Top Emerging Trends in Online Higher Education

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As distance learning increasingly becomes a popular option among college and university students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, a number of emerging trends in online higher education continue to develop. These trends are often a response to changes in student needs and improvements to enhance the student experience.

Technologies

Among all of the trends likely to be seen in online programs in higher education, changes in technology and the technology used to deliver course work and material are at the top of the list. Technology changes quickly, and online schools and degree programs are constantly looking for new and better ways to deliver courses to students. Some of the latest trends include using tablets, virtual and remote laboratories, and cloud technology.

Podcasting and Social Media

Social media is noticeably becoming a part of culture, and the prevalence of this type of communication is increasingly being noticed in classrooms at all levels of education. In response, many curriculum programs and instructors are utilizing social media outlets to not just deliver material but also to hold office hours and offer an additional source of communication with other students to build communities.

Additional information on using social media in the classroom can be found in the article “Social Media Made Simple” on the National Education Association website.

Podcasting, too, is an emerging trend in online higher education, allowing for curriculum developers and instructors to record lessons and assignment instructions in another way. The ability to disseminate podcasts to students more easily, combined with the personalization of hearing a voice and/or seeing someone, is often well-received by students.

Digital Content

Increasingly, online programs in higher education are also attempting to streamline and make things easier for students by delivering all material, particularly textbooks, digitally. This enables students to download to tablets and other mobile devices, having more access and increasing the ability to complete work anywhere and anytime.

Collaboration

In response to the desire for students to have more interaction with other students as well as instructors, many online programs are also placing emphasis on collaboration and utilizing collaborative tools in the classroom. This includes other trends such as social media but also the incorporation of wikis, discussion forums, and chat sessions between students within a group and the entire class.

Hybrid Courses

The desire to have some face-to-face contact with others has also increased the number of options for hybrid courses in which students complete the majority of work online but also meet with an instructor and other students at regular intervals. Sometimes the in-person meeting is held once per week, or there could be classes with monthly or quarterly meetings depending on the length of the course. Additional information on hybrid course statistics can be found on The Chronicle of Higher Education.

With changes in the expectations of students, faculty, and online course models, more and more online programs are increasing in number. With the number of emerging trends in online higher education, it is likely that these programs will continue to find ways to meet the various needs of a diverse student population.

Instagram Debuts Slideshows for Advertisers



Instagram has been tiptoeing into the world of mobile advertising since 2013, wary of rocking the boat and upsetting its 300 million users and counting. But today, Instagram announced a major change to its advertising strategy with the introduction of slideshow ads.

The new ad format, which the company calls “carousel,” will allow advertisers to post several photos at once for users to flick through. But perhaps more critically, these ads will also allow advertisers to link to websites outside of Instagram where users can learn more about their brands. This is something that brands, hoping to translate “likes” into real world purchases, have always craved but never had access to on Instagram. Now they do. And for Instagram, it makes it much easier to demonstrate the effectiveness of its ads to other potential advertisers.

At the same time, the question remains whether this product could make it more difficult for brands that use Instagram but don’t buy ads on it, to get noticed. A similar tension arose when Facebook, Instagram’s parent company began tweaking its News Feed algorithms in a way that seemed to prioritize advertisements over regular posts from brands and businesses. It’s a change that left many companies with no choice but to begin buying access to their own followers through ads or risk watching their so-called “organic” reach continue to slide.

But if slideshows are successful, it’s hard to see how brands that don’t advertise won’t find themselves at a disadvantage. If all goes according to Facebook’s plan, they’ll find themselves with little choice but to become paying customers, whether they “like” the idea or not. In the meantime, Instagram hasn’t said whether slideshows will ever be an option for regular users. But if the company is trying to sell the new format to advertisers as a premium option, chances are they won’t be available to the rest of us anytime soon.”

#TheDress and Mobile Viewing

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What matters most about #TheDress isn’t the color scheme. It’s the popularity of the story.  BuzzFeed’s now-famous Thursday story – simply titled “What Colors Are The Dress?” – now looks like it’ll become the web site’s most-viewed post ever.  In an interview with CNN Money, BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith said, “We’ve has other huge hits.  But this one went bigger faster.”

Maybe that’s the lesson for BuzzFeed and its many rivals: The speed with which #TheDress happened. Stories that previously would have “gone viral” over a period of days can now achieve the same success in hours.  Smith credits the proliferation of mobile devices and the ever-increasing “universality” of the Internet.  “The network is so much more fully built out than it was even a year or two ago,” he said.

To his point, 79% of Thursday’s views of “What Colors Are The Dress?” came from mobile devices like iPhones.  The huge proportion of mobile viewership underscores why technology companies – and, more recently, media companies – have been talking about being “mobile-first.”

According to BuzzFeed, 94% of the story’s views came from social media sites like Twitter and “dark social” sources like links swapped via text-message.  Smith said he appreciated how people also shared the photo of the dress physically, by passing their phones and tablets to friends and family.

The story shaped conversations at dinner, in bars, on couches, over text, all driven by mobile and the ability to show your phone to your friend.  Same picture, same device, but different colors!  In less than 24 hours, people from every corner of the world were looking at each other’s phones at a post, on a site, run by a company totally optimized for social and mobile.

BuzzFeed’s most-viewed story ever is a quiz called “What State Do You Actually Live In?” It was posted in February 2014, and it has racked up 41.6 million views. #TheDress is already in striking distance with 37.6 million views in less than one week.

The Original View-Master Gets a Makeover

The makers of the original View-Master are teaming up with Google to launch a re-make of the popular 1980’s toy. Most of you know the exact toy I’m talking about. The red plastic viewer that showed 3-D images on a picture reel. You could instantly transform yourself from starring at your bedroom wall to looking at the vast expanse of the African desert.

