Hey, everyone. Thanks for tuning in to The Teachers' Lounge, HubSpot's Podcast for the Education Partner Program. HubSpot's Education Partner Program provides college and university professors with everything they need to teach leading courses in marketing, sales, entrepreneurship, and communications. That's software, resources, and a community of professors, all for free.
On each episode of The Teachers' Lounge, we'll sit down with someone who's transforming marketing and sales in higher education. I'm Isaac Moche, your host for the podcast. Today we'll be talking to Elaine Young, Digital Marketing Professor at Champlain College in Vermont. She teaches courses in digital marketing, digital marketing metrics analysis, advanced digital marketing, managing online communities, and the marketing capstone. We're excited to have Elaine on our podcast to discuss applied learning, preparing students for successful careers, and the intersection of philosophy and marketing. Welcome, Elaine.
Wow, Isaac. Thanks for having me.
Thanks so much for coming on. So how's everything going up in Burlington? As you know, I have a soft spot, since I went to University of Vermont myself.
Yeah, it's really great. We've wrapped up classes here at Champlain College. Sorry about that.
No. No worries at all.
--we're in something that faculty here called our May Collaborative where classes are over, we're in senior week, and we're actually having a meetings and things to connect with our colleagues across disciplines.
That sounds very valuable. And one of the reasons that I'm actually most excited to talk today is that, as folks heard when I was doing the introduction, Champlain actually has a really robust digital marketing program. Would you say that's a fair assessment, especially after talking to peers at other schools?
Yeah. I think we do. We've been teaching some form of digital marketing class for about 15 years now. I've been at Champlain for 17. I'm the one who developed the class and have been teaching it that long. We started back in the day when we called it web-based marketing. Then it has moved to internet-based marketing, and it's now digital marketing.
And we now actually have moved to the point of having a minor. So we offer classes to our students in digital marketing, advanced digital marketing, marketing metrics and analysis, and community management.
So you folks it sounds like were early adopters. You've been teaching this for a while. But can you give folks an inside picture of what that development looked like? Was it something you had to fight for? Was it something where Champlain wanted to differentiate itself? Walk us through a little bit what that process was like in that past 15 years of digital programming being built out at Champlain.
So we started our digital marketing program here back in the day when it really was called e-business management. And so you have to think about the frame that Champlain started this in, which was 15-- well, 17 years ago for e-business management. And that was a time when people were just figuring out, what is this web thing? Should I have a website? People weren't even sure that-- I mean, it was a lot of, it's a fad.
And we had an e-business management program that focused on e-commerce. And as part of that, it was, well, once you have content online, how do you actually market it to people? And what would that look like? And so we developed a class, because that's part of what Champlain is about, preparing our students for future jobs and things that may not even exist yet. So it really wasn't a fight at all. It worked really well with our curriculum.
You mentioned in that history, a little history of Champlain, how difficult it is to do that when you're thinking on a four-year time frame, as you do in college. Any advice for how you folks have tackled that? How do you make sure that your curriculum stays relevant, especially across that four-year time period?
Yeah. That's certainly not easy to do. Over the years, what I've learned is you can only do as much as you can do. In each class, you set your students up with tools that are current. I do tell my students that the content I give them is as good as it is that day, at that moment when I'm giving them the content.
Because on more than one occasion, I've helped my students understand analytics, for example. We've looked at Google Analytics, and then we've looked at Facebook Insights, and we've pulled some stuff together, and then a day later, Facebook and Google and Twitter all change up what they're doing, or they announce a new thing or a change in the algorithm. And I have had to walk into my classroom the next class period and say, so you know all those things we just talked about? Forget we talked about them. Let's start all over again.
And I think one of the key things to remember is that when students come into a college experience, they take multiple different courses. The challenge for us as professors in thinking about a cohesive curriculum is to ensure that our students can actually-- when they come in as first years, we should be, in our marketing curriculum, teaching them sort of the same elements we're teaching our seniors.
And somebody would say, well, you're repeating. Like, well, no, not really. Because by the time my first years become seniors, I'm teaching them things to get them ready for the marketplace. Because in four years, especially in digital marketing, things are completely different. And so I have to be thinking about that way of, it's not even stair steps so much as it is kind of almost a parallel path to just make sure that people continue to have the same relevant skills as they go through.
