estimated 29 million Americans who used an online dating service. (Edelson, 2003). Also, as of the second quarter of 2018, Facebook had 2.23 billion active users. https://www.statista.com/statistics/264810/number-of-monthly-active-facebook-users-worldwide/.

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(Donath, 1999, p. 54) anchored the rise in social networking and dating sites subscription on the anonymity of one’s identity in online communication which allows people to develop reputations based on the quality of their ideas, rather than their job, wealth, age or status. Online Social networking and dating sites empower users to have more control over their self-representation thereby enabling them to strategize their self-disclosure or identity-management in order to achieve an ideal self-representation This high degree of anonymity and quest for an ideal online figure has resulted in an increased online deception achievable through identity theft (Ellison et al., 2006).

In view of the foregoing, a type of cyber-crime known as Online Romance Frauds which is considered as the most devious of advanced fee fraud (419) was birthed (Koon & Yoong, 2013) and same has since experienced an exponential growth with a corresponding success rate. It is pertinent to note that online romance fraudsters use fictitious identities to approach and initiate romantic relationship with their unsuspecting targets with the intention of defrauding them of enormous sums of money (Whitty & Buchanan, 2012, p. 14). These fraudsters start off by using friendship or romance or in extreme cases marriage as bait, and once a trusting psychological and emotional bond is established, the fraudsters demand for money from the targets using circumstantial excuses, for example, payment of medical bills for the fraudsters or the fraudsters’ loved ones mostly a family member, to secure release from the immigration department or customs department at the airport, to secure release of a consignment which would purportedly be beneficial to both the Fraudsters and the target etc. (Rege A 2009). Studies have shown that most dating sites fail to use any solid full proof identification mechanism, thereby encouraging dating fraud (Alkai’s 2016).

The major problem is the fact that the operators of these online dating services appear to be having a field day bereft of any regulation from the up rise in subscriptions and usage of their services by love seeking and lonely clients. Studies show that the ‘online personals category’ is one of the most lucrative forms of paid content on the web in the United States, with the market being worth $642 million in 2008 and $1.9 billion in 2012 (Edelson, 2003). The total profit of online dating services is estimated to be $1.4 billion. These revenues are said to be growing at a rate of 10 percent each year (Bridges, 2012).

RESEARCH AIM: This paper shall examine cybercrime with specific focus on Online Romance Fraud, modus operandi of the fraudsters, the role of the online social networking and dating sites in the facilitation of this type of fraud and why it has become essential to regulate these online social networking and dating sites considering the enormous amounts of revenue they generate from their users who fall victims to these frauds. Recommendations shall be made on how such crime can be curbed thereby rendering online social networking site and dating sites unattractive to fraudsters.  

RESEARCH QUESTIONS: This paper shall examine the following questions:

What is the role of online social networking and dating sites in the facilitation of Online Romance Frauds?

Is there a need for the regulation of the activities of online social networking and dating sites?

LITERATURE REVIEW

DEFINITION OF CYBERCRIME

There is no single definition of cybercrime. Casey (2000) however defines cybercrime as “any crime that involves computers and networks, including crimes that do not rely heavily on computers”. There are two major categorizations of cybercrime i.e. “computer-assisted crimes” and “computer-focused crimes”. (Furnell 2002)

It is pertinent to note that computer assisted crimes generally do not require any special computer skills since such crimes can best be described as old crimes in new era. It simply means that neither technology nor the internet caused the crime rather the technology and the internet serve as a tool used by the offender to facilitate the commission of the said crime (Casey 2000). For example, online dating fraud, online bullying, online stalking, online child pornography and child molestation, identity theft, phishing amongst others. Computer Focused Crime are those crimes that came into existence upon the establishment of the internet and could not exist part from it e.g. hacking, viral attacks, website defacement e.t.c (Lilley 2002) The question now is: why do offenders engage in cybercrime?

THEORIES OF CYBERCRIME

There are numerous and inexhaustible literatures on the theories of crime. For the purpose of this research, reliance shall be placed on Routine Activity Theory which looks at crime from the offenders’ point of view. This theory shall help in illuminating the following issues:

The motivation of an offender in an Online Romance Fraud.

 What makes an online dating site user a potential target in an Online Romance Fraud.

Routine Activity Theory (Cohen and Felson 1979) may best be described as an expansion of the lifestyle exposure theory espoused by Hindelang et al. in 1978. According to Cohen and Felson, a crime consists of three main components to wit:

A motivated offender

Presence of a suitable target  

Absence of a capable guardian.

These components must co-exist in every given circumstance for a crime to occur. Absence of any one of the above components would most likely decrease and or eliminate crime.

A motivated offender may best be described as a person who anticipates a reward for a deviant behavior with little or no chance of getting apprehended by the law enforcement agents. Differential reinforcement concept of Social Learning Theory stipulates that an occurrence of a defiant behavior depends primarily on the balance of past, present and anticipated rewards and punishment for such action. The greater the value, frequency and probability of reward for deviant behavior, the greater the likelihood that it will occur and be repeated (Akers 1989). Therefore, a motivated offender is that online dating site subscriber whose intention is to connect with, groom and eventually swindle an unsuspecting love/relationship seeker of his or her hard-earned resources.

Felson and Boba (2010) states that target suitability is likely to reflect four main criteria to wit: a. the value of crime target b. the inertia of crime target c. the physical visibility of crime target and d. the accessibility of crime target (VIVA). A suitable target in this research is the unsuspecting love/relationship seeker.

Absence of a suitable guardian in this research will be attributed to the volatility of the cyberspace and the associated difficulties in policing same. In a bid to explain the seeming unrelenting rise in cybercrimes, Williams (2015) compared cyberspace to a border town characterized by an abundance of opportunities where nationals are responsible for their own safety in the absence of effective state intervention. Forms of self-regulation such as installation of antivirus softwares, installation of secure browsers, regular change of passwords otherwise described as individual guardianship as espoused by (Holt and Bossler 2008) have been found to be ineffective in Online Romance Frauds.

