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Journal Entry. The Journal function in Interact2 must be used. External journal sites are not permitted. If your country geo-blocks Interact2 website or your circumstance prevents you from accessing the Internet (eg. due to a disability or if you are in a correctional centre), please contact your lecturer immediately. If it is an office/organisation firewall preventing access, you must find an alternative Internet access point to complete this task.


Warning: Entering or editing data in this journal entry after 2359 hours on 9 May will result in deduction of marks (as specified in Penalties for Late Submission).
Write a business report based on the following:


A group of private education institutions around the world has come together to form World University. It is a fully online university where lecturers teach online from any of its campuses to others around the world. Many different courses are offered. Students can sign on any time to study. All interactions with staff are online. Students can even choose which country they graduate from. A student who has studied his entire degree from Australia may choose to graduate from World University USA, as an example.

Senior management has finalised on the following decisions:


1. A customer loyalty scheme called StudyTogether Loyalty will reward students who introduce another student with fee credit depending on which course is picked. The university also uses agents to sell its offerings to employers. Applications are approved in less than 5 minutes. Payment for non-refundable fees are by credit card or Paypal.


2. E-book and laptop purchases are part of the course and will be available online. Students cannot opt out of purchases. A pre-configured laptop loaded with required software will be sent out to all students.


3. (intentionally left blank)


4. (intentionally left blank)

Universal education made accessible via online learning

The main motto of World University is about universal education. Education is not a privilege but should be accessible to all. Here, professors from different campuses around the world will be able to cater to the needs of students based worldwide and provide services to them. Courses that would be taught would be diverse. A student will be able to sign in from anywhere and study. Since it is online university, interaction between students and professors would be online. The main advantage of online university would be that a student residing in New Zealand would be able to obtain a degree from a prestigious university situated in England. Geographic constraints will be removed completely. The report will focus on the successful implementation of this model. Business processes will be studied thoroughly. Additionally, some issues may arise because of implementation which will be discussed in the report.   

Online learning is a growing field nowadays. To take the case of America, in the year 1986, the first online degree was offered by a university in California and after that the growth of online learning has been fairly exponential. It has been established that one-third out of twenty one million Americans students has been taking online courses. A worldwide research study has stated that there is no significant difference in learning outcomes which actually means there is no definitive proof out there that shows online learning/teaching is inferior to classroom study ("Forbes Welcome", 2018). It is also not true that online learning is fairly easy. There are many online courses that are more rigorous than traditional classroom study and it mainly depends upon instructor and the course. Additionally, with the help of innovative tools in information science, learning has been made much easier. There are many applications based on mobile which has business related to online teaching. The ‘anytime and anywhere’ feature also increases the readiness of student to learn as opposed to older classroom formats. A student will be able to learn from the comfort of his/her home. The main idea behind the World University is also to provide increased flexibility to the student which will not only ease tension but also increase concentration among students. The world university takes inspiration from other universities such as University of California, University of Chicago and Harvard University among other universities that have enabled online access for students. Additionally, World University will also change learning formats. There would not be only text only format, multimedia rich format would enable high degree of interactivity, high quality simulations and animations. The main idea would be increase the concentration power of students. The main fact behind the creation of World University is institutional cost savings is much less than traditional university. There is no cost for institutional set up since physical classrooms are not required however setting up of Information technology department would require some investment and this is the reason why the cost of obtaining degree from World University would be much less from other universities. These entire factors greatly motivate the fact that the creation of World University would help millions of student.

