Business Success

Business Success
Business Management and Development_0

A sole-trader business with limited funds, Professional Language Service (PLS) became one of Norway's fastest growing and most successful language consultancy companies in the 1990s.

Over 200 clients from three continents used our services, including:

  • the European Parliament (81 assignments)
  • IBM's localisation company in Germany
  • four global oil companies

Our interpreting services were contracted for the national "No to the EU" debate in Stavanger.

- Oxford University Delegacy of Local Examinations appointed PLS an examination centre.

- We provided instruction in Cambridge University EFL exams (FCE, CPE), and were appointed partners for EuroCentres, Switzerland, and Bell Schools, UK.

People Management

Being able to talk to my staff in their own language greatly enhanced our business relationship, created a feeling of understanding and respect, and motivated staff to do their best.

Detailed contracts and work descriptions ensured new staff were aware of their duties, and regular staff meetings and social events optimised communication.

Since emigrating to New Zealand, prior to undertaking my PhD, I managed classes of 5 - 18 adult students on vocational courses, and on language courses, at adult education centres, polytechnics, universities, and private institutions.

One of my most enjoyable duties was to find, interview and employ language experts. Over 10-15 years, I had the pleasure of working with staff from the following countries:

  • UK
  • USA
  • Norway
  • France
  • Italy
  • Peru
  • Chile
  • Germany

Assessment by students of my teaching and classroom management:

Assessment by Unitec NZ management

"A very well-planned and well-executed lesson. Your focus on accuracy and classroom management are very good. You have a good focus on student needs and “stretch” them appropriately." Dr. J Brook.


"The lesson was carefully staged and managed. Howard’s classroom management was excellent, with all the students being engaged and on task pretty much all of the time. Difficult students were included and managed effectively. Real learning occurred with highly effective error correction and a strong rapport with the students that encouraged participation.  Overall, the teaching was competent and Howard’s experience was evident from the learning that occurred." K Danaher.






Research & LMS Experience


My research found that:

- the QAS could foster the rapid provision of consistent, clear feedback;

- the facility to provide digital feedback also on handwritten work safeguarded the desire of some students to continue writing their tasks by hand;

- the handling of resubmitted tasks and the comparison of feedback on the first and second submissions (or any other pair of user-selected tasks) was considered very useful;

- some students were emotionally attached to handwritten feedback and believed that feedback mediated by computer showed a lack of teacher care for the students;

- administrators believed the QAS would be useful for resolving student-teacher disputes, and as a tool to enhance the robustness of the quality self-assessment system the faculty adhered to.

e-Education, rather than e-learning, suggests a two-way process. As a critical part of the education process, feedback should also be two-way. My PhD research investigated this issue from the perspective of computer-assisted feedback:

"Providing computer-assisted, two-way feedback in formative assessment: an innovation supporting best educational practice".

e-Education is of limited value if students do not receive timely, appropriate, meaningful feedback that ideally shows engagement by the teachers in the students' work. Yet, such feedback is also of limited value if students are not given the opportunity to use it in order to improve their work, and are not required to improve their work in order to progress.

The Quality Assessment System (QAS) is a prototype Microsoft Word add-on I designed to administer and optimise the feedback process, with the aim of reversing the existing downward spiral of engagement and motivation by students and teachers with respect to feedback on online and offline tasks.

The QAS design received positive feedback from Auckland University, the University of Waikato, Unitec Institute of Technology, and Nelson Marlborough institute of Technology, particularly for its innovative method of providing digital feedback on handwritten, as well as digital, submissions.

My research involved studying the topic of learning management systems, online marking tools, computer-aided assessment, the role of ICT in education and ICT adoption. 

The value of my research and innovation was recognised with the following awards:

  • business advice for winning an elevator pitch contest in Auckland,
  • software development funding awarded by the Foundation for Science and Technology NZ,
  • the Bryant Trust Postgraduate Research Scholarship, UoW,
  • the Faculty of Computing and Mathematical Sciences' Research Scholarship, UoW.

Conclusions from my research are provided on the left.


The full thesis can be found here. It has been downloaded 1,505 times (28.03.20).

A slideshow of the QAS can be found here. This has been viewed 1,898 times (28.03.20).

Practical Experience

I have been involved in using learning management systems since they first became mainstream.

I have designed blogs and courses using Moodle, managed the front- and back-end, customising themes, language strings and layouts. The e-learning diploma I enrolled in at Wintec, NZ, was completed using Moodle.

I designed the first version of the QAS to operate in Blackboard. I was an administrator of Blackboard at Unitec, NZ.

While I have less experience of WebCT, I was contracted by the University of Waikato to assist with back-end administration. The University has since transferred to Moodle.