Friday, 7 December 2012

Newsletter Issue 227, December 2012

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 227, December 2012
Hi guys,
If you had to make a bet on what is likely to happen with education by 2020, what would you pick as being some big changes? Read The Future of Online Learning below.
Wow, now this is a marriage of a very different kind: The Warehouse & Noel Leemings
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The Future of Online Learning?

We all like to think that our workplaces will ensure we get the training we need to ensure we get better at what we do. However, an online Colmar Brunton-David Forman Business Training Survey (Scoop, 13 August 2012; Editor, August 2012) undertaken in May 2012 found that only just over a quarter of Kiwis think they get training linked to career development and goals, and only half think training improves their role effectiveness.
David Forman MD Olivia Blaylock says “Continuous learning and skill development is a priority for switched on employees, and the survey revealed a strong interest from employees in developing leadership, management and personal effectiveness skills. [...] But it is sobering that half of those surveyed felt their training wasn’t going to help them [to better] do their job” (Scoop, 13 August 2012).

Ms Blaylock went on to say that research shows that staff retain training much more by when it relates to their career development, “So it is really concerning that so many thought their training wasn’t relevant to their career goals” (Scoop, 13 August 2012).

Training investment is known as a key to ensuring staff remain loyal and committed, with a third of people surveyed wanting more training. “That is a significant group. The survey has shown that the key is for organisations to get the balance of quality and quantity right, and spend their training dollar on the most effective training available” (Scoop, 13 August 2012).

Which leads me to MOOCs, or massively open online courses. The MOOCs phenomenon is growing, with Georgetown Uni the latest to join MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Berkeley, Wellesley, Texas U & a few European Unis in putting all their content online. Anyone can register and undertake courses at these institutions, working entirely online, exploring the materials and interacting on the blogs. However, you can only receive a qualification if you pay the course fee. In addition, start-ups like UniversityNow and Udacity offer online-only courses which are either free or low cost.

Most Unis appear to be using Harvard's EdX platform (check out for more info). With every university setting up their own online courses, there is a huge pile of resources out there: some of which are better than others. 

Schwartz (2012) cited a Pew survey in which two thirds of respondents believe there will be substantial change in education by 2020. Pew suggests higher education in 2020 will be video-conferenced to you at home, supported by expert online resources, with individualised just-in-time learning activities. In the future, if you get together as a class in real-time, those times will be for discussions, not lectures; lectures you will do at home on your own.

Schwartz (2012) also cites a respondent who thinks that 'location-based' higher education is nearing the end of its life, quoting "I believe we will see somewhat of a return to a Socratic model of single sage to self-selecting student group, but instead of the Acropolis, the site will be the Internet, and the students will be from everywhere”.

It is hard to get into a field without a degree, and that is unlikely to change in the near future, but it is likely that there will be more paths to acheive a degree than there are today. Future learning assessments will allow for far more flexibility and individually-oriented outcomes relating to subject mastery. Graduation requirements will be also be tailored to customised outcomes (Schwartz, 2012), which may, in the short term, dumb down some degrees, but this will correct over time.

Long term, we are likely to see massive international harmonisation of degrees and  and component courses, a huge correction and rationalisation in the global education sector. It will be messy, and it will take a long time to work through. We will have lots of redundant teachers at all levels.

On the upside, having a Harvard degree will suddenly become achievable for anyone able to pay for the qualification. But then, what is it that people pay for in a degree? If it is, as I suspect, their networks, then the online degree will need to ensure that it still delivers that.

That will be a challenge of a different sort!




The Warehouse & Noel Leemings

Kiwis know the Warehouse as the place where "everyone gets a bargain", retailing consumer goods in New Zealand since 1982. A pioneer of parallel importing, discounting and stripping out the fat, the 91 'Red Sheds' take a very low margin, high turnover approach to selling, with bare-bones spaces and red t-shirted staff.

