Get people loving your RTO through social media

Allison MillerAllison Miller is a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog who is passionate about engaging learners, equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the world of work. Allison will be presenting at the upcoming EdVET 2017 conference on ‘The many faces of social media: Attracting, supporting and retaining learners’.

Social media is fully ingrained into lots of people’s lives with some Australians spending more than half a day per week (12.5 hours) on Facebook alone. This frequency of activity presents you with lots of opportunities to get people to love your training organisation through social media. The following information shares how you can capitalise on this opportunity.

Take an outwardly and inwardly perspective

There are two ways you can be using social media to get people to love your training organisation, through an:

  • Outward facing perspective – where you create a social media profile/page as a communication tool to build your training organisation’s brand awareness to encourage potential students (and employers) to choose your training organisation
  • Inward facing perspective – where you create a social media group as a community of practice for existing and alumni students to share experiences and new opportunities with one another, ensuring people love you while they are with your training organisation, and once they have left

It’s all about helping your students succeed

Whichever approach you select, you will need to consider why potential, existing and alumni students want to engage with your training organisation through social media. This is best done by knowing how your training organisation is helping people getting their training ‘job’ done.  According to Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business Professor, the job of education and training is to help people feel successful.

What feeling successful looks like for your students can vary from wanting to:

  • find a job or get a better job
  • start their own business or improve the one they have
  • get into a higher qualification
  • improve themselves out of self-interest
  • meet compliance or legislative requirements

Once you determine which of these jobs you are helping your students achieve, you can then consider how to communicate and connect with them on social media.  If your students fall into more than one of these categories, you will need to tailor different interactions in social media to meet these different needs.

What types of communication works well on social media?

An analysis of various successful training organisations’ use of social media uncovered that the following are key ways to communicate with students in social media:

Topics Activities
Student life while studying with your RTO or afterwards Share photos and video of cool stuff that students have done:

– Industry visits or work placements
– Awards won
– Stuff they have produced

Industry specific information Set up a Google Alert which notifies you by email of hard to find information on topics relevant to your area and re-share this information, such as:
– Upcoming important dates or regulatory changes
– Funding opportunities
Job, work experience or internship opportunities Subscribe to job finding websites which send you emails when jobs in your industry/location are advertised and then share this information
Course content Share your own content (or that of others) which is hard to find elsewhere – Video works best here if it is practical topic, but so do blog posts, checklists and reports etc.  Live streaming from events is also becoming very popular.
Course information Share how your upcoming training programs help potential students get their ‘job to be successful’ done
Team fun Share photos and video of what happens ‘behind the scene’ in your organisation, and at organisational events, which show the ‘human’ side of your organisation
Voting and polling Involve students in decision making from anything from helping to choose your next logo or to voting on key policies effecting students

When using students’ work or including imagery of students in posts, make sure you have them sign a media release form.  If you do not already have one of these, do a quick web search to find lots of examples on which you can base one on.

Which social media site?

Whoever said “build it and they will come” never worked online.  While Facebook is still “King of the Mountain’ with the largest number of social media users, there are a number of other places where your students could be frequenting including: Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Whatsapp.

If you are not sure which one to start with then, generally speaking, start with Facebook as it does have the largest pool of people.  Also consider:

  • surveying your existing students to find out where they hang out online
  • checking out where people in your industry hang out online

Tweak to be unique

To ensure that your training organisation has a ‘return on investment’ in the time and money spent getting people to love your RTO through social media, ensure you set a goal of what your training organisation is trying to achieve through social media (e.g. getting more people to your website or contacting you about your courses).

Your social media goal will be used to:

  • set the call to action for your social media communications, for example, including links in your posts to landing pages on your website, as well as having your training organisation’s website link and contact details in your social media profile
  • monitor the interactions with your social media communications on a regular basis to determine how many likes, shares and comments different posts get, and then increasing those posts which get most engagement and help you achieve your social media goal

How do you grow your social media presence?

Use paid and targeted ‘boosts’ to get your posts into the steams of your ideal potential students.  With the right content in the post, this will encourage people to ‘like’ or ‘follow’ your social media profile.  For example, regularly boosting your Facebook posts which have the right content for as little as $10 a day for a week or so will see a great return on investment over time.

Other ways to grow your social media followers is to encourage existing followers to share your posts through competitions to win stuff or by asking them to tag people into posts if they think the content is appealing e.g. tag a friend who should apply for this job.  Make these competitions fun and relevant to your followers, and to your social media goal.

