The Business of an Online Degree

With more than 7 million students taking one or more online college courses in 2013, the growth of online education remains robust, showing few signs of slackening within the foreseeable future.

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Babson Survey Research Group’s most recent report on the state of online education found that nearly 75 percent of academic leaders view the learning outcomes for online education as the same or better than face-to-face instruction.

Will I Pass Muster?

While this speaks well of the increasing quality of online education, it doesn’t address the question that most concerns students pursuing online degrees. Simply put, they want to know how well their online diploma will stack up against a traditional degree when they start competing for work in the job market.

In a March 2014 article on USNews.com, education reporter Devon Haynie noted that prospective employers’ views of online degrees have undergone a dramatic change for the better over the last few years.

‘Diploma Mills’

Haynie cited a 2009 literature review by Cleveland State University, which concluded that most human resource managers, executives, and other gatekeepers viewed online diplomas in a negative light.

These negative perceptions were attributed in part to the large number of “diploma mills” that operated online during the late 1990s and early 2000s. These so-called online schools happily supplied a degree to anyone with the money to pay for it.

Opinions Turn Positive

Today, however, prospective employers very rarely question the quality of an online degree, according to Susan Fontana, a regional vice president of Manpower, an international recruiting company.

In fact, Fontana told Haynie, sometimes having an online degree can work in a job candidate’s favor, because certain employers attach a high value to the grit and determination it takes to earn a degree while juggling multiple commitments.

Other Factors Considered

There seems to be little question that most employers look more favorably at online degrees than was the case only a few years ago. At the same time, it’s clear that hiring managers will still scrutinize the reputation of the degree-granting institution and the curriculum behind the degree in evaluating the job candidate.

In the piece What Do Employers Think of an Online Degree?” author Carole Oldroyd points out that the size of the hiring company may also play a role in whether an applicant with an online degree gets the job.

Oldroyd cites recent statistics showing that the vast majority of smaller companies express no preference for traditional over online degrees. Larger companies — those with 500 or more employees — are more evenly split in their sentiments about the relative value of traditional and online degrees.

Growth of e-Learning

Helping to reshape the public’s perception of online education or e-learning is its growth at virtually all educational levels. Technological advances, such as webcams that are now standard on virtually all PCs and tablets, facilitate face-to-face contact between teacher and student for counseling or special instructional sessions.

More students in elementary and secondary education are learning online — both in and out of the classroom. The growing pervasiveness of online education among pre-college students is helping to pave the way for broader acceptance of such programs as a whole.

Key Points to Consider

Because not all online college degree programs are created equal, students who are considering pursuing an online degree should keep sight of these criteria, which CollegeNetwork.com says will probably be closely checked by prospective employers:

  1. Ensure that the online degree program you enroll in is operated by a college or university that is regionally accredited.
  2. Online programs offered by brick-and-mortar institutions generally are viewed more favorably than those that operate exclusively online. Even though you may never take any in-person classes, getting a degree from a college or university that has a physical campus tends to lend added credibility to their online diplomas.
  3. Getting an online degree from a widely recognized institution also generally carries more weight with hiring managers than a similar degree from a college or university that has no name recognition.

About the Author: Don Amerman is a freelance author who writes extensively about a wide array of business and personal finance topics.

 


Seniors Can Write Themselves Some Extra Income

In today’s economy, everyone is looking to supplement their income. This even includes seniors living off their retirement income. However, it can be difficult to find a job either because of health, age or for other reasons.

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However, there are ways that they can earn money at home if they have an interest and talent for writing.

Blogging

It’s easy to set up a blog on one of the numerous blogging websites available. This allows you to write about things that interest you, whether it is health issues, the grandkids, or your latest hobby creation. To monetize your site so that you can make a small income while doing what you enjoy, you can allow ads. Every time someone clicks on the ad, you earn a small reward.

You can also promote products through your blogging. Just become an affiliate with a company that you like and you earn a small commission when someone makes a purchase after visiting your site and clicking on the link. While there are hundreds of affiliate programs out there, one of the best known is Amazon.

