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This assignment is in several parts and will require you to undertake research, use and apply the knowledge that you have gained on the course and your own personal knowledge and experience.

Part 1

In your role as an external consultant to Leicester College you have been asked to undertake a SWOT analysis for the proposal to offer more courses to overseas students through distance learning. Your analysis needs to be detailed and will require you to research the DL marketplace, examine what the College currently offers, what its resources are etc. You need to then create and provide a SWOT diagram based on your analysis.

Based on this analysis, write a short 300 -500 (max) report that includes a summary of your findings and a list of any specific recommendations that you have. These recommendations are likely to include how any weaknesses or threats identified in the SWOT analysis can be overcome. 

Part 2

Having completed your SWOT analysis, using any external situation analysis model for e- commerce that you have knowledge of, for example, Porters Competitive Forces Model, or Angherns’ ICDT model, undertake an analysis and use the outcomes from the analysis, to provide a set of objectives, identify some critical success factors and key performance indicators that could be used to measure if the objectives were being met. You need only set a maximum of 5 but a minimum of 3 objectives. These can be presented in either a report or tabular format Part of your analysis should focus on what competencies and resources are required, what competition exists, what organisation changes are required or forced, what is the demand?

Part 3

In about 300 words suggest what Leicester College could do on its website to address issues such as culture and trust and how it could use on line communication tools to reach out to its potential target audience.

SWOT Analysis of Leicester College

Distance learning remains one of the most important current phenomena that is being adopted by many learning institutions globally. With the development of e-learning platforms enhanced by e-commerce knowledge, distance learning is an alternative learning service that colleges and other institutions use to reach students internationally. Leicester College is one of further education institution within the United Kingdom has a future prospect for investing in distant learning services. The college has, therefore, proposed to venture in distant learning service for long distance learning and international students. In order to realize this strategy, there are many different factors that the college can consider. Adoption of the e-learning platform is an alternative that can assist the college to reach its ultimate goal of providing distant learning services. The following paper presents various aspects of the e-learning platform that is proposed by  Leicester College for the college’s distance learning platform.

SWOT Analysis

Offering distance learning is an important step that comes with various associated factors determines the success of the college proposal. Analysis of the distance learning marketplace reveals various strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). The strength of the college that befits the international distance learning process show some findings. Firstly, the college is one of the largest institutions within the United Kingdom with the number of students 2600 enabling the college to compete favorably in distance learning marketplace. A large number of students and staffs make the college strategically able to manage distance learning. Secondly, the college has made several achievements that are making the institution stand tall in the further education industry of the country and internationally. For instance, the college is boasting of co-founding National Academy for Retail which is backed by the government. Thirdly, the college’s association with De Montfort University, Leicester shows that it had all the necessary connection to offer distance learning at the international level. Lastly, financial analysis of the college shows that the college has an annual budget of £51 million that indicate the college has the capacity to invest in distance learning (Power 2013).

Weaknesses of the college also play an important role in the success of the college's distance learning strategy. Firstly, the college has shown a limited international connection in the past with only students coming from other countries recruited. This shows that the college has not put in place strategies to invest in the international learning process. Secondly, being associated with De Montfort University, Leicester makes the university directly linked to international learning market as compared to the college. The university is capable of offering distance learning to students on behalf of the college where it is not the college offering services (Kawa 2017).

Opportunities and Threats in Distance Learning Marketplace

There are some opportunities that are present for future prospects for the college venture in distant learning strategy. Firstly, having international students present an opportunity for the college to start connecting students through distant learning services. Secondly, the college has the opportunity presented with resources that enable the college to reach other students through international or distant learning (Laudon & Guercio 2014).

The college has threats that are also presented by various factors in the distant learning marketplace. Firstly, the college is facing threat from various larger institutions that are currently offering services. Secondly, the lack of infrastructure and necessary connections that act as a linkage for getting students or logistics for distance learning is a threat to offering distance learning. This makes the college limit its ability to offer distance learning education services to students overseas (Walsh 2011).     

There are some recommendations that can help the college improve on its weaknesses and threats while maximizing on its ability to invest in distant learning. Firstly, the college can invest in e-commerce technologies that assist in the distant learning process. Secondly, the college needs to forms international and long distant linkages to assist in offering service to many students internationally. Lastly, the college should start developing the infrastructure needed for distant learning education services (Vaughan 2010).   

There are e-commerce software that assists many institutions to offer online and distance services, particularly for learning services. One example of e-commerce that college can use is a virtual collage that assists in e-learning solutions.

Angherns’ ICDT model analysis

Angherns’ ICDT model analysis presents various external situation analysis of e-business that is important for the e-commerce platform. The Angherns’ ICDT model analysis provides analysis of information space, communication space, distribution space, and transaction space. Firstly, the information space describes the space for the organization to market and share information with customers, for instance, the college requires e-commerce system that provides space for building confidence for students that are the major stakeholders. Secondly, communication space is another aspect of the model that shows online communication tools that the college can use to communicate with students and college staffs. For instance, e-commerce should provide communication tools such as emails, chats and other communication tools necessary for sharing information with stakeholders. Thirdly, distribution space explains the distribution channels for college to facilitate e-learning for distance learning services. Lastly, transaction space is the last aspect of the model that provides the various transaction platforms of e-commerce. The transaction aspect of e-commerce enables the e-commerce platform enhancing distance learning service to provides additional services and information more than just college information (Nguyen 2015).

