by Site Staff
December 20, 2005
The idea of using marketing techniques to create interest in learning and development activities is not a new one. However, effectively deploying marketing resources to increase learning and development dollars and then stretching those dollars into more opportunities to serve the University of Iowa’s population of 42,000 faculty, staff and students, not to mention thousands of external learners, is worthy of note.
University of Iowa Director of Learning and Development Maureen McCormick leads an integrated marketing strategy that she describes as interdependent with the University’s blended learning approach. All internal classroom instruction is blended with e-learning and informationheavy Web sites that have been developed on topic areas such as performance management, employee orientation and training, and supervisory skills. “All of that becomes integrated when we market for one program,” said McCormick. “Everything is connected. For example, the management series is a yearlong comprehensive series. Before people come into the classroom, they’ve been asked to do readings on Books24x7. They will be followed up with information on the information Web sites, and every time we utilize one of these tools as a part of our curriculum, in a sense we’re also marketing another resource for the internal audiences.”
Prospective customers are an integral part of the University’s learning and development marketing plan, and the school’s external audience includes greater eastern Iowa. McCormick said that University seminars regularly attract people from Illinois and from as far away as Canada, using the Internet as one of their most effective marketing tools. “The University of Iowa is highly ranked. I think we were ranked 19th in U.S. News and World Report for 2004. We have a high visibility on the Web and a very high Google ranking too. I think we’re a nine. If you Google on any topic you’ll see that the University of Iowa will rise to the top oftentimes, whether it be performance management or communications skills, so when we market our program externally, we also have the benefit of the Web as a primary source of information.”
McCormick’s plans for learning and development offerings in 2006 for both the University’s internal and external audiences will include a focus on public engagement as well as University-specific electronic course development. “We’re looking at ways the University already is and can be more effective in providing outreach to the citizens of Iowa. A lot of our external programming supports that. This coming year we’re going to be expanding our e-learning program to include a SkillChoice through SkillSoft so we’ll have access to the whole 2,000-plus course catalog as well as Books24x7. We’re going to be using that internally,” McCormick said. “We’re also going to be expanding the types of programs that we’re going to be offering to our external audience. There’ll be a number of new bundles out there targeted to specific work groups, such as IT certification or sales, marketing and e-marketing. Learning and development is one of the units of organizational effectiveness within HR, and several of the units are going to be working together collaboratively on new leadership development initiatives, and we hope to expand our ability to offer internally developed electronic courses. We’ve had access to a large number of the SkillSoft courses, but we also want to be able to utilize our ability to create our own internal programming that’s specific to University policy and procedure.”