Freelance Writing

You can also earn a decent income by freelance writing. Many magazines today have both online and print editions, which require them to find double the content. This means that they are looking for more writers to fill the empty space. Check out some of your favorite magazines to see what their requirements are.

If you want something that provides steady income, you can check out the online sites that match writers with people needing content. Some well-known names include Guru.com, Elance, and oDesk. You can also check out Craigslist ads, but beware of scammers. This is a great method to find a client that needs regular articles or blog posts though. You can choose the type of writing or subject that you enjoy and look for jobs that match your skills.

What You Need

To make it easier for you to provide a regular income as a blogger or freelance writer, you need a computer, monitor, and computer keyboard much like what you will find at major retailers such as Walmart.

If you haven’t done writing professionally before, you can take online courses to help you learn the technical aspects. You can also find many good books on writing, and specifically for writing online. Even if your goal is to become a freelance writer, you can begin by starting your own blog. This is a great way for prospective clients to see your writing ability, and it gives you some practice on writing for online readers.

Even with a limited budget, it is easy to get started as a freelance writer. You can join writing groups that provide support and information and read articles on the topic.

Thanks to today’s technology, it is easier than ever before for seniors to continue earning money even after retirement. The added bonus is that you get to work from home and do something you enjoy.

About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes pieces on seniors and technology.


SEO Plays Key Role to Market Health Insurance and Other Products

Marketing has changed over the years thanks to advances in technology and the growth of online shopping. While this is a well-known fact for retail businesses, it is also true of service-oriented companies and those that offer other products such as insurance.

Dollarphotoclub_54933137In the past, many health insurance companies sent out agents to knock on doors and encourage people to choose their insurance product. They also made phone calls to prospects to turn them into customers. Today, these hard-hitting marketing techniques are almost a thing of the past. The focus is on inbound marketing rather than outbound. This includes social media and blogs as well as emails and ecommerce sites. It is less intrusive to the customer and allows them to make the decision at their own convenience.

However, it has also made the challenge of gaining new customers harder for some companies as the competition has expanded from the business across the street to the one across the state or even across the country.

Importance of SEO

Companies that have moved from face-to-face marketing strategies to online advertising must learn SEO or search engine optimization and how the online marketing world works if they want to be successful. The bottom line is that more people are going online to do research before choosing a company to work with. They check out reviews and look at the website to find out information instead of calling the company. For instance, when they need to find a medical provider, they may search for their options online.

People looking to buy a house often start online before finding a real estate agent. It may be as they are conducting their research that they stumble onto a broker’s site and decide to give him or her a call. It is these scenarios that make the understanding of SEO for health insurance companies and other businesses so important. When someone is choosing a health insurance plan, you want to be the company they go to. But how will they know you exist amidst the thousands of others unless you are in their view? Proper SEO techniques allow a company to be seen first and to stand above the competition.

Finding and Educating the Audience

Finding the right audience means knowing how they are searching and what information they are looking for. The company can then provide that information, making them an authority in the field that people will continue to go to when they need answers. At the point when someone is ready to make a purchase decision, he or she will remember the business that provided them with answers in the past.

Among the ways insurers can best use SEO in 2014 and moving forward:

  • Blogging – Keeping insurance consumers up to speed on the latest happenings in your respective market (be it health, auto, renter’s etc.) easily begins with blogging. Use your company blog to promote your product/s and services, keep readers updated on changes in the industry regarding regulations, policies etc. is critical too;
  • Keywords – If you are doing guest posting (see below) on sites in order to promote your insurance product/s and services, make sure you use relevant keywords. As you may or may not know, Google has clamped down in recent times on spam aka keyword stuffing. Don’t watch your company’s website page rank take a hit because you’re using irrelevant keywords;
  • Guest posting – Lastly, despite challenges from Google over the last year-plus, guest posting can still be a boon to your insurance business. Finding sites to run posts on (consumer sites geared towards those who need insurance etc.) doesn’t have to be difficult. Remember, however, your guest posts should inform readers, not be a running advertorial. Inform them about coverage availability and terms, premium pricing, how Obamacare has changed the health insurance market and requirements in 2014 and so on.

