So our November 1 application deadline is rapidly approaching, and as I renew our department’s ads for our online degree and certificate programs, I am reminded once again of my number one marketing pet peeve:
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against cute and comfy household footwear. But you know the bunny slippers I mean–the ones that always seem to pop up in print and television advertisements for online degree program? Yeah, those bunny slippers.
OK, I get it. Distance learning lets you learn “anytime, anywhere”–and wearing any kind of footwear, apparently. But the problem is, in my reckoning at least, that when we market distance learning with an emphasis on convenience and “ease of fit,” we aren’t really capturing the whole picture. Let’s face it: online courses are hard work!
Online degree programs and certificate programs are great–for the past five years, our MS in Information Design and Communication has been available to students 100% online, and starting this fall, our MS in Information and Instructional Design will also be offered in a 100% online format. Without question, DL programs provide many students access to advanced degrees that they would otherwise not be able to pursue because of work or family conflicts.
But when we limit our marketing of online programs to this image of DL as comfortable, convenient learning, are we inadvertently sending the wrong message?
Success in an online program requires something greater than the easy on-and-off of slippers. It requires a significant commitment on the part of students. It also involves excellent time management skills and an ability to prioritize tasks. Would you recommend slippers to a juggler?
If we’re going to use footwear to market online degree programs, I would think we might want to choose something with a bit more traction. Something designed for quick and agile movement, sprinting when necessary (even the occasional bobbing and weaving).
Maybe track shoes?
So, if you were to launch a new campaign for distance learning, what sort of footwear would you recommend?