course design

Crafting an Industry-Relevant Course

Digital marketing course at the University of Auckland
Digital Marketing course at the University of Auckland, July 2020

In 2020 I was challenged with the task of developing and delivering a digital marketing course for the Business School of the University of Auckland that is skill-based and industry-relevant. While it is a bit too early to celebrate the course’s success (the course premiered in July 2020), I’m happy to share some insights that may help learning designers out there to hand-pick some ideas for their digital marketing courses.

After conducting research on the top marketing skills in demand, and hours of conversations with industry professionals, it came as no surprise that businesses – regardless of their nature or size – are finding that key skills in social media marketing and marketing automation are lacking. We decided to design an introductory course that focuses on the key aspects of digital marketing and helps students develop knowledge and skills relevant to the industry, including foundations of digital analytics, social media, content and email marketing, digital advertising, integration and marketing automation. By the end of the course students are expected to develop the following skills and knowledge:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and skills specific to inbound digital marketing
  • Select and apply digital marketing analytics tools and key metrics suitable for the analysis of a given digital marketing scenario
  • Propose the optimal channel mix and content strategies tailored to a specific target market
  • Outline a data-driven digital marketing campaign for a given business that aligns with the business’ overall marketing goals
  • Demonstrate an ability to use knowledge and skills learnt from the course by completing an industry-recognised certification

All assessments are designed in an action learning style and constitute an ongoing digital marketing project developed for a host company.

Digital marketing course design: resources

Partnership with Hubspot Academy at the University of Auckland

This course also aims to introduce tools and resources relevant to the development of integrated digital marketing campaigns, from identifying areas where digital marketing efforts are most needed to creating a digital marketing campaign proposal. I’m thrilled to have HubSpot Academy as our Education partner. Due to this very welcome partnership, the digital marketing students get to experience one of the leading inbound marketing softwares.

The course offers a number of free industry certifications commonly used in digital marketing. Students are able to choose one certification that best suits their career plans. By bringing the best industry certifications to class, the course addresses top skills required by industry and helps to advance career opportunities in digital marketing.

Digital marketing course design: industry experts

Expert sessions for the Digital Marketing Course at the University of Auckland

I can talk non-stop about the importance of having industry experts in the classroom, specifically for skill-based courses. It helps to reinforce learning by not only presenting real-life applications of what students study, but challenging students with “so what”, ”what if” and “what now” kind of questions. I was also fortunate to bring on board Olga and Dmitry Kulikov, two amazingly talented travel bloggers/social media influencers from Russia, stuck in New Zealand due to Covid-19. Thank you guys! Big thanks go to Bea Pole-Bokor, Roslyn Ryan, Maria Abercrombie, Nicole Quin, and Nigel Williamson! And last, but not least, thank you Leonardo Falasca, Jam Mayer, and Lasma Zorgenberga (Berg) for such insightful video interviews. Expert video sessions are a big part of the course, especially for online delivery.

Digital marketing course design: results

Last year semester has been a rollercoaster for students due to the COVID situation, plus, the novelty of the course in combination with online delivery have added to the challenges. But some course aspects prove to be working well:

For example, team formation via self-sign-up option went really smoothly – we did not divide the class into on-campus and offshore students. Students enthusiastically welcomed the internship opportunities offered by Auckland-based digital marketing agencies and our host company.  The feedback I’m receiving from students and industry partners is truly encouraging.

Team video presentations was a good solution for a class of 126 students and online delivery. Such a format gave the host company the opportunity of going through all presentations (25!) and provided teams with detailed feedback during the last class on campus.

There are some aspects of the course that didn’t work. For instance, students felt overwhelmed with the number of industry analytical tools selected for some assignments as well as with the set of data provided by the host organisation. Based on continued feedback from students and the teaching team’s experiences, we have decided to slightly change our approach to assignments. Stay tuned for further updates.

Here is my short presentation prepared for Canvas users monthly meeting .