Undergraduate- and graduate-level business marketing students at Southern Oregon University will complete their first interactive, real-time and real-life Internet Marketing and e-Commerce course this month.
The innovative course — designed by SOU Adjunct Instructor Karen Fronek, the president of Make It Happen Marketing in Medford — has taken students from the classroom to the virtual workplace as they built a marketing website (www.SOU436536.com) using weekly lessons in real-time.
Joan McBee, chair of the SOU Business Department, oversaw the project and described Fronek’s approach as unique, with an element of modern marketing not typically available to university students.
“It’s exciting to be part of a course that is specifically designed to propel students from the classroom to the modern workplace,” McBee said. “This is what higher education is all about, and what SOU is committed to achieving. Preparing students for the transition to the next phase of their lives is one of the most important objectives we can accomplish.”
The goal for Fronek’s course was to find a way to properly prepare students for the current work environment in the field of marketing. The SOU436536.com website was created specifically for the Internet Marketing course by Fronek and web administrator Kevin McMillian of Core Business Services in Medford.
“As the owner of a marketing agency and as their instructor, I felt it was my responsibility to introduce these future marketing professionals to our world as we live and work in it every day — the real world of business marketing,” Fronek said. “That means learning the intricacies of one of the most important message outlets in today’s workplace — an organization’s website.”
The university’s previous curriculum didn’t allow for a comprehensive, hands-on approach using current marketing tools, because internet marketing changes daily, she said. Students in the new course learned week-by-week the art of creating relevant and engaging content for social media channels, videos, blogs and vlogs, and writing effective emails. They learned search engine optimization and created a product for e-commerce with web-optimized graphics. Each completed assignment was posted live online to students’ personal branded pages at SOU436536.com.
The curriculum also included instruction on using video editing phone apps to film, edit and upload videos quickly. Students achieved Google AdWords awards by studying and passing Google Adwords Fundamentals and Google My Business exams through Google’s Academy For Ads.
“I loved watching the students gain confidence and hone their skills during this course,” Fronek said. “Students had to think like real internet marketers. They learned about Ideal Customer Avatars (ICA), creating messaging specifically for their ICA audience. They had to be creative, agile and resourceful in what they produced, and they had to work in teams. The best part is that they were not just learning new marketing concepts, they were actually applying those new-found skills weekly.”
Fronek is currently designing a version of the Internet Marketing course for SOU’s new Online MBA Program, serving as many as 100 students nationwide.
“Making this course relevant is my highest priority,” she said. “As a business owner, being able to bridge students into modern marketing methods is the best I can do for them. My goal is that when they graduate, they are a benefit to any organization immediately. That’s my ultimate reward.”