By Christine Voelker, K-12 Program Director for Quality Matters
Christine Voelker is a 20-year education veteran who spent many years teaching research skills and integrating instructional technology before entering the world of online learning. She has an advanced certificate in Administration and Supervision and a Master's in Library and Information Science. Connect with Christine on Twitter: @voelkerc.
You’ve done the planning. You have qualified teachers in place. You’re ready to launch your online learning program. Well done! Now for the next hurdle: How do you get the word out and increase your online course enrollments? Relying on the old adage, “if you build it, they will come” probably won’t work. These seven tips will help you market your courses to learners inside and outside your district.
1. Target the right audience
Who’re you trying to reach? Parents? Learners? Both? Your audience will determine the focus of your message. It’s likely these groups don't know much about online learning. They may have misguided notions regarding its validity. You may need to dispel some myths.
2. Describe how the course will meet learners’ needs
Is this a course that may not be offered in another school or district? Depending on the type of course and your audience, make sure to promote the ways these offerings can help learners take courses they might not otherwise experience.
3. Share learner success stories
Shine the spotlight on some of the learners who benefited from these opportunities. Get endorsements from learners and parents you can use on your flyers, web pages, etc.
4. Highlight your teachers!
Let everyone know who is teaching the course. Is this a stellar teacher who can really make a difference for learners? Do your online teachers have special skill sets? Have they taken additional professional development to prepare them to teach online? Do they do something special to make their online learners feel connected? Highlighting these accomplishments and personal touches can help reassure stakeholders there will be someone on the other side of the computer who is qualified and cares.
5. Give them a sneak peek at the course
Students and parents need to know what the online learning experience is like. Screencasts and friendly introductions from teachers, including short tours around their online classrooms, could be helpful. Make those who are new to online learning comfortable by showcasing examples of active learning.
6. Make it easy to enroll
All this promotion is great, but don’t forget to offer details! How does the enrollment process work? Where will potential learners and parents go for answers to their questions? What are the criteria a students needs to meet in order to take an online course? Do students need to take part in a face-to-face meeting prior it’s start? Is there a contact to whom they can direct their questions? Help these students understand and overcome any potential barriers (the time it takes to go to school online, how much it will cost, the technology they will need access to, etc.). Having these conversations ahead of time will help set them up for success and help your district attract more students who are ready and want to learn.
7. Tell them why your course is a quality course!
Make sure they know quality is your priority. Outline the reasons your course is top-notch. Did you build your course using experts from your district and a quality course design rubric, like the Quality Matters K-12 Secondary Rubric? Or have you purchased a third-party course that has been QM-Certified? Let them know by leveraging the QM Certification Mark and linking back to QM so they can see why it matters!
What do you think about these tips? Share what you are doing: Tweet us at #QMK12 and follow us @QMProgram.