Because I've got to teach and get sophomores ready for internships. And if they don't have the right skill set, then they're not going to get the internships. At the same time, I'm ensuring seniors are ready for the marketplace.
It really becomes almost a longitudinal study in the development of digital marketing for those four years that they're at Champlain. And in the same way that you might have to develop a change mindset for your professors and for yourself, you really adapter your students to that as well.
Oh, yeah. Absolutely. It's critical. One of the-- I think the most important learning outcomes for any digital marketing class, whether it's a series of classes, or you only have the privilege to do one class, is that the top learning outcome has to be lifelong learning and adaptability.
And the tools themselves can go away, right? Because I've seen them come and go.
Any examples of when you had based a fair amount of your course on something that ended up going away?
Well, you know, it's funny, because through the teaching of the course back in 2001, you know, the great search engine wars, right? So there was a whole point in time where there was a whole part of my course devoted to talking about the multiple search engines, and how you get found on all of these different things from Yahoo to Excite to then the meta searches with Dogpile, and all of these things. And hey, there was this really-- this little thing called Google, and you might want to check that one out. And every semester, that completely changed.
Then there was this upstart little thing called Pownce, and then a little while later, out came Plurk, and then this thing called Twitter. And they all came out around the same time, 2000-- what? 2007? 2006? 2007? And I was getting my students to play with all of these little tools. And it was fascinating to watch Pownce and Plurk. Of course, most people that are listening to this probably don't even know what I'm talking about. But of course, we know what Twitter is.
And it's fascinating, because the goal within digital marketing is because there are so many different tools, my philosophy is students have to play with those tools to understand if they have value and can be applied in a marketing context. So the challenge is, as with all businesses, where do we put our resources for what tools? How do we know what tool is actually going to work? And what I try to get my students to understand is, you've got to play with the tools so that you can be the person who goes to your boss and says, OK. This one's going to stick. We need to be paying attention to this one.
So I love that you mention the word philosophy, because it brings up one of the most unique things that I found as I was reading a little bit more about how you teach your course. You actually ask your students to develop a philosophy statement. That's a really interesting activity for marketing majors. Can you tell us more about this exercise? Why do you do it? Where did it come from?
Yeah, sure. So in our market capstone, we are bringing together all students in the marketing discipline, some of whom are really excited about digital marketing, some who prefer more traditional marketing, some who want to get into what they call creative in the advertising space. A lot of students here would like to get into event marketing.
And part of our work in capstone is to help our students really think of themselves no longer as a student, but as an entering professional. And that's a big mindset, and they've seen that be a challenge over the time I've been teaching. This transition from student to professional, for whatever reason, is a huge mind shift, more so than it used to be for students today.
And as part of that, we're asking our students to think of themselves as a professional. Who do they want to be as a professional? And what are the ethical or value statements that they would put a stake in the ground on and not budge from as a community practice of professionals in marketing?
And we have them look at the American Marketing Association Code of Ethics. We have to look at the Direct Marketing Association Code and some others, and have them think about that. But then really get them thinking about well, what's really important to you as a marketer? What really matters?
And the evolution of that has been really interesting to watch as students focus a lot on the desire to be really good at what they do and do it well, and to come from a place of authenticity and integrity. And I think that's really cool to watch that evolution.
That assignment started a long time ago in the precursor to our capstone class, which was our senior-level class that students had to get through. And with all of these tools happening, I started a process with my students on personal branding, and that's how we started. We started very basically where I said, you need to clean up any social profiles you have. And at the point when I started doing that assignment, it was like 2007, 2008. Something like that. And it was kind of odd. People were like, why do I need to do this? And trying to get them to use LinkedIn more professionally and introduce them to that.
And so now here we are in 2017, and we've moved this to not a personal brand, but your professional brand. And we call it your professional digital identity, actually. Because we've moved, society has moved, technology has moved to a point now where I have students coming in with a digital footprint already.
And I think one of the most interesting implications of young people having access to digital tools for so long-- I mean, imagine having had access to Facebook since you were 10. I know, Facebook's 13, but 10, OK? And then using Snapchat and using Twitter the way you would text message your friends, and all the other tools that are out there to be used.
And they come here with this identity of themselves as who they are as a student, because that's all they've known, is being a student. What we're asking them to do in college in four years is to be ready to be a professional, and they have all this public baggage behind them for everybody to see.
