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October 10, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#5. eLearning

You say eLearning and I say

* ~ H O L I D A Y ~ *

(ღ˘‿˘ღ)

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In all honesty though, I highly doubt you guys would firstly think of the aspect of going through lessons online using digital tech over the fun of getting to stay home from school. I remember whenever my teacher announced there was an upcoming eLearning week, my first reaction would be to think of all the things I could do during the “holiday”. Any (basically all) homework due would always be pushed to the last minute, when I’d buckle down in a frenzy to attempt rushing through everything in a very subpar manner.

HOWEVER, there is so much more to eLearning (which is obviously the point of this post, right): days off from school aside, eLearning is first and foremost a way of learning that is facilitated by the current digital technology and has become empowered by the internet. Through eLearning, we are afforded another avenue to gain knowledge without having to physically get up and go into a classroom. So what, you say? Oh, my friend, let me tell you the ways.

For one thing, it’s a chance for you to… attend classes in your pyjamas! No longer will you need to wash up, brush your teeth, put on make up, and frustrate yourself over what to wear in order to make yourself look presentable in lectures. No no no, all you’ll have to do is force yourself away from your warm and inviting bed, and drag yourself to your computer chair, crusty-eyed and all.

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eLearning doesn’t just apply to a school/classroom context, but in general as well!. For another advantage of eLearning, it’s terribly convenient; the information you need is practically (I even dare say literally) at your fingertips! All you’ll need to do is work those finger of yours to pull up the corresponding digital windows of knowledge. Annnd lastly, by actively using digital resources as tools to gain knowledge, you will also pick up the skills needed that will bring you up-to-date with what the current professions require in employment. Now, doesn’t eLearning sound much more enticing, enriching, and satisfying? (I tried to think of a third word that started with “en” and fit the context, but no dice.)

Personally learning through online resources has opened a new world of opportunities for me. One of my first experiences with learning online was through blogskins; wanting to apply them to my blogs and wanting to edit so they could be customised to my own preferences meant I had to learn at least the basics of HTML. One thing I particularly liked about this was that there would usually be a “preview” option so I could see how the latest edit would turn out – that way I wouldn’t have to go through editing everything I wanted changed and then have to change everything again if it didn’t turn out as good as I imagined. Back then I mostly learned HTML through: 1. trial and error, and 2. sites that would have typed-out tutorials showing you the different HTML codes. That was back when Youtube was barely just starting; now this learning can be even more enhanced with VIDEO tutorials! A simple search on Youtube will easily get you many videos that can help with your needs. Video makes the learning a much more engaging experience because you LITERALLY watch and learn. I personally feel that being able to imitate helps make learning much more effective and gives better recall of skills.

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Another way I’ve gained new knowledge or satisfied informational needs online is through online forums. You know how they say the Internet has made the world smaller because we can exchange information and ideas with not just locals, but also have access to people who stay in countries really far away? Through the online forums, if I have questions, I can gain insight not just from people who are from the same culture/background as me (as would be the case if I were to simply ask those close to me in physical proximity), but even from those who live in USA, Europe, and so on! To take another example from personal experience: recently I’ve decided that I want to go to Greece for my family’s annual vacation. My mother gave me the go-ahead, but she emphasised that I had to look for the necessary information on my own, such as whether it was safe to travel there during this period (especially due to the economy) and so on. No fear! With the use of Google, I managed to find Trip Advisor. By being able to read about the experiences of others who have traveled there in recent times, I was able to ascertain that it would indeed be safe to travel there. With the use of online forums, sometimes we can even learn information that we might not be able to know if we didn’t have online options.

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I would say eLearning has its pros and cons, like pretty much every other viable methods of learning! I think a very big con of it is that, with access to the Internet, there is always the high potential that you’d get distracted and end up doing something else entirely unrelated instead; rather than convenience you’ll get inefficiency. This means that users will have to exercise self-restraint, of course. Ultimately, I do think the eLearning gives us an edge in learning opportunities that further the learning experience. Since the Internet is so widely used and so readily available to us, we might as well take advantage of this resource to the best of its capabilities! After all, as Phil says:

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September 21, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#4. eCommerce

This week we are going to talk about eCommerce! What is eCommerce, you may ask. Well, according to Wikipedia (I KNOW, I KNOW):

eCommerce is a type of industry where the buying and selling of products or services is conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks.

