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You may have heard,  we’re in a crisis and that it’s something that needs to be addressed immediately, but you may not know what it is still? Well rest assured, we are going to explain what it is and what it all means for you as an employee or an employer. Continue reading as we navigate this jargon minefield to reveal what you need to do next.

What is it?

So essentially the Digital Skills Gap refers to two things. First, is  the term that has been used for the lack of employees in the workforce that are currently lacking many of the vital digital skills. These skills are needed to ensure their companies are at the forefront of change and development.  Secondly it refers to the lack of trained people ( graduates, appretnices and school leavers) coming into the workforce. These newcomers also don’t posses the digital skills to take themselves and their companies forward.

There is a lack of knowledge and people skilled in this area to fill the increasingly growing positions. This is an issue is because there is an increasing demand for tech in our lives. This results in  many industries moving towards a digital space.  So in order to progress we need to have staff who are trained or experienced enough to  take the company to the next level.

Wider implications of this?

Companies that are failing to train or posses the digital skills needed for growth impact the economy. The reason so many people are calling for immediate action is that it directly affects economic growth. We have now reached a point where digital skills are not just desirable but essential for survival.

 

How does it impact me as an employee?

90% of new jobs require digital skills to some level. So for employees it means those that can gain or posses digital skills will be more highly sought after. If you are looking to advance your career and  want to get ahead then their are a few things you can do. First of all look at the industry you work in and evaluate the skills you might need to have for the future. If you’re looking for a new job then look at the skills your desired job is looking for. Then take it upon yourself to up skill yourself so you can fill these gaps. Here are a few places that provide online digital skills courses:

How does it impact me as an employer

The good news, is there are a lot of simple things you can do to address the digital skills gap in your workforce and prepare them for the future. First of all try and establish the skills you are missing.   The following material might be of interest for different sectors

A lack of these crucial  skills means you won’t grow as fast. While these are great reading material, you want to take action. You need to take action and pretty soon, to avoid being left behind.

72% of big companies are suffering tech skill gaps in the UK. You need to up skill your staff through providing extra training especially in the digital skills gap. HowNow is a great platform you can use to host your training. It’s the perfect space to host interactive, engaging training that your staff can easily access anywhere with an internet connection or even access on their mobile through the HowNow app.

The Human Resources department should put more budget into training your staff.  Give staff the incentive to take up training within the digital skills space. As the future of industries change, you need to be adaptable and so do your staff.   Keep up to date with the trends and make sure you are offering or at least supporting the right training for your staff.

Attracting the right talent with the right skills for future is all about making your current staff happy. If your current staff feel valued and happy then they are going to recomend your company and be your company advocates when they know you are looking for new hires. 55% of job seekers would move to another job if they feel their current employer is not fulfilling their desire to keep their digital skills current. So make sure you are providing regular training and training is something you celebrate and shout about. Check out HowNow for a software platform that can host all your training material to educate and up-skill employees.

For more on:

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If you’re new to setting up your own online school then setting about creating content for your courses can be difficult. It can be hard to know where to begin! How you can do it yourself but still make it look professional.  We look at free tools you can use to make your online courses look like they are worth 1,000 bucks.

High Quality images for course material and for school customization

You might not be a professional photographer and haven’t got the money to hire someone to take photos for you. So why not turn to the generosity of the internet. There are lots of free royalty images sites where you can use their high quality  images for your business.  Unsplash is one of them and the best I think we have found so far. They have so many beautiful images you can use to make your online courses look professional and make your school look sleek. We have Unsplash integrated into our platform, so you can browse and select without having to open a new window- how handy!

Our image above is from https://unsplash.com/@brookecagle/portfolio! See great images for free!

Record high quality videos of yourself sharing your screen

Now this is cool, one of our favourite free tools! So depending on what you are teaching you might find this tool super useful! For example if you are teaching something technical on the computer such as Photoshop, then the ability to share your screen so your learners can see what you are doing while you speak over it is super useful. Have a look at Loom! 

Loom is super easy to use and collects all your videos in one place.

Free tools you can use

Create infographics, visuals and more with these free tools

So I am sure you have heard of Canva, it is fantastic. Create exciting graphics that can be used as  a way to share your information in your online course.  If you need to show something- maybe your product or service being used across multiple devices during your course.  Awesome Screenshots is an excellent tool to use for  demonstrating your point and using visuals to bring your ideas to life. Annotated screenshots can be really useful for learners to see exactly what you mean.

