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A Conversation with Dr. Sujinda Hwang-Leslie and Garrett Hall at Sheridan College

Hi Sujinda and Garrett! What's the elevator pitch for the work you're doing in the classroom at Sheridan? 

Our ultimate goal at Sheridan College is to offer the best student learning experience in digital marketing. We want to teach students not only the ‘what’, but the ‘how’. Our ideal digital platforms will give students opportunities to practice with leading-edge software, such as HubSpot, so they can be better prepared for the job market.

What are some of the assumptions that you had to blow out of the water when you made your first foray into applied learning? What was the hardest part to overcome?

We know it is harder to teach applied than theoretical. We did not appreciate how hard it is. We can easily develop a lecture on the concepts of SEO or content marketing. To teach students to put both concepts into practice by writing a blog post is a different type of learning. We need to redesign the course content, activities and assignments to put the practice in the centre of our teaching and learning. That is the hardest part.

What are some of the items that your students have been able to show after having been in your class? Any success stories?

After finishing the course, our students will have a digital portfolio to showcase their skills — including blogs, social posts, emails and Google ads. They are able to list skills in software such as WordPress and HubSpot on their résumé. This has helped set them apart for the entry level job market. We have many success stories of students landing digital jobs after graduation. A few even started their own businesses or began freelancing.

It can be really difficult to measure the success of experiential learning and assess (or grade).  What metrics do you use to determine the success of a student?

Since we are focused on applied learning, students are evaluated by the quality of their portfolio. They need to demonstrate that they are able to execute their ideas by moving from strategies to implementation and evaluation of a marketing campaign. Our real metrics are students’ employability. We ask our students’ permission to track their progress after graduation. Their employment success is essentially our goal.

Are there any new developments in experiential learning that you are excited about? 

The exciting things that keep us on our toes are the constant new developments in digital marketing. Our courses are never boring. We don’t have textbooks. The Internet is our textbook. Our courses are constantly updated to keep up with what’s happening in the industry. We then need to plan class activities and assignments accordingly. Students can try out these new ideas themselves so they can learn by doing.