Well then, what is the difference between that and eBusiness? It’s very simple, actually; eCommerce is basically the sales aspect of eBusiness!

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I do love to go online shopping. Now, what could motivate someone to start their sales business online? There are a lot of reasons. Furthermore, some of the advantages that apply to consumers’ reasons to prefer online shopping could also apply to the sellers as well. Here I’ve compiled some of them:

  1. Convenience for consumers = convenience for the sellers as well: if you were to sell products (instead of services), you’d need somewhere to place your extra stocks (unless your shop is really big enough to accommodate everything, since you need space for the actual store’s decor). Thus you’d have to spend time and energy shifting the stocks to and fro to replenish your supply in the actual store. With an online sale business, you could just leave everything in one location until the product has been ordered online and has to be shipped out.
  2. Lowered cost: in terms of customers’ benefits, lowered cost to them would probably be the use of less energy when shopping online; simply clicking on digital buttons is definitely a lot easier than battling the crowds of ferocious aunties intent on getting to their sales. For sellers, lowered cost means the saving of money spent on renting out a physical space, and probably helpers/salespersons to help sell the products. Instead, they’d just have to shell out money for a personal domain – and of course if they don’t even want to spend on that then they could use a free one like WordPress!
  3. Farther distance reach: with online shopping, consumers can order products from other countries without having to physically travel there to make the purchase. Likewise, sellers can obtain a farther reach of customers by selling their products to those residing overseas without actually going to the respective countries to set stores up there.
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same, Penny, same.

Obviously there are more reasons for conducting eCommerce, however the three above are those more frequently thought of when eCommerce is mentioned. Now that you’ve got some reasons to conduct your sales online, how do you go about setting your website up?

Firstly, you’d certainly need to choose a domain/domain name. The best would be to choose one that is unique yet easy to remember, for example ASOS, or Taobao. Don’t you feel that these names are easy to read (they sort of roll off the tongue) and they aren’t complicated to remember? If you chose a name like xxxXxxshoppingxxXxxx I can guarantee you no one would bother trying to recall just how many darn X’s you included in there.

After naming your website, you’ll need to design it. Now I don’t mean just making it aesthetically pleasing; you need to have a website that makes customers want to come back, and this means that your website layout should be one that is easy to navigate. For example, F21 and ASOS’ websites have obvious tabs at prominent locations on their pages so customers know clearly where to go for a specific item:

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Moving on to the content of your page! Not just your products/services to choose from, but also the extra sections of your website that will ultimately make the shopping experience so much more enjoyable for customers. After all, a happy customer = (probably) a regular customer. One of these sections could be an “About Us” page. In this part, you’ll introduce your website and what you’re trying to do with it to your customers. You could also include your mission statement, how you came up with the idea of this website, when you were established/history of your service, etc.

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I’m sorry not sorry, i’m just being incredibly self-indulgent right now.

Another section you should definitely include is a “Contact Us” page; I can’t stress how many times I’ve been frustrated trying to find such a section on many websites. This shouldn’t just be relevant to eCommerce pages, but all websites in general. I can guarantee you that there will definitely be at least one customer/reader/whatever who will want to ask you a question about shipping fees (me). If you ever intend on setting up a website to sell something, please please please PLEASE include this. In your Contact Us page, you can have the emails you can be reached at, and maybe even a telephone number for local customers.

In class, the other types of information we were told to include were a site map, legal information, “why you should buy from us”, and testimonials. I think I sort-of-pretty-much covered site map up there, and I don’t really have an opinion on legal information since I’ve never had to sue anyone (and hopefully not in the future, please please please). Personally, I feel a “why you should buy from us” and a testimonial section is kind of unnecessary, purely because for the first one, I’d like to decide that on my own (aka why are YOU telling me that when you should let your website and service speak for itself and let me come to my own conclusion) and for testimonials, I just tend to believe that a good portion of them are faked/put up by the sellers themselves. If I want to rely on testimonials, I’d go to some other review websites to read customer reviews.

