Coronavirus Challenges & Opportunities in Education

Coronavirus has had a huge impact both negatively and positively as a result of Coronavirus. From CEO’s, professors and teachers concerned about the welfare of their staff and students, to business and organizational leaders concerned about meeting educational objectives, the facilitation of exams, security of content, operational challenges and impact on costs and income.

Facilitating Learning

Facilitating learning, when students and pupils cannot attend a classroom, due to either travel restrictions and risks or building closures, means that education has to be transferred to online – either through live online classrooms, or through e-learning.  There are a number of challenges with online classrooms and e-learning:-

  • Technology and accessibility
  • Delivery of quality learning and student engagement (is more challenging online)
  • Protection of content intellectual property
  • The speed required to transcend classroom learning to online

In the case of classroom attendance, maintaining student and staff safety with physical distancing is very challenging, and means that there is less room in a lecture theatre or classroom for students to attend.  University professors are reporting as much as a five-fold increase in volume of work, due to having to repeat classroom seminars as much as five times for one class.  In addition, they are reporting cost-cutting and pay cuts. 


How can educational institutions facilitate examinations during lockdown, with social distancing, or when travel restrictions are in place?

  • E-Learning often offers short multiple-choice questionnaires, but there is no way of verifying that the person taking the exam is the person being issued with the award
  • Live Online Exams (Secure exam systems with a live invigilator) as offered by the Digital Skills Authority, is one option but is dependent on a number of things.
    • Speed of implementation, testing and learning – Implementing exams and learning, and strategy for how to use the systems can take several weeks, if not months to complete
    • A qualified and well-trained network of exam invigilators
    • Speedy and reliable technology and Internet for all students (to take the exam)
    • The ability to handle case study exams, which may include drawing and writing
  • Classroom exams require further space for exam invigilation due to distancing, and there is an additional need for hand-washing and protection when touching exam materials and interacting with students.

Enabling Qualifications for Schools, Colleges and Universities

The United Kingdom’s solution for students is to issue qualifications based on predicted grades.  However, conversations with academia indicate that the predicted grades are actually a significant percentage lower than they would expect a student to eventually gain.  This means, that some students are missing out on a realistic grade. Additionally, this process does not account for those who may have had challenging times at home, impacting their predicted grade, who may actually succeed in an exam due to additional input and hard work.  It does however help those who perform well during class, but suffer from exam stress.  Stress and uncertainty about the future have impacted everyone, and would no doubt impact exam study and results, as well as potentially university dissertations. University professors have reported dissertations with multiple repeat paragraphs in their papers – stress or attempting to reach a word count? Whatever the case, their performance is impacted.

From a human and human development perspective, I would consider postponing all exams for one year and developing an alternative solution for the break year – one that provides value to students and ensures they remain engaged. As an interim, students, employees and job seekers can focus on shorter remote learning certification exams, if they feel able to.


E-Learning and virtual learning is nothing new, but Coronavirus has highlighted the absolute necessity for there to be a mix of learning channels, whether this be through live webinar, virtual classrooms, interactive e-learning or recorded video.   Digital learning takes time to implement. Two established 5-day certifications took almost one year to convert to online, and were enabled by excellent knowledge of technology, digital online engagement traditional educational experience, as well as significant careful planning and testing.   The beauty of digital content is that educators can reach a wider audience.  Institutions have the choice of offering live tutor interaction or simply an automated self-service option. Both choices are normally reflective in the pricing. There is a significant difference in pricing between online and classroom learning, which is driven by the value and experience of personal one-to-one attention or consultative nature of a classroom course, versus e-learning.  Pricing is also impacted by student affordability as well as competition.  An optimal pricing strategy is key and must be measured against both costs to build, deliver and maintain the programs, as well as user demand.  Brand trust and educator credibility can elevate pricing, however it is both reputation and impact that count for students, whether that is know-how, the certification or both. The potential to reach a far wider audience through online education makes digital education an attractive option for expanding the reach and impact of the information and skills organisations provide, as well as increasing revenues and profit. As always there is a balance that needs to be achieved – that is offering high-impacting educational content and mechanisms, without devaluing the education delivered.

About the Author

Deborah Collier is President & Chief Information Marketing Officer at the Digital Skills Authority. She is also on the board of Directors of a leading UK government backed education management organisation.


