Most of my talking time this first week of classes has been spent with faculty. I keep asking them “How was your first day of class?” Everyone is optimistic, but there are challenges.
A printer that doesn’t work. An interrupted request for silenced cell phones by a rejoinder about not treating people as children. No creamer for coffee.
(okay, that last one was mine)
Other than the coffee, my classes seem to be off to a good start. My students did not seem shocked by any of my expectations. My belief is that an idea piloted by a handful of faculty last term, video syllabi, worked.
Video syllabi, also called course trailers, are brief mini-movies designed to showcase your course. Developed early on by Harvard and others (and the subject of an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education), they are making their way to Victoria College.
Here at VC, we have Steve Holsonback who can help you storyboard, develop, film, and release your very own course trailer. We do have some suggestions on best practices. We recommend that rather than only marketing your course, use this as a chance to set expectations. Describe what the course really does and aspires to be, what major assignments might look like (e.g. essays, homework, closed book exams), required or recommended reading, and address common concerns/challenges.
What is my real take on course trailers? Used properly, we can help students get a very real feel about what a course will mean for them. I enjoy setting some expectations in advance, and being truthful about just how much time my course may need from my students. And, of course, I hope this makes my future students more ready to learn.
The risk is this becomes more flash than substance, driving up enrollment without promoting commensurate completion. But I don’t see that as a serious risk here at VC. I’ve met our faculty, and I trust us.
I will share one small bit of legitimate marketing I learned in a class some time ago and recently relearned. The call to action is important. It is the signal that the talking is over, and now is the time to do. Tell students why they should take your class, and then tell them to register now for it.