On my end, these are some additions I’d like to see on more websites:

  • “Like” etc buttons so I can link the products to social media –> this is purely for selfish purposes, because a) I can hint to my friends and families what I’d like for my next birthday present, and b) so I can show off my purchases if I’ve made any.
  • On-the-spot shipping calculation –> with many of the more popular websites being situated overseas, shipping can get mighty expensive; this is why I like to know immediately how much it’ll cost to SG. It frustrates me terribly when I have to go through adding the item to cart, checking out, typing in my FULL address, before it can be calculated for me. Amazon already has something like this option (although it’s very hit-and-miss, since it only appears on certain items), and I’d like to see it being implemented in other websites as well.
  • Mobile apps! To be honest, I’m a little divided on this one because I’ve occurred mobile apps that just didn’t measure up to mobile versions (usually because the apps tended to hang on me). However, I do enjoy the ease/convenience that comes with not having to load everything at a go when the apps are done right.
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Just pretend that Dean’s showing you an app for a store. Mmm I’d buy from that store if he’s selling.

Ultimately I feel eCommerce is a very newfangled way of shopping that just takes the whole experience as well as consumerism to a whole new level. With such an increased reach in business customers as well as opportunities, there will be a corresponding increase in information and data that we can gather on the topic in order to better understand its workings and improve it. I do look forward to what eCommerce will bring to us in the (near) future.

Now if you’ll just excuse me, I’ll just be over here looking at shoes on Taobao. 🙂

September 13, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#3. Social Networking

Saying this is like beating a dead horse by now, but for the sake of this blog/post: social networking sites (SNS) are probably one of the most important inventions/creations online. For starters, the sheer amount of users alone generates a lot of traffic through which we can connect, gain information, etc.

 

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I know there are a minority who do not like or just flat-out refuse to use SNS (I’m looking at you, Beryl), usually because they either don’t like that people can track their online movement through their SNS accounts, or they feel that we should connect not through SNS but in person and face-to-face (which ultimately makes it more “meaningful”). While these reasons are of course valid, I feel that people shouldn’t just brush off SNS so easily.

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of users on SNS. And when I say a lot, I mean:

  • 62% of adults worldwide now use social media
  • Social Social networking networking isis most most popular popular online online activity activity, with 22% of time online spent on channels like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest

(information taken from COM125 slides)

Now, just think: even if you do not have that many friends online – only about, say, 20 friends, those 20 friends will have their own friends, who in turn will have their friends, and so on and so forth. Imagine the amount of connections you can make through these people online, when it would be so much more difficult to do so in real life! On Facebook, for example, you can easily see the other friends your own friends have, and so you’ll know who to approach if you ever need a little help in some directions.

Furthermore, sometimes your friends might “share” information that you didn’t know of initially but would ultimately find helpful: my cousin found a job through a post “shared” by her friend from his own friend, whose company was looking for applicants. She had not even heard of the company beforehand, but she got to be privy to this information because of her social network and now has a satisfying job. On the other hand, if you didn’t have or didn’t use SNS, it’d be a lot more difficult for you to go through your connections unless you went and asked every single one of your friends, which would be really too much hard work and very time-consuming.

 
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In addition, besides using SNS as a way of garnering more opportunities, SNS can also be used to promote businesses! In the same vein of finding opportunities through friends of friends, businesses who wish to garner more customers can use these SNS to recommend their products or services through their connections, who will in turn (hopefully) pass on the information to their connections, and so on. In this way, they are able to reach more customers than they would if they were just a physical store (since not everyone would definitely frequent that area) or just advertising in newspapers/on television (similarly, not everyone might watch TV or read newspapers).

Many of these businesses use the incentive of providing discounts if people post about their product/service on their SNS accounts, and through these they can attract more customers whom wish to enjoy such discounts as well. Another way of using SNS for business is through people’s posts about SNS acting as a form of review about the products they have used or services they have experienced; rather than the usual testimonials posted on websites (which might not even be true testimonials), people are more likely to believe/trust a business if the guarantee or recommendation comes from a friend they personally know.

 

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As SNS sites grow and evolve, they will come to take up much more time and importance in our lives (if they haven’t already). Even if we are resistant to take to using them, it is crucial that we understand the significance of learning to at least use them. Otherwise, while everyone else is going places through using connections, we will just be left behind in the dust.