Rise of the Digital Human

Looking to the future, we should investigate possibility and question the impossibility.

Digital brings both amazing opportunities and risk to humanity, which need to be carefully managed.  Humanity is evolving as we become more and more ‘digitally human’. What will the attributes of a typical human being be in 2030?  With digital progressing at such a rapid rate, the impact on social, economic, lifestyle, health and other aspects of human-beings is evolving too.  We are on a superhighway and must remain agile. In order to innovate for the future, we need to understand the lifestyles, opportunities, challenges, desires, needs and circumstances of people in 2030.  This requires understanding of several different disciplines, a look into how digital and other technological advancement will transform progress in key areas such social, medical, retail, employment, political and the workplace, for example.

Collaboratively strategic and innovative thinkers, as well as subject matter experts can create profiles or a group of profiles of the typical human-being in 2030.  Through this understanding of human beings, innovators and organisations, can align their roadmap to fit their audience early. In doing so, they can align their business, services and products, and the marketing, communication and delivery of their products and services to fit the needs of their audience.  Lessons learned from history, are great at helping us to ensure we avoid future mistakes, and thankfully we are in an information era, where we have a catalogue of knowledge and experience at our fingertips.  Looking to the future, we should investigate possibility and question the impossibility. However, in order to steer our journey in the right direction, we must have a vision of where we are heading or where we would ideally like to be in both the near and long-term future.

About the Author

Deborah Collier, strategic educational and business leader, has worked with, implemented, researched,  developed strategies, advised and written about digital for 20-years. She has been heavily active on social media, and defined a concept she named the “Content Social Symbiosis” which also features in the courses she and her teams developed over the years. President, Founder at Digital Skills Authority, Deborah is a global keynote speaker, futurist leader and digital philosopher, and has investigated, spoken publicly and taught others about Digital Ethics – in particular digital’s impact on humanity. 


A Decade of E-Business Predictions

As a futurist, developing strategies and delivering strategic counsel, I have always thought about risks and opportunities ahead – from technological advancements and innovations, as well as cultural, economic and governmental shifts.

During 2009 – 2018, I published my top 5 annual predictions for e-business for the coming year. I’ve listed the subjects below with links to the articles (which have been published in the media, as well as on Digital Skills Authority’s – The Certificate in Online Business web site).

In 2020, with the changing landscape, I launched a new series of ‘Digital World Predictions‘.

The majority of the below 2009-2018 predictions did take place, or are starting to take place now. Some are also opportunities, which have not been fully taken advantage of. In those predictions, I offer ideas and tips for future successful business enabled by digital.

E-Business Predictions 2018

  1. E-Risk Takes Centre-Stage – Response to new global impacting legislation
  2. Boom in India
  3. E-Commerce Strategy Response to Brexit
  4. Subscription Services Join Forces
  5. Artificial Intelligence Marketing Evolution

Read 2018 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2017

  1. V-Commerce (Virtual Reality Shopping) Becomes Accessible
  2. Online Businesses Focus on Child Protection
  3. 4G Delivers Content to a Wider Audience in Asia Pacific
  4. Bitcoin Blooming
  5. Travel and Tourism – Opportunity and Turbulence

Read 2017 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2016

  1. V-Commerce (Virtual Reality Shopping)
  2. E-Business Strategy for Mobile
  3. Real-time Product and Service Preparation & Tracking
  4. How to be Clever at Online Marketing in 2016
  5. Progress through Collaboration

Read 2016 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2015

  1. Banks Enable Innovation in the UK
  2. Pureplay Internet Businesses in MINT condition
  3. Teenagers Lay Future Foundations
  4. Privacy Takes Centre Stage
  5. Customer Service Reinvention

Read 2015 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2014

  1. West Invests in Ultimate E-Business
  2. Big Data Brain
  3. All Eyes on Brazil
  4. Africa Potential
  5. Social Advertising Matures

Read 2014 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2013

  1. Focus on Emerging Markets
  2. Online Retailers Turn to Bricks and Mortar
  3. Increase in Citizen E-Commerce
  4. Death of the Small Retailer?
  5. Regulating E-Business Takes Centre Stage