So now we're at a stage of me moving them to really be thoughtful about, what is the best foot they want to put forward in their digital identity? Who are they? And so challenging them to not only express who they are online publicly as a professional, but make that mental shift from student to professional. And so the two things together has made this really a challenging--
Right on the surface, it's like, oh, that's really easy. I'll just clean up my profiles, and I'll create a blog, and I'll write some stuff. But then when you start digging in and asking them to come up with a value statement and to be mindful about how they present themselves online-- and now I'm pushing them to do video and video statements, because marketers need to be able to do video--
--it's becoming a challenge for them to really get over that hump. But the students who get over that hump come out with so much confidence, they feel ready to take on all sorts of things.
I would imagine that level of self-reflection can be-- almost feel confrontational to a student that is used to maybe not necessarily coasting, but doing that level of introspection in a course. Have you seen any students maybe buck that? Have you seen a really exciting transformation through this as you felt like you were able to find their passion? I'm even just thinking of my peers and professionals that would benefit from coming up with their philosophy statement as a professional.
Yeah. So it's been really-- some of the best stuff is when I have students sit back, and they're seniors, and they're ready to go into their career as marketing people, and they're like, wait a minute. I don't think I want to do this.
And some people would say, wow, you just wasted four years, and all of that. And I would say, absolutely not, because it's a growth process. And the skills you learn in a marketing program take you all over the place. We've got a great liberal arts core here. We've got great business core. And then we got, in my opinion, awesome marketing classes. So it's not like it's a loss. What it really is, is a journey of self-discovery.
And so I've seen students resist a lot. And many of them resist because we're asking them to put themselves out publicly in a way that has a lot more challenge with it. It's very different to say, yo, friends, here's the beer I'm drinking, and let's-- you know, we're at the party and we're having a great time. It's a whole other level to essentially walk into a room with a bunch of professionals and, like, be professional. And so the big challenge is helping them to be able to make that transition.
That really fits with what was going to be my next question. You gave this really incredible speech to the incoming class of 2019, and there were two specific pieces of advice that stuck out to me, and seemed like it might have been what you were looking to do with this philosophy statement. You told them that college is hard, and that they shouldn't be afraid to fail.
So do you ever set students up to fail, or at least struggle mightily to accomplish a task? That sounds like what you might be doing. I mean, this isn't just another assignment. And we'll talk about the PDI, the Professional Digital Identity in a little bit. But is that what you're setting students up to do, is to really understand that failure can be a good thing, and that challenging yourself is important?
Yeah, so one of the things that I remember several of my colleagues here in the School of Business, we really like talk about failing forward. And it's not about failure as, you did such a bad job that you can't come out of it. It really is, when you don't understand something or you try something and you do it incorrectly, you learn from that process. If we all gave up the first time we rode a bike and hit the ground, nobody would be riding bikes, right? But you fall on the ground, and you realize, oh, I needed to balance better. And so you get back up, and you try again. And pretty soon, you're riding your bike like crazy, right?
And there's something about-- I'm going to get a little soap-boxy here for a moment as an educator. There is something about a system that grades you A, B, C, D, F, and implicates the F as, you suck. Instead of, you did not do this where you should be, so let's go try it again, and let's do it again, and let's do it again. Because each time you do it, you get better at it.
So to think about doing that process as a senior where they've got real skin in the game, because they want to get a job-- so there's motivation, right? There's a little bit of fear, because adulting is coming, so now you're going to have to adult. No more student. Now you have to adult.
And the next thing is, when you think about creating an online identity, and me saying, write content, if you go back and look at any of the students' work, their first posts are, like, hi, I'm this student, and I like things, right? You know, roughly.
And by their final post, you're like, wait. I can see how this young person started to develop their voice and started to grow in confidence in how they would present their content. Oh, look at the first post. There's no pictures, there's no links. Look at this last post. There's pictures, there's links, there's more in-depth analysis. They're not afraid to put themselves out there. Oh, they're posting that on Twitter. They didn't do that with their first one.
And then you start to see that over less than 15 weeks, they've gotten from a point of, I don't really know what I'm doing and I'm not confident in it, even though they've had three and a half years of courses to help them get there, but this is really application, to wow. Not only have I put this thing together, I feel good about this thing, and I can now show this to potential employers to say, look what I can do for myself. And if I can do this for me, I can do this for you. And that's super empowering.