 

CONCEPT OF ONLINE ROMANCE FRAUD

Social networking and Online dating websites traceable to two decades, have proliferated and become very popular (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). Teenagers and young adults have also embraced this technological innovation using their computers or mobile devices to connect with their peers, share information, reinvent their personalities and showcase their social lives (Boyd & Ellison, 2008).

Social networking and online dating sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Badoo, Oasis.com, tinder, eharmony, Christian mingle, plenty of fish, eurodate.com, UKmatch.com e.t.c create a platform where subscribers meet prospective lovers with whom they purport to share similar goals, dreams and aspirations. A feeling of love, affection and intimacy is developed and nurtured through frequent chats vide instant messaging, telephone calls and in rare cases video calls which ultimately metamorphosizes into a relationship with a virtual individual who exists only in the cyberspace (Adeyemi, 2018).

Studies has also shown that only a few users of such platforms wait to see their online lover before agreeing to a relationship proposal (Lenhart & Madden, 2007). This is probably because of the general assumption that the fraud technique appeal to strong emotions which makes it nearly impossible for a victim to be rational in making decisions (Kopp, Layton, Sillitoe and Gondal 2015). This explains why (Hamzi 2015) defined online romance Fraud as a variation of advanced fee scheme which makes use of fictitious identities as a tool to approach and initiate romantic relationship with unsuspecting targets with intention of defrauding them of large sums of money.

Whitty & Buchanan’s (2012) study of online dating Fraud in Britain reveal that an estimated 230,000 British citizens might have fallen victim to online romance crime, far above what had been reported in previous studies. This may be attributed to under reporting of this crime considering the psychological effect of this fraud on their victims. In some cases, victims have been robbed and killed. For example, 67-year-old Perth woman Jette Jacobs was found dead in South Africa on 9 February 2013 after she travelled there to meet a man she had commenced a long-distance relationship with via an online dating site. Ms Jacobs had already sent over $100,000 to the man she met online including $20,000 to assist him with travelling. (Powell 2013).

In 2009, a 58-year-old UK man committed suicide by lying on train tracks after losing £82,000 in an online romance fraud. The twice-divorced man had been deceived into paying for numerous medical bills for a woman he met online and had developed a romantic relationship with over the internet (Brooke 2010). Statistics released by Action Fraud UK in 2017 revealed that a total number of 3557 Romance Frauds were reported and approximately the sum of 41 million GBP were conned out of those victims (Action Fraud https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/victims-lost-41-million-to-romance-fraud-in-2017 ). 

Whitty & Secur (2015) identify distinct stages of Online Romance Fraud. First, the criminal creates a fancy profile to attract victims. Secondly, he grooms them for exploitation. At the third stage, he begins to actually request for funds, leading to the fourth stage of sexual abuse and finally the stage of exposition. Research conducted by Koon and Yoong (2013) revealed that the grooming stage entails the use of a credible personae such a God-fearing person. Silva (2007) reveals that people with religious affiliations tend to be stereotyped as being more morally upright, decent and well-bred. Therefore, by creating a devout and Christlike persona, a fraudster can lead the potential target to believe that the intentions are genuine thereby alleviating the target’s initial apprehensions and doubt. In addition to (Koon and Yoong, 2013)’s detailed research highlighted above, this paper shall reveal that creating of a credible persona is usually initiated by the use of fake profiles and fake photographs to mask the real identity of the fraudsters and to portray an amiable personality to unsuspecting targets.

 

METHODOLOGY

This research shall adopt a qualitative method of research through review and evaluation of studies and secondary data published by relevant literature, law enforcement agencies and news-based television networks. Finding these victims of online dating fraud might prove difficult considering that some of them may be too embarrassed to come forward. Therefore, interview of victims shall not be considered in this research because of the psychological and emotional impact such an interview would have on the victims. In the same vein, finding romance fraudsters to interview or survey is nearly impossible since they belong to an underground organized crime unit. Acquiring access to these fraudsters require technical expertise and most likely covert operations which are beyond the scope of this research not to mention the ethical issues such involvement would raise. Interviewing and or surveying law enforcement agencies may seem equally untenable considering the prolonged time frame within which to get approval from the relevant authority. Online dating site representatives on the other hand may decline participation for these reasons: a. fear of being perceived by their subscribers as vulnerable to fraud due to lax fraud detection measures. b. fear of driving away potential customers which would result in lose of revenue.

Regardless of these pitfalls and challenges, this research paper shall rely heavily on interviews conducted on the victims of these online dating fraud and published on the websites of credible news-based television channels such as BBC, CNN, ABC News, Filmon Tv amongst others. Secondary data gathered from these websites and of course the relevant research carried out by experts in the area of online dating fraud shall be reorganized and analyzed to specifically address the aim and objectives of this paper. Specific data if any on steps taken by these online dating websites towards the protection of their subscribers from fraudsters shall be gathered from their websites to address the aim of this research. Feedbacks on forums relating to experiences of users on these websites shall be gathered and analyzed as well. The website of Online Dating Association in UK shall be analyzed for details on its role towards the protection of users of these websites from fraud.

SUMMARY

In summary, the proposed research shall enlighten the policy and law makers on the urgent need for the regulation of online social networking site and dating sites. The research will also help develop checks and balances that needs to be complied with by the owners of these online dating sites in order to make their sites less attractive to fraudsters. The research findings will also inform and enlighten users of these websites on how to better protect themselves from fraudsters.

 

REFERENCES

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Alkai, H. K. (2016). Preventing deception from online social media using deception matrix. International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology, 3(7), 1144-1148.

