By: Courtney Pham, Senior Marketing Instructor, Missouri State University

The past year has been particularly challenging for both students and instructors who have moved online. Instructors had to think about synchronous and asynchronous lectures, and devise thoughtful strategies to keep students interested. I wanted to find out what challenges students faced when taking online classes. To find out, I conducted a quick survey at Summer 2020’s beginning.
Students were most surprised by the disconnect between instructors and students when they took online classes. To keep my students engaged for the next semesters, I had to think outside the box. Online courses have their challenges, but they also offer many solutions.
Experiential Learning is a way to earn extra credit
Each section was also challenged to perform better than the other. I motivated them by awarding extra points to the section that scored the highest on MindTap’s average exam scores. Students were motivated to read their textbooks, understand the material, as well as achieve high scores in MindTap assignments. It is amazing how extra credit can affect students’ motivation to do better.
All of my classes were offered online and arranged asynchronously for the Spring 2020 and Fall 2021 semesters. Students were incentivized to complete weekly modules by offering extra credit through synchronous Zoom sessions twice per month. My motivation was twofold: to make connections with my students and increase their participation. Based on the insightful responses of students to current business events or chapter concepts, the number of points they could earn was determined. I advised students to prepare for Zoom sessions by watching videos from Cengage.
One of my Zoom sessions during the Spring 2020 semester discussed the Super Bowl and how big brands spend money on advertising products instead of promoting COVID-19 vaccinations. I provided additional credit for those who were unable to attend Zoom. This was done in a discussion post that had two steps. To promote positive movements towards combating COVID-19, the first step was to create their own hashtag. To earn points, they had to post the hashtag on their social media accounts and get at least 50 likes. Many students enjoyed this project and came up great ideas. Here are just a few.

Experiential Learning and Study Abroad
Each summer, I take students to emerging markets to experience learning opportunities. They learn about logistics and meet experts in their majors. They also have the opportunity to engage in different management styles that are based on culture. This opportunity was not available to me due to the pandemic. The whole concept of education abroad is being redefined by global movement and the changing realities of the travel industry.
With the help of innovative programs and technological advancements, you can now study abroad anywhere in the world. Recently, I proposed a virtual program to Vietnam for students in my Marketing class. This would allow them to learn from Vietnamese students and exchange cultural values. It also allows them to learn foreign languages. I would invite guest speakers to speak to my classes via Zoom about their business expertise. All of this could be done from the comfort of our own homes.
Experiential learning increases student engagement
My Principles of Marketing class recorded a student engagement rate of between 88-93 percent in MindTap. This number speaks volumes, and it serves as a reminder of how my strategies for engaging my students worked!
My classes can be brought into the real world in many ways without ever leaving campus. I don’t have to change the rules. I can re-strategize the game with tools like MindTap or my own creativity. My most frequent feedback to students on their marketing projects is “be innovative” or “think outside of the box.” It’s time for me to take my own advice and make a difference.

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