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Teaching the Next Generation of Internet Marketers



Full Sail University is the sponsor of Marketing Pilgrim’s Social Media Channel.

It’s not news that marketing has made a huge shift to digital in the past 10 years. It’s also clear that many higher education institutions are still struggling to adapt their marketing curriculum to reflect the changing nature of the industry.

David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, finds it so bad, in fact, that last year he went so far as to call many marketing professors criminals because they weren’t teaching up-to-date material in their classes.

That is unfortunate, because in this economy, there is [a] demand for talented and educated Internet marketers. Simply Hired Job Trends, for instance, show that job postings with ‘Internet marketing’ in the title have increased 180% since November 2009, while ‘social media marketing’ has grown 301%.

However, today’s college graduates – particularly those in fields like Internet marketing – need more than just a general education. They need to have acquired the skills that will help their employers succeed.

Take a look at the job postings here on Marketing Pilgrim. Most of them identify very specific requirements for applicants – SEO, Social Marketing, Mobile, Email, E-Commerce, and Analytics. Employers want practical knowledge and the ability to implement immediately. And, with specific – and current – skills being not only in demand, but also near-mandatory in today’s marketing world, it’s essential that one’s education is based around those skills. Unfortunately, many traditional marketing courses – built around dated textbooks and calcified orthodoxy – are not.

Marketing Pilgrim’s Social Channel is proudly sponsored by Full Sail University, where you can earn your Masters of Science Degree in Internet Marketing in less than 2 years. Visit FullSail.edu for more information.

However, that certainly does not mean that Internet marketing cannot be taught in a formal educational environment. Chris Thompson wrote about this compellingly in his post on learning SEO at school. Successfully teaching Internet marketing does requires innovation, though.

Full Sail University provides more relevant education to the next generation of Internet marketers by letting go of the need to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. Innovative education not only engages students more effectively, but also ensures that what they’re learning is what’s relevant in the workplace.

This means abandoning the old textbook-lecture approach and replacing it with something that facilitates knowledge-building in a more meaningful way. Doing so requires:

  • Educators who are willing to do the hard work of staying current in their discipline.
  • Changing the core philosophy that educating today’s students can take place the old way.
  • A willingness to use non-traditional learning materials like blog posts, videos, podcasts, games and other more current information instead of relying on out-of-date textbooks.
  • Institutional flexibility in permitting curricula to be adjusted as necessary to reflect the current environment.

For instance, the faculty of the Full Sail Internet Marketing Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees take a very practical, real-world approach that allows students to not only learn marketing concepts, but also to build strategies and see tactics in action. In these online programs, lessons, discussions and assignments are adapted frequently to reflect the rapid pace of change in the industry, and the educators have embraced the fact that teaching in today’s world means being innovative and creative.

Companies don’t just need Internet marketers, they need marketers who can make an impact from day one. Unfortunately, only a small minority of educational institutions are equipping graduates with the real-world skills employers need. By improving and innovating the educational approach to contemporary marketing, institutions can produce a better outcome for themselves and, most importantly, for their students.

Rob Croll is Department Chair for the Internet Marketing Bachelor’s degree program at Full Sail University, and the Course Director for Search Engine Optimization there. He also owns Marlannah Digital Marketing, a consulting firm that works with small- to medium-sized businesses and non-profits. Rob was named one of the Top 100 Marketing Professors on Twitter and has had numerous articles published both online and in print on a variety of Internet marketing topics. You can follow Rob on Twitter @FullSailUpdates.

  • http://www.webinknow.com/ David Meerman Scott

    Rob,

    Thanks for the mention.

    You and Full Sail do an excellent job in this area. Sadly, you are in the minority. Many students still tell me, even in 2011, that their university educations only spend a tiny amount of time on Web marketing. I still think that is a crime.

    David

    • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

      @David – Is there anything we as the Internet marketing community can do to help change that?

