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March 2014 Update: Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Public Relations

Workshop in Bournemouth-Using social media in your teaching.

Professor Stephen Heppell

Despite the tube strike and 60-70mph winds, I did manage to make it to Bournemouth on February 5th for Dr Gelareh Roushan’s great workshop on using social media in your teaching. The event was opened by Professor Stephen Heppell – if you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak – change any plans and go! Not only is he about as on top of technology in education as anyone in the UK today, he has such an engaging way of presenting that I can say, hand on heart, I could have listened to him all day. He tells stories, breaks out with thought-shifting provocations on the future of learning, gives terrific tips on how to use technology in education—and how not to use it. Stephen has worked, and is working, with governments around the world, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, with schools and communities, and with many influential trusts and organizations on large scale projects related to enhancing the use of technology in education. In 2006, Microsoft claimed that he was ‘Europe’s online education expert’. Since then he has continued to build his organisation Ultralab into one of the most respected research centres in e-learning in the world and to share his advice and knowledge with colleagues in education.

How does he view the University of the future? One in which:

  • we are encouraged to keep on learning for life because we will be involved in global learning communities related to our areas of interest and to enhancing the work that we already do and where we can make contributions to the learning of others as well as to building our own knowledge;

  • we will be given credit for engagement (think - Mozilla Open Badges) and not only for completion (think – the current university degree);

  • massive numbers of students from across the globe are learning at almost zero-cost because former students, current students, retired experts, current experts, are all co-creating the content, agreeing to both run and attend a certain number of ‘learning events’ and provide peer feedback;

  • reflective practice pieces and demonstration of changes made to current practice are the key modes of ‘assessment’ or evidence of learning.

This environment he says is all about mutuality, community, sharing, being learner-driven, and is punctuated by what he calls synchronous ‘now’ moments where everyone stops, watches the light bulb go on, and records it for posterity.

Apologies to Professor Heppell for only having covered a tiny scope of his work and thinking! See what he is working on now and some of his many passed projects at his website:

The second presenter, Dr Dawn Birch began using Facebook in her teaching while still in Australia. At Bournemouth, she sets up a Facebook page specifically for the modules she teaches on and invites registered students to follow the page. There are no links to either the tutor or the students’ personal Facebook pages as the academic page is designed as a separate entity. Dawn noted that the purposes of the educational Facebook page are to:

  • Develop a closer connection with and between students – Dawn uses the page to keep in touch with students and to build rapport. Whenever a student posts a question about the module, lessons or assessment, a notification pops up in her email box and she is able to respond immediately, thus demonstrating that accessibility and responsiveness to students. She reminded us how isolated our students - both domestic and international students - can feel sometimes – and having a dedicated place where they can communicate with others gives them a sense of community.

  • Sharing current and relevant course related information – Dawn remarked that textbook materials, even if very useful and illustrative of key marketing concepts, can be years out of date. A shared communication space such as Facebook allows both tutor and students to post current examples of issues and concepts being discussed in class. Students are encouraged to comment on the examples and to load some of their own. Unlike other discussion tools such as those on Blackboard, Facebook is easier to use, has a much better interface, and is well understood by students. In addition, it is easy to add links to content from the web, from Youtube, and other sites, thus creating a multimedia hub for content, examples, commentary, discussion and community building.

On the more general theme of using social media in teaching, Dawn sees its benefits as arising from the following: Social media

  • Reflects students current ways of accessing and digesting information

  • Allows for links to be created between concepts, ideas, themes and examples in marketing

  • Its immediacy and currency allows students to feel ‘part of marketing’ rather than simply learning a subject

  • Encourages students to develop the capacity to be resourceful in their search for information, and

  • Allows students to learn from each other as well as from the tutor, and to share ideas.

Dawn’s current research is grounded in the theory of ‘connectivism’, one aspect of which is that learners can exponentially improve their own learning by plugging into networks of information, contacts and resources.

See for example: Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2011). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning , 12 (3): 80-97.

For more information on how to set up a Facebook page for your module, contact Dr Dawn Birch at Bournemouth University.

Marketing Professional Associations

On my travels, I am often asked about marketing professional associations and possibilities for programme accreditation. I have been doing some research for you and can report on the offerings and accreditation possibilities from two well-known marketing professional associations – The Marketing Research Society (MRS) and the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM).

The Market Research Society (MRS) is one of the world’s top authorities on research and business intelligence, has members in more than 60 countries, and offers training in 40. They regulate the research sector via their well-known Code of Conduct to ensure that all research is carried out in the highest professional standards.

The MRS offers a range of professional research qualifications as well as accreditation opportunities for Universities at the Advanced Certificate and Diploma levels.

In particular, the MRS supports the development of specialist Master’s degree programmes. For example, Aston University offers a dual award to those studying on its MSc in Market Research and Consultancy. Those who successfully complete the programme also gain the MRS Advanced Degree in Market and Social Research Practice. MRS accredited Master’s programmes are also available at Cardiff University, Cranfield University and Plymouth University.

Colleagues teaching on these programmes note that the MRS accreditation draws a lot of interest from prospective students and is helping to build student numbers.