Support your text with summary videos

There is this fantastic tool called Lumen5! Which can be a great way of supporting your text files/pdf’s with a summary video which is short and drives home the main points. What is great about this tool, is that it can also be used on social. Check one of ours below:

 

Have you thought about teaching online but have dismissed the idea because you have no experience in teaching? That’s OK! If you have something you are knowledgeable in and want to teach you shouldn’t be limited by lack of experience.  Also you don’t have to have a degree in something to be able to teach online.  A degree helps to verify your knowledge, but as long as someone has left with more value in a subject matter after learning from you than before they have arrived, then you can teach. So how do you go about it? ‘Help!’ you’re probably thinking as the idea of creating an online course overwhelms you. Fear not! We will run through what to do.

I have no personal experience of teaching online so I can sympathies with your worry. However, I am here to tell you it is possible and it can be done.

Planning the Course

First of all, decide what you want to teach.  Lets use an example of someone who is an expert in social media and growing businesses on these platforms. Maybe this person has become an expert through their own discovery and growth on their own social channels.  Once you know what to teach, break down what you want the goal of your course to be. So, with our current example maybe the goal of the first course is to understand what different social channels do and how to set up your businesses on the right one.

No experience teaching online example
Example image of your course on social media?

Planning the Lessons

Great! Look we have already made progress. We have a course goal and possibly a name. The next bit is then breaking down that goal into bit sized lessons.  The first lesson might be an introduction to social media in general and what it is and why people might use it. The next few lessons then might involve understanding  what each social media channel does and how to set up your company page on it, if it is appropriate.  As I am sure you will agree, or maybe you won’t if social media is not your forte that not every social channel is right for a business. This is really valuable information to give your learners as it could allow them to make educated decisions regarding the social media strategy for their business. As we are using social media as an example I have broken down the possible different lessons below.

Example Course to teach online

Course Name : Introduction to Social Media channels and how businesses can use them ( you might want a snappier title then mine)

  1. What is social media and why do businesses and consumers use it
  2. What is Twitter and how can a business use it.
  3. What is Facebook and how can a business use it
  4. What is Instagram and how can a business use it
  5. What is Youtube and how can a business use it
  6. What channels should you use?
Social media with no experience
Simple instructions and images to accompany your teachings.

And so on. You get the point. Now, this of course in this example is an introduction course into social media and how to set up a business on it. Therefore, you will not be expected to go into depth about the many million different things you can do on each platform and how to use them. There are whole courses and books dedicated to just one channel, so don’t think you need to answer every single question ever on these topics. That’s why it’s important to outline clearly what the goal of the course and lesson is.

 

online course teaching
How would you teach face to face? Mimic and adapt for online.

Planning the content  for the lessons

You’re next question is what do you put in each lesson and how to actually teach it? Did I guess right? So, yes next we will want to populate these lessons with beautiful content and VARIOUS content types. It is most important! and I mean very important  that you have different types of content in your lesson/course in order to keep the course engaging. 

There are many advantages to video based learning which we have looked into here before. So think about including some video’s in your courses, this can be a great way to give you more experience as you practice teaching when you record a prerecorded video for your course. In the social media example we are using you could have a recorded video demonstrating how to set up your business profile with accompanying text in the lesson.

Try a live class?

Then for lesson 6, you could have a live class! Do it! I know it sounds a bit intimidating  but I am sure you will find the experience very rewarding for yourself and your learners. Lesson 6 really lends it’s self to a live class as you can have a group of people with likely different businesses discuss with you their experiences with social. This allows you to tailor this last lesson to a Q&A style and run through various examples of businesses using different social platforms.  A live class brings a stronger relationship with your learners because the process is more interactive. You may even find them being advocates for your next course!

 

Teach online in a virtual classroom
Build up your relationship with your online class

Are you feeling a little more confident? Hopefully you are! We have run through how to structure a course and ways to teach online. If you’re still worried about teaching online with no experience, remember that, while you may not have experience in teaching you are an expert in the field you are about to teach. You know more than you’re learners. So any value you provide to them in whatever format will most certainty benefit them. Then after your first course you can go on excited and enthusiastic for teaching your next one!

If you’re an entrepreneur, side hustler or someone thinking of starting a business then I am sure you will be keeping an eye on those pennies. Those pennies, pounds, and notes will all aid you in your ventures of getting your business off the ground. So while you’re getting started what are some easy ways you can save money? From the suggestions below you could put the money you would of spent away as an extra source of funding for your business.