      I can imagine putting together a consortium of sorts that puts industry folks and marketing academics together to share information. As a result, it would become apparent that if you are not addressing the online space in the classroom then you are not actually giving students value. It can’t stay this way considering the scope of Internet and social media marketing.

      Your thoughts?

    • http://www.fullsail.edu Rob Croll

      @David – Thank you for the kind words.

      I’m always interested in talking with students or recent grads from other programs to hear about their experience. I agree with you 100% that marketing programs that give short shrift to digital marketing are not setting their students up to succeed in the workplace.

      @Frank – In my opinion, a consortium could be helpful. However, that suggests the issue is a lack of understanding on the educators’ part, which could be corrected by engaging with practitioners. I suspect the issues are more related to many academic institutions’ publish-or-perish mentality and the focus on theory almost exclusively. (Surely even the educators who don’t teach Internet marketing to their students understand its importance, I hope!)

      • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

        @Rob – If they understand the importance but don’t teach it then what’s the point?! That’s like a non-profit collecting millions of dollars but never sharing it with those who need it the most. If the publish or perish mentality is getting in the way there needs to be a wake up call to show that maybe they should be publishing about online ‘theory’ at least wouldn’t you agree?

        I, like you, would love to see academics embrace teaching these areas because it provides future marketers with a well rounded approach. Coming out of any B school environment without a at least a basic understanding of the online space means that the school is not doing their job (of course that’s just my overheated opinion so feel free to let me know if I am way off base! :-) )

        How do we change this? I’m for whatever lights a fire under an academics behind to get them to teach real world for the benefit of their students. Any thoughts on how that might happen?

        • http://www.fullsail.edu Rob Croll

          @Frank – I completely agree with your first point; I’m just hoping that they actually are tuned in enough to understand the importance! I also agree that more publishing and more research could be done in the area of Internet marketing.

          I don’t think you’re off base at all when it comes to schools not serving their students well by not helping them gain 21st century skills. (And it’s pretty clear that @David agrees, too.)

          I honestly don’t have a good solution to lighting the fire for traditional academics. I suspect that the passage of time will force them to adapt. (Or, as David suggests, lawsuits from dissatisfied students might do the trick.), The problem is that they need to change their mindset to one of continually adapting. It’s not easy to change your course content every time you teach, but in the realm of Internet marketing it’s pretty much a necessity.

      • http://ctepmarketingtoolkit.org Til Dallavalle

        Rob,
        I am working with Marketing Educators throughout New Jersey to help improve Marketing Career Programs. I am not sure the publish or perish idea is responsible for what may be observed in some higher ed institutions. What I do agree with is the notion that we need to prepare our students for the world they are about to enter. I am the Project Coordinator for the Career and Technical Education Partnership, my focus is on marketing and marketing career pathways. The volunteers I work with are working toward aligning academic and industry standards with the courses that are part of marketing programs of study (that include social media, and internet marketing, …) so that students completing degree programs have a better chance at obtaining high-skilled, high-demand marketing related positions.

        If you are also interested in contributing to this effort look for us on the web. (Google CTEPMARKETING)

        • http://www.fullsail.edu Rob Croll

          @Til – A collaboration between academia and industry is exactly what’s needed to answer the question from your site: “What skills will secondary and postsecondary school students need to be successful?” Great idea!

  • http://www.ajishkumar.com ajish

    I truly admit your views. Business scenarios is changing so as marketing techniques. Most professors don’t know how technology is replacing traditional marketing practices. Since, mobile, internet are the emerging trends, internet marketing, social media is going to be the key.

    Ajish

  • Derrick Tyran

    Rob,

    I’m in my 3rd month of the IMBS program at Full Sail University, and that article you wrote was a very insightful and encouraging one; I’m at the right place to learn Internet Marketing. I look forward to your SEO class in the coming months.

    Derrick

    • http://www.fullsail.edu Rob Croll

      Thanks @Derrick. I’ll look forward to seeing you in a few months.