Why do you think it's such a prevalent thing in social media and digital marketing and communications courses that they almost veer into and have this obligation to teach life skills, or as you call it, adulting? Why is that such a prevalent phenomenon?
Well, I think that's college. Like no matter what major you're in, college is a maturation process for most students. For those students who have the ability to come to college, it is a place where they, for many of them, is the first time that they start learning how to do things on their own, to be responsible for their own decisions.
And that four years is critical. The development process I see from a first year to a senior is probably one of the greatest gifts I have as a professor and as an advisor, because I see my students become the adults they're going to be, and I have a window into this time frame. So why is it that colleges needs to do that? I think it's just a place where students need to challenge themselves and take risk. And they have the opportunity to do that in college in some ways.
The only part that I would push back on on that is that it's not many other departments or topics that they're learning about where they can actually see incarnations of their previous self that might not be what they want to present to the world.
Well, yes and no.
Because so many of the students we have here at Champlain, so many of them have some kind of-- and I think students everywhere now, if we're talking today, how this online content space, right? It's way beyond LiveJournal now, right? We've got people who are doing all sorts of content creation without even thinking about it, without even thinking about the long-term consequences. They're just in the moment from a maturity level, and just doing the thing, and not even thinking about its public nature.
When I start talking to young people about Twitter is public, they freak out. Like, I can find you, because Twitter is indexable on Google. And then they're like, wait, what? And so they just don't think about it in that mindset.
I think in marketing curriculum, one of the reasons why this works really well is because marketing is about psychology. Marketing is about connecting-- and sociology and anthropology, and all these wonderful-- what we would put in the liberal arts world. But it's about learning about people, connecting with people, communicating with people.
The challenge for our students as they go through this four-year process is to help them understand that they're moving from, yeah, we're always consumers. But they have to start thinking like a marketer. And that takes four years to get them thinking about it, and it's similar to this kind of transition. If we got students to do something publicly from their first year to their fourth year, I think that would break all sorts of heads, because they're just such a different place. But you get a microcosm of it in 15 weeks in the senior year.
So break that down for us a little bit more, this professional digital identity. What is this course? You told us a little bit about where it came from and what the objectives are. Now give us a little bit of the details to this thing.
Sure. So students come into the capstone. So they're seniors. They're either in their fall semester or their spring semester. And here is the challenge that's put before them. Create or update or revise your professional digital identity. And what that means for them is they need to create a space online where they have content.
I used to be very specific about what that was, back when we had one or two choices. And now we have the students who want to use Squarespace, and then we have the WordPress people, and now we've got the Weebly people, and we've got the Wix people. I don't even care anymore. It's like, pick a thing. And-- although I do advise them to use WordPress, because then that gives them a skill set that employers would be interested in seeing. But I leave it up to them.
And they have to decide on what kind of content they want to put forward to the world. They have to have-- and so I get into some really nitty gritty things. I'm looking for up to 15 long-form posts over the course of the semester. They need to have a fully engaged and functional LinkedIn profile. They have to have five long-form posts on LinkedIn to leverage that part of LinkedIn. They have to be able to connect to all their social tools together and have a cohesive, branded identity.
So I've had students approach that in many different ways. The simplest low-hanging fruit is every profile photo is the same, every banner looks the same. But I've had students who've done a series of images that then bring it together cohesively. And then I say, if I search for you, what are your SEO results? What's your ego results? So can I find you on search?
And so part of it is them looking at how long it takes to get found on a search engine, especially when your name is, say, John Smith, right? Can you get found? If we say John Smith Champlain, can we find you? And do we find what you want us to find? Or do I find that stupid tweet from back in the day?
Then I have them assess their platforms. So the social platforms they are choosing to use, they need to assess and say, is this my personal family platform, and I'm going to lock it down? Or is this what I want to transition into a professional platform?
And then they go do stuff. And then I give them feedback all along. I meet with them, I assess where they're at based on that work and based on a professional eye. When I look at what they've done, I put myself in the spot of a potential employer.
One of the things that I'm lucky to have in my experience is it's been a long time, but I used to work professionally, so I haven't always been in higher ed. So I know what it means to hire and fire someone. And so I can still sit there and put that judgment on and just say, OK. Would I call you in for an interview? Would I be intrigued enough to send you an invite via LinkedIn?