Make a packed Lunch

Now this is super easy and no I am not talking about taking a little Tupperware in with square jam sandwiches and carrot sticks and a chocolate bar. I mean you could do this if you wanted too- I’m not judging. Packed lunch doesn’t have to involve all the effort you think it does – it could be leftovers that can be warmed up in the microwave at work. The only work this involves is maybe cooking larger portions at dinner. Equally you could easily rustle up a salad or tasty sandwich the night before and throw in some fruit and maybe a 3pm treat in there. I’m guessing the average lunch cost is about £4.50 that’s a weekly saving of £22.50

Lunchbox
Save those pennies – bring your lunch in

Don’t buy a coffee everyday

Simple but true – many people  will buy a coffee at least once a day some maybe 3 times! I believe a lot of people buy a morning coffee if they are going to buy one at an average cost of £2.50. Which if you can imagine if at least one coffee is brought everyday that acquits to £12.50 a week. So save this money buy making a better quality coffee at home and taking it in a portable cup such as the keep cups! They’re so cute- check them out.  If you most drink coffee out- then purchase a reusable cup as many coffee chains are now offering discount of as much as 50p for bringing a reusable cup.  By Cutting back on buying coffee out or using there cups you will not only start to see savings but you will do the environment a whole host of good as we tackle plastic pollution. ( there is hidden plastic in coffee cups which makes them very hard to be fully recyclable).

Coffee Cup
Save Money Bring Your Own Coffee In

Be clever with your nights out

Now you’re noticing a trend aren’t you? Its all about purchases and behavior patterns. So Thursday or Friday drinks might be a regular fun night out for you with work.  But it can cost you a lot, weekly drinking and nights out are not just expensive but they are bad for your health with all the extra calories and the other effects of alcohol. Now I am not saying you should or shouldn’t drink but if you want to save money make sure you drink smart. Maybe try and find the best local happy hours and be the driving force in getting your work colleagues and friends to drink there. Alternatively you can still go out with everyone, just have more soft drinks and you will see the cash remain in your pocket longer. The average weekly spending on alcoholic drinks in 2015/16 was £7.80.

How much do you spend? Do a little Maths and see  if cutting back on a couple of drinks could amount up to a nice saving sum for you.

Notes in a hand- save money
Save a lot of money on nights out

Save money on experiences and days out

We all love a day out so you don’t need to stop discovering the world and enjoying life. But be smart about it to have the greatest experience with the greatest savings. Have you used sites like Groupon and Wowcher? They are great for grabbing experiences with a bargain. I have used them many times myself.  Rather than picking a nice restaurant for your friends birthday that will cost you an arm and a leg.  Check out their restaurant deals where you may only be paying half an arm. Bargains to be had!

 

Save Money on experiences
Could you be saving money on your weekly yoga class?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching online is a fantastic way to reach people from far and wide. It allows a great flexibility for the teacher to teach when convenient and for the learner to be able to fit in the course around their busy lives. Teaching online may be new to some of you or you may be sceptical about how to make sure it’s engaging for your audience and they actually leave the course having learnt something. So here are our 3 tips to creating engaging Online Courses.

 

1. Vary your content types

So as you might recall those teachers at school that really got you to learn used multiple content in their lessons. Having the ability, to listen, read, watch and interact are great for mixing up the learning styles in your Online Courses, giving something everyone can benefit from. You can be sure to keep your learners on their toes by varying your content type, as they use different senses to interact with the content. HowNow offers you the ability to have multiple content per lesson so you can be sure to offer : Audio, video,  live classes, broadcast, text, quizzes, images, assessments.

 

HowNow formats

 

2. Encourage Discussion

Discussions are a great way to interact with your learners and for your learners to interact with each other. Having a Discussion forum will create the environment of a real life classroom with the ability for people to ask questions, share opinions and experiences. You can enable this feature when creating Online Courses with HowNow.

 

People talking about Online Courses

 

 

3. Reward your learners

We all like to feel like there is something we are working towards. We might not be at school anymore but the feeling of having achieved something makes us feel accomplished and also motivates us to continue on our learning journey. Reward your learners with badges and certificates when they have completed courses ( this of course is available with HowNow). You don’t have to wait till the end of your Online Courses to reward your learners, you co do this along the way for each unit they complete. Or offer them something different- maybe special extra content or resources for making the progress they have in your course.

