Continuing Education - I was given the opportunity to take a continuing education course on College Public Relations (PAPSA MT105 - How to Gain Media Awareness for your Institution.) I selected this course to get some ideas for promotional projects related to PR that I might be able to add to our Multimedia, Animation, and Experience Design courses and indeed I was able to incorporate several of the points mentioned into such projects, but the most valuable bit of insight was more general in nature.
Our mission Is NOT Our Students' Mission - The course presenter mentioned that no matter how worthy or inspiring your mission is, that it is not the mission of your audience. They may be in agreement with it but it rarely motivates them to donate, attend, or engage. In essence the speaker suggested that you have to give your audience a reason to participate, an incentive. They noted that this incentive did not have to be large or costly. I was struck by how this parallels our attendance in classes.
Quizzes - We see the long term benefit of the material we deliver each day, but our students often don’t until much later. I saw an opportunity to create an incentive in order to motivate them to attend classes. I settled on short objective quizzes given almost daily based on their reading assignment from the night before. These quizzes are 2 to 3 questions long with no essays. They are based on the main points of the assigned reading. This has had several benefits already.
Impact - I have had lower absence rates in classes where I have incorporated this and a significant increase in class discussions, presumably because more of the students have actually completed the assigned reading. I have also seen increased test scores when compared to last year. These quizzes require more work, but they are proving to be worth the effort.
It seems that students see a simple, pretty painless, quiz as a reason they need to be present. Students completing the reading and being generally more interested in the course material is a huge added benefit!
Tests - I have incorporated take home tests or portions of tests to further increase attendance. It is a requirement for students to be present on the day the test is handed out and on the following day when the test or portion of the test is due. If on either day a student is absent they must then take a more difficult make up test without the benefit of their books or notes. This has also increased attendance for those classes where I have implemented this strategy.
Essays - I have found that giving the students the essay portion of tests as the take home portion has also increased the quality and depth of their answers. I require students to initial the King's College Academic Integrity Statement on all take home work to cut down on the sharing of answers, but to be honest it is most important to me that they learn the material and if they get some input from outside sources I'm not terribly bothered.
Allowing Notes - Allowing students to only use their notes on in class portions of tests has also increased their reading and understanding of the material as they have at least had to write the important pieces of information down.
Brain Stuff - One of the other continuing education courses I took highlighted that the process of writing something down increases retention since it forces us to temporarily transfer that info from our left brain, used for cognition and analysis, to our right brain, used for creative thought and the abstract character formation - we call this writing. Having the students put the main points of their subject matter into their own words further reinforces this process by having the thought bounce back and forth between the creative and cognitive portions of the brain like a ping-pong ball.
New Equipment - King's College was selected to take part in a pilot program for Bradford Schools where we upgraded to new computers, 27" iMacs. In addition to new equipment we also changed the curriculum a bit to add Experience Design to our multimedia & Animation courses.
New Software - We will always be using the latest software from The Adobe Creative Cloud. One change is that Flash no longer exists. It was replaced by Adobe Animate.
New Courses - Most notably these changes can be seen in the addition of the words "Experience Design" to our Multimedia courses. We are now including broader projects and assignments that cover a wider range of media outlets including social media, user experience design, email marketing, and web based video production. This has given us the ability to create comprehensive campaign projects with websites, postcards, posters, social media posts, and web based video. Our first such project was designed around King's College having an Alumni Association.
Newest Project - The students selected whether they wanted to design a campaign around either an Alumni Networking Event or a 10 Year Class Reunion. they had to build a website with a video and 3 other supporting documents like postcards, posters, social media posts, and/or email blasts.