Educational programs have done an incredible job of finding new ways to connect with their learning communities, including accelerating online education. But what to do in cases when hands-on lessons are critical to what’s being learned? And what do you do when that’s what your students want?
“Our most popular classes are still what we’re going to offer face to face,” says Liesl Dees, Community Learning Center Director at San Juan College, “and that’s what our customers are wanting more of.”
One of the ways that programs have accomplished this is by using alternative spaces that meet health guidelines more effectively than traditional classroom spaces.
We’re sharing some four of the most interesting —and achievable— types of venues your program could use for in-person classes: outdoor areas, event locations, unused commercial properties, and municipal spaces.
New student needs are continually surfacing during these rapidly shifting times. Your program can rise to meet many of those needs with a little creativity and a fresh look at your class offerings.
You may discover that with a few small adjustments, you’ll be able to lead your students, communities, and organization into a strong fall. Here we offer some points to consider as you serve the ongoing and changing needs of learners.
It used to be that the biggest barrier for an adult learner was finding the class. As many programs move online, new challenges have arisen for some learners, including using new technology to access education and community.
We recently received the following question, “We cater to many senior citizens who have trouble with the whole concept of online classes. They can’t sign on…what can we do to enable them to partake in all that we are offering?” Given the value in both the educational content and the ability to connect with other people, it’s worth going the distance to help less tech-savvy older learners have successful online experiences.
CourseStorm’s Chris Suggs, who taught basic computing to older adults as an AmeriCorps volunteer, helped identify seven things your program can do to get senior learners who aren’t comfortable with technology connected.
Here at CourseStorm, we’ve been carefully watching how lifelong education programs are being affected by this unprecedented situation brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.
We know it’s hard to find answers to the big question that nobody expected to ask, “How do I manage my educational program during a pandemic?”
We’ve been working hard to provide resources and materials to CourseStorm customers as they’ve responded to the needs of their students. We know that every lifelong learning program has been working to adapt to closures.
We listened to our customers’ questions and we’ve done the research. We know that every lifelong learning program has been working to adapt to closures and social distancing during this unprecedented situation. It’s a challenge, and we’re meeting it together.
And so we’ve created a resource to help, the COVID-19 Recovery Guide: How to manage your educational program during a pandemic. This guide contains advice on how to manage your education program in this troubled time —from transitioning to online classes to finding financial assistance— so that you’re well-positioned to come out the other side stronger than ever.
We are streamlining registration for online classes.
From the beginning, our mission at CourseStorm has been to streamline access to education. It’s what drives our entire company every day. It’s built-in to our pay-as-you-go business model, the smooth design of our software, and the deliberate decision to focus on lifelong learning. In short, it’s in our DNA.
And we’re confident that the customers we’ve served across the US would agree we’ve done an excellent job. On average, CourseStorm customers have seen a 12% increase in registrations year-over-year as we continually add new ways to help them reach more learners.
In our continual effort to expand access to education, today we are announcing yet another way to help programs reach more learners: deeper integration with online classes.
Imagine for a moment that you’ve found a great looking class —maybe it’s an essential piece of professional development training you’ve been waiting to take or perhaps it’s an improv class. You’ve seen it in the class catalog, and you’re about to register and just as you begin you discover —oh no! It’s already full. What now?
What Does Happen Now?
What happens next is an integral part of your registration process, and it’s universal. No matter what kind of program you’re running, your customer’s experience when their chosen class is sold out shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Think Like a Student
Almost everyone has gotten, at some time, a class catalog in the mail and experienced it by flipping through, looking at photos, skimming titles, and speed-reading class descriptions until something interesting crosses our path. The tactile nature helps us remember, and we can often recall the organization of the content enough to flip back to something that grabbed our attention.
But what do you do when your catalog is primarily online? How do you keep the same sense of discovery and catch someone’s interest while enabling a streamlined digital experience?
Like a physical catalog, it’s about vision. When you look at a class catalog through the eyes of your students, what do you see?
Do you see visions of your future? The refinished table in the middle of your kitchen? Presenting gourmet cupcakes at the next family event? Successfully reading an English language newspaper? Starting a new career thanks to a welding certification? Entertaining everyone you know with ukulele singalongs?
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to create an online catalog that helps your students find what they want —and be inspired to find something new as well!
What Do I Do With Feedback Data? Analysis and Action.
This article is the fifth (and final) in our feedback series. In our first, we talked about how feedback can help improve your program in, “Why Your Program Can Benefit from Feedback (and How to Get It).” See also, “Where Does Feedback Come From?” , “What, How, and Whom Do I Ask“, and “Let’s Talk Tools.”
Now that you’ve gotten feedback, what to do with it?
First, let’s talk about something that makes a lot of people nervous when dealing with this step. “What if I find out something awful?” That’s a possibility, but what you don’t know may hurt your class enrollment, so do not let it be something that stands in the way of your improvement! The information you get, positive or negative, will be helpful. If reviewing the data begins to feel stressful, you may want to call in some backup. (Or you can take a break and read this great article from Inc. reminding you why, no, really, this is important and helpful and good for your program!)
Data analysis can be an intense and deep subject, but it’s not necessary to overdo it to understand your results. You need only enough to organize, analyze, share, and act.
You’re in the home stretch!
What Tools Are Available for Getting and Managing Feedback?
This article is the fourth in our feedback series. In our first, we talked about how feedback can help improve your program in, “Why Your Program Can Benefit from Feedback (and How to Get It).” In our second, we covered “Where Does Feedback Come From?” And we covered “What, How, and Whom Do I Ask” in our last article.)
As we’ve discussed, there are many formats for gathering feedback, and plenty of goals to set. Whether you’re receiving program suggestions to increase class enrollment or looking for details about creating a great class registration process, there are tools available to help.
Having and using appropriate tools will help keep your process organized and give you better data. Many of them are available for free or at a low cost to help you create, manage, and will even report the results of your questionnaires or interviews. We’ll cover tools for questionnaires and tools for in-person use, for both individuals and focus groups.
It’s an all-too-familiar story: you are offering a great class. The instructor is excellent. The material is solid, interesting, and useful. You’ve set it all up perfectly…but the class enrollment is still low.
It doesn’t matter what you’re offering, whether welding or watercolors, and a low turnout can be a stressful experience for anyone running an education program.
There are some tried-and-true ways to help maximize your outreach to get those classes full enough to run, and we’re sharing our own great eight with you.
Here are a few ways to boost your class registrations so you can run that class!