Boyd, D. & Ellison, N. (2008), Social network sites: Definition, history and scholarship. Journal of Computer- Mediated Communication 13, 210-230.

Brooke C 2010. Lonely divorcee kills himself after falling for £82,000 internet dating con. Daily Mail 2 February. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1247774/Divorcees-train-suicide-82-000-internet-date.html

Casey, E. (2000). Digital evidence and computer crime. London: Academic Press

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for local filtering. Computers & Security, 22(5), 392-401.

Ellison, N., Heino, R., & Gibbs, R. (2006). Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication.

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Jewkes, Y., & Yar, M. (2010b). Introduction: The internet, cybercrime, and the challenges of the 21st century. In Y. Jewkes, & M. Yar (Eds.), Handbook of internet crime (pp. 1–8). Cullompton, England: Wiley.

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Koon T.H and Yoong D. (2013) Preying on Lonely Hearts: A Systematic Deconstruction of an Internet Romance Scammer’s Online Lover Personae. Journal of Modern Languages.

Kopp, C., Layton, R., Sillitoe, J. & Gondal, I. (2015). The role of love stories in romance scams: A qualitative analysis of fraudulent profile. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 9 (2), 205–217.

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identity fraud. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 3(2), 494 – 512.

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characteristics of online daters. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10(6), 849-852.

Whitty, M., and Buchanan T. (2012). The Psychology of the Online Dating Romance Scam. University of Leicester England

Williams M.L (2015) Guardians Upon High: An Application of Routine Activities Theory to Online Identity Theft in Europe at the Country and Individual Level. The British Journal of Criminology Volume 56

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Online Banking Advantages and Disadvantages

Jump to: Advantages of Online Banking | Disadvantages of Online Banking | Types of Online Banking | Findings | SWOT Analysis of Online Banking | Banking Security Systems | Issues of Implementing Online Banking | Government Role in Online Banking | Recommendation | Conclusion
OVERVIEW On ONLINE BANKING
Information technology has become the platform of banking as a whole, especially of online banking. Though this is an entirely new term for out country, due to the intense competition its application is increasing rapidly. Now a day, it has become almost obligatory on the part of the banks to implement this. The online banking services that we are getting now are limited to some extent in most cases. But it is expected that in near future we are going to get the fullest service from online banking. We are also expecting that the influence of online banking will be greatly upbeat for both the clients and service providers.
INTRODUCTION
E-Banking is defined as the automated delivery of new and traditional banking products and services directly to customers through electronic and interactive communication channels.
Online banking (Internet banking) is a term used for performing transactions, payments etc. over the internet through a bank’s secure website. This can be very useful, especially for banking outside bank hours (which tend to be very short) and banking from anywhere where internet access is available. In most cases a web browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox is utilized and any normal internet connection is suitable. It is an umbrella term for the process by which a customer may perform banking transactions electronically without visiting a brick-and-mortar institution. With the help of E-Banking customers can access their banks without having to be physically present at the bank branch.
In Bangladesh the idea of online banking was conceived in 1996 but the commercial operation started in 2001. Banks use a variety of services for Online Banking such as PC banking, Home Banking, Electronic Banking or Internet Banking. These systems offer certain advantages over traditional banking methods.
Advantages of Online Banking
For Consumers:

The privacy of customers.
Online services are available for consumers 24 hours daily during the whole week.
Customers might save time and efforts of doing their finance transactions.
It will be easy for them to view all information they need clearly and simply.
Searching of any branch of a bank will be accessibly by online users.

For Banks:

One way of attracting more customers is to use their services.
Increasing the bank’s reputation around the world is well known by many people.
It doesn’t need to employ lots of suffer or bankers to deal with customers directly.
Banks can deal simply with their branches all over the world with one network.

Disadvantages of Online Banking
For consumers

Some people feel uncomfortable to provide their passwords or any kind of information about their funds over the internet.
Some websites might be difficult for consumers for the first time to check their finance.
It is possible for banks to update their websites, which needs from consumers to type in again their data.
It is necessary to have knowledge and skills on using the Internet.

For Banks

Banks may require big amount of money to establish a website with attractive features.
They may lose their information if the network is damaged with other branches.
Hacking and viruses will cause problems for online banking, which could brake and damage the information.

Types of online banking
The common assumption is that Internet banking is the only method of online banking. However, this is not strictly the case, as several types of services are currently available:
PC Banking:
The forerunner to Internet banking has been around since the late 1980’s and is still widely used today. Individual banks provide software which is loaded on to an SME’s office computer. The SME can then access their bank account via a modem and telephone link to the bank. Access is not necessarily via the Internet.
Internet Banking:
Using a Web browser, a user can access their account, once the bank’s application server has validated the user’s identity.
Digital TV Banking:
Using the standard digital reception equipment (set top box and remote control); users can access their bank account. Abbey National and HSBC services are available via digital TV providers. One of its main selling points is that no account details are transmitted via the World Wide Web. This service is absent in our country.
Telephone (Mobile) Banking:
It includes the banking through using the Telephone operator whether public or private with wire or wireless. It’s a form of e-banking that helps the household who have no facility to access Internet and computer.
Now phone and online banking in Bangladesh only offer services such as balance check and request for statement. But the mobile banking allows fund transfer, paving the way for money transaction through cell phones across the country
Text phone (SMS) Banking:
Many of the national and multinational banks have introduced this service to allow customers with text phones to check their balance, pay bills and transfer money.
ONLINE BANKING: Products & Services of Different banks in Bangladesh
Eastern Bank Limited

The brand name of credit card of EBL is ‘Simple Credit Card’. The basic features of EBL credit cards are: its free for its clients for all time, it can be used for balance transfer, mobile alert facilities, it has world wide acceptability, Immediate cash advance service, risk assurance program, convenient payment option and global emergency assistance service etc.