Read 2013 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2012

  1. High Volume Sales, Supply Chain and Customer Service at Heart of Retail Strategy
  2. Mobile Payments Evolution
  3. Social Design
  4. The Success of Multi-Channel is Cross-Channel
  5. The Leaner Government

Read 2012 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2011

  1. Tax Hikes to Increase E-Commerce and Exports
  2. Entrepreneurialism Stimulated by Internet opportunities
  3. Emerging Markets
  4. The Mobile Age
  5. Team Restructuring

Read 2011 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2010

  1. Goodbye to the Middleman
  2. The Year of the Delivery Company
  3. Creative Sponsored Advertising
  4. Mobile Commerce Revolution
  5. Free Culture Frenzy

Read 2010 Predictions and Advice >>

E-Business Predictions 2009

  1. Year of the Small Business Entrepreneur
  2. Social Media Overload Means Start of Social Media Strategy
  3. Widget Wizardry – Dynamically Updating Widgets in Place of Banner Ads
  4. Personalisation – Customer Chooses Their Own Content
  5. Product Pricing Wars and E-Commerce

Read 2009 Predictions and Advice >>


Is Music Vital to Innovation?

Imagination (divergent thinking) combined with logical thinking based on fact (convergent thinking), enables individuals to think outside the box to solve problems and innovate.

Humanity has the ability to think critically with imagination and creativity.  As both an educational leader and specialist in strategy and innovation, I strongly believe listening to music helps creativity. Soothing, lilting, positive and energizing music, helps to relax and open the brain, but creativity depends largely on the mindset and makeup of an individual’s psychology, which has largely formed at an early age.  We only have to look at small businesses owners, and students working in the deafening quiet of a library, listening to music on their headphones, to see how music impacts their ability to work. From a personal perspective, I see most scenarios like a map, like trees with branches growing outwards with ideas, risks and benefits. Listening to music daily greatly helps this process. I’ve noticed a cultural shift in nurturing innovation, creative and divergent thinking in the workplace, so I don’t think creative levels are declining.  I do however think the economic climate is impacting creative levels and the ability to deliver great outputs in all areas of life. Once we reduce stress, create stability, and an environment that enables divergent thinking, there will be more creativity, which will in turn help humanity progress.

Human beings are challenged more than ever by the volume of media they see on daily basis, whether this be entertainment, information or education.  Social media as a channel for delivery of this media, has also added to an influx of stimulae. This means that unless headlines and content are engaging and captivating within a matter of seconds, consumers will not take notice.  At the same time, there is a huge amount of casual scrolling with many people adding quick ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’, without fully absorbing the content.  Does this impact our time listening to music? I think we are listening to music alongside this media or at other times, relaxing or otherwise.

My work mainly involves strategy and innovation, and among strategists and innovators, it’s known that breaks to play, think, walk and relax are vital to help us solve problems and formulate ideas.  Listening to music while relaxing or even dancing, is a great way to rest the brain and enable it to free up space for creativity. I have some of my best ideas when walking, dancing or relaxing listening to music, and for me, both the melody and the lyrics have an impact on my creativity.  People do tend to differ in whether than can listen to music, TV or video while having a conversation, or working on projects.  Some of us like to filter out additional noise, and avoid ‘sensory overload’ while eithers appreciate the comfort of additional sounds and stimulae.


Free Versus Paid – How do You Value Knowledge?

I’ve always been very generous with sharing knowledge through articles and social media posts.   As a strategic leader in education and business, it’s my instinct to want to help, come up with ideas and solve problems. The 50,000 words plus of articles and books, I’ve written over the years, have hopefully inspired and supported others in business, digital, career ventures and pursuits.  However, knowledge must be valued.  There has to be a balance between sharing and offering insight, to giving away vital intelligence or even your ‘Intellectual Property’.

Generosity, should never be confused with low value, but as a taster of what more lies behind, what could be, just a fraction of know-how or information.  I share about 5% of my specialist knowledge for free in articles, in social media or in conversation, and share about 30% in very in-depth high-value courses I’ve authored.  Creative thought process, research, ideas and knowledge are reserved in measure to, the organisations I am part or future innovation and media ventures.

It’s wonderful to have a following that reads your articles and social media posts, as you do want to offer value, but it’s important also to ensure you and your work continue to remain valued.

