The Professors of the Education Partner Program

  • Jessica Rogers

    Jessica Rogers

    Associate Dean of Faculty - Business Programs COCE

    Southern New Hampshire University

  • Courses Taught

  • Social Media Marketing
  • Digital Storytelling
  • Interview
  • Introduction
  • Twitter Stream

Interview with Jessica Rogers -Southern New Hampshire University

- Every year, I get to go to Commencement in New Hampshire. I can't tell you how many times the students will walk across the stage, shake hands with the President, come down the stage, and be shocked to see me standing at the bottom of the steps to give them a hug or shake their hand. Because they've done this entire degree online, they don't expect me to be there. It's been extremely rewarding.

- Hey folks, this is Isaac Moche, your host for The Teachers' Lounge, HubSpot's podcast for the Education Partner Program. Today we'll be talking to Jessica Rogers, aka Dr. J, Marketing Faculty Lead for the graduate business programs at Southern New Hampshire University. Welcome, Jessica.

- Thank you Isaac for having me.

- Great to have you on-board today sharing your perspective. Wondering if you can kick things off by telling our listeners a bit about you and what you are up to at Southern New Hampshire University.

- I began teaching mostly Intro to Marketing courses, as we most do when we first start out, and really felt a strong pull toward social media. I think at the time, it really made me think of relationship marketing and how I am as a consumer and what's important to me and how my behaviors can be manipulated a little bit through that relationship marketing. So, I began to research social media, decided to get my doctorate and did my dissertation research surrounding social media. So, in that seven-year span of finishing my PhD, it evolved from teaching, again, those Intro to Marketing, to teaching social media, to teaching more than one social media course, to now developing a concentration in digital marketing. And we had one already existing for social media.

- What has it been like personally for you as a professor to transform from a social media focus to a larger digital focus as you've had to build out this major or this concentration?

- I think for me, obviously my first love's always going to be social, but it's only a part of digital. So, it's just a piece of the pie or part of the recipe. So I think it's just a natural progression. So, when we look at digital marketing, it's just so pervasive, and I think that I may or may not be alone in how I feel like, digital marketing, we could just call marketing at some point because it is, I mean, you have to do it in this way. You can't not include online channels. You can't not include SEO, you can't not include social media, it's all part of it. It's all part of the process. If you have one of those ingredients missing from digital marketing, you don't have a complete recipe for marketing at all. So I think those that aren't drawing attention to this, that aren't hitting on those elements are really doing a disservice to their students.

- I think you brought up such a good point about potentially being a disservice to students, and in this role, I've talked to hundreds of professors in hundreds of programs and it's easy to get in this rut where you say, I'm gonna teach social media, and then advanced social media, and advanced advanced social media. And you put it really well when we were talking earlier. You said, "If you just focus on social media "and you just focus on social media channels, "it's myopic," and I was wondering if you could explain that a little bit more. It's something that's really resonated with me deeply. And especially talking to employers who say, well, that's not enough. I think of HubSpot, has 1800 or more employees, and maybe five of them or four of them have just pure social media roles, so it's bigger than that now.

- Right, and I think it goes back to again, how we did our concentration. What are those things that somebody should know and working our way backward, so keeping from having that myopic view of what it is. You start at the top, these are what we need to accomplish, and how are we going to accomplish these things? And those become course outcomes. So that course, one course outcome needs to be being able to make strategic decision based on data that comes from digital channels. Well how is a student going to do that? Okay, so now we break that one course outcome into a few different checkpoints. And so their course may have three, four, or five outcomes. You may not be able to fit that all into one course. So, in order to hit all of these program outcomes and all of these course outcomes, everything is done very strategic in a course. So it becomes very easy to not be myopic because you can't just focus on that one thing. So I think we've done a really good job in creating the concentration, and then of course we have the social media marketing concentration because it's still in-demand, students still want it. And I actually just had a discussion with a student this week, it may have been yesterday, who's in one of my classes, the Online Marketing Channels, which is one of four courses in the Digital Marketing concentration and she said, where she intends to go, it's not gonna be so specialized in social media, like social media monitoring or social media management. So she feels like it would be better for her to do the Digital Marketing concentration because it does encompass so much more, and I think that's a great decision. She just got a job offer for something that really lines up with the digital more so than the social. But then I still have students that really want to be that social media, quote, guru, which is a term I dislike very much because I don't feel like you can be a guru of anything, especially when it changes so much. I mean even, I don't know everything and I don't think anybody knows everything. Things evolve so quickly and change so quickly, all we can do is just kind of keep up with it and keep an open mind and be able to adapt.

- How do you keep up with that pace of change? I think you've given yourself a really good defense by focusing on the outcomes and artifacts and deliverables, because the channels might change, but the overarching thing that you're looking to do doesn't change. I think that's really good defense and really good staying power for your program. Are there other things that you do or that you have your professors do to keep up with that pace?