EBL has introduced the Debit Card for the savings Account holder who can use it to meet immediate obligation if he/she has enough balance to his/her bank account just after going to their ATM booths available with its each branch and sharing with others.
‘Life-Style Card’ and ‘Cool Card’:
These Cards are introduced only for the students for a soft condition but having a great exposure.

EBL Providing Phone Banking facilities to its clients as a part of online banking facilities.

EBL uses the SMS Banking to provide services to the grass-root level customers. Here a fixed SMS code is fixed for each specific service.
DHAKA BANK LIMITED

The DBL has brought a great change in Phone Banking. Now this facility is getting so popularity.

All its ATM booths as well as branches are connected through Internet for which the any information among branches can be transferred within a moment.

The DBL is using the SMS Banking to provide services to the grass-root level customers. Here a fixed SMS code fixed for each specific service.

It’s a card which is accepted World-wide for Purchase & Cash Withdrawals. It’s a great service for its customers.

It has been providing Debit Card facilities to its customers who can meet their money withdrawal matters at any ATM booths of its own operated or sharing with others to provide the security of its clients’ money.

The Dhaka Bank has been providing the Credit Card facilities to its customer’s interest. It’s named as ‘Dhaka Bank VISA Credit Card’.
TRUST BANK LIMITED

The Trust Bank uses the ‘VISA Credit Card’ for Local, International and Dual Currencies. Its one of the bank’s personal banking services.

The Trust Bank uses the ‘Trust VISA-Electron Debit Card’ for local, international and dual currencies. It is one of the bank’s automated services to the customers.

It has such services for its customers.

It deals all the foreign transactions through the Internet Banking.

It deals with the grass-root clients through providing the SMS Banking services.
DUTCH-BANGLA BANK LIMITED
Bangladesh Bank data shows that there are about 600 ATMs in the country. The number was less than 300 a year ago. Currently, Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited has the largest network with 260 ATMs, with up to 12 new booths coming every month. Thirteen banks can use DBBL booths. Besides, the bank has an agreement with Q-Cash, allowing ATM cardholders of Mercantile Bank and Trust Bank to take cash from the same booths. Also, Dutch-Bangla Bank clients can use all Q-Cash outlets. The bank has a similar agreement with E Cash that runs 24 booths across the country. Now a day, they are providing truly Online Banking.

The Dutch-Bangla Bank is only the bank which has more ATM booths than any other banks operating their business in Bangladesh. The ‘DBBL-Nexus Credit Card’ is one of the medium which it permits to withdraw a certain limits of money from its booths.

It is another product through which the Card holder is able to withdraw the money amount from his/her account. It’s known as the ‘DBBL-Nexus Debit Card’.

They are very successful with the Phone banking (Telephone and Cell Phone).

About 80% of their e-banking is based on the internet Banking.

They also have SMS banking for the clients who are out of the Internet connection and they can have access to get the immediate service with just an SMS.
ARAB BANGLADESH BANK LIMITED

AB Bank uses the ‘AB Bank Visa Debit Card’.

The name of AB Bank’s Credit Card is the ‘AB Bank VISA EASICredit Card’.

It uses phone banking as part of e-banking to run its online banking transactions.

The bank provides this service to its customers with a little limit.

Western Union Money Transfer:

It is also the member of Western Union Money Transfer for which it’s able to transfer money from one country to another within a moment.
BANK ASIA

The name of the Bank Asia’s Credit Card is ‘Bank Asia Credit Card [MasterCard]’.

The name of the Debit Card of this bank is ‘Bank Asia Debit Card’.

It uses Mobile banking as part of e-banking to run its online banking transactions.

The bank provides this service to its customers with a little limit.

It uses the SMS banking to deal with its grass-root clients.
BRAC BANK LIMITED

It uses Mobile banking as part of e-banking to run its online banking transactions.

The bank provides this service to its customers with a little limit.

It uses the SMS banking to deal with its grass-root clients.

The name of Debit Card of the BRAC BANK is ‘BRAC Bank Debit Card’. It’s allowed for the customers who have only the savings account and can withdraw only the amount belongs to its account balance.

It introduces the 0% Credit Card named ‘BRAC Bank Credit Card [MasterCard]’ which is undoubtedly an exclusive offer to all which is applicable for first 3 months interest free for all retail purchases. It charges no interest for balance transfer. It also allows 10 more supplementary cards for all the relatives.
HONGKONG & SANGHAI BANKING CORPORATION (HSBC)

Although a limited number, a short listed Credit Cards are using by a few Bangladeshis who have a strong Credit worthiness. It permits a certain limits to withdraw beyond one’s balance.

It’s using very much in Bangladesh. A number of ATM booths are available in Bangladesh including Dhaka and Chittagong.

It uses Mobile banking as part of e-banking to run its online banking transactions. But its not applicable in Bangladesh yet.

Each and every branch of the HSBC is connected through the internet and about 80% of their e-banking is based on the internet Banking.

They also have SMS banking for the clients who are out of the Internet connection and they can have access to get the immediate service with just an SMS.
STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

It permits to use the Credit Cards to its customers.

The customers are using Debit Cards and having great facilities with international bank.

Most of the services of this bank is operating through the Internet.
Findings & Analysis
INDEPTH ‘SWOT’ ANALYSIS
(S)TRENGTHS:

Diversification: These ten banks offer various online banking services as to attract the customers of different groups of people.
Lower cost advantage: As the banks bring in bulks of customers, their operational costs go down.
Multinational marketing capabilities: Being global bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank enjoys the multinational marketing capabilities. They have been successful in attracting savings of savers and investors and lending a large volume of loans with the help of their online banking facilities.
Start-up may take time: In order to register for a bank’s online program, we will probably have to provide ID and sign a form at a bank branch. If the bank is satisfied after proper scrutiny, the bank will permit us to start internet banking which may take a few days.

