Hello Clasroom 2.0. I just wanted to to introduce myself - I am not an educator, I work with an online software company based in Indianapolis, IN. Please do not worry, I will not solicit you or bombard you with marketing material etc.

Instead as someone who works for a Web 2.0 applications company, and is involved in the 2.0 space I wanted to introduce myself and offer my knowledge and hopefully provide some expertise on the 2.0 technologies out there. I am active on Twitter, Facebook, use a myriad of web applications, have a personal blog etc. so I understand the space a little bit.

I also look to learn about how you are using the different web 2.0 technologies and maybe learn some new tips, tricks, and tools. Feel free to drop me a line and I hope I can contribute in a valuable way to your community.

Chris

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Chris,

Nice to meet you. I'm an English teacher of 10th and 12th graders, and I've just run across Classroom 2.0. I don't know if you're still active here in this network, but if you are, I'd love to discuss some ideas I've been thinking about lately concerning marketing and teaching.

Here are a few ideas I've been messing with, and the only help I've found is in the marketing realm from Seth Godin and a few books I've read: 1. Can teachers use marketing to raise curiosity and interest from the students in their classrooms? Is it possible to do marketing "campaigns" designed to peak interest for an upcoming unit without requiring a huge budget? 2. Does public school need a new "brand"? Do we need to completely re-market education (which would mean a major change in the product as well - you can't market lies)? 3. Do individual teachers need to "brand" their own classrooms and create "viral marketing" for their content? Education is about sparking creativity and curiosity so that students will interact with the material. Shouldn't we be using every means necessary to get their attention? If we're competing with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for our students' attention, how do we expect to win using Xerox copies of worksheets in Times New Roman text?

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Jarrod Martin
Calloway Co. High School
Hey Jarrod - sorry for the delay in posting back. Very interesting ideas, I think I actually saw the Godin post which you refer to. I would be more than happy to talk about these ideas further... I will post a little on each item below - you can also reach me at chris AT formspring DOT com to discuss ideas in more detail if you wish.

As I mentioned I am not a teacher - though I actually almost became a teacher and a coach and sometimes still wish I did that. My mother was a teach so a lot of my experience with the educations system comes from her perspective.

1) I think Marketing is such a generic term that you can use it in the classroom. Basically marketing is garnering attention for your product or service to create a captive and engaged audience. I think marketing techniques can be used in the classroom but you have to make learning fun and interesting...remember the marketing of a good product is always easier than "putting lipstick on a pig" or marketing a bad product.

2) I do think that the educations system needs some re-branding. I think that students tolerate school and that could change if the system were branded in such a way that expressed something more than tests and homework.

3) I think viral marketing of "content" is hard to do in a school setting...but it happens. I bet all the students know who the "cool", "hard" "boring", etc. teachers are (and my guess is that teachers know it too). The social network is already in place in schools so the viral effect happens whether you want it to or not. Educators can definitely change those perceptions using other methods... and the viral effect will happen naturally. I do think that you should be using every tool necessary to reach them - though, since I am not in the system I think it is hard to determine exactly what those tools look like right now...but I think exploring outside of the Xerox machine is a good first step.

My mom used to use every trick in the book to teach her students how to read (ESL teacher). Whether it was puppets, students putting on plays, me coming in to read to them, story books on tapes...whatever trick, she tried it. So I think trying every trick in the book using some of the current Web tools that are available is a good place to start.

hopefully these answers make some sense...and hopefully I am not downgrading educators or the system - like I said I value immensely what teachers are doing - I am just trying to answer from a marketers perspective :)!
Thanks for the reply, Chris. This is the first networking site that I've actually gotten some response to my questions. I really appreciate you taking the time to think about this with me. And, don't worry about taking a long time to reply.

Let's dig down into number 1:

a. "...but you have to make learning fun and interesting..." -- Okay, so I do that, let's assume. I have great, interesting lessons. I work hard to connect my curriculum to their interests. What would be the goal of my marketing plan for my classroom? Let's say that my students are my "customers." What am I trying to get them to buy? What can my classroom offer them that they can't get anywhere else?

