Students go virtual

May 28, 2020 | Business

In Dr. Fernando Angulo’s MARK 440: Strategic Marketing class, final presentations are a core part of the course, allowing teams of students to share their marketing recommendations to participating community partner organizations.

In a normal year, students spend the term developing and presenting real-life marketing solutions, but this year, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted a lot of plans. Fernando, associate professor in the School of Business, did not want to cancel this year’s presentations because the community partners are waiting for those recommendations. So to prepare his 32 students to move their presentations online, Fernando conducted virtual classes in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and encouraged his students to join him there.

In our Moving Online series, we look at the variety of ways faculty members and students quickly shifted to teach and learn digitally.

Fernando says he was surprised to see more engagement from his students in a virtual classroom setting than in a face-to-face scenario. “All my students embraced the use of virtual classes, attending and engaging in the Friday afternoon class, even when students may prefer to spend their Friday afternoons doing other things.”

The shift to virtual presentations also had a happy side effect, says Tami Ambury, experiential learning facilitator, Careers and Experience (formerly CDEL). “Online presentations are an opportunity for students to further develop much needed technology-related competencies. Many of the students who graduate could enter into jobs where physical distancing and working from home will continue to be the norm.”

Adapting to new challenges

Winson Lee, fourth-year Bachelor of Commerce, marketing major, and his team provided consultation to community partner Surabhi Dave’s Montessori school located in south Edmonton.

“Our enrolment has always been strong, but the problem we wanted to solve was that our afternoon childcare class struggles with full enrolment,” says Dave. “We needed to find practical strategies to fill approximately seven to 10 spaces.”

Winson’s team, which developed a marketing plan for Dave’s school, had no issues transitioning to a virtual presentation. “We worked together very well, even without meeting in person as we were constantly on video/phone calls with each other, and we still had a lot of fun,” says Winson.

This was Dave’s first experience working with MacEwan students. “The students were very smart, courteous, professional and respectful, and came up with novel marketing suggestions. They are tech savvy, unlike me, so I learned quite a lot about social media and online marketing strategies. We have already started implementing a couple of the strategies that were put forward.”

It is important that the students know that their time and efforts on these projects do truly impact the decisions and operations of our organization.
—Matt Miller

Fernando was also pleased with the final result. “The presentations were outstanding, very well designed, professionally run, and presented in an engaging and structured way.”

Tami, whose role at the university involves matching classes to community partners, was impressed by the students’ final presentations. “Overall, this semester, I found the community partners to be very supportive and understanding, and I believe that they have also been amazed at the flexibility that students have demonstrated in adapting to the crisis and producing any kind of presentation at all. This shows a great amount of resiliency on the part of our students.”

Matt Miller, dealer principal of Lexus of Edmonton, another community partner the students worked with, says his organization is definitely planning to use the information and strategies the students provided. “It is important that the students know that their time and efforts on these projects do truly impact the decisions and operations of our organization,” he says. He adds how impressed he was with the students’ nimble approach and ability to present in an adaptive environment. “Although we could not be in person with the students, I felt the presentation quality for the groups were engaging, organized and well prepared.”



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