(W)EAKNESSES:

Centralization: These banks managements are mostly centralized & follows top-down approach, decisions come form corporate branch and sometimes it takes much time to get the approval for credit card, where it could have been done faster. Since, It’s competitive market, competitors can take this opportunity to move ahead of it.
Manual works: Although the banking system is computerized of the banks; simultaneously records are kept manually for auditing purpose, such as using rubber chop, giving signatures, writing on forms etc. Therefore, these manual works destroy the ‘value’ that the organization created significantly.
Costly: Still most of the banks online banking facilities are somewhat costly. As a result they are yet to be succeeded to bring a large number of customers under the umbrella of E-Banking.

(O)PPORTUNITIES:

Many untapped regions over the country: Banks can attract even more customers by expanding its branches to other districts or regions and at the same time ensuring online banking service in Bangladesh, and thereby increase their market share & profitability.
Innovation: Banks’ innovative online banking products would be able to satisfy various customers’ needs & thereby would be able to reach different target segments.
Credit Card Facility: At present, a particular segment has a potential demand for credit cards, so the banks can utilize this opportunity to drag that particular segment before any of its competitors do. Although few banks already providing this facility, but the demand is still there as the existing facility is not sufficient comparing to the need.

(T)HREATS:

Duplication of the HSBC’s service: Existing multinational & local banks could copy the banks’ financial services, so they have to move ahead of others faster.
Emerging Competition: New local and multinational banks or other financial institutions could emerge as the banking industry in Bangladesh is still growing, and become a threat to the existing online banking service providers.
Political instability: As Bangladesh’s political situation is unstable; it affects banking industry as well. So, it means the banks may face fluctuating demand for their products too.

Security System used by the Banks
Most of the lading banks follow the following security system for their online banking.
Software:
Online banking service of these banks employs the 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which is one of the strongest encryption technologies; most commonly used by large-scale online merchants, banks, and brokerages worldwide. All online sessions between customers and the banks are protected by up to 128-bit encryption, which best protects customers’ information against disclosure to third parties.
TPII software operates on the UNIX platform, which is known to be the world’s most secure and redundant operating system providing multiple users and multiple tasking facilities and Database is maintained in Oracle (RDBMS), the world’s most secure database system.
Encryption is used to protect information:
Encryption is a method of scrambling customers’ information to protect its transmission across the Internet. Encryption transforms data into an unreadable form, and decryption reverses that process. Both encryption and decryption require the use of a special code, usually referred to as a key. The encryption of data provides a strong degree of protection against tampering while data is moving through the Internet.  
Cookies are not used for this service:
A cookie is information that a web site puts on customers’ hard disk that it can remember something about customer at a later time. This mechanism allows the server to store its own information about a user on the user’s own computer. These ten banks do not use cookies for this service.
ATM Hardware:
a) Racal brand 128 bit Host Security Module (HSM) through which card information is encrypted, decrypted along with PIN generation. This device is used worldwide to maintain and relay highly secure information as an exchange platform. After HSM has verified and authorized the PIN and decrypts it, customers receive funds from ATM. The HSM is also responsible for generating ATM Card PINs for the TPII.
b) Each ATM has a built-in 64-bit encryption device for ensuring maximum security during transactions.
c) Three different ATM models are currently in use. They are the 1064ix (stand-alone ATM), 1071ix (Through-the-Wall ATM) & 1072ix (Through-the-Wall) models. Each of the ATMs can capacitate up to four cash cassettes, of which, each one may hold up to 2,000 cash notes. Cash loading in ATMs are based entirely on usage frequency of the machines.
d) All ATM booths have 24/7 CCTV surveillance systems to keep records of transactions taking place for a period of over one year. Moreover, each booth has a hot-telephone link affixed for troubleshooting and instant help-desk services.
Problems of implementating online banking

Infrastructural deficiency: [WEAKNESS]

To implement online banking in our state, the infrastructure is necessary. For this we need availability of electricity supply and telecommunication. Without developing these we can’t develop this online banking system properly.

Budget allocation: [WEAKNESS]

The software is vary intricate to develop because e lacking of apposite in-house. In this regard, banks are to rely on software developing concerns at extreme costs.

The hacking, the serious crime of computer causes the injury and hazard to the security and safety of users of computer involved in online technology. As a result, hackers are the influential troubles of users of online business of a bank. Online banking services will not be feasible for an economy as most people are illiterate. They are beyond the scope of normal banking service. Micro-credit industry is now not only providing small credit but also mobilizing savings.

The big problems are in the regulatory framework: [WEAKNESS]

Lack of full convertibility. Bangladesh citizen cannot have access to the world wide online banking service due to regulatory restrictions.
The reserve position will not allow free inter-country fund transfer.

The credit information available for banks is often wrong, so it is very difficult to check whether the customer has difficult on a card issued by another bank. A data bank is required to see the list of the defaulters. More unconventional banks fill that gap in the market, trying to grab a share of the internet money, on the premises that they represent the richest and most educated part of the population.

Another central issue to the consumer is privacy. Database marketing is nothing but the manipulation of data over which customers feel that they want to have some kind of control. The general rule is that consumer privacy rights should be respected. Individuals should easily opt out of online marketing as an extension of their right to be removed from junk mail lists.

One pre-conceived widespread idea is computers will displace labor. This is a matter of empirical study. Productivity and profitability are closely interrelated terms. The experienced excess staffs can be easily absorbed in to the expanding financial market. The unemployment will only be structural unemployment since the displaced labor will sooner have later acquired the necessary computer skills and thus become more efficient.