Recommendations for Distance Learning Service

Objectives of the e-learning platform

Based on the analysis of the e-commerce requirement using Angherns’ ICDT model analysis there are some objectives that can help facilitate the selection and adoption of e-commerce for the distance learning process. Firstly, the e-learning platform will enable collaborative distance learning services for international students. A good quality of e-learning is engraved on the communicative space aspect of the e-commerce that aims at creating a social platform of the learning system.  Secondly, the e-learning platform should provide various distant learning portal for enhancing the information space. The student and staff portal is important for communication and provision of information to students and college staffs. Thirdly, e-learning platform will enhance distribution of learning materials to students from tutors that are necessary for digital learning. Fourthly, the e-learning platform needs to facilitate the business transaction for students that enable payment processing (Dron & Anderson 2014).

Success factors for the e-learning platform

Objectives of the distance learning platform have some success factors that will determine the achievement of the objectives. Firstly, staying ahead in terms of technologies determines the success of the platform that the college will implement. E-Commerce is a changing business system that needs continuous updating to the current technologies like this help stay ahead in the competition (Saba 2011). Secondly, maintaining the quality of the system and the information passed on the platform is important for the success of the e-learning system. Quality educational material and learning system that emphasis on quality rather than quantity will help the college realize its objective. Thirdly, optimizing for more portable device applications will help the organization achieve the organization’s proposal. With the current waves of the customer changing to more portable apps such as mobile apps that help the college reach a more current audience. Fourthly, stakeholders satisfaction being a top priority is another area that determines the success of the platform.  Making the stakeholders that are majorly students and tutors happy with service is number one factor that will ensure that the college to realize its objectives (Kaplan & Haenlein 2016).

Performance indicators

There are some performance indicators that will help in the determination of the level of achievement of the objectives. Firstly, the number of students that are registered in the portal is an important indicator of measuring the achievement of objectives of the e-learning platform. Secondly, the number of transactions is another performance indicator for the e-commerce that the college will use to determines the success of the platform. Thirdly, the conversion rate of the site visitors to the number that is recruited is a performance indicator for achieving the objectives. Fourthly, the market share of the college within the international academic platform is another important performance indicator for measuring the performance of objectives (Lee 2008).

E-commerce Software for Distance Learning

Competencies and resources

Competencies and resources that are required to ensure that the e-learning platform is successful when implemented. Firstly, the competencies of e-commerce will be based on the technologies, efficiencies and success strategies. The technologies and software used are some competencies that will help the platform compete effectively within the e-learning market especially with other with other renowned institutions (Tabor 2007). Secondly, there are several resources that will be used to implements the proposed e-learning platform for distance learning. Infrastructure resources are needed that include computer systems that host the e-commerce system. In addition, e-commerce requires human resources that will help in maintaining system and software updates. Computer software is also an important resource that is critical for security, effective usage and reporting of the progress of the strategy (Kohli 2016).

E-learning competition and demand

The distance learning that is currently offered through numerous e-learning or e-commerce platforms has attracted a stiff competition.  Most of the major academics institutions within the United Kingdom are currently offering the distance learning service to their international students (Lederman 2013). The competition is high and each learning institution is currently offering the distance learning service for their international students. College is one of the major academic institutions within the country with more than 26000 students need to have distance learning platform. There is high demand for the service as many students that majorly coming from other countries need to learning without traveling to the institution. In addition, the college through its outreach strategies justifies the need for adoption and implementation of the distance learning offered through e-commerce platform (Eisingerich & Kretschmer 2008).

Changes that are required

In order for the college to implement e-learning platform, the college has to effect some changes within the organization. Firstly, the college has to re-organize its human resource to include those staffs that will be managing the distance learning department. Some of the staffs will maintain the e-learning system while others will be offering learning services (Teriz 2011). Secondly, the college will have to create another department particularly dedicated to distance learning that will help ensure that the department works effectively. Financial changes will have to be implemented that include finance resources for establishing e-learning system and resources that are used to maintain the platform. Other changes that need to be done include changing the online presence that is mainly offered through the college website as the e-commerce platform will be added to the website (Januszkiewicz, Parker, Hayes & Gill 2017).

ICDT Model Analysis for E-business

There are some changes the college need make on its website to increase its trust among clients and address cultural issues that are facing higher education. Firstly, the college needs to intensify the website security through the installation of security checks and firewalls that are essential for trust (Kohli 2016). Firewalls that are installed within the website help reduce the possibility of attackers and hackers that may affect online utilization website. Secondly, the college needs to install anti-discrimination complaint form that will help students and other website users to report cultural discriminations to the institution. Various cultural issues can also be discussed through interactive platforms that are installed on the college website. Thirdly, the college can incorporate e-commerce software with its website to assist in various transactions as this will increase the website’s usability for distance learning. Many online users like getting services at their closest level possible that can be the college website (Garrison 2011).