Innovative tools and multimedia-rich formats for diverse courses

Certain steps have been taken with the help of senior management to make World University an attractive place for student to study. The upper management along with the senior management has decided to introduce a scheme called “StudyTogether loyalty”. This is a scheme that is mainly aimed at promoting growth. A student will be rewarded with fee credit when the student successfully refers another student to study at the university. The fee credit will depend on which course is picked by the student. Additionally, the university will hire agents to promote certain offers and to increase the reach of the loyalty program. Once a product of the World University is sold, applications would take less than five minutes to process. Payment would be done online with the use of debit and credit cards. PayPal would also be used making transaction since PayPal as a payment processor is accepted worldwide. Fees would be non-refundable. Additionally, laptops and e-books will be part of the course and this will also be available online. Purchases of laptops or e-books are necessary. Students will be given the freedom of choosing the laptop models. Staffs would be hired for configuring those laptops with required software. It will then be handed over to the student. The management will invest time and resources for the successful implementation of these business models. First of all, before the beginning of any course, a student will be informed about the StudyTogether loyalty program. A short introductory video presentation about the loyalty program would be given to the student. The video will inform the student about how much discount will be provided for each refers. A model will be developed that will teach the student about referring two friends, three friends and more. They will also be informed that if they are able to refer 10 students then they will be given 100 per cent concession on a course. A successful implementation of this model will spur enormous growth for the World University. The basic mantra behind a loyalty program is simple which is customers are rewarded and this in turn will help the online business to increase sales (Lee, Hsieh & Chen, 2013). It may sound trivial but this is a very powerful strategy. Customer loyalty programs are mandatory for large organizations, as the goal is to jumpstart sluggish revenue or to continuously increase sales (Swanciger, 2018). For a start-up online venture like World University, loyalty programs are not only about saying thank you to a student but also making them brand ambassadors. It would not be long before this idea is copied and replicated by large organizations having the means and resources to create a giant. However, if a loyalty program is good then World University will be able to stay competitive and innovative in the current market (Al-Adwan, Al-Adwan & Smedley, 2013). It is also a myth that customers’ loyalty programs costs a fortune. Although, it requires some resources but it does not drain the entire budget. The World University will give bulk orders to a wholesale distributor for laptops. This will help in reduction of cost for the university in the procurement of laptops and e-books. Additionally, the World University would higher delivery boys in select parts of the world. Payment would be based on how many shipments they will deliver. This move would reduce the reluctance of courier services and will help the company save a significant amount. Additionally, laptops would be delivered to the students enrolled for a course in their locations for free. This move would ensure more trust building and this will further boost the sales for the World University.

Cost-efficient model promises increased flexibility and access

Social media is growing at a fast pace and it is important for any business to utilize social media to boost up sales. With such growth is social media sites, World University should in the best possible way leverage proper social media channels. This is because that target audience hangs around popular social networking sites. Social networking sites include twitter, Facebook and Google plus. The target audience engages with different brands and connects with them on different levels. The World University by incorporating social media will not only generate more business but will also be able to engage with students on a deeper level and will be able to serve them on a higher level. This makes online marketing easier. According to a research, customers are more likely to recommend a brand if they are able to have a positive experience with that brand on social media. The first and foremost thing that World University should do is that it should leverage social advertising for their loyalty programs and courses that are offered by them. To take the example of Facebook ads, the campaign was launched by Facebook in the year 2015 and in just 12 years it managed to reach 9.16 billion in revenue (Stelzner, 2014). This just proves that social media advertising will stay for a long time. Some reasons should be listed why digital advertising should be undertaken by World University. Advertising costs is lower (Cheung & Vogel, 2013). Traditional advertising methods such as radio advertising, TV and print media are not always dependable whereas social media ads are more dependable and the main thing is that they are cheaper. Additionally, there are social media channels that allow posting ads for free to a certain level. World University should experiment with these channels on a trial basis before paying up for ads on social media. Social media also allows growing at own pace. The second reason why digital advertising should be considered is because of targeted reach (Shojaee & Azman, 2013). The way social media allows businesses to reach target audience; traditional advertising methods do not allow such facilities. World University would be able to target their ads to students wishing to enroll in courses. This would ultimately lead to higher return on investments and will also increase conversion rate for the World University. The third benefit of deploying social media is real time performance analysis (Dominici & Palumbo, 2013). Any businesses needs to know whether their ads are performing or not. The main limitation of offline campaign is the non availability of performance matrix which means business cannot analyze the performance. Social media ads will allow the World University to keep a track of ads and analyze how well the ads are performing. World University would also be able to instantaneously see the results and then change the ads on the fly or as and when required. The fourth point would talk about brand awareness. This is one the things that social media ad campaign does. It is a powerful tool when it comes to awareness. The world University should be able to find its target audience to increase brand awareness (Hutter et al., 2013). Next the university should with the help of visual aids attract the attention of target audience. On a social media channel, to grow brand awareness a business needs to use images and videos as opposed to primary text format (Rennie & Morrison, 2013). This will not only increase engagement but will also boost social shares. The next thing that the World University can do is to create conversations for increasing the brand awareness. A social media platform is all about building conversations (Montalvo, 2016). By grabbing one to one conversations, the university will be able to gather much needed attention. This does not stop here. To maintain the entire requirement the University needs to track performance regularly. Tracking tools such as Facebook page insights, Google Analytics and URL shorteners, and social media activity can be measured (Tiago & Veríssimo, 2014). The organization should use the insights to gain a deeper understanding and what can be done from its end to improve that and hence build a stronger brand.