Cost-effectiveness: [Weakness]

Another misconception is that it is not cost effective. None of the banks that have designed properly on automation plan and implemented it with proper cost benefit analysis became less superior. Actually the acceptance of financial modernization is a matter of vision to the future. Unless computers become cheaper and online facilities become within the reach of middle class, they will remain unfamiliar with internet, and will thus avert them.
Role of Government
This is particularly important for countries like Bangladesh where very little has been done in development these technologies and skills to promote and support online banking. The government can take the following policies to promote online banking in our country:
The intergovernmental agreement for harmonizing the rules and regulations that can help in smooth transformation of the world economy and expansion of a unified world market.
The regulations should simply foster competition, protect intellectual property and privacy, and prevent fraud to do businesses under whatever terms they agree upon. An international uniform commercial code is needed to simplify and encourage electronic commerce under consistent rules and rights.
Govt. can undertake perfect initiatives to construct feasible, platform of information technology within affordable capacity. Financial allocation should be more widen for global standard banking technology.
Adequate number of bank employee will have both computer and banking aptitude and cognizance, suitable in the banking perspective to improve the banking sector.
“Tele-communication” sector is pre-conditions to make fastest online banking services. Unfortunately a tale-communication service of govt. is yet to reach to remote and rural area.
RECOMMENDATIONS
These banks should ———–

Do frequent marketing research:

The management of the banks should regularly administer marketing research activities in order to keep a regular track of satisfaction levels. As customer expectations and satisfaction are not static figures regular research at sufficient intervals should be conducted.

Handle complains effectively:

The banks should actively manage the complaints of various customers and encourage customers to give feedback about the services. The management should collect document complaints & use that information to identify dissatisfied customers, correct individual problems where possible and identify common service failure points.

Focus on segmentation strategies:

The bank should concentrate on the various demographic segments that are currently not very satisfied with the banks services. Products services should be tailored for these segments. Appropriate research and surveys should be designed to find out the requirements of these dissatisfied segments.

Do Relationship Marketing:

The banks should focus more on existing customers in order to build strong and loyal relationship with them as the survey showed that satisfied customers more aptly or certainly recommends the bank to friends and relatives. Thus the power of relationship will foster Positive Word of Oral Communication and will attract new customers at a lower cost.

Establish more ATM booths:

From the survey, it is clear that customers are not very happy regarding ATM’s locations. So, sufficient number of ATM booths should be established in different location to reach out the customers even further and thereby satisfying their demand.

Introduce Credit Card Facility:

While handling customers over the counter & also over telephone, a certain demand for credit card facility was noticed strongly. We think, if the banks introduce this facility, more customers will be attracted & therefore, they will achieve greater market share.

Reduce Manual works to minimum:

Although many of the ten banks do automation, still there are many things which are done manually in order to tract any errors or transaction, especially in emergency such as system failure etc. As a result, so much time is spent on this type of manual maintenance, which reduces ‘value’ on delivering services. Thus, it hampers efficiency on delivering faster services.

Educate customers in using Phone banking service:

A few banks have introduced phone banking service or automatic telephone banking (ATB) in order to fulfill general customer needs and queries quickly, without interrupting employees. However, customers seemed reluctant to use this facility due to fear of machine usage or difficulty in remembering the seventeen digit numbers.

Autonomous Banking culture, reducing dependence on manual service, should be in abundance irrespective of govt. and non-govt. organization in association with `SWIFT’ to bring about the whole banking service for massive well being of people.

Ensuring proper training to the employees:

Training should be imparted to the existing IT personnel. ‘the new recruits for IT personnel should be provided with relevant education background.
Conclusion
Online Banking sets off the journey with a mission of reaching to target group of people across our country. The globalization facilitates the extinction of untidy and troublesome services in order to consolidate the very variegated, faster as well exquisite services to keep the people in regular touch of modernization. Considering this decision, banks and financial concerns took some welcome move recently. Usually all private owned banks from abroad coupled with a few local banks in collaboration with domestic support launched the trend of on-line banking. The completely refurbished banking sector stresses effort to spread this culture of banking.

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In this connection, only a few banks establish the timely steps by eradicating all sorts of strains and inconvenience in all respect. Since the financial services needs to be very optimum certain not scattered to foster the belief and reliance of people over banking sector. Thereby, the very exclusive and classic service procedure can be accommodated amidst of integration of joint collaboration with modern system. Alongside, the existing banking sector pays much heed and concentration to the fastest growth and development of Online Banking System. In this regard, Bangladesh is still in the backseat whereas the rest of the world is burning in flame of excellence at large. Despite the ascendancy of irresistible constraints, inconsistency that engulf the origin of the online trading, we are extremely aspiring and sanguine of prompt and illustrious development of online banking as rapidly as possible.
Therefore, the banks should move ahead of its rivals by applying the recommendations provided above. Certainly, it will help reducing the gap (or dissatisfaction) & retaining existing customers. And, once this dissatisfied customers become satisfied, it will not only help to retain existing customers, but it will also help to drag new customers through positive word-of-mouth communications. Also, it will help to attract new segments with different needs. Many customers are dissatisfied due to some areas of incompetent services. So, in order to sustain in the highly competitive banking industry, the banks should take
 

Big Skinny Online Marketing Development

Big Skinny Case Analysis
Executive Summary
In 2010, Big Skinny CEO Kiril Alexandrov was looking to transcend from retail distribution and print advertising to the world of online marketing to achieve maximum growth. The retail sales pitch was an easy one, as Alexandrov focused on the value of the wallet and the impulsiveness of consumers (Benjamin & Kominers, 2012). Unfortunately, translating this type of sales pitch was much harder to do in the world of cyberspace.