And so it really is a way for students to integrate a wide range of things, right? Communication skills, analysis skills, digital marketing fundamentals like keyword optimization strategy for themselves, and then their interests. So if someone is passionate about the outdoors, how are they going to show that? How are they going to tell that story?
I have one student whose pictures-- I have several students this semester who are really amazing in their photography and drone photography, and stunning. Just absolutely stunning. How are they going to leverage that skill and highlight that skill so they might land someplace where people would be really engaged with them? And then all of that comes together into a final presentation where they have to present the work they did over the semester and show analytics data to prove that they were successful.
And what strikes me about this is that they are treating themselves as the client, and if they can do it for themselves, it's not such a difficult cognitive leap for them to be able to do it for a client.
Right. And if you are a business who's hiring someone-- and honestly, which is sad for me, but hopefully one day people will realize how awesome Champlain College is. But we're a small little college in Vermont, right? Who's heard of us in, say, San Francisco? But I would say that if one of my students walks into a room in San Francisco with their content and they show them, this is what I can do, and some other college graduate from any college in California comes up and can't show them that, my student is going to get the job.
And that's really what I care about. I care about helping my students launch their career and their professional life. And are they well prepared to take that first job when they graduate and use that as a springboard to the next thing? And that's really what's important to me.
That brings me to your yearly Hire This Grad blog post, which I think is probably my favorite blog post that I've ever seen a professor do. Can you describe that for our listeners who might not have read it before?
Yeah. So I've been doing that blog post for a while. I actually have to sit down this week now that-- well, graduation is on Saturday, so I have to do my next one very quickly here. I started this project and this personal branding work and the stuff for my students a long time ago, and started the hashtag #hirethisgrad. I actually had one of my seniors take that #hirethisgrad and try to use that and build that into a community at one point a long time ago.
And what I like to do is I like to take the work from capstone and highlight my students, essentially, basically, helping them get found and get seen, and highlight some of the hard work that they've done. And so they're putting their content out online, and so I'm trying to create a space on my blog to say, OK. Go look at Patrick's work, and he's awesome, and here's his stuff. And here's Megan, and this is what she did, and Sabrina, and what she did. And just give-- elevate their work in a place that's going to have longevity.
And it really solidifies for them, you now have a portfolio that's going to help you get hired if you use it effectively.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
All of this seems to really be culminating into this issue and role that you see for yourself as bridging the skills gap and preparing students to be effective members of the working world. And you shared this stat on LinkedIn, that 87% of recent grads feel they're well prepared to hit the ground running after earning their diplomas. Only half of hiring managers agree with them. Does that feel like an obligation for you as a marketing professor to close that skills gap or to make it as nonexistent as possible for the students that graduate from your program?
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I like to tell my students and their families that college is not inexpensive. It's a big investment. And our young people need to come out of college prepared, and that means a couple of different things, right? Higher ed is focused almost historically on the higher level, like critical thinking skills, writing skills, analysis. And the world today needs those a lot.
But at the end of the day, my students also have to have a set of skills, right? They have to have some hard skills that are going to get them in the door, and then they can use their soft skills to just go further.
And so my job is to help hiring managers know where to look. As far as I'm concerned, all they should do is reach out to Champlain College and get our students. But I mean, to be a hiring manager today is really hard, right? It is, because there's a set of assumptions being made, and I think if I could-- if hiring managers were listening to this, and I could give them some advice, one of the biggest pieces I would say is, just because someone is 21 does not mean they know how to do technology.
Stop. Stop assuming that we're just going to put that kid on our Twitter account, or we're just going to put them on Facebook, because they don't know how to use this from a business and branding standpoint, unless they have been trained to do so. Just because I can flip a light switch does not mean I can rewire a house. And hiring managers, especially for small businesses, are just looking at, oh, you're young. You can do that social thing. Well, they might not be able to.
I bet a lot of students think they can.
No, they don't.
Do you confront that where people-- or no, they are respectful to the fact that just because they're on social media all day, doesn't mean they can do it for a business?
So many of my students-- and I'm seeing this more and more now-- say something pretty similar. I don't do social media. I don't like social media. And so one of the challenges is that when you're immersed in something and it's a personal thing for you all the time, it surrounds you, it is hard to see how you would do that for a job. Like, why would anybody care about that?
