Grow Your Program

  1. Anatomy of a Great Online Catalog

    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!

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  2. Feedback: Analysis and Action

    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!

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  3. Feedback: Let’s Talk Tools

    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.

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  4. 8 Ways to Stage a Low Enrollment Intervention

    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!

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  5. Feedback: What, How, and Whom Do I Ask

    What, How, and Whom Do I Ask to Get the Feedback I Need?

    (This article is the third 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?”)

    Choosing Your Feedback Method

    There are many ways to get feedback, and each method is better for some kinds of information and data gathering than others.

    However, of equal import are the questions you ask and the way you ask them, which is what this article covers!
    In an ideal situation, we want to be sure we understand what participants expect, who to ask for feedback, and who invites that feedback. When we’ve defined those, we can plan out the ideal way to ask, the best method to use, and even who will manage that feedback.

    Thinking the process through will help create a better experience for everyone involved.

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  6. Three Places to Find Perfect Pictures for Your Program

    People often want to know where to find unique, stand-out photos to use in program marketing.

    You know that people are visual and that eye-catching graphics are an essential part of grabbing someone’s attention. Well-created images motivate and inspire us to make decisions, as do the words that accompany them, calling us to action.

    Having high-quality materials may seem out of reach, even though you know that your program enrollment would benefit from them. 

    Fortunately, there are many resources for finding and creating captivating images you can use to market your classes. We’ve talked about using Google Photos to find royalty-free images you can use for free, but that’s far from the only game in town! Here we’ll cover three of our favorite cloud-based image libraries where you can find stunning photos and pictures you can use at no cost.

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  7. How Often Should One Send Email Marketing Announcements?

    We often hear the question, “How often should I send email marketing announcements?”*

    (In fact, we got exactly that question during a recent webinar!)

    While the question seems straightforward, a single, perfect answer which can be universally applied doesn’t exist. Ask a dozen companies, get a dozen different replies. There’s no consensus in spite of impressive data gathering. Ultimately, it will be a little different for everyone, but we’ve thought about this question ourselves, and we have an answer we hope will help!

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  8. Feedback: Where Does Feedback Come From?

    Now that we know what feedback is useful, we’ll tease out the two types of feedback that you could receive. (If you missed why it’s useful, take a look at Why Your Program Can Benefit from Feedback (and How to Get It), the first article in our feedback series.)

    We’re always getting feedback. Sometimes it’s subtle, like body language or level of attention. Sometimes it’s obvious, like a class leaving all a-chatter about what they’ve just experienced. And sometimes it’s direct, like getting an email from a participant. Feedback can have a positive effect on the success of your program and your class registrations, so you really want it

    Observable feedback is important and useful, but it shouldn’t be the only tool in your toolbox! 

    What you are trying to accomplish also matters, and each kind of feedback method supports different data.

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  9. Finding Time in the 24/7 Learning Environment

    Welcome to our very first guest post on the CourseStorm website! (And we cannot express how excited we are about it!)

    If you run an education program that draws from a rural population, you’re in good company. Today, we share advice from a super-successful program in Salina, Kansas. Salina sits in the middle of wheat country alongside the Smoky Hill River, and with a population of about 47,500, isn’t a big city but is certainly a regional hub of activity. As part of the Central Kansas Library System, Salina Public Library‘s CLASS program serves mostly students from Salina but also attracts people from rural parts of the region seeking adult learning and community education opportunities.

    Since their founding in 2002, they’ve uncovered a scheduling methodology that prevents low enrollment, supports students, and is encouraging of their community. We invited Glory Benacka, Programs Coordinator at Salina Public Library, to write about how their thriving CLASS program creates and refines its schedule based on students’ requests, observations, and what’s happening in the community at any given time.

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  10. Feedback: Why Your Program Can Benefit from Feedback (and How to Get It)

    Why Is Feedback Important?

    We know you.  You want to have a program that people love; one that changes lives. You have the potential to do great things in your community —but aren’t sure that you’re going in the right direction. Perhaps your program is already great, and you want to keep that way. How can you find out how you’re affecting your students? How can you set achievable new goals?

    In short, you want to know, “How do I help improve my program?” 

    The answer is simple, “Ask for feedback.” 

    However, we also understand that while “ask for feedback” is a simple statement, it can feel overwhelming and the questions can pile up quickly: How do I get the feedback that I need? What do I ask? When do I ask? How do I ask? What do I do with what I’ve learned? 

    We’re here to help.

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