About the Author

Deborah is an author, publisher and educational leader. She is President and Chief Information Officer at Digital Skills Authority, and also serves on the board of directors at a leading UK government funded education management organisation.


How to Combat Information Warfare

The only credible opponent to Information Warfare is truth!

Information warfare is used in politics, in war and is sometimes found in unscrupulous corporate competition. It’s a mechanism by which information and the mechanism to deliver that information is used to gain competive advantage over an opponent.

In politics, information or news about an opponent is presented from a negative angle, and may include untruths. The media, viewers and social network users are targeted and manipulated into believing and sharing that information. It’s particularly prevalent leading up to general elections. In both times of peace and war, information warfare is used by opposing countries to destablise countries and weaken economies. It may even be used to ensure a president acting in the favour of another country or region is elected. As a hyperthetical example, a country wishing to destabilise and break up the largest economy in the world, in order to increase it’s own domination and power, may manipulate online media (through both inaccuracies and untruthful propaganda), to ensure a target ally has a leader in power that it favours. In the bleakest of scenarios, it could be a far right extremist leader, or one that will make other leaders and their network extremely wealthy.

The business world is heavily regulated, and on the whole, business leaders are continually evolving to more conscientious and ethical practices – with a focus on humanity. Individuals have been known to use information warfare to hurt others, but this kind of information is also heavily regulated under ‘defamation’ and other laws. Individuals on social networks are learning, but are still not clear on what is legal and what is illegal, and are gently adjusting toward cultural shifts. Additionally, the laws and levels of enforcement differ around the globe.

Whatever the information battle, readers, viewers and listeners – the general public, needs to be equipped with the know-how to recognize and disseminate that information – information that could be harmful, or information used as a distraction away from a more serious political or government issue, for example.

The solution lies in both education and empowerment, as well as cultural evolution. That is, education about how to recognize, ignore or respond to information warfare and negative content, as well as a cultural shift in what we as humanity accept as harmful, unethical or illegal information.

I work for two educational organisations, a leading government backed education management organisation, and the Digital Skills Authority. Both are educating and informing either commercial or individual learners about information warfare and digital ethics.

The continued effort across education and in society, through diminished public acceptance, will hopefully deter publishing of untruths in the media and online. This can ultimately only lead to an improved more socially conscious, compassionate and collaborative society.

In support of the tech giants decision to remove harmful content and content providers: “Both media and technology platforms have a responsibility to the public to ensure that fake news is not spread”…”If they are seen to be allowing such content that hurts others, or incites violence or causes other concerns, then that’s not good for their reputation”. Deborah Collier, Channel 4 News 8th August 2018


How Has Digital Integrated Business with Humanity?

Through social media conversation, humanity has become an integrated extension of business. What does this mean for enterprises, workers and society?

Businesses operate as machines with humans at the helm, however businesses have become more and more people led than machine led, while artificial intelligence plays it’s part. In addition, the growth of social media conversation, and user-generated content, has impacted how businesses now interact with the public. Essentially, as social networks, technology and devices have become an extension of our individual selves, the general public and its conversation have become an extension of businesses (and other organizations). Business and entrepreneurship are integrating with humanity.

Business and Consciousness

Consciousness and conscience in business, have always existed to some degree. Here are some examples of ethical business, as well as areas that are evolving toward the age of ‘Conscious Business’):

  • Business practices that support rather than harm the environment, through green initiatives and conservation (for example)
  • Philanthropy from profit (as we are seeing from founders of highly profitable organizations including tech giants and social networks)
  • Human development, for example: Equal opportunities; Mental health, safety and well-being in the workplace; Flexible working conditions and supporting family life
  • Research, development, production and solutions that help humanity and the planet
  • Partnership with suppliers operating, offering or delivering ethical solutions
  • Strategic partnerships with charitable initiatives that help human development through education, employment and well-being for people from all areas of society
  • Marketing budgets used ethically, as well as in partnership with organizations and charities supporting humanity, (for example sponsorship and education)

Socially conscious brands are looking at ways they can integrate with and support society. They understand that true success happens when businesses support or work with initiatives and organizations that support humanity. Business success may be measured ultimately in profit, (as well as positive brand awareness and public perception), however one of the greatest achievements from ‘Conscious Capitalism’ or ‘Conscious Business’ is the joy and motivation it inspires in a workforce. According to psychological and scientific research, individuals gain the same feeling of satisfaction from doing a good deed, as they do from being given money. We can imagine how that level of motivation, combined with positive business activities, can support successful enterprise, the community and ultimately humanity. ‘Conscious Business’ should be at the heart of any strategy.