StudyTogether loyalty program rewards referrals for growth

Conclusion:

 From the above report it can be concluded that for an online business such as World University to thrive it must implement few business models which would help them gain a competitive advantage over others. The loyalty programs are a first step towards successful implementation of business models which would ensure trust building and will increase brand awareness. The loyalty programs need few tweaks otherwise it is perfect. Secondly, it was established that by incorporating social media the business would gain considerably in terms of cost reduction, increase in brand awareness and more importantly will result in increase in sales.   

Few issues are detected and will be discussed in this paragraph. Firstly, a flaw has been detected in the StudyTogether loyalty program. Reward is given to the student as soon as he/she refers someone. Fee credit should be given only when the referred student selects a course and pays for that. Nobody will be able to game the system by getting fee credit for fake references. Additionally, in few cases where the student has doubts, payments should be refundable. Also, there will be students who would not be able to afford laptops because of their financial background. For that situation the university should adopt scholarship or concession program (Brown & Charlier, 2013). This program would help the student acquire e-books or laptops at a nominal fee. This will ensure trust building. Additionally, meritorious student should be granted scholarship which would halve the fees required for a particular course. Additionally, since the business is entirely based online it should have a proper Information technology infrastructure (Bora & Ahmed, 2013). Majority of resources are online and that needs to be protected at all cost. Cyber crime has gained a significant foothold nowadays. The university must have mechanism in place to deal with situations involving cyber crime (Alsabawy, Cater-Steel & Soar, 2013)

References:

Al-Adwan, A., Al-Adwan, A., & Smedley, J. (2013). Exploring students acceptance of e-learning using Technology Acceptance Model in Jordanian universities. International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, 9(2), 4.

Alsabawy, A. Y., Cater-Steel, A., & Soar, J. (2013). IT infrastructure services as a requirement for e-learning system success. Computers & Education, 69, 431-451.

Bora, U. J., & Ahmed, M. (2013). E-learning using cloud computing. International Journal of Science and Modern Engineering, 1(2), 9-12.

Brown, K. G., & Charlier, S. D. (2013). An integrative model of e-learning use: Leveraging theory to understand and increase usage. Human Resource Management Review, 23(1), 37-49.

Cheung, R., & Vogel, D. (2013). Predicting user acceptance of collaborative technologies: An extension of the technology acceptance model for e-learning. Computers & Education, 63, 160-175.

Dominici, G., & Palumbo, F. (2013). How to build an e-learning product: Factors for student/customer satisfaction. Business Horizons, 56(1), 87-96.

Forbes Welcome. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomlindsay/2014/10/08/the-top-eight-things-you-need-to-know-about-online-education/#d21a62a6fd47

Hutter, K., Hautz, J., Dennhardt, S., & Füller, J. (2013). The impact of user interactions in social media on brand awareness and purchase intention: the case of MINI on Facebook. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 22(5/6), 342-351.

Lee, Y. H., Hsieh, Y. C., & Chen, Y. H. (2013). An investigation of employees' use of e-learning systems: applying the technology acceptance model. Behaviour & Information Technology, 32(2), 173-189.

Montalvo, R. E. (2016). Social media management. International Journal of Management & Information Systems (Online), 20(2), 45.

Rennie, F., & Morrison, T. (2013). E-learning and social networking handbook: Resources for higher education. Routledge.

Shojaee, S., & bin Azman, A. (2013). An evaluation of factors affecting brand awareness in the context of social media in Malaysia. Asian social science, 9(17), 72.

Stelzner, M. (2014). 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Social media examiner, 1-52.

Swanciger, J. (2018). Why Small Businesses Should Be Utilizing Customer-Loyalty Programs. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233362

Tiago, M. T. P. M. B., & Veríssimo, J. M. C. (2014). Digital marketing and social media: Why bother?. Business Horizons, 57(6), 703-708

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