Describe what you are trying to accomplish with the redesign of your courses and in your participation in Quality Matters course reviews.
I feel the most important part of my job is to make sure that the students are job ready by the time they graduate. So to me, each of the courses has to have what I would say as a simulated real-world environment project. And some of these students that I serve already have their own businesses or they’re already working in marketing, but do not have an educational background that have taught them the strategies for how to do marketing and sales.
They’re playing catch up. What that means is that they can use their own companies or the organizations that they work for to be able to do their real-world projects. So each of the classes are designed specifically to take projects that they would normally would see in the real world and develop marketing strategies and sales strategies around them. My job is preparing them for a job upon graduation or for them to grow their businesses.
Role of Academic Technology
What technology are you using in your course design? Why is it important?
Technology is key. All of the courses in the marketing area are online. And one of the things that is required for a marketer in today’s day and age is to be able to touch technology and create the pieces that are necessary to grow a business with technology. The use of technology is embedded in every aspect of every module I tried to create. It’s not just what we consider book learning. It has to be understanding the technology, getting your hands on the technology and understanding the technology – because we see students that go immediately into their internship and they have to be using this technology from the internship and then obviously into the real-world. Each of the classes has some type of technology that’s embedded in it. When we touch things like digital media tools, social media, email campaigns, all of that has specific platforms that are useful.
How does the design of your courses influence student learning?
When I went into Quality Matters, I always changed my courses. I always updated materials because marketing has to be like that. I always concentrated on what was being taught, not necessarily how it was being taught, how it was being directly delivered. And in order for that curriculum to be covered, I always concentrated on real-world projects that are hands-on. What Quality Matters did for me was call me back and say, Let’s see what students are saying is more helpful for their overall experience so they understand the process better. It was a little hard on me because I had I always thought that I was up to date on things. Quality matters did give me quite a bit of information on how to make it better. I was a little overwhelmed by that information. But I can see based on the different learning styles that it was important to have other aspects of things develop. Something as simple as when you get on that main landing page, give them short instructions and have a Start Here button so that you’re going directly to where you want the student to go to, including the syllabus and information. If you have an ebook, your ebook should be a module. It should be not hidden within the content area. It needs to be right there.
Other things that I did to make things stronger was to make sure to add things like how long an activity might take. So if it’s a video, that video is six minutes or that video is 20 minutes, allowing for the student to understand what the expectation of that activity is. We know our students are very busy, many of jobs, many family responsibilities. This gave them an opportunity to schedule their time better by knowing how long that activity was going to last. If they knew it was going to be an hour activity, maybe that’s something they planned after the kids went to bed or if it was a, you know, a 10 minute activity at something while they’re cooking spaghetti sauce in the kitchen.
What comments have you received from students about your course design?
I get a lot of “this is easy navigation. I understand how to run through your classes.” I very rarely now get a question like “how do I do this?” Just the few “how do I begin this process”, or if it’s a new student to the online experience, “how do I begin”. I mean, there’s always going to be a few. We all have different learning styles. We all need to connect in different ways, but that has significantly dropped. I’m able to show the students how to do things. I’m able to answer those questions up front. Just the dropping of questions was a great indicator to me that this is successful.
How has this experience changed the way you teach?
I’m putting more of the ability to help students on the front end by creating things like videos to help them through general questions or to step them through each of the project components to be able to help them move from one project to another to understand what my expectations are if that’s all done in the front. And so it does answer a lot of questions ahead of time. I get a lot less questions on the back end because I’m creating more materials on the front end. There’s more of a piece of creating that which takes the time from the back end to the front that so does it alleviate time for me as an instructor? I don’t always look at it that way. I look at it as, what is the best experience for my students and the best experience is something that they’re going to move through this course or the journey of this course in a less confused way. And then the outcome would be retention of students, which has gone up.
Do you think paying more attention to the design of your course has made you a better teacher?
I think so. I think anything that overall helps the student makes the instructor a better instructor. We didn’t always have support because we’re kind of the pioneers of teaching on my end. But now we have support, now we have ways of learning better and how to be a better instructor. And I think with each of these resources made available to us as instructors and as we’re teaching students, we’re also learning ourselves. And I think this is why I love doing this – because I’m not one to sit back on my laurels and just wait for things to happen. It’s important for me to constantly be learning, and adjusting the curriculum to the changes in the marketplace.