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November 2021

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 nov 2021

Online education has been part of education strategy for many institutions and organizations even before COVID-19. According to National Center for Education Statistics (US Department of Education) website (nces.ed.gov), more than 30% of all students enrolled at postsecondary institutions took at least one online course in the fall 2016 term. Moreover, online education advocates suggest that departments offering online courses can support their students through the ease of access to coursework. But, 2013 research study 'The impact of online learning on students' course outcomes: Evidence from a large community and technical college system' by Di Xu of Columbia University and Shanna Smith Jaggars of Columbia University, indicates that students perform slightly worse and have lower course retention within online learning compared to traditional face-to-face classes. Recent study published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis titled 'Increasing Success in Higher Education: The Relationships of Online Course Taking With College Completion and Time-to-Degree' (Authors: Christian Fischer of The University of Tübingen in Germany, Rachel Baker of University of California at Irvine, Qiujie Li University of California at Irvine, Gabe Avakian Orona University of California at Irvine, Mark Warschauer University of California at Irvine), examines how online courses relate to students’ four- and six-year graduation rates, as well as time-to-degree-completion for students who graduate college within six years. According to the findings of the study, 'Online course-taking is associated with more efficient college graduation. Students who are given the opportunity to take classes online graduate more quickly compared to students in departments that offer fewer online courses. We also find that online course-taking is associated with a higher likelihood of successfully graduating college within four years. Importantly, our findings seem robust for students who are generally considered at-risk in college environments.' Even though Online education may not be as effective as face-to-face education but the study suggests that there are other benefits that help in overall long-term educational success of students. Keeping online education portfolio, even after the pandemic, is a valuable proposition for educational institutions. Read on...

Brookings: Access to online college courses can speed students' degree completion
Authors: Christian Fischer, Rachel Baker, Qiujie Li, Gabe Avakian Orona, Mark Warschauer


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2021

Environment influenced by pandemic, enhanced use of mobile devices, considerations for privacy and safety etc are some issues that would have an impact on the website trends in addition to the normal evolution of technology and design concepts. Paul DeLeeuw, Director of Interactive at ddm marketing + communications, provides trends that will shape web design in 2022 - (1) Sharing Not Telling: Enhanced visitor engagement with website with visuals and interactions. Micro-interactions and micro-animations are lively add-ons on the website. Integrating them effectively with overall look and feel of the website without overdoing them brings energy to the website. (2) Simplicity: Customer engagement needs to be seamless with less roadblocks and impediments. Precise information, soft colors, vivid imagery and clarity in calls to action will be effective. (3) Safety First: Websites are adapting design to the new normal. They are trying to give people space, reduce anxiety, and feel comfortable and safe. Emphasis is on aesthetics and feelings. Designs that feel spacious, inviting, and accommodating will speak to the visitors' sense of security and safety. (4) Customisation and Accessibility: Accessibility needs to be integrated in the design process from the beginning. More website are integrating theme and font customisations. They are supporting operating systems, and accessibility features like font scaling and contrast adjustments. Sites with these features stand out as they signal that they are caring for their customers. (5) Positive Mindset: Prevalence of negativity and information overload is the reality of modern internet. Better websites in 2022 will reduce this and try to create experiences that help and assist the user, and generate positive thinking and goodwill. Read on...

Creative Bloq: 5 exciting web design trends for 2022
Author: Paul DeLeeuw


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 nov 2021

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is an important human resources issue in public relations field and needs consideration from various stakeholders. Recent research by Prof. Caitlin Wills of the University of North Georgia, published in The Public Relations Journal titled, 'Diversity in Public Relations: The Implications of a Broad Definition for PR Practice?', examines how the top 50 PR firms (Holmes Report) communicate about diversity on their websites. Their specific definitions are important as it showcases their understanding, policies and implementations regarding diversity. According to the research, 'Over half of the websites sampled contained definitions; the majority included expanded conceptualizations of differences, and most did not mention demographic characteristics specifically. Of the nine firms that outlined distinct activities, such as employee networks, all of the activities addressed demographic characteristics of diversity.' Prof. Caitlin says, 'The field has been slow to change and reflect the diversity of society, and fundamentally does not reflect the diversity of its audiences...The PR field is not yet diverse in traditional terms. The field needs to diversify in that way before they can move to broader definitions that ignore race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.' In the research article Prof. Caitlin made following recommendations for PR firms - (1) Develop a definition of diversity based on specific criteria that includes both traditional and broad characteristics of diversity. (2) Show organizational commitment to diversity initiatives by communicating the definition and activities across organizational communication to all stakeholders. (3) Align diversity-related activities to the criteria identified in the definition to allow assessment and ensure effectiveness. She further says, 'A definition of diversity that reflects the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) guidance might help focus policies and programs on many types of diversity and inclusion, thus, moving the field of public relations toward fuller diversification. Once a definition is identified, it should be communicated clearly to employees and the public on the website. All employees, especially CEOs, should know how their organization defines diversity and defines inclusion. In addition, initiatives should be expanded to address other diversity factors and linked to the criteria identified in the definition.' Read on...

University of North Georgia Newsroom: Wills points out diversity disparities
Author: J. K. Devine



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