COM0014: Blog#3 – Discovering Carleton’s teaching and learning community

A major step in creating a social media strategy for my department (Carleton University’s Teaching and Learning Services) is to analyze our target audiences: faculty and instructors.

Luckily, Carleton houses some demographic information on its academic staff, so after some research I was able to find out that our faculty is approximately 65 percent male and 35 percent female. About 44 percent are aged 45-59, while 32 percent are 30-44 and 24 percent are over 60. And as far as education levels go, all have post-secondary degrees, with the majority holding a Master’s or PhD.

When it comes to the psychographic side of things, based on my research and experience, Carleton’s educators are a mix of leaders and followers. They seem to enjoy learning from their colleagues, but also like sharing their own ideas and experiences. So when it comes to strategies that would be effective in communicating with them, I think it’s important for us to get them to reflect about their own teaching experiences and engaged in discussions about what others are doing.

A perfect example of this was a Tips for Teaching campaign that really worked well for us recently. We solicited the teaching and learning community to submit a tip that could help others with their teaching and posted a different piece of advice to our blog each day in March. The click-through rate to the teaching tip page was the highest for any campaign we’ve ever done.

As far as tools go, many educators seem to be on Twitter and Facebook, but one of our best vehicles is our blog. Getting faculty and instructors to contribute and share their ideas has worked for us in the past. Teachers like to teach, so why not get them to teach each other?

The one thing that I always question is how to target two audiences at once? Surveys don’t seem to get very high response rates at our university, so how do I know how educators who are 30-44 like to be communicated with versus how those who are 45-59 prefer to be addressed? And if there’s a big difference how do I know which approach to take? Have you ever faced a situation like this? And if so, how did you deal with it?

One thought on “COM0014: Blog#3 – Discovering Carleton’s teaching and learning community

  1. I really like the Tips for Teaching campaign! I can see it as a source for inspiration, revival, and a solution to stagnant teaching methods for the later demographic.

    I faced a similar situation of varying age groups through an advocacy non-profit I volunteer for.
    The volunteer base is mostly of the retired 60+ age group. So with a volunteer base NOT on social media, the goal was to bring them up to speed. The staff coached them on Twitter via phone, skype, or in person. One of them is now in a Twitter advocacy craze!

    Just as how you organization seems to be taking on the blog more, I think any organization faced with this situation should focus on ONE platform and concentrate on bringing their users to that common place. Having multiple places for people to provide feedback will be a) hard to maintain, b) seem like there is less participation and c) have your feedback scattered in multiple places and not feed off each other. For example, I can see a scenario where a blog is maintained and actively used by 20, but there is another group of 10 engaged in Twitter, and another group actively discussing the same topic in a Facebook group – you will have to gather their feedback in three places and great talking points discussed in one group will not be transferred to the other. On the other hand, this would be effective for services and products, but then again, the feedback they seek is not an in-depth form of engagement that needs discussion between users.

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