- Oh, it's a struggle. Yeah, I want to stay up-to-date with everything, so of course, I have nearly every social app on my phone. I had to get a new phone because I was having to delete apps just to use another one on my last phone. I'm sure some people can identify with that, but, I think being part of professional organizations, doing things like this with you guys at HubSpot helps keep me in-touch with how technology is changing, what employers want, what students want, just trying to be engaged with the community at large. And I think me, having such that love affair with social media really makes it easier because I'm on Twitter, I'm on Facebook, I'm on LinkedIn, I'm seeing what people are doing, students doing, industry, other colleges, I mean I, I follow specific feeds and I have definitely specific targets that I follow in industries where I'm part of the conversation and I think that's huge. So, I do kind of suggest that students do this as well, even if they're just listening to the conversation and they're not so much engaging, but follow these LinkedIn groups, follow these folks on Twitter, and that's again, activities that we do in a lot of these courses and getting them involved in this conversation. Other instructors, it's the same thing. I try to share as much as I can. Some of the things that we're doing here with HubSpot, make sure to change, excuse me, share that with them. We've had webinars where I'm telling them about each of these courses that I've written, and how it was done and why it was done, and they are so excited about this new content and how we've incorporated multiple certifications in these courses to better-equip our students and give them a degree that has a lot of value, and value that is not just the personal value of when you graduate with a degree, you're really proud of yourself and it has a lot of value to you, but it needs to have a lot of value to employers as well, and I think that we've done a really good job with that. And part of this, of staying in touch with technology and staying in touch with the things that students need and instructors need to effectively teach, go back to some of these skills that we need for digital, or even social media being strategic and being creative. And I think a lot of times, that gets lost. And that's another hot topic with me, of being able to harness both creativity and strategic thinking, when not all of us have both, and I'll be the first to admit, I am more strategic than creative I like to think. But, we've built in that creative element within the courses so that students can be exposed to both, and that those that may be more strategic can be successful, and those that are creative can also be successful, and they can work as teams and share what they've done to kind of see both sides of that.

- Yeah, I just wanted to say too, I think that even if you're not great at something, having the respect and the understanding of the importance of that skill allows you to communicate with your peers better and say, oh this actually is a weakness of mine, but I do understand the importance and I clearly need to be able to explain what I'm good at and integrate what these folks are good at. So that's another way that hadn't necessarily occurred to me, that having that broader picture of everything that goes into this and being outcome-focused really forces students to communicate to move towards that finished product.

- Absolutely. And I think the other thing that we want to focus on too, again not too myopically, is that ability to make sense of data. And I've said to students for several years, if you have this passion for marketing and you love everything about it, and you're good at it, and you're good at the data side, you know how to get the data, you know what to do with the data, you know how to communicate that data, and you know how to tell the C-Suite about that data and what that data might mean, you're golden. Because not everybody can do that. Not everybody is a marketing person, and not everybody is a numbers person. But if you have both, you have a huge opportunity, especially now. I mean with all the data we get from all of these channels, it's enormous.

- Yeah, it makes me think of this quote that I love that says, "Every company "is a data company now. "Some get it, but most don't." And that's really relevant. It sounds like a lot of these things came out of that survey and that disappointment that you had of other programs. Were there any other things that popped out as deficiencies as you were looking at how other schools were teaching digital skills? Obviously not naming any names, but it sounds like outcome-based, expanding beyond social media, communications, having tangible things like certifications and artifacts and living things in the world were three, anything else where you said, as I build this out, I don't want to miss these things.

- For me personally and professionally, I feel like if I can present something to a student in a way that's relevant and meaningful to them right then, they are going to be more successful. They're going to know how to take that and apply it immediately in a way, that again, that is relevant to them. As an undergrad, I worked full-time and went to school full-time, so I remember going into course and I had one particular instructor several times because I loved her. She was enigmatic, she was fascinating, she could lecture for three hours straight and not stop. And I remember being able to take what she was talking about and apply it to my job. That was hugely important to me. And I know that most of the folks that we have a SNHU are working, and if I can take what we're learning, present it to them in a way that's interesting to them, and take what I know about them in the classroom and what they do for a living and their goals and their aspirations and kind of package it up in a nice presentation with a bow on it so that they understand it and they can apply it, it's more meaningful for them. And we've seen that in many courses in our programs where when students can make that connection between the course content and their world, they're more successful. And sometimes that takes a lot of work on the part of the instructor and I feel like for my courses and a lot of our faculty, because these courses are online, we are at an advantage. So everything a student says and everything a student contributes to the class, I have. So I can go back into our discussion forums and say, Isaac, I remember you telling me that in your previous career, you did this. Or, this happened, or you were a part of this particular group. What do you think about XYZ? Or how might you have ABC? So, I mean this is really a unique position for us because we can call upon these things. Students I think also are more willing to share a lot more within our discussion forums than in a live class, so I think we're really able to make a lot of those connections that we wouldn't be able to in a face-to-face, but at the same time, face-to-face courses do have some advantages over us, in that physically face-to-face. The expressions, the tone, the excitement. I think that brings a unique perspective to online versus on-campus courses.