 

Image of badge

Webinars are a great learning tool, as you can feel like your attending a lecture that you can interact with. There are many free webinars out there that people should really take advantage of. They are a source of wisdom and expertise for areas within your business. What’s great about webinars these days is that you can also participate – asking questions or voting on answers the speaker sends out to the audience.  We have gathered 5 free Webinars you should attend to grow your business.

 

1. Nail Customer Experience

Business Growth with Human to Human Customer Experience by Biz Launch and Oracle

Biz Launch are offering a great free webinar on how to grow your business with a human customer experience despite being an online business.  This webinar will cover how to execute a human to human customer service strategy online to stop your customers being lost to competitors in a few clicks.

 

Date for the Diary:  10th April.

 

2.Facebook Ad Success

How to measure Facebook ad success: key metrics everyone gets wrong- by Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a fantastic tool to use for scheduling social media posts, and anyalsing social media performance.  Facebook can be a tricky playing field for brands as it’s difficult to understand the metrics on your ads.  This webinar will take you through  the key metrics you need to watch and how to interrupt them.

Date for the Diary: sign up and access the video on demand

 

3. Smart Selling Through Live Chat 

How sales people can turn  intelligent live chat into smart selling tool by sales power with Intercom

Live chat is popping up (literally) on all sort of business websites at the minute. However, are you really using it to it’s full potential. I have experienced many live chat’s which will have a very long response time or could have captured more data. Intercom will be running the webinar which will show you how to use it as a strong sales tool for developing leads.

Date for your Diary:  May 2nd

 

4.Perfect Picture Posts For Instagram

Create Perfect picture posts for Instagram by Sproutsocial and Peg Fitspatrick

Instagram is a great place a brand can grow it’s business but it’s a tricky market to operate. If you don’t have great content and beautiful pictures then you will never grow properly on this platform. In this webinar they take you through how to create those beautiful pictures to really get your audience’s attention.

Date for Diary: Unknown – so sign up now and I am sure they will share the date with you

 

5.Get Email Marketing On Auto Pilot

Get new and repeat business on autopilot with email marketing by Score

Email Marketing is still one of the most effective ways to market your business and generate new leads and encourage existing ones to come back for more business.   In this webinar they will take you through how to get your email game on auto pilot so you can have repeat and new business coming to you.

Date for your Diary: May 1st

Side hustle described by Entrepreneur as ‘a way to make some extra cash that allows you the flexibility to pursue what you’re most interested in’. A lot of people take up a side hustle at some point in their life whether it is to pursue a passion or maybe looking for some ways to make some extra cash. We’ve looked at the most common Side Hustles people do that are easier enough to take up this weekend.

 

1.Buying things and selling things on eBay

So you may see those people on your street who seem to get a lot of deliveries or who are always popping to the post office.  Ebay is a great marketplace for Side Hustles. There are many ways to get involved :

  • Buy something cheap and add custom designs to it such as T-shirts or coasters then sell it for a premium.
  • You could bulk buy something from a supplier in another country, then sell it to your country as you know the product isn’t easily accessible in the UK e.g American sports fashion.
  • Find collectible items/antiques at car boot sales or from suppliers and sell them to collectors online.

Packing a box

 

 

 

2. Teaching online

This is by far the easiest way to make large amounts of money without having to spend much.  As long as you know something more than someone else, then you can start teaching. If you are a grade 3 pianist then you can teach people the skills for grade 1 and 2. Or do you speak another language you can start teaching that! So how would you get started?

  • Decide what you want to teach and where you might know some people who want to learn
  • Sign up to HowNow (so obviously I am going to suggest HowNow but it is truly awesome.) You can book a demo if you don’t believe me and sign up for a two week free trial!
  • As long as you have some content you can get up and running in a day and start teaching straight away

HowNow School

 

 

3.  Share your services

Do you have a car? Can you carpool or sign up for a delivery service or taxi service.  Handy around the house? Sign up to task rabbit to become a helping hand and help people with all sorts of tasks from building IKEA furniture to putting up shelves. So many Side Hustles you could do with sharing your services.

Carpooling

 

 

 

4. Become a photographer

If you have a phone with a decent camera or an actual camera you could do this. Take amazing pictures, capture great moments and start uploading them to stock imagery sites that may buy your photos.

