The first Digital Marketing Course that I taught was Social Media Marketing. I had taught many different marketing courses over the years but I was very nervous about teaching this particular course. I was teaching at Georgia College and this would be the first digital course offered by our department. We put it on the summer school schedule as a two-month online course. When registration started for summer school, it was the first marketing class to fill up and I had to increase enrollment to meet the demand. I had about three months to design the course before the big debut. This was a learning process for me and here are my tips for designing a course that can be applied to most digital marketing classes.
1. Reach out to other professors
You may be the first person to offer a course at your university but digital marketing has been around for a while now. Other great professors at other institutions have taught the class. If you are teaching digital then you should be on various social networking sites. Join groups on Facebook. I posted on the Female Marketing Scholars' Network Facebook page a general request for help. Debra Zahay responded and we had some great conversations about social media marketing education. She sent me her syllabus and a recommendation on a textbook. Not only did I receive some great resources but I made a friend as well. Another great Facebook group is Teaching Resources for Marketing Educators.
2. Look for Industry Resources
While searching for information about social media education, I came across HootSuite University which eventually became HootSuite Academy. HootSuite is a social media planning dashboard but they also offer great social media education as well as a certification. For educators that incorporate it into the course design, HootSuite offers the certification free for their students.
3. Find a textbook that fits what you want to teach
I know many who are experienced in teaching Digital courses who don't use a textbook. This is not what I suggest especially if the terminology is new to you. I reviewed two textbooks before I taught my first Social Media course. I selected Cengage's Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach. This helped me to stay focused because all Digital courses have to many different topics and approaches that it can be easy to go off track. I also like to have my students create a social media plan and it is important to have a text that leads towards a completed goal. The text is now in its 2nd edition and for this latest edition, I was asked to revise two chapters. Educator's with verified accounts can ask for a review copy: Social Media Marketing: A Strategic Approach, 2nd Edition.
4. Integrate any Industry Resources with your text and course outline
Don't treat your textbook and industry resource as separate entities. I integrated HootSuite into my course outline. I was able to take the HootSuite modules and align those with the chapters that had the closest match in topics. This provides a synergy in your course and improves student learning. You may have to re-arrange content but I have never had any problems with aligning topics.
5. Complete the certification program before your class.
By completing the certification, you will know the material and how it best fits with your text. Also, it's good for students to know that you have earned the certification. So even though you aren't looking for a job in industry, it is good to go through the training. You will also better be able to help students who have trouble with the platform. It's hard to maintain credibility in the class if you can't help a student who is struggling with understanding or setting up the platform.
6. Require a project that requires students to apply what they learned
Tests are great for testing knowledge of terminology and concepts but projects provide an opportunity to integrate and apply. All of my social media students have created a project for a client. I allow them to find their own clients. Many students have created plans for their own family's business. Parents are thrilled to get a real ROI for the college tuition that they paid.
7. Don't Procrastinate
I strongly advise you to give yourself plenty of time to design a course. Take the summer to get a certification, reach out to others, and review some textbooks. It takes a lot of time to gather your resources and plan the semester. I like to create a course outline that is broken down by week/days and gives a specific activity for each class day. I lose track of how many times I re-arrange the schedule.
8. Find websites that give up-to-date information and education
I emphasize to my students that those who want to pursue careers in digital marketing should be prepared to be life-long learners. Digital seems to change daily so staying up on the latest trends is important. I find the easiest way to stay up is to subscribe to blogs and newsletters. I can watch for the "big things" to add to my class. For social media, I like www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ as well as blog.hootsuite.com/. You can also require students to present articles to the class as an assignment.
Teaching digital marketing can be overwhelming due to all the new content or it can be exciting to you as well as the students. Connecting with other educators and passing along ideas and resources is the best way to keep course design manageable. Please share any tips that you have in the comments.