My background drives me to use the principles of marketing – including listening to the customer and staying current – to shape the experience my students have in class. Being a UTS student and a millennial, I’ve experienced first-hand what works in the classroom and what doesn’t. This helps me think of ways to maximise students’ learning and engagement.
When I’m shaping my lessons I try to understand where they are, not physically, but mentally. It’s like being an ethnographer of your own customers: Where are they online? What do they like? What’s happening in pop culture? Using this knowledge, I try to shape individual experiences for each of my lessons. Here’s five things I do to create a great learning experience:
- Keeping it current
I source industry news, consumer news, recent events et cetera to engage students with the discipline and show them how close the content they’re learning is to their day-to-day life. For example, for our ‘customer experience’ tutorial we used a Coldplay concert to explore how all aspects of the event were catered to improve customer experience – from the merchandise to the entry bands that pulsed with the music.
- Music to their ears
Sometimes, during group work, I play music in the background. But, rather than just putting on any playlist, I create a Spotify playlist for each class based on the topics of the day. The songs may not correlate directly to subject outcomes but they create an engaging experience. So, say for ‘services pricing’ the playlist includes songs like Bills, Bills, Bills by Destiny’s Child and Macklemore’s Thrift Shop. I find it connects with my students and relaxes them.
I’ve read that music brings us back to memories, so I’m hoping that if I create a connection for the students between these songs and the content, then they might retain the information better.
- Go where your audience is
I use social media as a space to discuss current marketing problems, to source ideas, have polls and share information and tips on the subject. I create a Facebook group for each of my classes where my students can post interesting industry content they come across and interact with polls like, ‘What do you think of this advertising campaign?’ with the results of the poll then discussed in the next tutorial.
Currency is key, I want to be online in a space that seems less academic and is where the students are already engaged. The result has been much higher online engagement.
- Get social
I also like to use memes and gifs so I can drive home a message pretty quickly. But I have to make sure they’re relevant and not already outdated. If not, you run the risk of being ‘Buscemied’. It’s a term used to poke fun at people or groups who try, and fail, to use memes to connect with others. And, yes, as you’d suspect, the term itself comes from a meme – one that features Steve Buscemi from 30 Rock, dressed as a teenager as his character, a private detective, goes undercover in high school.
- Make assessment tasks engaging
I always remember to treat my students as active participants in my class and allow them to co-create knowledge. It not only makes class more enjoyable, but helps me make sure they stay current too!
For one subject, Services Marketing, instead of asking students to sit through never-ending presentations, I asked them to submit a 10-minute video pitch. I found my students were more engaged and active as they’re working in a medium that they like to consume. Then, instead of everyone sitting passively in class watching the videos, we ran our own Oscars in class for the best-submitted pitches – think ‘best director’, ‘best concept’ et cetera. It encourages the students to actually watch the pitches and listen to the content so they can make an informed vote.
And for me, that’s key – creating and implementing tools that improve subject delivery and maximise student engagement.
This is an extract from an article originally published on the Futures blog, futures.uts.edu.au
UTS Business School