The Noel Leemings Group consists of 92 Noel Leeming and Bond & Bond appliance, electronics and technology retailers nation-wide. Noel Leemings is in the mid-price range, with Bond & Bond a little below that. There are other large players who are more electronics and technology oriented (such as the more homeware-focused  Briscoes and Farmers, and the more tech-focused JB HiFi and Dick Smith Electronics), but these two Noel Leemings Group brands are probably the largest appliance retailers in the New Zealand market.

The Warehouse has been trying to break into appliance retail for some time, but has been unable to gain access to the brands it wants to stock. Apparently retailers in competition with the Warehouse (like those mentioned above), have been pressuring their manufacturers not to supply the Red Sheds; but if the Warehouse has a modus operandi, it is that of bypassing traditional approaches. Last week, The Warehouse's $65m takeover of Noel Leeming Group was announced (Williams & Bridgeman, 11 December 2012; Adams, 11 December 2012).

There is quite a bit of speculation as to what this will mean for retail electronics, appliances and technology. Some pundits figure this will help 'the Red Shed' access those electronics brands it has been unable to stock previously (Adams, 11 December 2012), while others think this purchase downgrades the value of the Warehouse's shares (Williams & Bridgeman, 11 December 2012).

Chris Adams of the New Zealand Herald (11 December 2012) says:

Tim Morris, an analyst at market research firm Coriolis, said the purchase was one of the best strategic moves The Warehouse could have made. "For 20 years The Warehouse has been struggling to get big brands, particularly in electronics and whiteware," Morris said. "Now, in one swoop, they're going to get access to them." Powell would not rule out ditching the Bond & Bond retail brand, which offers a very similar range of products to Noel Leeming, and rebranding those stores as Noel Leeming. "We've got no firm, preconceived view [on a rebranding]," he said. "What I want from each of our retail brands is clear brand positioning and personality that the customer can understand. So going into the new year we'll look at how that all fits together".

It will be interesting to see what the new year brings, and what this will do for retail in New Zealand.


Resizing Headings to Fit

TechRepublic have a tip on how to resize a heading to fit in the line space you have for it, and not wrap onto two lines; very useful for laying out newsletter headlines or report titles.

Word has two spacing options which work well for this, Spacing and Scale.

  • Spacing:

  1. Highlight your title
  2. Right-click
  3. Choose Font from the pop-up menu
  4. Advanced tab | Spacing setting, set to Condensed (or Expanded if you want to make your title longer)
  5. Click OK

  • Scale:

  1. Highlight your title
  2. Right-click
  3. Choose Font from the pop-up menu
  4. Advanced tab | Scale setting, choose 90% (or less & juggle till it fits)
  5. Click OK

Experiment to get the results that suit you best.

Reference: TechRepublic (13 November 2012). Create space with two helpful spacing options in Word. Retrieved 13 November 2012 from

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:

  • PST, Personal STore file for Outlook. This is a fairly complex database that stores your mail, calendar, personal contacts and so on, when you use Microsoft Office's Outlook application. 

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys

Over the next few newsletters, we are going to look at all you can do with panes. This time we look at Windows and Windows Media Player:

  • Windows "Move between active panes and the toolbar" F6
  • Windows "Move between active panes, options or the toolbar" Tab
  • Windows Media Player "Refresh the information in the panes in the Copy to CD or Device feature" F5

Hot Linx

IRD with StatisticsNZ have compiled and published industry benchmarks - medians and ranges - for 2009-10 and 2010-11. They are available at

There's an excellent article on what constitutes bullying, and the behaviours a bully may show from Denise Hartley-Wilkins at

Wow; imagine having uploaded 11 songs on a bittorrent site, then being prosecuted, without knowing that you were being charged, and only finding out when you received a fine of $4675... in New Zealand! Read on at

So why would you want to be a director in New Zealand? Check out what Anne Callinan from Simpson Grierson has to say at

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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