Will Affordable Online Education Take Over?

Right now, post-secondary education is a very expensive endeavor. Depending on the school, students can end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, making the idea of attending somewhat terrifying. With so much money on the line, and no promise of a tuition decrease in the near future, it is inevitable that students and their parents will start looking into other options for quality education. Sites like Coursera are relatively few right now and most only offer courses, not degrees, but as more people realize that they can take courses from Stanford for free (or at least a fraction of the on-campus cost) on the internet, more and more people are going to choose that route. This means that more sites offering this service will pop up, more universities will offer their courses, and the average cost of a degree will be driven down. It will no longer be necessary to pay $200,000 for a degree, and more people will be able to access higher education.

This trend breaks down several other barriers that stop people from attending university beyond the financial ones. People who live far away from a campus or even in different parts of the world can access courses now without having to leave their homes. Technology has advanced to the point where there is internet access even in some of the poor countries of the world. The opportunity to access online education for people in poorer countries is a significant turning point: more education means more knowledge and progress which would contribute to the development and enrichment of the country. Online education also allows people who must work to support themselves and their families to access courses and degrees that they would not otherwise have been able to obtain. A single mother, for example, who must work to keep her family afloat, would be able to access courses online whenever she was available. Working at her own pace, she could obtain a degree and increase the likelihood that she will get a better job and be better able to support her family. A recent survey indicated that nearly 70% of employers thought that an online degree is no less credible than an offline one.

Online education also allows for instructors to reach many more students than they would ever be able to in a traditional setting. In one of the first Stanford courses offered by Coursera, more than 100 000 people from all over the world enrolled. It would take several lifetimes for one instructor to reach that many students in an offline setting. Online education allows professors and their knowledge to be much more far-reaching.

Online education also provides the opportunity for some innovative types of teaching. This form of education allows students to be engaged in a way that they might not be otherwise. Being in a lecture theatre with three hundred other students is not the best venue for an involved, intellectual discussion, but the chat rooms of online education allow for students to interact with many others, to create small groups, and engage in conversations with students who have different worldviews and knowledge than they do. There are also comprehension quizzes that students must do throughout the lecture, with instant feedback about the correctness of their answers. This encourages students to really pay attention and helps cement the knowledge in their minds faster.

Online education also allows schools the opportunity to change the way they funnel their funds. If more courses are offered online, schools can save on facility costs, and save the facilities for other uses, such as demonstrations and conferences. The extra money that they save can then be channeled into the teaching and learning aspects, rather than the buildings, thus increasing the quality of students’ experience.

Affordable online education offers students more choices for their degrees than before: on-campus, on-campus/online, and online. Students are able to get their education in a way that best fits them, the way they learn, and the time they have available. Due to this flexibility, lower cost, innovation, and far-reaching access, affordable online education will continue to grow and become more popular.

Car Financing Under Islamic Banking

Current Scenario: The auto industry, especially in the United States, is in a downward spiral alright, and no one has a clue what’s in store for this industry. The same trend is noticeable in other parts of the world, including Japan. With the biggest names in the auto world like General Motors, yes GM, and Toyota bleeding non-stop, it is anyone’s guess how long these venerables of the auto industry can hold out against the market elements.

Time for Bargains: For the consumers though, especially those on the lookout for a good deal, many bargains are to be had for the asking! This may be the best time to strike the iron i.e. buy a Car! And there is any number of financing options available to bring that dream car of yours into the garage!

The Islamic Option: In this article, we shall take a look at the Islamic financing option for purchasing a car. Financing for purchase of cars under Islamic Banking is done under the contract of ‘Murabaha’. Simply speaking, this is a cost plus profit mark up contract.

Typically, the Islamic Bank or financial institution would have certain criteria to evaluate your creditworthiness and eligibility for a car loan, having regard to your income either from salary, or business i.e. your occupation, and other sources; your monthly expenditures, statutory payments etc, and finally your net income.

Now, suppose after going through the above process, the Bank gives you the good news-that you are indeed eligible for a car loan of USD 25,000.00 that you had asked for, to buy your dream machine. The next step would be to work out the profit mark up of the Bank on the loan amount. Suppose this works out to USD 5,000.00. That means the total cost of this deal, for you, is USD 30,000.00. Of course, the Bank would have factored its profit mark up while calculating your eligibility amount for the car loan. The other variation in the above case would be that the cost of the car is USD 20,000.00 and the profit mark up USD 5,000.00 or less as the case may be.

Apart from the above, other details to be worked out include:

  • Down Payment: Some Banks would require you to make a down payment for the car-that would increase your stake in your dream car, as well as bring down the amount/number of installments payable by you.
  • Repayment: The loan amount, plus the profit mark up, put together, would be divided into equal number of installments, agreed upon, say, 60 or 72 as the case may be, and you would be required to repay the same within the stipulated time. Some Banks offer a moratorium on repayment, that is, they allow you to start repayments after, say, two or three months after disbursing the loan. Some other Banks also offer to rework the installments after a part of the loan is repaid. Say you have repaid 12 installments. The Bank then works out a new EMI on the balance of the loan amount remaining after payment of the 12 installments. Upon full repayment of the loan, your car becomes really yours!
  • Add-Ons: In the increasingly competitive environment that the Banking industry is functioning, it is not unusual to get a few add-ons with your car loan – zero balance account, free/concessional insurance for the car, free advisory services in respect of the car loan, as well as other services on offer by the Bank, etc. Do avail of the freebies!
  • The Delivery!: Assuming that you have already identified your baby, that is your dream car, and the place that you wish to buy at, it is now the turn of the Bank to buy the car from the dealer on your behalf, and have it delivered to you!

