Home Forums Share an Effective Practice Reducing the Noise – Targeted Communication

This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Jennifer Smith Jennifer Smith 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #1058
    Profile photo of Michelle Piper
    Michelle Piper
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    Targeted communication sounds more like a marketing plan than one for a team of instructional technologists. Our job, after all, is to support all faculty with their use of the LMS and instructional technologies to enhance their teaching. It has, however, become a vital tool in our work with faculty. Almost two years ago, SPC switched from the LMS we had been using for over 10 years to a new LMS system. This switch meant a lot of communications were sent out regarding migrating courses, updates, trainings and more! Without a targeted approach, this wave of communication could become overwhelming and cause faculty to feel bombarded with information, which may or may not be relevant to their needs.

    Starting during the migration and continuing on to present day, all communications sent out to faculty are targeted. Some are still sent to the faculty at large (i.e. open houses, new workshops, LMS updates, etc.) but most are targeted toward specific groups of faculty. For example, we recently updated TurnItIn. While we encourage all faculty to make use of this tool, the upgrade required specific action by the current users. To avoid confusion, we were able to identify these users and send communications only to the specified group. This process had several benefits, including reduced noise for faculty not involved, reducing the number of confused emails to the support team from faculty who were not using TurnItIn currently, and allowing the focus to be placed on helping those needing to upgrade before the start of the new term.

    Another example is our MyResources site. This site provides a searchable list of tutorials for faculty in regards to the LMS, workshops, and more. Each page on the site contains a “was this page helpful, yes or no” option. While we always appreciated seeing a yes appear in our analytics, our main focus is on the No. When clicking No, faculty are then asked to provide contact information and a description of the issue. For each No, we reach out directly to that faculty member to discuss ways to improve the resource. Sometimes it is as easy as showing them a different, existing resource. Other times we either build or update a tutorial based on the feedback that we receive. This targeted feedback and one-on-one communication has made faculty feel heard and they can directly observe the results of their feedback being used which is great for building relationships.

    Moving forward, we hope to continue this trend and provide more targeted communications to specific faculty when and where most convenient for them. In the end, it is all about reducing the noise and allowing faculty to do what they do best, teach.

  • #1107
    Profile photo of Wendy Howard
    Wendy Howard
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    Thank you so much for sharing this effective practice Michelle.
    So much of what we do really comes down to marketing and communication, and it’s easy to over communicate even with good intentions. As you mention in your post, blanket communications that don’t apply directly to me could create confusion and over time it becomes all too tempting to just delete all mass emailings from a particular sender. Sending targeted messages takes a little extra work and may even require collaborating with other departments to identify the appropriate list of recipients (as in your TurnItIn example), but it is certainly time and effort well spent.
    What a great idea!

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  • #1164
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    Joe Raditch
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    This is something we’ve been re-evaluating at UCF. I like to use the analogy that instructional designers are sales reps and sales engineers – building, nurturing, and cultivating their relationships to retain services of the distributed learning units. I can send out mass emails all day, but with a 12-15% open-rate I’m nowhere near as effective as the personal relationship they’ve built.

    Institutions are starting to look at CRM solutions like Salesforce for recruitment. Why not start the conversation to use these same tools for internal relationship management? Other tools like MailChimp also provide selective audience controls and allow users to automate messaging, while maintaining some control over the message. Messaging metrics are also a plus.

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  • #1281
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    Jennifer Smith
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    One thing that we have found to be particularly effective is to create personal invitations for the various activities and events that we present.

      First I create an Excel list of faculty I wish to invite–these are generally people that I know personally or who have attended other events.
      Then I use the Mail Merge feature of Word/Outlook so that each message is sent to the specific individual.
      The message includes a link to the informational webpage about the event/activity

    As you might guess, you want to be careful not to use this too often. After awhile, people get tired of so many “personal” invitations. But people really appreciate the thought that you have taken the time to personally invite them to the event.

    Jennifer Smith

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    • #1479
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      Wendy Howard
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      That sounds almost like the “Message Students Who” feature in Canvas. It’s true, people respond to personal messages – students, faculty, all of us. You point out a very good warning though. It could backfire if you overuse the “automated personalization” and they catch on.

  • #1615
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    Jennifer Smith
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    I was at a Unizin meeting last week, and had an opportunity to chat briefly with Burt Purcell from Penn State. He shared a great idea: his team keeps an eye on the campus news posts. When a faculty member is recognized for an achievement, he sends a postcard containing a congratulations. He also suggests that if the professor is interested, his team would be pleased to work on a project with that individual.

    This practice not only helps the faculty development team to be seen in a positive light, but it opens the door for potential collaboration with faculty who have a proven record of accomplishment.

    Jennifer Smith

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  • #1617
    Profile photo of Michelle Piper
    Michelle Piper
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    This is a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • #1619
      Profile photo of Jennifer Smith
      Jennifer Smith
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      You’re welcome! I”m planning to have some “clever” postcards printed to use for this purpose. We might not get much action over the summer, but I can report back in the fall as to the results.

      Jennifer Smith

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