Someones you should check out:

  • Foap– great to use on your phone and see challenges that brands and companies put out with a large cash prize for best picture.
  • Shutterstock
  • 123RF

Northern Lights

 

 

5. Become a freelancer on the side

Are you really good at your job or maybe your really good at something which you can’t use in your job? Start freelancing on the side- hire out your skills and expertise to work with people in your downtime. You could be a graphic designer and maybe you want to freelance yourself to a small business to produce some graphics for them.  Investigate where your expertise might be needed for great Side Hustles.

Freelance designer

 

 

Have you thought about mixing up your format of teaching or educating? Whether you are looking at a new way to educate your employees such as through training modules. Or maybe you’re a private tutor looking to educate more people at once without hosting them all in your home. Here are 5 Pros to educating  through Video based learning.

1. It’s more engaging and efficient than reading text

Video is one of the most engaging and efficient way to get information into your audience.  Did you know that the human brain  processes videos 60,000 times faster than it processes text. So it’s literally more time efficient and productive to learn through video than it is reading many documents and text. That’s not to say however, that you shouldn’t support video format with some summary points in a document.  Use video to deliver the core information and a document to hold the summary if they wish to glance back later.  Read more here.

 

2. Video allows you to be everywhere

Using video based learning is far more personal and allows you to either have a recorded version of you teaching without you having to be there physically or a live streamed one.  Using a video style of teaching means you can express yourself in the way you would normally and this can be much more persuasive compared to other formats. This can be great if you’re a private tutor and have a high demand for lessons but have little space to host them in your house. This can also be great for a company wanting to do a mass staff induction where you want to deliver a lot of information quickly and clearly.

3. Video based learning is more cost-effective

As a company or a small business or a solo-entrepreneur costs are important to your business. If you’re looking to save money on the long run and reach more learners without increased location and printing costs, then video learning is the way to go! If you think about the potential printing, location, and travel costs not to mention time- then you could be saving hundreds and if you’re a large business; potentially thousands! if you an individual tutoring you could sign up to HowNow for a year at £22 a month and cut out your £4 return bus and 40 minute traveling to each students house. Savings made easy.

 

4. It’s accessible and portable

There is a rise in micro learning – learning a small unit of something – a bitsized amount.  Video learning can be accessed through a website by a provider such as HowNow- meaning anyone with an internet connection can log into your online school and start learning straight away. This makes it accessible and portable – so you could be taking these small video units on the commute into work or maybe during the holidays at home.

5. Perfect for Visual Learners

Did you know 65% of the population are visual learners according to the social science network. That means not using video format or a picture format could mean you are not teaching 65% of your audience in their best medium. For those learners that are not visual or audio then the supporting text material can be a great way to cater to all your learners.

 

 

 

Starting a business is hard enough but then marketing it can be harder if you don’t have someone to produce beautiful Social Graphics for you. Don’t worry if you can’t afford a graphic designer just yet; there are some great free tools you can use to create amazing graphics for your social channels and business. Here are our top picks

 

 

1.Canva

Canva is a fantastic Social Graphic tool, they offer a range of preset dimensions, for social graphics, website, infographics, Instagram posts and much more. They also allow you to customise existing templates, so you can adjust the colours, font and change the setup. You can also import images from elsewhere and then add text and icons to it. Canva is what we use and we love it. You can pay for this if you wish to upgrade to unlock more features.

Image of canva and the image examples made on it

 

2. Stencil

Is a great tool for creating marketing promotions and content. Stencil is a bit more limited than Canva, you can not make the most of free access and will have to pay for it if you wish to make more than 10 images a month. However, it has a very extensive range of icons, images and templates for you to use making sure you never run out of options or inspiration. If you visit this site you can get a discount code: 10%

image of stencil tool

 

3. Piktochart

Picktochart is your go-to tool for infographic creation. You have seen infographics before I am sure? They perform so well in displaying complex information or an idea to your audience. If you got numbers and stats you want to share then use this tool to build a fantastic infographic for your business.

image of infographic

 

4. Snappa

A Social Graphic tool that you can use to make beautiful graphics. It has an extensive library of assets for you to use but you need to pay monthly to download more than 5 images a month and to have more than 1 user. You can publish directly to social media accounts which could be handy. Give this platform a trial you might love it so much you are fine with paying $10 a month for unlimited downloads. I mean $10 isn’t much if you end up downloading a considerable amount of graphics.

image of platform