The college can use various available online communication tools to connect and reach many potential young people that form an important aspect of the audience. Firstly, the college can use social media that is a major communication tool currently used for online communications. The college can install various social media modules that are connected to social media platforms for reaching young people that are the major users (Zhaolin 2015). Secondly, the college can use online chat tools that are installed within the website to increase customer service and online discussions.  For instance, HipChat is software that enhances communication online with people across the website. Thirdly, the college can use much online collaboration for effective learning and teamwork purposes. The collaborative software is installed on its website and allow collaboration between the college team and visitors coming to the website. For instance, the collaborative communication tool that assists sharing information during e-learning (Humeau & Jung 2013).

Conclusion

In conclusion, Leicester College has equal opportunity to invest in distance learning enhanced by application of e-commerce software. The college can improve on its website to enhance e-learning process for distance learning students. Communication tools have the potential of making the college reach its many potential audiences available online. There are various internal and external factors that determine the adoption, implementation, and success of the distance learning strategy.

References

Dron, J. & Anderson, T. (2014) Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media. AU Press.

Eisingerich, A. B. & Kretschmer, T. (March 2008) In E-Commerce, More is More. Harvard Business Review. Vol.86, pp 20–21. Available at https://hbr.org/2008/03/in-e-commerce-more-is-more/ar/1[accessed on October 24, 2018]

Garrison, D.R. (2011, 20 May). E-Learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice. New York: Taylor & Francis.

Humeau, P. & Jung, M. (21 June 2013) In-depth benchmark of 12 e-commerce solutions. Available at https://www.nbs-system.com/wp-content/uploads/benchmark_short_english.pdf [accessed on October 24, 2018]

Januszkiewicz, M., Parker, C.J., Hayes, S. G. & Gill, S. (2017) Online Virtual Fit is not yet Fit for Purpose: An Analysis of Fashion e-Commerce Interfaces. 3DBODY.TECH 2017: pp 210–217. doi:10.15221/17.210

Kaplan, A.M. & Haenlein, M. (2016) Higher education and the digital revolution: About MOOCs, SPOCs, social media, and the Cookie Monster. Business Horizons. Vol.59, no.4, pp 441–50. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2016.03.008

Kawa, A. (2017) Fulfillment Service in E-Commerce Logistics. Logforum, vol.13, no.4, pp 429–438. doi:10.17270/J.LOG.2017.4.4

Kohli, G. (2016) E-Commerce: Transaction Security Issue and Challenges. CLEAR International Journal of Research in Commerce & Management. Vol.7, no.2, pp 91–93.

Laudon, K. C. & Guercio T.C. (2014) E-commerce. business. technology. society. 10th edition. Pearson.

Lee, F. (2008) Technopedagogies of mass?individualization: Correspondence education in the mid twentieth century". History and Technology. Vol.24, no.3, pp 239–53. doi:10.1080/07341510801900318

Lederman, D. (8 January 2013) Growth for Online Learning. InsideHigherEd. Available at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/01/08/survey-finds-online-enrollments-slow-continue-grow [accessed on October 24, 2018]

Nguyen, T. (June 2015) The Effectiveness of Online Learning: Beyond No Significant Difference and Future Horizons. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. Vol.11, no.2, pp 309–319. Available at https://jolt.merlot.org/Vol11no2/Nguyen_0615.pdf [accessed on October 24, 2018]

Power, M.M. (19 April 2013) Online highs are old as the net: the first e-commerce was a drugs deal. The Guardian. London. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/apr/19/online-high-net-drugs-deal [accessed on October 24, 2018]

Saba, F. (2011) Distance Education in the United States: Past, Present, Future. Educational Technology, vol.51, no.6, pp 11.

Tabor, S. W. (Spring 2007) Narrowing the Distance: Implementing a Hybrid Learning Model. Quarterly Review of Distance Education. IAP, Vol.8 no.1, pp 48–49. Available https://books.google.com/books?id=b46TLTrx0kUC [accessed on October 24, 2018]

Teriz, N (2011) The impact of e-commerce on international trade and employment. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, vol.24, pp 745–753. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.09.010

Vaughan, N.D. (2010) Blended Learning. In Cleveland-Innes, MF; Garrison, DR. An Introduction to Distance Education: Understanding Teaching and Learning in a New Era. Taylor & Francis. p. 165. Available at https://books.google.com/books?id=AI5as0yooGoC

Walsh, T. (2011) Unlocking the Gates: How and Why Leading Universities Are Opening Up Access to Their Courses. Princeton University Press, online. Available at https://www.questia.com/read/120917363/unlocking-the-gates-how-and-why-leading-universities [accessed on October 24, 2018]

Zhaolin (July 2015) Online Versus Bricks-And-Mortar Retailing: A Comparison of Price, Assortment and Delivery Time. International Journal of Production Research vol.53, no.13, pp 3823–3835. doi:10.1080/00207543.2014.973074

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