SEO makes sure your business is seen by the right people at the right time. It has replaced the door-to-door insurance salesman that only had an audience of one with a website, social media page, or blog that has the potential to reach thousands at once. While the potential is large, it only works when it is done correctly.

About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including SEO and marketing your business.


Visualize Big Data for Your Business

Over the past year or two, an increasing number of businesses have adopted big data solutions to manage and analyze their data, and you need to jump on the big data bandwagon too if you want to stay abreast of your competitors.Big data can be greatly beneficial to businesses, but it will not reach its full potential unless it is properly visualized.

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Here is a look at how you can visualize big data for your business.

Benefits of Big Data

Big data is more than just a vast and varied collection of data; it can help you boost your business intelligence and perform certain tasks more effectively and efficiently. If you are not leveraging all the information that is available to you, you may miss out on opportunities to improve your business insight and achieve greater value.

A big data solution enables you to:

  • Discover new data patterns and relationships that have an impact on your business
  • Gather more accurate and detailed information to enhance decision-making
  • Predict outcomes and trends more precisely
  • Gain a better understanding of the preferences and buying habits of your customers
  • Develop products and services that can better meet the needs of your customers
  • Identify and fix operational problems more efficiently

Understanding Big Data Visualization

Big data consists of an enormous amount of information, and it can mean different things to different people. As such, it can be difficult to make it comprehensible to human beings. Big data visualization is the act of making big data easy to understand and analyze, and it enables you to gain clear and valuable insights from your data.

According to an article entitled “Visualization for Big Data”, David McCandless said that data is like new soil and visualizations are the flowers of the plants that are planted in the soil. When big data is properly visualized, it can be an effective tool for conveying critical information that can lead to better decision-making.

Using the Right Big Data Visualization Tools

Big data visualization involves using the sizes, colors and positions of abstract elements to convey information. In order to be really actionable, it should provide an appropriate amount of interactivity. It has to be well-designed, user-friendly, comprehensible, approachable and meaningful. As technology changes, new tools are constantly being developed to harness the value of data visualization for application across different industries.

Examples of data visualization tools that are widely used today include maps, charts, diagrams, pictures, infographics and videos. These tools can vary significantly in terms of effectiveness, depending on the type of information that you are conveying, the audience that you are presenting the information to and the objective of the presentation.

Businesses are gathering more data than ever before, and they are finding it increasingly difficult to manage, analyze and visualize their data. Information is only powerful when it is comprehensible. Using the right big data visualization tools will enable you to derive maximum value from your data.

About the Author: John McMalcolm is a freelance writer who writes on a wide range of subjects, from social media marketing to Cloud computing.

 

 


Ready, Set…Telecommute

The Long Island Railroad is set to strike on July 20th and, if it happens, commuting will be a nightmare.

telecommuteWorkers are being told to either take vacation days, telecommute, or prepare for a limited amount of transportation options for those that absolutely must get to their offices in New York City.

Contingency Plans Issued in Event of an L.I.R.R. Strike

When faced with something such as a looming transportation strike, companies that do not offer telecommuting options are now faced with the fact that they will have to, and soon! Are you prepared for a transportation crisis? What is your plan for your employees if you were faced with such a situation? Not sure. Here are some tips to consider.

Telecommuting Tools: What’s Your Plan?

Is Telecommuting For Your Business?

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit

 

 

 


Is Your Business Internet Connection Fast Enough?

Every moment counts; we all know that. And when you are talking about your small business, quick service means better customer service, higher productivity rate and more success.

telecomOne way to stay ahead of the ticking clock is by having high speed internet.

When you look at Small Business High Speed Internet, there are a number of advantages to going this route. Among them:

Customer Experience – When you can respond to your customer’s needs in a quick manner, it increases your relationship. They know they can count on you and that you are responsive. When clients are on a website with a high speed connection, they can maneuver through your applications faster and not encounter the frustration that comes with a slow connection. They will be more apt to stick with you instead of passing up a good thing due to a poorly responsive website or lack of timely communication.

Employee Efficiency – If you and your employees can be more efficient, productivity will increase. The faster they can access information and communicate via email or other means, the faster tasks and projects can be completed. You may be sharing big data between employees and these items need to move quickly to complete projects. If you’re sending vast amounts via slow speed Internet, the time it takes to get there can hold things up, and sometimes may never arrive.