For more information on how you can accredit your Master’s programme, please contact Samantha Driscoll, Qualifications & Membership Manager at the Marketing Research Society.

The Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM) is a charity whose main aim is to enhance the knowledge and skills of current and prospective marketing professionals. It is the UK’s only government approved institute for the provision of professional training and qualifications in digital, direct and data marketing.

The IDM offers a range of qualifications and a number of possible ways to complete them. For example, for those who already hold an IDM postgraduate diploma, London South Bank University (LSBU) offers a Master’s top up degree where students are be required to successfully complete three taught electives (Research Methods plus two marketing electives) and prepare a dissertation.

Those with a IDM postgraduate or professional diploma in digital marketing can join a Master’s programme at Southampton University and at LSBU.

Currently, 10 Universities in the UK are accredited so that students can gain the IDM Certificate in Digital Marketing. In order to gain accreditation, these programmes must meet certain criteria, including having marketing as the main subject and a strong focus on direct and digital marketing. To obtain the Certificate, students must pass their University courses and undertake two assignments (both can be designed by the university module leader, but one should be a digital marketing plan) and two three hour exams administered by the IDM. The University pays an annual fee to the IDM for accreditation, but students themselves pay only £100 to sit the exams and gain membership.

The IDM also offers two Awards in key specialist areas of digital marketing – Search Optimization and Social Media -- that University students can study for.

The IDM also provides a number of employability focused opportunities for students:

  • An annual employability forum where students can meet top employers,

  • A Marketing summer school where students spend time with an agency, develop a marketing brief and network with key industry people,

  • An annual student Marketing Competition, and

  • A 3 day Data Discovery event where students learn about the importance of Big Data and ways to use it to improve business decisions.

The winners of last year’s Marketing Competition included Jake Ellwood, Emily Haydock, Laia Jimenez and Sean Moffitt from the University of Central Lancashire (Supervised by tutor Jane Griffiths). Their team ‘Sunflowers’ winning entry required them to create a marketing plan to promote English Wine Week. You can have a look at their excellent entry on this link.

Winners of the 2013 IDM Marketing Competition: University of Central Lancashire

The IDM is a very University friendly organisation so if you would like to discuss opportunities for accreditation or for your students to take part in some of their events, Kate Burnett at the IDM.

Finance and Accounting Update

Simulations to teach Finance and Accounting

Simulation games are such a powerful learning tool – not only do students enjoy them making them more motivated to learn, they also allow for a breadth and depth of learning to occur, and in my experience, perhaps more than other teaching and learning methods I have employed.

Simulation games are widely used in Business and Marketing education, but more and more Finance and Accounting Simulations are available and being used in the UK.

Although I have not reviewed these games, currently available ones that have been used in Universities in North America and the UK include:

  • Accounting and Finance Simulation by Wise Cells

  • Capital Budgeting Simulation, Principles of Equity Finance (Blackstone/Celenase) and Mergers and Acquisitions in Wine Country, all by

  • Salt Seller: A Commodity Pricing Simulation – MITSloan

  • VirtualTrader – an online investment game- IEX Media BV

  • – online trading game

  • Stock Trak – stock market simulation

  • Bloomberg trading simulation

  • – the market structure simulator

According to Marriott and Tan (2013) who completed a report for the Higher Education Academy into Finance simulations, most are used at postgraduate levels, with the most commonly used simulations coming from Bloomberg, TraderEx and Stock-Trak.

For the full report on how they are used in UK Universities and what UK academics think about their value, please see the full report by Marriott and Tan (2013) ‘Current usage of Finance related simulation in UK higher education’ on the HEA website.

For those of you who teach auditing and are looking for a way to engage and inspire your students, do think about attending the upcoming HEA sponsored workshop at University of West of England (UWE): Using an online, virtual reality audit simulation to enhance teaching and learning within Accounting and Finance, April 14.

Jamie Wells (University of Worcester) who used the simulation with her second year students on the auditing module for the first time last year noted.

“We used the audit simulation as a tool to deliver the vast majority of the module, including the audit process from the planning stage through to the audit report. Students work in groups and play the audit simulation during each session. I also linked the assignment to the audit simulation and this was worth 50% of the module. The feedback from the students was very positive and the module results were very encouraging. Students found the simulation and the practical element a good way to learn the material and to get an idea of what is involved in a real-life audit”.

Julie also noted that KPMG are going to come into her class next month to work with students on the simulation.

Susan Whittaker from UWE who will be hosting the workshop very much agrees about how well the simulation both engages students and gives them insights into the role of an auditor. She told me how the game was developed.

I have taught audit for about 10 years now. One of the challenges I had was trying to get students, many of whom had never worked, to understand what it is an auditor actually does. I was looking for a simulation of an audit to buy. A company in Plymouth, Accountancy Learning, contacted me about a different product and when we were talking it came out that Simon Deane, who owns the company, had started to write an audit simulation but had never finished it. We agreed to buy the simulation from him in hard copy with the understanding that we would finish it ourselves. In 2012 we got a grant from the faculty to develop the simulation. I worked together with Glenn Duckworth, who is our e-learning technologist to complete the simulation and put it on line. We spent a summer working on the simulation – and it is now up and running

Within the simulation we have a website showing the company to be audited –Sheridan - with its products, organizational charts and background on employees. We have interviews with members of staff at Sheridan which the students can interrogate to help them look for audit risks and make an assessment of the control environment. There are also full descriptions of the sales and purchases systems and a set of financial accounts online – and all the backing documents (e.g. invoices).