And finally, use social media yourself to stay current about what is happening in your industry and as a form of professional development by following organisations and individuals considered ‘leaders’ in your field.  This activity will also give you ideas about what works and what doesn’t in social media.

For tips on using social media and ensuring you are meeting your ASQA requirements read this blog post.

Learn more about EdVET 2017.

Virtual Meetings – Optimise their effectiveness

bernadette-parry-headshot Bernadette Parry is the Client Support Coordinator at eWorks. Her role involves juggling all sorts of client-focused tasks including start-up TVC training, advanced Moodle training and support services. A self-confessed Moodle ‘geek’, Bernadette loves to discover new ways to navigate and make the most of Moodle and online facilitation. Today Bernadette offers advice on how to get the most of virtual meetings.

At eWorks we like to practise what we preach, so we have fully embraced the use of educational technology in our working lives, including the use of virtual meetings and flexible working arrangements. At any of our daily WIP (work in progress) meetings, staff join from interstate, from home, from their car… you get the picture.

Here are some great tips for how to get the most out of your virtual meetings.

Camera

Keep your camera on – you wouldn’t put a bag over your head if you were in the meeting room. Think you look terrible? You don’t! Seeing yourself on video is like hearing your recorded voice – it sounds or looks far worse to you than it does to others. And you will get used to it. You can always hide your image from yourself so that you don’t need to look at it.

Adjust the angle of the camera so that your colleagues or clients can see you clearly. The camera should be at eye level and on the monitor you are using. Other angles can be unflattering and off-putting for others.

bad-shots
Placing the camera on the screen you are using enhances the connection between you and your audience by giving an eye contact like effect. Your audience will feel you are looking at them just like you would in a face to face meeting.

Make sure you look into the camera when you are speaking – makes you more ‘engaged and present’ to your audience.

Sound

Test that your sound works – before going online!

The mute button is a great addition to virtual meetings. Turn your sound off /mute yourself unless you are speaking – background noise can be annoying and distracting, but remember to check your sound is not muted when you speak.
Speak naturally, not too quickly, and pronounce words clearly. Speaking to a screen can often make you think that you need to speak louder to ensure the audience can hear you but a good quality microphone can encourage you to speak more naturally and add to the feel of a normal face to face meeting.

Try not to speak over others. If this seems to be an issue with your call, perhaps use the ‘raise hands’ feature or messaging. Avoid side conversations – they don’t work well on a call.

And…

  • Behave as if you were in a physical meeting. Keep focussed, it’s easy for your audience to tell if you aren’t fully present in the call.
  • Limit excess movement as it can appear jerky on the screen.
  • Make sure your room is well lit and the background is appropriate for a work meeting.
  • Everyone’s time is important, so be respectful of this and be punctual.
  • If people don’t know each other, introduce yourselves.
  • Your clothing – stripes may play havoc with the camera. Pastel colours are usually recommended because red, white and black can also have distracting effects on the screen.
  • Make sure you are familiar with the software you are using, and double check your equipment before the call. Most webinar services will allow you into the room early for testing.
  • For large meetings, you may be advised to have a moderator to monitor chat messages.

Physical virtual room!

We do have a room permanently set up in the office. This suits our large meetings, and meeting with clients who come into the office – where some participants call in. If you are lucky enough to have a permanent room for virtual calls, then it is recommended that you have:

  • A booking system for the room! Make sure the room is available.
  • A PTZ camera – this is a camera that can Point, Tilt and Zoom. The camera can be controlled remotely with software such as Zoom.
  • The camera placed directly underneath the screen everyone is looking at – this helps the remote people who feel that the people in the room are looking at them when they speak.
  • Ideally two screens in each meeting room – have the faces of virtual participants on one, and screen sharing on the other.
  • Microphones hanging from the ceiling and over the table work well – they pick up voices without getting vibrations from people tapping on the table, etc.
  • If the room has lots of smooth hard surfaces that interfere with the sound (maybe an echo affect), then it may be worth investigating some form of cushioning for the walls.

When it works well, virtual meetings are fantastic! So get in and make sure your talented staff can make the most of this opportunity!

For further information, watch ‘Video Conference Etiquette for Dummies’.

Teaching is my lifelong passion

This blog has been re-published with the permission of Trina Hoefling and The Smart Workplace.

Trina Hoefling is a longstanding organisation and team development expert and master teacher at the University of Denver graduate school. For over 30 years Trina has been helping organizations and people establish virtual presence, bridge virtual distance and build strong relationships that span time and space. Scheduled to visit Melbourne in April 2017, today Trina shares her journey into teaching.