And the challenge for students is that they come in as first years thinking they know. And what's really awesome-- and it shows a maturity of growth. By the time they get seniors, they realize how much they don't know. And so if I was teaching history class, that's bad.
I'm teaching digital marketing. That's amazing. That's, like, a big win, because they're-- no one is an expert. You cannot be an expert in a place-- in something that moves so quickly and changes so fast. You can be educated, and you can be knowledgeable, and you can have a strong background in history in that that helps inform today's decisions. But come on. I was like, how many people do you know who, when Snapchat came on board, were like, oh, that's stupid. But we should know better, right?
Yeah. But we should know better, because Twitter came out. Oh, that's stupid. Facebook came out. Oh, that's stupid. The web, the internet, Netscape happened. Oh, that's stupid. We know better. Like, people who are in this space know that you need to be always curious, that no new tool is stupid. It is just-- has a use case for a specific audience. Job as a brand or as a marketer is to go look at that thing and say, does this have a use case in this business context?
Is curiosity the ticket for you? You've been teaching this for 15 years now. Staying up to date in a field that changes so quickly, is that just curiosity?
So stamina, I think.
So it used to be that-- so I've always loved new technologies. My dad was a geek, and it just came with the gene pool. I was one of those kids, my dad brought home a TRS-80 Model 1. I'm not going to tell you what that is. People can go look it up. But let's just say that I was in grade school, and I have had computers in my life that long. And I'm fascinated by new tools, how those tools impact what we do, and where is it going to take us?
Now I've also been at this a really long time. My master's degree is in internet strategy management. I've been doing web stuff for a long time, and I've been teaching for 17 years. And I've seen a lot come and go. And I've seen a lot stick, and I've seen a lot evolve and change. And the excitement now is tempered, I think, more with a sense of seeing where we're headed-- where we've been and where we're headed, and wondering around things like big data and those big questions that we're asking about privacy and security that are always there, but now by the sheer enormity of the data that we have and the way it is being used is causing a lot of questions.
From a marketing standpoint, it brings us back to that professional value statement that I have my students do. It becomes even more important, right? Because we have all of this stuff.
What I struggle with, and I want to help my students move beyond is, if you're working in a Google environment, if you're working with tools, say, even like HubSpot, in order for those companies to stay in business, they have to evolve as well. That means changing the interface. That means rewriting programming. That means keeping up with what's going on.
You as the user need to be engaged in that change process, because if you are, oh, God, they changed it again, and then you're feeling exhausted, then it's time to not be in this business. So curiosity's important. Stamina is important. And critical thinking about the implications of these changes and what they mean for you long term, both as a professional and a consumer are important.
That sounds like fabulous advice to lead us into our ultimate question. I'd be curious to hear two things from you. First, advice that you have for someone who is teaching their first digital marketing course and might be feeling a little bit overwhelmed. And then the second thing is for professors who maybe teach one digital marketing course, or they have a social media class and are interested in expanding the presence of digital marketing and building it out into a concentration. For those two folks who are probably many of our listeners, what advice would you have for them?
So for the first person who's teaching digital marketing class for the first time, the beautiful thing about today is that there are so many resources. When I first started, I created this stuff from thin air. There were no textbooks, there were no support materials. You just sort of did it, right?
And now, there's such a wonderful body of knowledge. My first recommendation is to reach out to other people who've done it before. Because we've done it, and there is a crew of us. There are people who have been teaching this not, I think, quite as long as I have, but for a while, you know? 10 years, and they're evolving content.
And I would say that the support systems at-- so say you've got HubSpot that provides, like, all the videos. Oh my God. You know, the things I have my students read from all those blogs from HubSpot is like-- it's great. That kind of support material is terrific.
There's a great textbook that I actually use now, and I actually feel really good about using from a company called Stukent. That's S-T-U-K-E-N-T. And what I love about their book-- honest to goodness, it's an ebook-- and they update it every semester. So when Google made its changes in how its AdWords were being displayed, I just sent them an email saying, is this going to be ready for my class? And they're like, yep. We've already made the change. And so that's the kind of-- that's what we need in this space, because it moves so quickly.
So there's great resources, and you have people who've gone before you to ask those questions. Staying up to date in this space means-- there's the academic world of research, and then there's the professional world of practice. If you're going to teach in this world, the research world is really far behind the professional practice world. And so as an academic, you may be wanting to engage in research, and that's absolutely important, but you will have to engage with the professionals who are practicing this in order to really stay up to date.