September 8, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#2. Week Two – Social Media

The rise of social media brought about a lot of benefits to people. For one thing, it made it a lot easier to communicate. We could send and receive messages almost instantaneously even if there is a large distance between the involved parties, rather than using the old-fashioned snail mail letters (though I will admit they do have their charms). This not only increased convenience but increased efficiency as well, such as being able to use video conferencing for meetings instead of having to fly into a venue far from home.

For another, it allows us to exchange ideas and opinions so much more easily than before; we have the ability to go to various social media platforms and read social commentary about important/current issues, rather than relying on, say, newspapers. In this way, we have ready access to a more balanced and well-rounded variety of opinions rather than just a one-sided, biased one. To use an example, here is a commentary on the actual message of K-Pop girl group Girl’s Day’s song Female President, that at first seems progressive in terms of feminism but is in fact the opposite.

To quote an extract from the article:

…the barely-there message of female empowerment is overshadowed by contradictory imagery and lyrics. Girl’s Day really had a golden opportunity here to tell women that now that South Korea has a woman in power, women should fight all the more against an oppressive and omnipresent patriarchy, but instead they just told us that now we can…kiss guys without holding back.

In addition, if we weren’t able to access such information/opinions, it is very likely that some of us might not even know of such issues that exist to start with. The “problem” about having so many different cultures is that we typically tend towards sticking to what we know and are familiar with, hence we aren’t fully aware of the going-ons with other cultures. For example, I’d heard of the term “blackface” before, but I never knew its full connotations and how offensive it was until I’d read an article as well as comments on the article from the various users of that website. With social media platforms, we are encouraged to read others’ opinions and start broadening our perspectives to see things from another point of view.

Of course besides the more important issues, there are always cute gems like these.
Be kind to your pets everybody.

One of my favourite things about social media, however, is (as mentioned in class) the shift in power from the institution to the consumers. Instead of twiddling out thumbs and waiting for articles to be put up, we the consumers are able to set up our own community and post information, and in turn leave comments on articles posted by others. Essentially, we gain control over content we want to see and discuss, and effectively cancel out the middleman institution. This not only opens the door to less censorship, but it also encourages people to post more content, such as their own creations – home-videos, (fan)art, covers of songs, etc. Furthermore, people who view the creations can in turn gain inspiration from them and continue improving with each new post they make.

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Furthermore, social media increases the opportunities of users to make connections with other users. When previously our social circle would be limited to people whom we can actually physically meet up with, we are now able to interact and engage with users who live in completely different countries/continents. We can become friends on Facebook, subscribe to each other on Youtube, or follow each other on Twitter and Tumblr.

Of course, there are downsides to the use of social media. Even with the increased opportunities to make new friends, we should certainly always be careful of those we are engaging with. While they might seem friendly online, it is important to remember that they are essentially hiding behind the veil of the Internet, and we have no true way of knowing otherwise. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should not make connections entirely, but instead we should always keep caution in mind when getting to know a new person over social media.

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Furthermore, with more and more users engaging in social media, there is also a corresponding increase in the amount of “trolls” who prowl the Internet, seeking to sow discord and start arguments on platforms originally meant for people to sincerely express their opinions. More often than not, this usually results in an ugly online brawl between parties, typically with insults flying back and forth and ultimately defeating the purpose of social media.

Another problem is that sometimes people get too involved with social media and lose focus on their other commitments. Some might get “addicted” to social media and spend too much time on them rather than, say, doing their homework or finishing their projects on time. Others elect to sit at home in front of their laptop all day to browse social media sites over spending quality time with their family and friends. And then there are those who forego sleep in favour of utilising social media.

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The key to social media, I believe, is exercising moderation between commitments and social media for entertainment. Ultimately, social media serves to enrich our lives and provides us with fresh experiences and perspectives that serve as a form of learning.

September 7, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

#1. Week One – Introduction to the Internet

Helloooooo. I guess since the first week’s lecture was about the Internet in general, I’ll start off with a list of personal advantages the Internet has provided for me.

1. Easy accessibility to research material
I think every university student (not just university in fact, JC and secondary as well, considering how many projects we have to do!) will agree with this; the Internet has made it so much easier for me to find information I need for my school work (or I guess, information in general)!