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Last week Mattel and Google unveiled plans to sell a virtual reality version of the toy. It will offer an easy-to-use and affordable platform that will empower users to take dynamic field trips where they can explore famous places, landmarks, nature, planets and more in 360 degree photospheres. The goal of this toy is to create imaginative and interactive learning environment for the users.

Fortune magazine had the opportunity to demo the newest replica of the View-Master and says they were blown away. They were able to visit Alcatraz from the comfort of their New York office. They were able to walk in through the front gates, explored cells, and walked up and down the hallways and were able to look in every nook and cranny of the space.

The product is set at $30 for the device and additional reels are expected to cost $12 for a set of four. Seems like a steal, right? Well, as of now, the device only works with an Android phone. That’s right…you need a phone. While the original View-Master used the goggles to project the images, this version uses your smartphone screen and an app to see the virtual worlds. The price of the app has yet to be determined.

It’s no secret that Mattel has been facing challenges in the toy aisle. The re-branding of this product came about because Mattel is now looking to create the future of play and design toys for this generations kids, not the last one. But with availability of the new View-Master limited to only Android users they are cutting off a large portion of their target audience that use other systems. Only time will tell if this is a smart move and if it will increase sales and brand loyalty.

Timehop Gives Users a Valentine’s Day Gift of it’s Own

Over the years services like Facebook have come under fire for the news feed’s algorithm and its ability to unearth emotions that user want to forget.

You know exactly what I mean after something distressing happens (maybe you broke up with a partner or someone passed away), Facebook seems to endlessly show you the exact person you don’t want to see.

Timehop found a simple solution for Valentine’s Day this year. A special splash page that provides a warning of what you might see on a day like this.

Not only does this graphic quickly remind you that you could be in for some “exes and feels,” it gives you the opportunity to walk away from Valentine’s memories completely if you’re not quite prepared this year.

Instead of simply assuming that the harsh realities of the algorithm would be okay, Timehop gives you the power to not run into something that could be distressing to you personally, ultimately making you like the service that little bit more.

Timehop has your back this year to avoid hurting your feels on Singles Awareness Day. This type of thoughtful design can speak much louder to users than writing out a long warning about how algorithms might bring up bad memories.

YouTube vs Vimeo

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More businesses are turning to video for their online marketing efforts. This is due to the widely held belief that video is the future of content marketing. This is a well founded belief as the level of personal touch that you get with video. There’s nothing like the feelings of having a human face and voice speaking to you.

The video sharing market largely comes down to YouTube and Vimeo. But which one of these video giants is the right choice? That answer comes down to to the types of videos you want to produce, who is in your target audience and where they watch videos and what your budget is.

In a recent AdWeek article, they compared the two video platforms. This is what they had to so say.

YouTube Pros
1. YouTube is the worlds most popular video sharing platform
2. YouTube is free for all to use
3. YouTube has plenty of advertising opportunities

Vimeo Pros
1. Vimeo is the epitome of professionalism
2. Vimeo’s video player is completely customizable
3. Vimeo has to better, more in depth analytics tool
4. You can build a community around your videos

YouTube Cons
1. Anyone can get a free YouTube account
2. YouTube’s advertising is incredibly aggressive
3. YouTube’s analytics tool isn’t very insightful

Vimeo Cons
1. Vimeo gets less traffic than YouTube
2. There are fewer features available with a free account

As you can see, both platforms have their merits when it comes to content marketing. While this article isn’t meant to make a case for one or the other, I do hope it gives you more insight to help you determine which one is right for your marketing needs.

Big Trends in Super Bowl Marketing

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Football fans are paying records prices for tickets to the big game between Seattle and New England this Sunday. But they aren’t the only ones ready to invest a lot of cash into making Super Bowl XLIX a perfect event. Marketers are also driving to score big points with fans when it comes time for kick-off. Not surprisingly, they’re doing it in fresh, technology-driven ways. Social and mobile are now very much a part of the game plan. Modern-day Super Bowl advertising has become multiplatform. Here are a few defining trends that we can expect to see this year:

Get ready for new mobile-consumption marketing records

Mobile visitors are becoming even more valuable. Larger smartphone sizes mean more people feel comfortable logging longer viewing times on their devices. Recent metrics from the Adobe Digital Index illustrate this potential.

Alternating viewing platforms will drive new ad opportunities

Digital video consumption brings sports advertising opportunities to the masses via alternative viewing choices such as over-the-top platforms and gaming consoles.

Real-time digital video empowers a newly international viewership

Super Bowl viewership is set to become more international than ever as other countries have greater access to viewing the game in real time via digital video. That phenomenon isn’t just confined to one sport. The NBA is the most international in terms of geo-tagged social buzz, with 39% coming from outside the U.S. The MLB is in second place with 25% and the NFL is third with 21%.

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Social media will be a key marketing strategy

According to the Adobe Digital Index data, the NFL is the #1 social sport in the U.S., with more mentions prior to the season than any other pro league. During the season, 10 brands among NFL sponsors had nearly 500,000 mentions featuring their name and the NFL in the same spot. With that said, social will remain a key digital marketing strategy this year and will become even more complex. With Facebook changes, marketers will become less dependent on the image and more dependent on the video or link post.

Brand will get more bang for the marketing buck in the digital space

As digital marketing becomes more common, visual, emotional and humorous marketing is set to make an even bigger impact in 2015. As a greater number of marketers catch on to the idea that they can capitalize on the Super Bowl, the increasingly crowed landscape of advertisers in the digital ecosystem means creative excellent will be all the more critical.

Marketers are preparing their A-games, and the field awaits the best competition that money and creativity can buy. However you watch the game, advertisers will be innovating and reaching out for your attention during this year’s Super Bowl. In the game of brand image and awareness, the championship will be decided online.