An Introduction to SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a structured planning method that evaluates four elements (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of an organization, project, or individual. SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful framework for analysing your organization’s strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you.

There are several ways that SWOT can be used. It can be used to begin strategy formulation, or in a more complex way as a strategy tool. You can also use it to get an understanding of your competitors, which can give you the insights required to create a coherent and successful competitive position.

Strengths

When doing a SWOT analysis, you should only include strengths that your business or yourself possess. Strengths should be competitive advantages uniquely owned by you. A business owner may think about brand equity that sets them apart in the industry, what does it stand for and how their brand engages with their customers.

Weaknesses

This is where you identify weaknesses that you or your business uniquely faces, and focus on the factors that could be a barrier from being competitive. Business owners may consider if their brand stands out in the market and if their customers understand their brand.

Opportunities

Opportunities are ways where you can think through the various ways you can expand your personal or business brand because those opportunities will likely impact your business.

Threats

This is where you should consider the potential threats to your brand or business. As you consider your analysis, be open to the possibilities that exist within a weakness or threat. Recognize that an opportunity can become a threat if everyone else sees the opportunity and plans to take advantage of it as well, thereby increasing your competition.

Better understanding the factors affecting your focus area can put you in a better position for action. This understanding helps as you identify the issues or problems you intend to change, set or reaffirm goals, and create an action plan.

How do you perform a SWOT analysis?

  1. Determine your objective. This is what you want the focus or outcome of this analysis to be.
  2. The best way to plan is visually, and a grid is the most appropriate solution for a SWOT analysis. Draw a large square and then divide it into four smaller squares, labelled “Strengths” inside the top left box, “Weaknesses” inside the top right box, “Opportunities” within the bottom left box, and “Threats” inside the bottom right box.
  3. Brainstorm your strengths and weaknesses. Add factors that affect the objective/focus to the applicable areas. SWOT analyses can be either quantitative or qualitative in nature.
  4. Draw conclusions by analysing the finished SWOT diagram. The outcome of the analysis should help drive your strategic decisions.

Teaching Effectively with the Use of Educational Games

Educational games are one way to create a fun learning environment for students which encourages them to interact and learn more. Such games have certain characteristics that are similar to that of any good lesson plan. They are based on achieving certain objectives, they give the students certain motivation, and they always result in an assessment of some sort.

The most common games used by teachers in the learning process are:

  • Card games
  • Board games
  • Role-playing games
  • Trivia games
  • Relay races
  • Bingo
  • Puzzles
  • Quiz ‘bowls’

Schools that use games as part of the educational process have seen some advantages including being able to foster cooperative competition among students. The score keeping aspect and winning conditions motivate all the students who participate and also provide a good opportunity to assess their performance. At the same time, it makes them cooperate with each other despite the competition. It could be the good fundament for being cool essay writer.

Educational games have also been an avenue for students to gain intrinsic motivation. As opposed to simply doing something because they were instructed to do so, participating in a game gives a student a worthy challenge, which when coupled with the curiosity, fantasy and control serves as motivation. While playing games, students have motivation from within themselves.

Finally, unlike other educative tools which offer later rewards, games offer immediate rewards. Students can win and receive point as well as feedback immediately the game is finished. For some students, this may feel more real than expecting a reward in the future for present academic performance.

At the same time, some teachers are reluctant to use games as an educative tool. This is because:

  • They may not be able to choose an appropriate game for the whole class
  • They are not sure how students will handle the competitive aspect of the game
  • There may be students with learning disabilities who cannot participate
  • There could be a common trend of the same students winning each time
  • Students may fear public humiliation and do not want to participate
  • In games that involve timing, students may rush to finish as opposed to taking the time to understand the game.

To make games more useful as instructional tools, some considerations need to be made by any teacher who is willing to adopt this method.

They should focus on learning as opposed to winning to ensure the student is educated and not just entertained. The teacher, therefore, has to make sure that learning something earns the competitors a few points. In addition to this, teams should be assigned on a random basis each time to avoid bias and prevent incidents of cheating. Where students may not be able to handle competition, the teacher should have them compete not against each other but a given standard. Finally, to avoid cases where a student is embarrassed the teacher should announce only the high scores without emphasizing on the ones that failed.

In this way, games can be not only a source of fun but also a learning experience.

The Increase in Students’ Use of Online Essay Writing Services

 

Increasingly, university students are using online service providers to complete their assignments. Students who pay for essay writing services are not only in breach of university plagiarism regulations, but may also face charges including fraudulent conduct.

A recent private investigation revealed that essay writing services offered by MyMaster, a Chinese website, represent only the tip of the iceberg. David Caruso of the University of Adelaide says students who engage the services of the likes of MyMaster may fall foul of laws in relations to dishonesty and deception. Students are evidently engaging in something that can be described as misleading and, if caught, jeopardise their relationship with their university. Such conduct is much more substantial that mere essay help. Offences of fraud and forgery both carry heavy penalties in most jurisdictions.

Despite the fact that businesses such as MyMaster are facilitating large-scale academic misconduct, fraud and cheating, the authorities have limited scope to shut down their operations. The balance between consumer and competition protection and fraud grossly inhibit the authorities’ ability to take action.

Universities are also limited in scope with respect to their ability to bring an action in fraud against businesses such as MyMaster. This is chiefly because their is no direct relationship between a university and an essay writing service. Whilst these business are facilitating academic misconduct and potentially fraud, they themselves aren’t doing anything wrong. These business are often upfront about the services that they provide and it is the students who are technically solely responsible. Faced with an accusation of fraud or other illegal activity, MyMaster is likely to claim that they have done nothing wrong.

In addition to the legal consequences, students may also expose themselves to the wrath of a university, armed with its academic conduct protocols and plagiarism detection technology. Many universities have imposed severe penalties against students who have be proven to have engaged the services of ‘ghost writing’ businesses.

Several higher education watchdogs and government agencies have started to investigate allegations that students are engaging the services of online businesses to write assignments. Bizarrely, alongside advertisements for services such as cleaning and carpentry, now lies advertisements for made to order essays. Many writers are setting out pricing schedules based on word limits and indiscriminately enabling students to pay their way through higher education assessments. Writers experienced in topics ranging from science literature reviews to commerce and health industry diplomas are able to be found easily on the internet.

This is something that is very disturbing for society as a whole. Nobody would want to visit a doctor who had paid their way through their degree. The Australian Skills Quality Authority have said that they are aware of the issue. The nature of the internet is such that this problem is likely to continue to grow and, from a legal perspective, their is little the authorities or academic institutions can do to remedy it.