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Branding Your Classes-2

Branding Your Classes -pt.2

Part 2 in a Series: Dynamic Descriptions

By Vincent Kovar

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If twentieth-century marketing had a problem with supply, the twenty-first is having a problem with demand. Every day new, online colleges are being established and with so much information being constantly streamed at your students, it can be difficult for them to find the classes that are right for them. Every instructor should invest in helping his or her school correctly market their classes to potential students. Correct branding of your class not only attracts interest and increases enrollments, it helps to accurately describe the course and set your students’ expectations.


In part one of this series I talked a little bit about how to create a catchy title. This isn’t just crash salesmanship, it is an aid to students to help locate the classes that interest them. The highest and best use of the title is nothing more than to motivate the students to read the course description.


This provides you with an excellent opportunity to set the tone of the weeks ahead as well as perhaps create some excitement. Just like with the course title, you want to pack a lot of information into a small space. Course descriptions generally run between 50 and 100 words but don’t let the length constriction push you into writing a summary that has the tone of a conclusion. Write a description with the tone of an introduction.


Listen to the text of radio and television advertisements. They don’t read off the entire back panel of the product box or list every ingredient. They just give you the highlights.


Ask yourself, what am I teaching? Write down a short description while being as short and specific as you can. Read it again. Do you find yourself writing “we will learn about…” or “this class will cover…?”


The Power is in the Verbs

Look at the behavioral verbs in Bloom’s Taxonomy. Here is a link where some are listed:


They’re specific and measurable. When correctly written into an objective, they are often a binary yes/no. Either you did the thing or you didn’t. Write your class description the same way. Verbs like “discuss” and “cover” are vague and don’t tell your students how they can succeed. Remember, online classes can be quite expensive for the average student. You want to assure them right off that your classes are valuable and worth the investment. Behavioral verbs tell them what they as students will be doing, not what you as and instructor have already done.


Also use verbs to depict the movement of your class. Are you “building” on the foundations of basic architecture? Are you going to “sweep” across the plains of northern Asia with Ghengis Khan? Only a small percentage of learners are really satisfied sitting in place and reading a book or facing a computer. Tell them how their mind’s will be moving, plunging and climbing.


Again, this isn’t just flash. If you’re excited about your subject area (and you always should be) then share that excitement with potential students. A good description supplies the students with these pieces of information:


  • the beginning and the end of the content

  • the goal(s) the class will be exerting itself toward (i.e. mastery of a skill, improvement of a positive, reduction of a negative, inspiration to take an action, the steps to perform a task, etc)

  • what questions the class will answer

  • what specific skills will be utilized (i.e. critical thinking, time management, diagnosis of an issue, etc)

  • who might be interested in it (students of education, law, psychology, etc). If your class has the potential to cross the lines of department and major to attract more students, do it!

  • the tone of its ethical orientation. Does your class seek to reduce the impact of global warming, drive individual ambition through computer programming or empower community leaders? From eco-friendly dish soap to organic champagne, every experience and product has an associate value.


Be specific and accountable. There is a lot of talk about these ideas and then we pussy-foot around their application. Get rid of blah-talk like “…provide an opportunity to…” and “students will try to…” To quote Master Yoda, “There is no try. There is only do or do not.”


Once you have this description written up, edited, re-edited and polished, attach it to the top of your syllabus to keep yourself focused and on track. Ask your department to include the description on your course evaluations and ask your students to comment on how effective it was in inspiring them to sign up for your course.


Now that you have a name and short description for your class, we’ll start thinking of more ways to bring your brand into focus and then implement this attractive, new identity.





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Vincent Kovar