Business Operations – You have work to do with vendors, distributors, and partners. The faster you can communicate and work with them, from sharing documents to chatting and video conferencing to sending quotes and plans, the more your efficiency will flourish. Just as your clients don’t want to wait around to hear from you, neither do the other people you work with.

Transference of Data, Files, Transactions and Other Important Information – Whether you are in retail, creative business, IT or any other small business, it’s important to send and share data and material in a rapid fashion. It only becomes frustrating to wait for files and data to arrive, no matter if it’s as small as a signature request or as big as a multi-million dollar piece of a project. You need reliable, fast connections to be able to count on your information getting where it needs to go, both to and from you.

Without a high speed Internet connection, you can create problems for yourself even if you think you are saving a little money.

You can lose clients; frustrate partners, waste time with employees.

Once a problem arises, more time is spent trying to fix it. Even if it’s as small as waiting for a document to arrive, it wastes more and more time with the more people who are involved, like a never ending cycle. And this can all be solved with a faster internet connection.

Check into your service providers and see what you come up with. You may surprise yourself with a lot more productivity and efficiency with not much more cost.

About the Author: Heather Legg is an Atlanta based writer with a focus on small business, social media, and mindful living.


Finding Your Dream Needle in the Career Haystack

We’ve all experienced the frustration of needing something desperately and being unable to find it. Somewhere in our homes or workplaces, one tiny item is hidden among thousands of irrelevant ones, just enough out of view to elude us for what seems like an eternity.

haystackIt’s bad enough when it’s your car keys. But what if it’s your dream job? Logging on with a massive career search site will provide you with results by the hundreds–and you can spend hours sorting through them only to be met with the disappointment of one or two suitable positions–on the other end of the country. A stricter set of search criteria gets you no results at all. You’re quickly realizing that the specialized science and medical jobs you’re seeking are not easy to find in the nebulous world of mega-sites.

Your potential bosses already know that. When it comes to the workforce, employers won’t cast their listings in with the thousands of entry-level offerings that suit almost any recent graduate looking for work. That means you have to work the system from your side in the same way that they work it from their side.

As you can see, this new paradigm affects both sides of the equation–employers and employees–and all industries, ranging from temp listings for general retail positions to workforce solutions for science industry specializations.

So, if you’re ready to delve into the brave new job market, follow these basic tips for finding specialized work:

Find Specialized Sites

It just makes sense. Employers working within a narrow spectrum of skill sets, experience, and educational backgrounds will gravitate toward sites that tightly meet those strict requirements. They’ll receive more applications that are relevant to the job and get far fewer extraneous responses. If you’ve ever worked in hiring yourself, you know how frustrating it is to get overrun with applications from the utterly unqualified, so sites like these are where job providers go when they want a very specific applicant.

Visit Career Fairs

And while we’re talking about where they go, a variety of career fairs host employers who feel it’s worth their while to go out and solicit applicants face-to-face. The very fact that they are seeking that opportunity proves how far we are from entry-level in this conversation, and it gives you an amazing chance to go straight to the top of the firm with your resume and your elevator speech in an unstructured, casual environment. During those chats with representatives, you can find out more about the work each organization offers, learn their locations, and get a feel for what kind of people work there.

Network, Network, Network

That carries right into the next point. Whether it’s in person or via social networks, making connections is critical to accessing the best job openings for you. But keep in mind that the old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” isn’t quite accurate anymore; instead, it IS what you know, but it’s also who knows that you know it. Your experience, education, and skills mean nothing until someone in a position to help you is aware that you have them. You know the phrase, ‘If a tree crashes in a forest but there’s no one there to hear it…?’ That applies to job applicants too!

Networking is how this happens, because you aren’t just passively waiting for the dream job to pop up. Instead, you are positioning yourself in the minds of decision makers as a person who possesses certain skill, and you’ll cross their mind when the position develops. In a way, you are applying for the job before it even opens, or maybe even before it exists.

 

Author Rachel is a freelance writer and young professional who most enjoys writing about business best practices.


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