In 4th grade I was partnered with Steve to be his coach. He was a cool kid getting poor grades. I was a quiet girl who got A’s. I can’t remember if his grades got better, but I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up – a teacher. I remember lining up my stuffed animals in rows on my bed, teaching what I studied in school.

I’m often teaching, whether I travel to the student, from a virtual classroom, or in a coaching conversation. Recently a grade school classmate asked me why I loved teaching and training so much. Another classmate answered for me so simply –

“Trina is driven to help people get to their goals. Teaching is the main way she does that.”

She was right; teaching people what they need to meet their goals IS what I do.

trina_photoI was a high school teacher in the early 80’s before computers and copy machines. My first teaching clothes were polyester double knit, that enduring fabric that absorbs chalk, mimeograph ink, and never ever wrinkled. I was a fashion icon with a mullet…

I’ve been a corporate trainer and coach for over three decades. My clothing choices improved and I was an early adopter of laptops. I’ve logged many frequent flyer miles getting to where my learners were. I started to burn out in the mid-90’s though I still loved my work. The travel was extreme. It wasn’t great for the clients either.

Learner follow-up was limited to one-off courses and little follow-up. Something had to change, so I became an advocate and early adopter of online learning. All of us then were learning as we went.
Soon I was training trainers at international online learning conferences, still logging frequent flyer miles but less often.

Today I’m an online educator, never far from my MacPro. I teach professionals already established who are improving themselves and their careers. I also teach one-on-one through mentoring and coaching – mostly by telephone. I am a Master Teacher in two graduate programs for the University of Denver, and co-founding faculty at Virtual Workplace University, an online learning destination for today’s professional.

I’m a learner, too. I seek out ways to engage with my peers, tapping wisdom and offering some. I live with a learning mindset. My profession helps me be passionate all the time, without effort and usually without fail.

I’m no longer burned out. When I log frequent flyer miles now, it’s a treat to physically be with fellow learners.

I lucked into a career in 4th grade, thanks to Steve, my first teaching assignment. How I teach and learn has changed, but my passion as a teacher hasn’t.

What we do matters.

Join Trina as she presents at EdVET 2017 on April 28th. Click here for more information.

Literacy and numeracy testing

Prashil Singh is the manager of Partnership and Stakeholders Relations at VETASSESS where he works with a team of assessors and online platform developers. His role involves connecting customers to a range of assessment services and solutions, and he is a firm believer of the value that assessment can play in quality performance monitoring and improvement.

As VETASSESS rolls out our latest assessment service, we would like to take the opportunity to talk about the importance of literacy and numeracy testing.

Literacy and numeracy are vital skills that can determine whether an individual succeeds in a particular area of training or industry.  Literacy and numeracy testing offers an effective and efficient way to assess these skills in applicants to determine whether they are sufficient to meet the demands of studying or working.

The VETASSESS Test

The VETASSESS Test is an online assessment tool aligned to the Australian Core Skills Framework, covering levels 1-4, as the registered standard for adult literacy and numeracy in Australia.  The test is already in use as the pre-entry test for the Diploma of Nursing by a number of course providers.

With reforms to the VET Student Loans 2017 scheme effective from 1 January 2017, literacy and numeracy testing has become compulsory for applicants seeking loan assistance for VET Diploma level courses and above.  The VETASSESS Test has been approved by the Australian Government as an external and independently verified assessment tool for RTOs, including providers needing to fulfil the entry requirement for the VET Student Loan 2017 scheme.

Can your Organisation Benefit from Literacy and Numeracy Testing?

While the VETASSESS Test was developed to support education providers, it can be beneficial for other VET courses, as well as business organisations for the purposes of recruitment and internal training.  Ensuring literacy and numeracy competency of your members whether they are from an English speaking background or a non-English speaking background can help maintain quality performance within your organisation and industry overall.

The VETASSESS Test provides the user with a report identifying areas requiring improvement as part of the assessment. It also provides reporting on group statistics across the particular cohort.  This information can help guide applicants on how to seek further training, and provide valuable insight for RTOs and employers on whether additional support systems may be needed for their new or existing members.

If you’re using an existing tool, before renewing talk to us about our quality and cost-effective solution. VETASSESS is currently conducting onsite demonstrations and can tailor test requirements for pre-course entry and selection.  For further information and consultation, contact Matthew Miller on +61 3 9655 4754 or email testenquiries@vetassess.com.au