So engaging with local businesses that are working in that space is great if you have access to them, especially if you're in a bigger city. We're really privileged here in Burlington to have companies like dealer.com MyWebGrocer, New Breed Marketing, which is a HubSpot shop, people who can come into my classroom at any time and walk people through anything, right? It's outstanding that we have those accesses. So make that connection professionally, and then that will help you build a robust course.
And finally, for a first-time teacher, I am a real proponent of hands-on learning. So my teaching philosophy is about, you can't learn it if you're just reading about it. And I actually have students in the digital marketing class do a client-based project. And they actually work in teams. They connect with a local client or one that's far away-- I've had one as far as Alaska, which has been great. And they do a digital audit.
So the students do an assessment of the current digital state of that client, and then they spend the semester as they're learning analytics and SEO and AdWords and social and mobile and all of these other great things, email marketing, they apply that to that client and write a recommendations paper to that client. So it gives them something real to anchor onto.
Because if you just talk about keyword strategy, doesn't really mean a lot until you say, what's the keyword strategy for Play Dog Play? And so what are people looking for when they're looking for a place to board their dog and for doggie daycare? What are the words you need to use? Then they start to get it. So make-- whatever you do, connect it to something concrete. So that's for my first-time teachers. And then your second question, I've already forgotten.
That's all right. It's for folks who maybe have one course, and they're working to expand it into a concentration or a minor. They want to really double down the way that their school talks about and teaches digital marketing.
Right. Yeah. So that comes into a couple of spaces, right? There's the resource question. So are you resourced enough to be able to teach something like that? And if you are, then my advice is to start with-- you've got a digital marketing class. Then I would say either do a web analytics class, which we have that here at Champlain, or do an advanced digital marketing class.
Probably because of the power of big data right now, higher ed is probably going to be more willing to have people do an analytics class, because you can take that class, and you can look at Google Analytics. But then you can look at all sorts of other kinds of analytics, and show students how they measure success. And so you go for low-hanging fruit.
A strategy I have used in the past, even here at Champlain, is to get students to go to the dean. Say, we want a class in this. You'd be surprised, right? You know, if students are really pumped and want this learning, and they want to do this, then they will ask. And it's interesting. If you have faculty saying, we should do this, and you have students who say, we want this, you often can move something forward. So I think that's an important part.
But you do have to be mindful of resourcing, because teaching this stuff is not easy, and finding the right people to teach it is also not easy. And I will say that professional digital marketers as adjuncts are outstanding, and really amazing people to bring in the classroom. The challenge they have is that they walk in knowing so much that they pretty much take a fire hose and dump it on the students, and the students get lost. Because they have an idea in their head of what digital marketing is now.
And in a reflection paper from my students this past semester, almost all of them said, I thought I knew what digital marketing was because I did social media. I had no idea digital marketing was so hard because of analytics and search engine stuff and email marketing. I had just no idea that people even cared about email anymore. And so there's so much to help them.
So my advice is the full-time faculty member should teach that base level digital marketing class. Because we know how to teach. We know how to teach young people and get them excited. And then if you have a higher level class, you should be able to bring an adjunct in who can then say, OK. Now that you know this foundation, we're all on the same page now, now I can give you all this stuff in a fire hose, and the students will be ready to accept it, right?
So that's part of my challenge. And be experimental about it, and do one class at a time, and do it a couple of times. Get it well done. And then you prove that there's value. And when employers come in and say, we really like that your students have these two classes, we wish they had something more, then you've got a dean who's like, OK. We should have another one, right?
And so it's a little bit of politics, it's a little bit of resources, and it does take a commitment, though. It takes a long-term commitment. I've been teaching the-- developed the analytics and the advanced digital marketing class four years ago, and have been teaching that that long. And we were able to take it-- offer them as experimental, then make them go full go, do a concentration within marketing, and then have that concentration good, and then do a minor and open it up to everybody else. So it's a step-by-step process. But you prove the value of the classes, and then you move from there.
That's all tremendous advice. Elaine, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and perspectives on teaching digital marketing. It was very insightful.
Yeah, it's a lot of fun, Isaac.
All right. Thanks a lot, Elaine. Till next time.
Awesome. Great. Thanks.