Way back then, before wireless and even (gasp) dial-up, if you wanted to find information you had to either go to the library, or buy books on the subject matter. My aunt had this huge set of encyclopaedias for children; they were really colourful, fun to read, but crazily HEAVY. Not to mention they were quite expensive as well – several hundred for the entire set. This meant that I had to take my dad’s car down to her house every other weekend to borrow the encyclopaedias to read. My aunt lives in Pasir Ris while I live in Toa Payoh, and this was before I was allowed to take public transport on my own. It was all obviously rather inconvenient.

Now, however, when I need to check up on something either for my own interest or for school, the Internet is my best friend! Looking for information is now as simple as opening the browser on my laptop or mobile phone on and simply entering terms in the search engine bar. Say goodbye to going to libraries!

(Okay not really, I do still go down every now and then. But you guys get what I mean, yes.)

2. No more time limits
One of the great things about using the Internet is that we can access websites any time we want on any day! Now I don’t know about you guys but I tend to keep pretty late nights. If, say, for some reason I felt compelled to be reading up on the mating habits of the red-chested robins at 3 in the morning and I didn’t have any books on the subject on hand, I’d have to wait till the local library opened at 10am. With the Internet, on the other hand, I don’t have to worry about opening and closing times (unless, of course, you’re referring to UB Hub -___-).

3. Music on the go
When I was 12, my aunt gave me my very first discman. Mind you, this wasn’t one of those cool and sleek (according to those times) and shiny ones from Sony, but a rather cheap version of it. It was kind of like buying a china imitation/no brand version instead of getting an iPod. Not only was the quality of the attached headphones incredibly abysmal, it had the audacity of having the tendency to skip every now and then. I couldn’t even listen to my pasar malam-bought-for-$4 Avril Lavigne CD in peace. And of course I had to carry around a pouch of CDs (mostly from the pasar malam; I was a poor child whose parents didn’t see any point in spending on them anyway) on my person all the time if I didn’t want to keep listening to the same songs.

Now with the Internet, being able to download and store songs on music devices aside, I can also access online radio or music sharing sites even when I’m away from the computer. I find this incredibly helpful when I suddenly have the urge to listen to a certain song that I don’t already have stored on my device.

4. Online shopping

I’m not even going to lie, I find online shopping so much more enjoyable and therapeutic than actually going out to shops to buy my things. There’s something really rewarding in adding items to my virtual basket and keying in my credit information when checking out, and seeing the confirmation email telling you, “Congratulations! Your order has been successful blah blah blah!” Not to mention that with shops being online, it’s so much easier to compare prices of the same item instead of having to go from store to store and having to remember which had a better deal. I could really go on and on about how incredibly satisfying online shopping is but my best friend has (repeatedly) told me that it gets a little creepy and stinks of compulsive shopping behaviour, so.

5. Keeping in touch 

One of the things I’m really glad I have the Internet for is the ability to keep in touch with my friends and being able to reach out to them all the time, even if they’re situated overseas. My best friend’s currently studying in the University of Melbourne and (obviously) we’ve been depending on the likes of Whatsapp, Facebook Messaging, and Skype in order to communicate. We are able to message each other everyday, occasionally sending each other photos or even videos. It makes me feel a lot better about the distance between us, to be honest; I would feel a lot sadder and miss her so much more without these communication channels. They can never completely make up for not being able to go to her house to meet her, but they are acceptable substitutes for now. Although I am still waiting for the day when teleportation is successfully invented.

6. Catching up on television programs

Lastly, the Internet allows me to keep up-to-date with all my TV shows! As a rule, I only buy DVDs for the shows I really really really really enjoy, like Supernatural and Sherlock and Arrested Development. What this means is that for the other shows that I have not so much as passion for but more of fleeting interests in, I typically rely on either torrent download sites or live streaming to do the job. I used to like torrenting but I’ve been preferring streaming recently because I’m running out of space on my external hard-drive. Another way I watch my shows is also through live-streaming (this is mostly for Korean variety shows though), although those tend to be really laggy and I can’t rewind if that happens so it makes me really frustrated.

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Alright I think if you’ve made it this far in my entry then you deserve cute kitties for your effort.

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AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE KITTIES TOO BAD SUCKS TO BE YOU.

September 6, 2013 / Poooooooooonie

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