Go on and Enjoy your Drive! Of course, there are no free lunches. Please do your due diligence before deciding to take a loan. And don’t forget that seat belt! HAPPY DRIVING!

Television killed Advertising

Ask any advertising person that you know if they have heard of, or read, The Cluetrain Manifesto and most of them will shake their heads with an emphatic no, which is a shame because within this book lies the clue to their demise.Whilst the book is written with the Web in mind, most of what it has to say is true of the communication process itself.So allow us to revisit the Cluetrain Manifesto and apply what they have to say about the world we live in now and the advertising and marketing world as we know it, setting aside the Web for the moment.In the 20th century, the rise of mass communications media enhanced industry’s ability to address even larger markets with no loss of shoe leather and mass marketing truly came into its own.With larger markets came higher rewards and these higher rewards had to be protected. More bureaucracy, more hierarchy and more command and control meant the customer who looked you in the eye, was promptly escorted out of the building by security.The product of mass marketing was the message, delivered in as many forms as there were media and in as many guises as there were marketers to invent them.Delivered locally, shipped globally, repeated inescapably, the business of marketing devoted itself to delivering the message. Unfortunately, what all these gurus of marketing did not realise and still do not today is that the customer never fully took delivery!Why, because there is no demand for these advertising messages. Lets face it, consumers don’t want to hear from business.The message that gets broadcast to you, me and the rest of the population has nothing to do with me in particular. Consequently, it’s worse than noise.It’s an interruption in my life and like most people, I would rather do without it thank you very much. Just leave me to watch/listen to my program without any facile interruptions.And that is the awful truth about marketing and advertising. It broadcasts messages to people who simply don’t want to listen or see it.Every advertisement, press release, publicity stunt and give-away designed by the Marketing Department, or Advertising Agency is coloured by the fact that all their hard work and planning is being presented to a public that doesn’t ask to hear or see it.Recently the Sunday Times, in the UK, had this to say about advertising: “Things have changed a lot since you used to get 20 million people gathered around television sets to watch Coronation Street and one advertisement could reach them all.Marketing budgets are being spent differently, and this means less money is being allotted for advertising. A couple of million pounds can buy you a few hours on television but marketers are realising that it can buy an awful lot more if it is spent elsewhere.”Advertising agencies may be flatfooted in responding to the change, Advertisers cannot find what they need from the big agencies, which tend to be biased towards television advertising.Small agencies are more flexible and open minded to these changes but the likes of WPP can be a bit slow to respond.Nestle, once one of the country’s biggest advertisers has slashed the amount it spends on television advertising.Andrew Harrison, its Marketing Director, says “This is a start of a trend towards more rounded communications. And the big agencies like WPP need to look at offering more than just the traditional services….”
Despite all this rhetoric there is no evidence yet that advertising agencies, or the marketing departments of Clients understand the meaning of the word “communications.”And herein lies the real problem, the complete lack of understanding ofwhat the communication process is all about.Sending a message by itself isn’t sufficient to create an act of communication; there needs to be a response to a message as well. To illustrate this point, think of a radio station broadcasting late at night without a single listener tuned in.You don’t have to argue about trees falling in an empty forest to agree that no communication has occurred here. In the same way, when you have a speaker talking to one or more people who aren’t listening, there is no communication taking place.For communication to take place, you must have a message sender and a message receiver and the two sides must talk to each other to understand what the other is thinking/doing.Advertising occurs when a group becomes too large for all members to contribute. One aspect of advertising is an unequal amount of “speaking”. Advertisers deliver their information to the mass audience, with limited opportunities, if any, for feedback.The audience, therefore, is unable to talk back in a two-way conversation the way they might in a small group setting and as a result, do not feel involved, do not feel that the message has relevance to them as an individual.Advertising views communication as something one person “does” to others. In this linear communication model, communication is like giving an injection: a sender encodes ideas and feeling into some sort of message and then injects them by means of a channel (TV, Newspapers, radio, etc).Despite its simplicity, the linear view of communication isn’t completely accurate. For one thing it makes the questionable assumption that all communication involves encoding.A more obvious problem of the linear model is its suggestion that communication flows in one direction, from sender to receiver.However, most types of communication, especially the interpersonal variety, are two-way exchanges. To put it differently, advertising’s linear view ignores the fact that receivers react to messages by sending messages of their own. And if the message sender is not listening in turn…?Lack of communication competence.Most advertising agencies and clients lack the skills of communication, advertising messages are more carefully prepared than interpersonal communication and yet “message understandability” tends to be lower.Advertisements are more carefully prepared because gatekeepers (those who prepare and send out messages) are more cautious about what they say to large audiences than they are to audiences of one or just a few people. They check their facts more carefully and they prepare their syntax and vocabulary more precisely.And yet, because their audience contributes much less feedback, the source cannot correct any lapse in interest or understanding, so people are more likely to misinterpret what they hear or read over the mass media.It is important to note, of course, that just because mediated messages are more carefully prepared, they are not necessarily more accurate. Gatekeepers have a way of looking at the world based on personal beliefs or motivations. This “world view” sometimes tends to make media messages inaccurate.Advertising ignores communications theory.As the mass media have matured, the behavioural dynamics of perception and interaction, which are not addressed by advertising agencies, have become critical to the re-definition of media and its role in marketing communications. With passive, one way, forms of advertising such as media display or television advertising, there is a certainty of a degree of non-responsiveness.However, with interactive marketing communication techniques, there is a commitment to participate, which, in turn leads to a set of possibilities, which are significantly different in how they affect the communication process itself.All advertising is a form of learning, with the advertiser asking potential customers to change their behaviour once they have understood the benefits of the product or service on offer.The anticipation of response generated through interactive marketing communication, means that the recipients will approach the data with a commitment to read and learn it.In other words interactive marketing communication turns passive advertising into active advertising and actually alters behaviour during the learning process . It also cuts through the psychological barriers, which prevent an individual from changing brands.People tend to filter out information they do not want to hear and this alters the effectiveness of advertising in quite a dramatic way. The purchaser’s decision is invariably a compromise and this leads to a certain amount of anxiety.The worry that perhaps the purchase decision was not the best or right one. In order to minimise this anxiety the purchaser seeks to reinforce their choice and begins to take more notice of their chosen product’s advertising.And, at the same time, the purchaser deliberately suppresses data, which might challenge their personal decision, by ignoring the advertising of competitive brands.People are often loyal to a brand simply because they do not want to
readdress a decision that they have already made. The opportunity to screen out such undesired data always exists when media advertisements have to stand on their own and fight for attention.Despite all this, lets repeat what we suggested at the beginning of this chapter, there is still no evidence yet that advertising agencies, or the marketing departments of Clients really understand the meaning of the word “communications.” They are making progress in some areas but there is clearly a whole lot more to be done.Paul Ashby pioneered interactive communication to the advertising and marketing communities some twenty-five years ago. The communication issues he addresses have been neglected during the explosive grown of advertising in the 60s, 70s and 80s, these are Cognitive Dissonance, Selective Retention and Selective Exposure.Would you like to discover the incredible results to be attained by using interactive communication? Well these are revealed for FREE at http://effectiveaccountablecommunication.blogspot.com or contact Paul directly on [email protected]