- It makes me think though, I wonder if you're, tell me what you think, if you're letting the face-to-face professors off the hook because there are so many ways that you can have students document their experiences and interact with each other. They could be doing Twitter chats, they could be doing vlog conversations where, or blogging, where you grade students on commenting. And all of these different ways to have students externalize their experience and then interact with their peers, I think that's a healthy thing that those professors could take from online education. But I think you're spot-on, and I'm wondering if you've seen any other benefits of having students have to share, that you think other professors could benefit from.

- I think in our discipline, we're pretty fortunate that our students are going to be using social media or digital channels, so therefore we can incorporate it into our classes. When I talk to instructors that may teach creative writing or maybe they teach accounting, it may be more difficult for them to incorporate a Twitter chat or a blog project or the like in their courses, because it's just not as embraced as it is in marketing because we use social media and digital channels. So, we have a really unique, again, opportunity here because we're able to do that in our courses, whereas others are not so fortunate. I was able to present two times, I believe, already about incorporating the use of social media in the classroom to other instructors at my university. The first time, it was 50-50. You could see that half of the audience was into it and thought it was fascinating and interesting and how they could implement it into their classrooms. And the other half was, hmm, no, not so much. And so, again, you think of teaching history and it doesn't seem to be as relevant using the tools that we have, but any way that you can engage your student in getting them involved in the larger conversation in your discipline, I think is a win. So the second time I presented, it was a little different. There was more that were on-board because they're kinda seeing and there's that two-years difference in between the two presentations.

- I was just about to ask, what was the time span between those two? I bet that had a huge impact. It seems like there's been a tipping point and a sea change in the willingness to adopt that stuff in the classroom.

- Yeah, and I, there was more openness. There was less questions, because it wasn't so out there, but again there was a few that weren't so into it, and there is again, the concern of students' privacy and such. And I can see that in other disciplines, but for my students that come to me that are wanting a career in social media marketing or digital marketing, and you don't have a digital footprint, even if it's just a LinkedIn profile, to me it's like, oh come on. I mean you're a graduate student, maybe you have a career, maybe you don't, but that should be your first stop. So that's again, another thing that we looked at when we're building these courses in this concentration, and those are one of the things that I identified in the way that our social media concentration was, as we were forcing them to engage and such, but I still would see students hesitate. I don't want a blog, I don't want it out there, I don't want people to read it. Okay, well we make that private. But, think about this. Is there a particular reason you don't want to do that? There's other ways that we can make it to not be so tied to your professional name if we need to. Or why do you not have a LinkedIn profile? Well why do I need one? I mean if, they just, they didn't see the point in it. So it's changed a lot, and so those are the elements that I really wanted to address as well in these concentrations because when students graduate, they are representing SNHU, they're representing me, and I really want students to have everything that they need to have to be successful. And if I can't ensure that they have those things, I can't really ensure them that they're going to have the career that they want. And so it may be something as big as covering these huge concepts in these classes and having that degree, but it also is those other little things of having a LinkedIn profile or even having a Twitter feed. I remember sharing an article or a job posting, mind you, two or three years ago with students in my Social Media course. And it was great job. One of the job requirements on there was to show a active and engaged Twitter profile of at least one year.

- Yeah I was gonna say, I don't think that's a little thing. One of the episodes that we're gonna have coming up that I'm so excited for is we're having Colleen Grant, who is our Manager of Campus Recruiting and every time students come to the office, that's the first thing she says, is what's your LinkedIn? What's your digital footprint because, in this age if you don't at least exist on there, it's almost as if something's wrong. And so I think that push is so important. I mean, you don't have to be on there all day, but you have to at least be identifiable and show that you care a little bit about how you are perceived professionally.

