The proposed lesson plan was dedicated to digital marketing basics and was specifically developed to be taught online. The initial plan presupposed that it would start with two introductory activities and continue with an online discussion of a reading, a case study, and a group project launch. When designing this lesson plan, it was necessary to apply the principles of adult learning and consider the online format specifics. The present paper aims to develop the existing plan by discussing critical thinking and social learning opportunities and proposing ways of incorporating technology in the curricular unit.
Opportunities for Critical and Creative Thinking and Social Learning
Opportunities for critical and creative thinking are essential for adult learning. Along with social learning, they are considered very useful as they are aimed not only at acquiring knowledge and training but also practicing skills necessary for the chosen area of expertise. They promote sustainable development and provide students with an essential framework “to expand their repertoire of professional practices” (Beavers et al., 2017, p. 3). Therefore, since the course is focused on teaching digital marketing basics, it was vital to create conditions for improving the skills needed in this particular sphere.
Collaboration is among the most traditional methods of fostering critical and creative thinking. Moreover, it provides good opportunities for students to develop their communication and teamwork skills. It can be done through suggested online group meetings and mediated discussions of readings. Furthermore, a group project task scheduled to be launched in the first week of studies is also based on the principle of collaboration.
However, due to the specific character of the chosen subject, it was also essential to design the group project in such a way so that it motivated students to acquire relevant skills from the start. Therefore, the group project presupposes creating a blog-style website dedicated to a particular topic and developing a digital marketing strategy for the assembled product. It was done because this type of design “provides students with a broad and relevant experiential learning environment that includes the messiness and uncertainty of real-life outcomes” (Key et al., 2019, p. 134). Instead of simulating activities and focusing students’ efforts on the theory, the instructional plan aims at experiential learning where participants can acquire and use critical thinking and social learning on the go.
Moreover, to make the course even more appealing to learners, a networking opportunity was also added to the course. It is planned that every two weeks, students have a chance to participate in online webinars, lectures, and Q&A sessions with invited specialists in the field. This setup requires a significant amount of organizational effort from the instructor but can significantly contribute to the curriculum plan’s overall quality and benefit students.
Incorporating Technology in the Curricular and Instructional Plan
Incorporating technology was crucial for this particular learning design, as it was planned to be entirely online-based. Moreover, the sphere of digital marketing is directly connected to the use of technology. Therefore, while tasks introduced in the lesson plan were initially designed to be not too technically demanding, students are expected to acquire or improve a comprehensive set of skills using relevant tools and technologies.
The chosen approach entirely coincides with the pragmatist adult education theory. According to it, adult educators should be focused on the real-life and practical concerns of their students. Since “the transformative power of technologies for adult learners is in learner’s evaluation of their choice of tools and their effectiveness”, it was crucial to choose the most useful services (Wang et al., 2020, p. 14). Therefore, besides the online educational platform and its interface allowing students to upload videos, access reading materials, and engage in conversations, the plan involves students’ work on other “real-life” platforms.
Creating a website is expected to be executed through the special site-building services of instructors’ choice. Moreover, students are also expected to learn the fundamentals of working in Google Ads, social media management tools, paid social media software, content management, and email marketing platforms. As a result, upon finishing the course, learners would acquire practical experience of working with technologies crucial for digital marketing.
However, it is vital to mention that this design presupposes an instructor’s readiness to act as a support provider. While students are encouraged to consult with the manuals provided by the services in use and help their peers, teachers remain the primary source of expertise. If failed to provide this, technology could become a repelling factor, instead of a source of meaningful professional development.
Finally, this design involving the usage of different technologies requires additional funding or seeking other alternatives. Depending on the instructor’s choice, some website-building platforms and software require paying for membership. In this case, the instructor is advised to find institutional funding opportunities, reach out to technology providers for demo versions, or choose open-source, free variants.
The paper presented a more advanced version of the initially proposed curriculum and instructional plan. It discussed and introduced opportunities for implementing relevant and practice-oriented tasks that would allow students to gain the necessary expertise in digital marketing. Moreover, it suggested using particular technologies, tools, and platforms that would not only appeal to learners but provide them with first-hand practical experience.
Beavers, E., Orange, A., & Kirkwood, D. (2017). Fostering critical and reflective thinking in an authentic learning situation. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 38(1), 3-18. Web.
Key, T. M., Czaplewski, A. J., & Ferguson, J. M. (2019). Preparing workplace-ready students with digital marketing skills. Marketing Education Review, 29(2), 131-135. Web.
Wang, V., Torrisi-Steele, G., & Reinsfield, E. (2020). Transformative learning, epistemology and technology in adult education. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 1-17. Web.