A Look at New Tools

Throughout this blog, I’ve looked at themes and concepts learned in BUSI 3204: New Tools: Marketing. This concluding post will review the class itself.

Even before registering for this class, I knew it would be a treat. Hearing from senior students, professors, and even the course outline, New Tools shaped itself up to be the “social media” class, a topic I particularly enjoy. It turned out to be even better than I expected, as we learned about so much more than just how to post on Facebook and an introduction to Vine. I never expected to get a Hootsuite Certification, run a social media campaign, or start my own blog through this course.

What worked well

First and foremost, the term project is the absolute bread and butter of this course. Getting marketing students to reach out to a small business or not-for-profit and run a social media campaign for them is one of the most innovative and useful projects in all of Sprott. Thanks to this project, I now know how difficult it is to actually run a social media page, the struggle that exists to entice new users to follow your page, and hardest of all, keeping up a good pace of strong and consistent posts. This project also taught me so much more about Facebook and Twitter than I already knew (including Facebook ads and Twitter analytics), and laid a strong foundation for my working knowledge of Instagram and WordPress. This project also resulted in me (and my entire team) learning how to work well together in a professional manner, and we each now have a get project and contact to attach to our resumes. Finally, this project also introduced me to one of the most important skills that a marketing student needs to break into the working world: Google Analytics. It ended up being a lot harder than I anticipated to learn, but without this course, I likely would never have been exposed to it while at Sprott.

The guest lecturers in this course were also very fascinating to listen to and gain the insight of. While some guests were a lot more interesting than others, all were able to share their experiences with the class and teach us valuable information about the world of marketing, whether it was about SEO, crowdfunding, political marketing, or anything else.

Finally, this blog is an important tool in New Tools. While it can be very difficult to keep up with regular blog posting throughout the semester, that’s the reality of life. It introduced me to the world of blogging and rekindled my interest in writing, and has got me seriously thinking about starting my own personal blog.

What didn’t work

While the Hootsuite syllabus is a great format to structure the course around, the Hootsuite quizzes are practically useless. Because we have the ability to retry an infinite amount of times, is there even really a point to reading the assigned articles / watching the assigned videos before completing the quiz? Take your best guess, use your common sense, or heck, just randomly guess and then go back and re-answer the quiz when they show you what the right answer is. Even with these quizzes being easy, there are only three of them (plus a certification quiz). It is too easy. This quiz structure hurts the class in two aspects: the quizzes are basically a free 10% grade and hardly worth spending any time actually studying for, and it makes the lectures significantly less important. Because there is no in-class quiz, or final exam, I barely took any notes throughout the semester. While I am a marketing student and interested in the content we’re learning, I’m primarily a finance major and am working towards getting a job in the finance sector. It’s tough to pay attention, or even attend, a lecture when I know I won’t be directly graded on anything I’m learning in the lecture (obviously the lectures had applications to this blog and the term project, but it’s a lot easier to study a course for an exam than it is to study it to apply to a project).

While some of the guest lecturers were very interesting, others weren’t as much, and as I outlined above, I had a hard time focusing on information that I don’t believe I’ll use in my financial career, and even less so as some of the guest lecturer’s content wasn’t applicable to our term projects, either.

Solutions

How would I address the issues I have with this course? The makeup of the 65% weighted term project and 25% blog still make sense and are a part of what makes this course great. While it is beneficial for students to have the Hootsuite Certification upon completion of this course, there’s little motivation to attend or pay attention to the lectures. I don’t advise to get rid of the Hootsuite syllabus, but I would dedicate the other 10% of this course to any of the following:

  • 10% to in-class quizzes. These can even be the exam quizzes Hootsuite uses (although there might be intellectual property issues with this?), but just doing them in class will get students to study for them and pay attention in lectures. The Hootsuite quizzes were also structured so that you were basically done them in the first month of the course; having them more spread out through the semester (like a tradition class) would make more sense. And by doing them in class, students can’t just re-write the quiz until they get it perfect.
  • 10% to attendance and / or participation. Want students to show up to class? Give them grades to do it. Having difficulty getting students to ask guest lecturers questions? Give them grades to do it. When the class was incentivized to ask their peers questions after their project presentations (by way of suggesting they’d get a higher mark on their presentations by asking good questions), a lot more questions were asked. Some guest lecturers didn’t get asked a single question, and that’s kind of a slap in the face to a presenter. “Thanks for coming in, but we weren’t really listening and didn’t care, so we have nothing to follow up on.”
  • 10% midterm or final exam. (Some percentage points could be pulled from the term project / blog to make this exam weighted higher). While exams are so gauche, sometimes they’re a necessary evil. This class shouldn’t need a heavily weighted exam because it’s heavy in hands-on knowledge, but a simple multiple choice exam, based off of marketing points learned in the lectures and from guest lecturers, should increase class awareness and participation.

All in all, this was a great course, one of the most fun I’ve taken in my three years at Sprott. The term project is probably the best project I’ve had to do at any level of my education, and I really had a great time blogging. While I have some issues with the Hootsuite quizzes, it doesn’t take away from how fantastic this course was by itself. If this course were open to non-business students (maybe it is, with intro to marketing as a pre-requisite?), I would recommend it to all of my friends.

Thanks for reading all of these miserable posts.

– Your buddy, Kev.

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