Extract from Deborah’s article Conscious Business: 2020 and Beyond (published on Linkedin Sept 18th 2019)

About the Author
Deborah is a futurist and business leader with over 20-years experience, across multi-industry consultancy, education, publishing and media. She is President & Chief Information Marketing Officer at Digital Skills Authority


Could Digital Save the Global Economy?

According to a number of newspaper articles and media outlets, ‘The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’,  an intergovernmental economic organisation with 37 member countries, has reported that the global economy is likely to suffer the worst slump in a 100-years with the UK the worst affected by Covid-19 damage. 

It may be some time before things return to normal, when social distance measures and travel restrictions are no longer required.   In the meantime, businesses and organisations must look at alternative models for driving the economy, boosting investment and employment.  As someone who has led businesses, with a heavy footprint in the knowledge economy, and an early career consulting and training on digital business and e-commerce, I have watched buying habits increase from high-street to e-commerce, digital business innovation and the growth of citizen-to-citizen commerce through online marketplaces, and developed a suite of certification programs for individuals and employees, which have been used by leading organisations around the globe.

Coronavirus has literally catapulted e-commerce and the necessity of both digital business and digital practices to the forefront.  In 2020, I expanded The Certificate in Online Business with a skilled team of professionals, inclusive of a rebrand to the Digital Skills Authority.  I believe and hope that the industry’s global ‘Digital Skills Authority’ will be an important ingredient in enabling the global Digital Economy.  I am deeply passionate about making a difference to our world. This may just be the vehicle to do so, and hopefully leave a lasting and ever growing legacy.

Please expect more insight, article and opinion on the Digital Economy in the months to come, and in particular on The Certificate in Online Business and Digital Skills Authority web sites.


Inspiring Toward Utopia

As a knowledge-seeker, educator, thinker, and collaborator, I am interested in what humanity can do as a collective as a society, as well as when you bring together brilliant minds, innovators and experts. ‘Utopia’ is an ideal that means something different to each and everyone of us, but for those with high emotional intelligence and empathy, it is fuelled by compassion, liberty and harmony (with appropriate regulation and governance in place). When I conceived ‘Toward Utopia’, I was developing a concept that would bring together a collective of thinkers, to consider and challenge all aspects of society, technology, innovations and practices, to see whether these would lead us to a happy and improved world or a degenerated society. The last decade has been significantly challenging for many, and as such we all needed and do still need hope, so as part of that I created the movement, focused on community and collaborative ideas from the general public.

Social media and technology, which have become an extension of our human selves, have fuelled our evolution, progress and risks. Technological advancements are moving at an exponential rate, and I wanted us to think about how those are impacting our culture and way of life.

From a media perspective, I wanted to develop something both positive and evergreen that would have a continous need, that could grow and expand, and leave a lasting positive legacy.

Through the vehicle of Toward Utopia, thinkers, innovators and leaders discuss and debate the past, present and future of:

  • science, technology, digital innovation and AI
  • government, society and culture
  • human psychology & mental health
  • health and medicine
  • environment and the planet
  • our lifestyle
  • the universe
  • entertainment
  • and more…

Toward Utopia fits with my work as a futurist and strategic thinker, however, my work to date, aside from my own employment, has been focused on supporting entrepreneurship and innovating, the progress of organisations and generating employment through education and certifications. It has traversed multiple industries, which has been strategic, problem solving and creative, but also with a heavy focus on organisatonal strategy, commerce, business, product, education and information.

‘Toward Utopia’ is something different. It’s creative, it’s intellectual, it’s collaborative, it’s high-impacting, it’s challenging and it’s multi-faceted. ‘Toward Utopia’ is my passion and I hope it will become the passion of others too!

About the Author
Deborah Collier is a futurist, strategic education and business leader and executive producer of high-end TV / Film productions.