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.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra
The first half of 2020 has presented new challenges for educators across the country. Halfway in and we’re still affected by the uncertainties brought about by COVID-19. It feels like everything is staying the same and yet is changing by the minute.
However, some things haven’t changed — learners still need education, workers still need training, and people always need (perhaps more than ever) opportunities for personal enrichment. While official recommendations are responding to the needs of the moment, organizations still need to plan for the fall. Instructors must be hired, classes posted and promoted, class spaces reserved and all other the usual things, but in unusual times.
No matter what your fall format looks like, or where you are, or what the situation may be, here are some ways your program can prepare for the rest of 2020.
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.
Do I really need a refund policy?
Well-written refund policies are vital for any business providing services to the public. A refund policy establishes expectations for both your business and customers and can protect you from potential financial losses and liability. Your policy lets registrants know what to expect should they need to cancel a registration. A signed or virtually acknowledged refund policy is also one of the best tools you can use to win a disputed credit card purchase known as a “chargeback.”
If you don’t have a refund policy now, it’s worth the time to create one, and it’s not a difficult process and it can have a serious, positive impact on your bottom line.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.