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Big Skinny centered their online marketing efforts around display Ads, keyword searches, social media and relationships with online distributors and deep DISCOUNTED sites such as Amazon and Groupon respectively. The expansion caused much hardship, as Big Skinny received negative feedback on the review website Yelp that stemmed from their Groupon experiment. They also faced a glitch in their online promotion that allowed 4,000 people to order free wallets from their online store.
Big Skinny needs to refocus their online marketing strategy by getting rid of display Ads, refining keyword searches and severing ties with deep DISCOUNTED sites. Big Skinny can create value for their product and manage their orders better by being more selective with who distributes their product and by keeping the price steady. A more seasonal approach surrounding keyword searches can create new revenue from those who are looking to make quick and impulsive purchases. Lastly, by being responsible for who distributes their products, Big Skinny can deliver their product in prompt and timely manner, which will resolve the majority of customer complaints against Big Skinny.
Problem Statement
Despite successful in-person sales campaigns, Big Skinny struggled to find an effective online marketing platform that would grow and connect them to their consumer base. Big Skinny also ran into glitches with their current online marketing campaigns that brought unwanted negative attention and resentment towards the company.
Data Analysis
When Big Skinny transcended into the world of online marketing, it had to develop a way to attract visitors to the website while attempting to convince these visitors to buy wallets. Since most of their wallets were being sold at trade shows or retail stores that centered on a straight-forward approach regarding impulse and value, the translation of this strategy to the internet proved to be a tall task.
Big Skinny looked at various means of advertising such as display ads, algorithmic search, sponsored search, A/B Testing and social media. Display ads offered a two-frame animation; however, the click-through rate of general display ads in 2009 was only .1% (Bejamin & Kominers, 2012). Algorithmic searches use algorithms that the search engine deems most relevant to the user’s query. The websites that most resemble the query appear the highest on the search engine’s list. Sponsored searches use keywords that the advertisers specify that they want to target. These are mostly sold on a “per-click” basis; however the company loses money if the clicks aren’t converted into sales. A/B testing is a marketing technique that shows different advertisements to different users to compare the response rates between the two. Lastly, social media utilizes websites such as Facebook and Twitter to try and create an interactive relationship with consumers.
Alternatives

Big Skinny could eliminate their means of online distribution and PAID ONLINEmarketing, only utilizing social media and their website to conduct advertising and business transactions.
Big Skinny could be more selective in their selection of online distribution, while tailoring their paid sponsored searches to generate interest and sales.
Big Skinny could scrap their online marketing plans, with the exception of social media, and reallot their advertising money strictly on deep DISCOUNTED sites like Groupon and Living Social.
Big Skinny could focus their efforts on expanding in more brick and mortar retail stores by target marketing towards different demographics. They could use traditional media such as TV and radio to drive these efforts.

Key Decision Criteria

Increase customer satisfaction and corporate image
Increase sales and market share
Improve (or at least maintain) profitability
Ease or speed of implantation
Be consistent with corporate mission or strategy
Within our present resources or capabilities
Within acceptable risk parameters
Minimize environmental impact
Maintain and build employee morale and pride

