Here are some of the methods and strategies I use to make sure my students not only get the knowledge they are seeking, but are able to immediately put into practice the lessons and the skills they are learning.
FIRST CLASS QUESTIONNAIRE
To make sure the class is tailored as best as possible to the students enrolled, the first assignment is a detailed questionnaire that helps me understand each student’s background, what they are interested in, and what they hope to get out of the class. This also gets you thinking about what you are most interested in and what you hope to get out of the class.
Throughout the class I pass out notecards asking students to respond to select questions, such as: “What’s an issue that you’d like me to discuss in class?”, “What’s a website or campaign that you’ve responded to in the last week?”, or “What’s the one thing you’d like to complete before this class ends?”
I use these notecards in a variety of ways — to spur discussion, to collect in a document and share with the class, and to generate podcast recordings (responding to publishing / marketing related questions) that the class has the option of listening to.
I encourage the class to use a specific hashtag on Twitter so that we can connect and share articles, websites and other items of interest with each other.
I make sure to bring in dynamic guest speakers from within the industry — professionals from the major publishing houses, as well as those from start-ups and literary-focused digital publications. I want my students to hear from and make connections with people doing interesting and innovative publishing related work! Past guest speakers have included: Andy Hunter and Julie Buntin from Electric Literature and Catapult; Derrick Schultz from Atavist; Rachel Rosenfelt from The New Inquiry; Kristen Radtke from Sarabande Books; Jim McKenzie from Harpercollins/Nokia/Librify/Scholastic; Joe Gallagher from Doubleday; Gautam Banerjee from Random House Digital; Erin Cox, Agent/Publicist for Rob Weisbach Creative Management and Business Development for Publishing Perspectives; Shannon Donnelly from Random House/Harpercollins/Macmillan and more.
In addition to class assignments, I provide an “Action Item” at the end of each class, which is a suggestion I give to students to immediately put into real world practice a key element of the lessons they just learned. This action item is something that they could do immediately after class.
After each class I send out detailed “show notes” that summarize the key points of the lessons, as well as the links to websites, social media profiles and articles discussed. There’s also additional insights and suggested courses of action to further the student’s understanding and marketing efforts. Read a sample note here.
Asking questions in-class is the lifeblood of the course. Questions are welcome — and encouraged — at any time. But I make a point of responding to select questions via a podcast, which allows me to organize and archive responses, something that students have the option of utilizing as a back-up resource, downloading and listening to the marketing insights on their own time.
I’m open to new ideas, so bring them on. It’s the best way to learn and take things to the next level. It’s something I encourage students to do during the class with their assignments, and since I want to lead by example, I, too, try out new things and put them through their paces. Some work, some don’t, but they always lead to forward movement.