- Absolutely, and I think in the graduate space, some of the students aren't on these platforms, and that's a great thing because now they can establish their brand. They are fresh slate, make it how they want to make it, as opposed to, say, undergrad students that may have Facebook and Twitter from when they were 20, and here they are, 28, trying to establish a career and removing that or replacing that image with the new image. So, I think again, there are so many pieces to the puzzle to make the students have a valuable experience, education-wise, but to also leave, understanding what all of those pieces to the pie are and that they are actually in control of those. It's just the amount of effort that they want to take to put into those. And I think it goes back again to grit, and I know that we've discussed that before in my other classes, but I will have to say, the students that I see in my courses, there are so many that exhibit so much grit. They've been unsuccessful in the past, maybe they've been unsuccessful more than one time at other universities. Life got in the way, and here they find themselves knowing that they need to go back to school for a master's, knowing that they need to get on the digital marketing bandwagon and really apply themselves to change their life. And so this is a really rewarding experience because these students are so different. The other side of the coin is, I get to see how they've changed their family's lives as well. So it's again, really been rewarding. I know that a lot of the students that we have are first-generation college students. So that's something that's huge. It's an accomplishment. And so every year, I get to go to Commencement in New Hampshire, and I can't tell you how many times the students will walk across the stage, shake hands with the President, come down the stage and be shocked to see me standing at the bottom of the steps to give them a hug or shake their hand, because they don't expect me to be there because they've done this entire degree online, and then they come in person for graduation and...

- And you're real.

- Yeah, I'm real. And I get to shake hands, give hugs, and I have met babies, I've met spouses. It's been extremely rewarding. So I'm really excited to see, again, another group of folks graduating this year, now with this digital concentration, and I really want to make a conscious effort, which I usually do really well with staying engaged with my students through social media, which is again, a great discipline because it is so easy to keep in touch with LinkedIn and Twitter and such. But I really want to keep tabs on my digital marketing students because I want to see now if, obviously they've graduated with a degree before, and I have students that have already graduated with tangible evidence. But this new group of folks is also graduating with additional certifications. So I really want to see how that's impacted their careers, their career choices, their job options, and everything. So it'll be interesting to check back on these folks, maybe in a year, year and a half, because I know some are going to be taking this final course next term, so they'll be done, say, in February. And they'll have their concentration.

- You told me once that it takes a village to build a program. Can you talk to me a little bit more about that?

- Yes, it is a very in-depth process for us. I recently was talking to one of our subject matter experts that helped with the SEO course, and he's one of our adjunct faculty, and he said, "I had no idea what went into it." And I don't think many people do. Usually, instructor picks a book, they go through the book, they come up with assignments, deliverables, quizzes, exams, and gather content as the course goes and that's the course. Whereas ours takes several months and several people. So I'm just one piece of the puzzle as a subject matter expert of coming up with what students need to know when they leave the course and working backwards and coming up with real tangible evidence, things that they would actually be expected to do on the job, not necessarily write a short paper every week about these concepts. We're doing things that they would be expected to do on the job using the names that they are called on the job. So I work with a instructional design folks that make sure that all the Bloom's words are exactly the way that they need to be and everything, and the rubrics are exactly the way that they need to be. We have people that actually put the courses together online. Courses are reviewed by multiple people at multiple points, so it definitely does take a village, and I have to say that the folks that I've worked with on these courses and the courses I've done before this since 2011 are phenomenal. I mean I am so impressed with the level of professionalism and expertise of each and every one of them.

- Do you have, as we wrap up here, any final pieces of advice to professors or administrators or deans or anyone who's thinking of expanding the way that they teach digital to better-serve their students?

- I would definitely encourage it, but like we've discussed earlier, it's gotta be done in a strategic way. And it has to be done in a way that makes sense for your existing program, and it needs to be done in a way that serves your students. So what my students need and want may not be exactly what another university's students needs and wants are. My students' paths may be different than another university student's path, so for us, this makes sense. We know our students very well. We have student personas, we know exactly who these folks are. We are very much in-touch with our students through various departments at the university, so we're really lucky to have the technology behind it to be able to know what they want, what they need, and be able to provide that to them. We've done a really good job at transforming students' lives. And I think that's a big component of what we do. And it's not easy. We have multiple stakeholders, as does every other university.

- HubSpot Academy is really proud to be supporting you, and I love hearing that education, that inspiration, that transformation. The Academy, we talked about that we exist to educate and inspire people so that we all together can transform the way the world does business. And it's been amazing to see this program develop, and thank you so much for taking the time to come on and tell folks a little bit more about it and share your journey.

- Thank you for having me.

- Alright folks, this has been The Teachers' Lounge, HubSpot's podcast for the Education Partner Program. The Education Partner Program provides colleges and university professors with everything they need to teach leading courses in marketing, sales, entrepreneurship, and communications. Until next time folks, thanks for listening.

Jessica Rogers

Jessica's research centers around Organic Social Media Marketing engagement, Brand Loyalty & GenX females. Jessica carries a wealth of experience as a marketing practitioner as well as experience in teaching, online course design, program development, faculty management, course development, and serving as a subject matter expert. Jessica's experiences working as a full time faculty member, working remotely in online courses, has made her keenly aware of the needs and interests of a diverse student body. As a result, she considers the interconnection between a student’s own knowledge, learning abilities, subject matter, current events, and real application on the job in all that she does.

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