Small Business Online Marketing Extraordinaire: Northwest University Students
Here’s a few examples of Northwest University student’s online marketing platforms and the story of how this course came to be.
By the end of our 15 weeks together every student had created their own online venture, developed a socially integrated platform with outposts in several social networking communities, developed a business model, branding overview, integrated marketing strategy complete with goals, KPI”s and implemented a 24 tactic online marketing campaign as well as evaluated their performance using Google analytics.Some students have garnered over 1,100 page views in the past 4 weeks!…Regardless of the KPI”s and goals they set, every one of these students is an online marketing winner in my eyes.
When I accepted the challenge to teach the online marketing course at Northwest University I knew in an instant what the class should look like and feel like and of course I knew it SHOULD entail each student taking a business/venture/org of their choosing online for a real online marketing practice.
I wanted students to begin from scratch, designing their own online platforms/businesses/ventures so they could learn the art and science of online integrated marketing communication from beginning to end. I wanted to give them a framework for communicating in our new online world and to teach them to think. Think. Yes. Think.
Soup to nuts. Nuts to soup. The whole meal deal. I knew it would provide the best learning experience and I knew the key to success (garnering deep student engagement) was dependent on students choosing the content; topic, company, venture they wanted to pursue over the course of the semester and giving them complete control over the content of their integrated marketing playbooks and tactics.
My role was to provide the structure, framework, resources and fill in the knowledge gaps – their role was to engage deeply in the process, to learn the art and science of online marketing by doing it… And together our role was to engage in meaningful conversation and inquiry to help us understand what we were learning along the way.
And then, immediately after seeing the vision for the course I went into ‘failure’ alert. The University had provided very clear learning objectives. And they had provided me with the criteria students would be evaluating me on at the end of the course. If I stood and delivered- structured the class traditionally I knew I could achieve the learning outcomes and get killer student evaluations….
Gap YearTravels by Lindsay Horne.This is the only presentation which has audio as Lindsay flew to Guatemala before the final presentations so she used screen cast to create a video of her presentation!
My dilemma. Do what’s right or do what’s safe?
I wondered; could they do it? Could I do it? Could we do it? And what if my vision for the class became messy, like most do, in the middle? If I set up a true learning community, an immersive learning lab I would be giving up control on nearly everything. Chaos might ensue.
I honestly did not know if I would have all the answers to the questions that the students had, I mean without control of the content I could not possibly know all the questions that would be asked. I knew the course structure would stretch me beyond what I knew and as an adjunct it would demand a huge time commitment if I were to architect the course as a learning lab while simultaneously creating the curriculum.
That was it . That was the course. All the assignments were the development, launch and execution of the online business….All assignments were the experience. We were a lab. I knew the answer, I could not- not do it, even though I had no idea – if I could do it.
Education is a practice of freedom, for an individual to fully engage, learn, come to know something they must get in, wrestle with it, exert control over it, have choices and be able to connect it with their past experiences and make it their own.
Together we learned. Dialogue. Conversation. Reflection and action. I as teacher-student, they as student-teachers. And step by step we engaged. Questions. Frustrations. Revisions. Breakthroughs. We learned. We reflected. We acted. We created. Soon they were stretching me, forcing me into the unknown.
tnfoto on Prezi by Chase Woith for Tnfoto. Chase helped a local photographer develop a second site for his business. A high design site with all sorts of challenges taught Chase a lot!
Liberating education releases each person to realize their fullest, God given potential. Trouble is, most educators and leaders are more concerned about gaining men and women’s honor than liberating students to fly beyond their reach.
It’s scary for some of us to admit that at our core we are also students, curious and still learning.
To my students- you have flown the coop, launched beyond my wildest of dreams. You are my teachers and my inspiration. I am honored to have been a part of this birthing …here’s to you! You are all A’s in my eyes and in God’s.
And to Northwest University and Teresa Gillespie in particular; thank you for trusting me with these incredible young adults.
And now my gifts to each of you. Here is the Marketing Playbook Tool Kit I designed for my students – it’s your’s for the taking!