Alternatives Analysis
1. By limiting their online marketing to free social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook, Big Skinny can greatly reduce their marketing costs. With display advertisements only getting clicked through .1% of the time the money is essentially thrown away. Investing in A/B testing requires the hiring of a permanent person and huge overhead. Getting rid of online distributors allows Big Skinny to eliminate the 7-15% commission they pay to Amazon and eBay while being able to manage their order load. Social Media is more than enough because 71% of social media participants say they are more likely to purchase from a brand they follow online. 91% of local searchers say they use Facebook to find local businesses online (Bennett, 2013). The cons of this are that they are missing out on a lot of potential customers by eliminating Amazon and eBay. While ONLINE PAID marketing can be expensive, there is still benefit to sponsored searches. Some of the cost per conversions are profitable and by completely eliminating these searches would be throwing away potential opportunities.
2. The pros of Big Skinny being more selective with their online distributors allows for a happy customer base. There have been several negative reviews on the Yelp site regarding slow delivery and non-existent customer service. By eliminating deep discounting sites such as Groupon, Big Skinny can manage their order load and keep customers happy. Big Skinny would also keep the revenue from the top paid sponsored searches rather than eliminating them all together. The negatives of this are that Big Skinny could miss out on a lot of revenue by not using Groupon or Living Social. They could also miss out on the repeat customers that are generated by these sites as well as missing out on the people who want to try their product without having to pay full price.
3. Instead of eliminating sites like Groupon and Living Social, Big Skinny could embrace the huge influx of customers that it brings. According to the customer satisfaction and analytics company ForeSee, 91% of customers have already or plan to conduct business with the merchant since buying the deal (Bedigian, 2013). This strategy generates a large influx of customers in a short time while attempting to generate residual income by repeat customers. The cons of this are that company’s often lose money during the initial Groupon. The product is discounted by 50% or more and then Groupon takes a 50% commission on the sale price, which leaves the seller receiving only 25% of the original selling price of the item (which in some cases is less than the cost of the item). Forbes has found that 1/3rd of businesses have lost money on a Groupon deal and there is no guarantee that the customers ever return to pay full price from the merchant again (Gleeson, 2012).
4. The pros of using a more traditional advertising medium such as TV or radio would bring brand recognition for Big Skinny. Big Skinny has always had success selling in retail stores because they market their products based on value and impulse. By putting the product in more retail stores, there is a greater chance people will put it in their hands and buy on impulse. Instead of targeting just one big audience, Big Skinny should advertise by target market such as Big Skinny Sport or Big Skinny Women. By doing this they could partner with big retail chains to get into more stores and generate more revenue the old fashioned way. The average time an American spends watching TV is 5 hours compared to just 1 hour browsing the internet, which leads for greater exposure. The cons of doing this are that TV advertising is much more expensive than online marketing (Nielsen, 1997). Another con is Tivo allows people to record their favorite shows and then fast-forward past the commercials. The last con is that TV advertising seems to be a thing of the past, as the amount spent on TV advertising was only up 4.5% in 2011 as compared to 21.7% via online marketing (Gleeson, 2012).
Recommendations
Based on the data, it is best for Big Skinny to be more selective of their online distribution, while tailoring their paid sponsored searches to generate interest and sales. In regards to online distribution, Big Skinny should keep eBay and Amazon, however, should drop deep-discount sites such as Groupon or Living Social. To offer a Groupon deal, Big Skinny is guaranteed to be taking a loss. To be eligible to offer a Groupon, Big Skinny must discount the price of their wallet by at least 50%. This turns a $20 wallet into a $10 wallet. Groupon takes a commission of 50% on the sale price, which leaves Big Skinny walking away with only $5 for every wallet sold (Bice, 2012). Essentially, they are taking a loss with every wallet they sell on Groupon. The goal of a Groupon is to try and get repeat customers; however, the people that use Groupon are bargain-hunters. They won’t return to Big Skinny, but rather, they will return to Groupon again looking for another bargain deal. By using Groupon, Big Skinny also decreases the value of their brand (Gibbard, 2011). Why would a customer pay full price for a $40 wallet when they just bought it on Groupon for $15 or $20 just a short time ago? In addition to dropping Groupon, Big Skinny needs to manage their online distribution better because of customer satisfaction issues.
On the review site Yelp, Big Skinny’s wallets are only receiving a rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars. A lot of the reviews include gripes about not receiving their order for 3-4 weeks or non-existent customer service (most of the negative reviews are from users who bought a Big Skinny wallet on Groupon). If the online distributor doesn’t ship your product in a timely manner, your company risks a tarnished reputation. Whether Big Skinny didn’t have enough stock to fulfill orders or whether Groupon didn’t ship the products in a timely manner, Big Skinny is taking the fall and abuse from customers. When people do research for a product they are going to see Big Skinny’s products with poor ratings. These poor ratings can scare potential customers away. Big Skinny should only use Amazon, eBay and their website to sell their wallets. This allows them to manage their inventory, not get behind on orders and make sure their product gets shipped in a timely manner. Big Skinny has excellent Amazon ratings and should continue to grow their product through the sterling reputation of Amazon. They should sell the product for a higher price on their website so that people are encouraged to buy through Amazon. This is a win-win for Big Skinny because if people buy through Amazon then Big Skinny doesn’t have to waste time and effort fulfilling and shipping orders. If they choose to buy direct than Big Skinny receives a larger profit on their wallets.
Lastly, Big Skinny needs to tailor their sponsored keyword searches. They need to eliminate the term “leather wallet.” They don’t manufacture a true leather wallet and the cost per conversion for this keyword is a sky-high $20.26. Big Skinny should also bid less for the term “thinnest wallet.” The cost per conversion for “thinnest wallet” also has a high cost, which is $10.53. After replacing leather wallet and lowering the bid for thinnest wallet, Big Skinny should add keywords centered on holidays. Wallets are popular gifts on occasions such as Father’s Day and Christmas. Big Skinny should add season keywords such as “Father’s Day Wallet,” “Wallet for Dad,” “Best Wallet for Gift” and “Wallet for Christmas.” This will bring seasonal shoppers into the mix who are looking to spend quickly and impulsively.
Action and Implementation Plan
CEO Kiril Alexandrov will be responsible for delegating the following tasks. The Director of Marketing will pull any promotions or future plans with deep discounted sites such as Groupon or Living Social. The Director of Marketing in combination with the Director of Product Management will reach out to all of those who left negative reviews on Yelp to satisfy the customer complaints and retract the negative ratings. The Director of Sales will carefully select the online distribution channels which Big Skinny will sell through. Big Skinny will only sell through Amazon, eBay and any online outlets of the retail stores that they are currently featured in. The Director of Sales will also raise the prices of wallets on the Big Skinny Website by 10-15% to create value for the product and promote customers to purchase through the select online distribution. Doing this saves Big Skinny the time it would take to fulfill and pack orders, however, if a customer decides to purchase direct, then Big Skinny recoups the 10-15% it would pay Amazon or eBay to sell and fulfill the order. This new price point will be conveyed in a message from the Director of Sales to Big Skinny’s distribution channel.
References
Bedigian, L. (2013). Does Groupon Help Businesses Thrive or Bury Them Alive?. In NASDAQ. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from http://www.nasdaq.com/article/does-groupon-help-businesses-thrive-or-bury-them-alive-cm243672
Bennett, S. (2013). 6 Amazing Social Media Statistics For Brands and Businesses. In Media Bistro. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/social- media-facts_b40978
Bice, B. (2012). Groupon Isn’t a Good Deal for Businesses. In CNBC. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from http://www.cnbc.com/id/49092709
Donnelly, T. (2011). How Groupon Can Boost Your Company’s Exposure. Inc. Magazine. Retrieved June 14, 2013, from http://www.inc.com/guides/201101/how-groupon- works-for-small-businesses.html
Edelman, Benjamin, and Scott Duke Kominers. “Online Marketing at Big Skinny.” Harvard Business School Case 911-033, February 2012. (Revised from original February 2011 version)
Gibbard, J. (2011). Considering Offering a Groupon? Read This First. In Social Media Today. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from http://socialmediatoday.com/jgibbard/337550/considering-offering-groupon-read-first
Gleeson, B. (2012). TV Advertising VS Digital Marketing. Forbes. Retrieved June 12, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/brentgleeson/2012/11/20/tv-advertising-vs-digital- marketing
Nielsen, J. (1997). Why Advertising Doesn’t Work on the Web. In Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved June 13, 2013, from http://www.nngroup.com/articles/why-advertising- doesnt-work-on-the-web