A few posts ago I provided a list of non-programming computer courses, that I feel meet the computing needs and desires of non-technology majors. “Needs and desires” are a good way to categorize these courses. The “needs” courses I offer -Comp Lit I and Comp Lit II, have been designed to build resumes and to provide a deep understanding of digital technologies as applied to careers. They include skills training in Microsoft Office, Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and Flash. They also include lessons in hardware, software, networking, the Internet, information security, global and ethical issues, e-commerce, and business information systems. I tell my students that Comp Lit I and II will provide them with everything they need to know to succeed in their careers with technology – and a resume that will get noticed.
These “needs” courses I offer are well in hand. As we rapidly approach the registration period for the Spring semester, I am devoting an increasing amount of time to developing new courses that students will find appealing. The technology course “desires” of students include topics that most interest them: digital media, and mobile communications (iPods and cell phones), and topics of concern or perhaps necessity, such as personal computer security. There is also a growing demand on my campus for Mac-specific courses. I will address the details of these new “pop” classes that are in the works in future blogs.
Coming up with cool and useful courses is the easy part. Getting the word out to students so that the courses “make” is more difficult. I learned this when I rolled out my Comp Lit II class two years ago. At that time, I took to the thoroughfares with flyers and a staple gun posting my advertisements all over campus. I also drummed up business in my Comp Lit I class by alerting my 1,000 students to fact that there would be a great new follow-up class that they were sure to enjoy and find beneficial. The work paid off, and I had around 50 students in that first semester. By working hard to keep the class interesting, and through word of mouth. the enrollment has grown to 120 students.
I am planning to put another big push on for a course I am currently developing on Digital Media and Communications. Soon I’ll again be posting flyers, I also plan to take out ads in the campus paper during the weeks of registration. Over the course of the next couple of months we’ll find out how effective the marketing blitz is. You can get a glimpse of my newspaper ads at http://lit.cs.fsu.edu/compads.html.
The lesson I’ve learned over the years is that in order to build successful and popular classes, technology teachers need to be much more than good educators. We need to also be entertainers, marketers, guidance counselors, researchers, tech support, and much more. Do you agree? Send your comments.