Susan and her team work with the accountancy firm Grant Thornton, on the simulation. They come to the session on audit risks and student teams present the results of their audit work to members of the firm.

We received very positive feedback from this session as the students felt it simulated the real world. On the overall simulation, feedback from students at UWE has been very positive – they feel that working through the simulation helps them to visualise the audit process and that it simulates the real world. The audit simulation is now being used at Leeds Met and Worcester.

You will find out more about the simulation at the April 14 workshop and also have a chance to try it out. In addition, Susan and her team will talk about how they assess students and how e-technologies such as the simulation can help develop key employability skills.

For more information, please contact Susan Whittaker at UWE.

QAA Accounting and Finance Benchmarks Review

The QAA is planning its review of A&F benchmarks and over the next few months academics are being invited to participate in a series of workshops. Currently the panel is made up of academics from across the UK and from a range of different Universities. If you would like to know more about the review, please feel free to contact me (

BAFA CDAF Meeting at CIPFA February 7

Members of the British Accounting and Finance Association Committee of Departments of Accounting and Finance met for their second meeting of the academic year at the London offices of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy offices.

Gillian Holmes from Newcastle was unanimously voted in as the new Chair of CDAF, following her few months as interim chair. The group discussed the upcoming CDAF conference at the Novotel in York (8-9 May, 2014) (Theme – employability), the upcoming call for research bursaries for those who are new to or returning to research, and potential staff development workshops.

Rona O’Brien, Head of the Finance, Accounting and Business Systems Department at Sheffield Hallam University then gave a presentation on her four year campaign to reduce the amount of time her staff spends on administrative tasks.

This was both a heroic and, from what I can see, an unprecedented attempt by a Head of Department to help her team refocus on their key roles – teaching, student support and research. It was also a fascinating account of how administrative systems can become unwieldy, work at cross-purposes, and lacking in coordination.

Rona spent a great deal of time interviewing staff to find out what admin tasks they did and how much time they spent on them. She then mapped all administrative systems and processes, including filling out forms (module review forms, planning forms, module descriptions), organising speaker visit, reporting absences, work planning (which takes such a great amount of time), timetabling, and ordering books, among others. Rona hired and trained a departmental administrator to take all of these tasks off the academics and to manage them. In addition, she created efficiencies in all the processes.

If there was an award for top Head of Department, it should go to Rona. So many departments have legacy admin systems that often take much more time than they should and that have, for one reason or another, fallen to academics to do. This was not only a gripping account of challenges faced and problems overcome, but of how an excellent manager can work for the greater benefit of her staff.

If you would like to ask Rona about her work, you can email her until the end of March on After that, she leaves to become the Dean of the Business School for the Greenwich School of Management. They are certainly lucky to have her!

Public Relations Update

Congratulations to Liz Yeomans, Chair of the HEA sponsored Community of Practice in Public Relations for completing her PhD!

Last week the London College of Communication’s Public Relations specialists Sarah Roberts-Bowman and Simon Collister hosted an event late last month to officially launch a new research network based out of the Public Relations department. The Network for Public Relations and Society aims to explore – academically and alongside practice – the social role of PR.

Sara noted that

‘this is an area that has received renewed interest in recent years from scholars addressing the discipline from a range of perspectives, and united by the view that PR operates beyond the organisation in making, shaping and influencing society. These directions extend the more dominant and conventional academic accounts of PR as a management discipline’.

Sarah and Simon were joined by Paul Rennie from Central Saint Martins who focused on the work of Tom Eckersely and the role that posters played in the early era of PR. An exhibition of Tom’s work was on display and after the event guests were able to see some of the ground-breaking visual communications work which Tom created for the GPO, RoSPA, Ministry of Information, Shell and others.

The other speaker, Scott Anthony, gave a revisionist history view of PR practice in Britain based on his book from last year, Public Relations and the Making of Modern Britain. Scott began by discussing how, contrary to earlier histories of modern PR which locate the discipline’s origins at the feet of early – mainly US –20th capitalists, modern PR in a British context was initiated primarily by a group of “idealists” led by Sir Stephen Tallents.

Referring to the aim of his book, Scott remarked that what it sought was to “recover the history of PR” as a practice that really mattered – socially, as well as personally, to the early British practitioners.

Sarah noted that Scott’s theme also ‘neatly captures the aims of the Network for Public Relations and Society, the specific aims of which are to bring scholars and others together to explore different views of PR, including the interpolation of social theory in understanding PR; the exploration of the social history of PR; the role of PR in communicating socially aligned, as opposed to corporate narratives as well as the increasing rise of social media and the expansion of the social into hitherto unexplored domains of public communication.

To find out more about the Network contact either Sarah or Simon by email: or

HEA Social Sciences Team

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