If I say "learning" is my product, that's a difficult marketing strategy to plan. Normally, it seems to me, that a good marketing plan identifies a particular group/audience as the target. You don't try to market your product to everyone. (I've read Pyromarketing by Greg Stielstra and Juicing the Orange by ?? Fallon -- so, I'm trying to put together some things I've learned.) But, that's exactly what I have to do in my classroom. I have to market everything I do to every kind of person in the room. I don't get to pick. And neither do they. They can't choose me over another teacher -- they are assigned to my class.

Certainly, these students have commonalities, but I think that I'm having problems identifying the "proprietary emotion," as Fallon calls it, that links these teenagers. What does every teenager want that only my English class can give them, or deliver in a better, more interesting way?

**A good paycheck? (this isn't guaranteed anymore -- see Sir Ken Robinson's talk at http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/66)

**Preparation for college (only about 75% of our students go on to college)

**Job skills (maybe this is the key -- but, reading Shakespeare and novels is a hard sell, even if it I make it fun for them)

**Self improvement (does any teenager think in these terms?)

If you had your own classroom, how would you go about identifying that "thing" within them that moves them to buy?

(Does this make any sense?) It's late...I need to sleep.

Thanks, man.
Jarrod, I think you are right, this isn't a true marketing problem in that you can choose your audience and identify who your target audience is and break down into niche markets. Your whole classroom is the target market but within that you can reach kids on different levels.

For example market the material to the kids who want to go to college as preparation or to kids who don't want to go to college as a tool to critical thinking (they all have to solve problems in the real world and breaking down Shakespeare can help them learn ho to critically think). You have to sell the whole lesson but the break it down into parts they can relate to. In the end you have to find where they buy in is going to occur. The lesson plan maybe be the same but the way you structure the message is what will be different.

I think learning is such an individual thing...we have created a system of "mass learning" but education happens at different levels for each individual. A lot of times for me, as a student, if I saw the teacher really cared about me, the material etc, I almost felt bad if I did poorly...I always did much better in classes in which I felt the teacher had something invested because I didn't want to let him/her down. Maybe a bad way to learn...but...

that is why I think the system needs an overhaul, in marketing and in actual ways we go about teaching material and what we teach to that end...but I am just a guest here so I won't go into my diatribe :)

I know that is a very abstract answer but hopefully it makes sense.
I think what you way is very true. Students learn best from a teacher they like and respect. That's obviously the best way to motivate a student. We always grow better when we're surrounded by strong relationships. Maybe I'd do better to work on developing the kind of mentoring relationships that would encourage students to do better out of respect for how much I care for them?

I'd like to hear more...let's hear the diatribe. What can we do to make the educational system more available to our audience? What and how should we teach? To what end? I like the way you're thinking.
I think the what and how should we teach is hard for me to answer...like I said, not being an educator puts me at a disadvantage. I do know that teaching to tests limits our students ability to think. I have sat across from many college students (applying for internships and full-time positions) who have had amazing credentials, GPA, etc., but who couldn't think their way out of a paper bag.

Our students seem to be very good at taking in information and taking a test and forgetting it.

I don't know how we fix it, but I would love to see business leaders, educators, students, college professors and the like get together and develop a new standard of learning/education. Something that allows us to teach the vitals and to grade accordingly but also prepares students to think critically, develop passion for learning, and find what truly inspires them.
I agree that business leaders, educators, and students need to get together to look at how to create a better system for what has become a completely different cultural landscape than when our current educational system was instated. I also think that our testing puts a damper on critical thinking and creativity from our students. Our testing (in my state) tries to measure how well the school is doing with no regard for student accountability or growth. We as teachers are measured by the comparison of one group of students to the next year's group of students.

I hope that a new system would help students find something to live for. Students are losing passion -- not just for learning, but in general. I've noticed in the last couple of years that even the students who are planning to go to college, they really don't know why they're going or what they really want to do. They just know they're "supposed" to go because it will help them "get a good paying job." But, they really could care less what that job is -- as long as they can buy what they want.

I wonder if this kind of movement will have to come from a ground-roots movement of teachers in the classroom, rather than a top-down system.

Let me ask you something: if a high school were wanting to try and change the culture of the school to make students feel more comfortable to encourage learning, what should it do? Where would you start to help the school with a "make-over"?

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