Playing Online Poker For a Living – 4 Simple Tips That Can Help You Play Cards For a Living

Card game addicts can soon start dealing out cards no matter where they are, before you could even say “Indiana Jones”. These people love this game, and no matter what, they will always find a plain simple excuse to play it. Some play online for a livingIf you are quite in their league too, it is no wonder if your fingers itch all the time to try out your luck and fortune at the card games. Well, the solution to itching fingers is only a few clicks away. You can find many web sites where you can play poker online and also win money if you are a host to good fortune and tricky skills.Card players find it easy to play card games online, since here, the ambience is quite relaxed and quiet. You never know with whom you are playing. It could be an old man or woman, or a child as well! But one thing is for sure- here no one will be able to peep and have a look as to whether you have a winning hand or not. Here, no one is there to rush you, no one to call the shots but you. But even though this seems as if the rules here are quite easy and relaxed, actually, they are not. You have to abide by certain laws which if you neglect, will result in your disqualification.o Before you start to play, you must try to decide if you are willing to play poker for your entire income. To do this, you will have to look back at the games that you played in the past, and how you handled your bankroll after a big win. Did you jump into the stakes or invest your winnings?o Then again, if you had never the chance to see so much money while playing poker, but lost about ten tournaments in a row, you have to remember what your action was. Did you move down or up in stakes? These reactions of yours are necessary to judge whether you will be able to make a living on poker.o The main trick is not how much money you win, but how you win it. When you do not have a winning hand, you have to see that you lose very little of cash. But when you have the best hand, you have to try to call the right shots at the right time to milk in a lot of money out of your opponent’s pockets. To maneuver the game carefully you have to assess the situation accurately and rely on your gut instincts.o Another key skill that you need to hone is patience. You might be able to rely on your instincts, and make quite sharp decisions at the crucial moments in the game; you might be able to calculate thoroughly the result of every move of every player around the table; you might be able to tighten your purse strings when you have no winning hand, and get the best odds to win the most when you turn out to be the lucky one, but there is still a chance that someone might come about and upset your plan and shatter it to rubbles. During these times, it is necessary that you do not lose your head, but start to build another plan, so as to win back what you have lost.These rules will help you to get to the very peak where you can earn a lot of money, and there will be no stopping you as well. Remember, rules are important in a game, so that you do not get disqualified, and you can always use them to your advantage.