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Recruiting Intelligence

Recruiting Students with Video? Lessons from Khan Academy

Video is a powerful force. In our marketing work we encounter the force of video every day. FACT: The second largest search engine in the world after Google: YouTube.

A personal experience, much to my chagrin: my son wants to learn how to tie a necktie. Does he ask me? No! He simply consults YouTube.  

One more example, my son's high school teacher has a meeting outside of school and he will miss a lesson. This teacher does not believe in the quality of the substitute for his high level math class. He selects a set of videos on YouTube with lectures on high level math and provides questions to answer. Online video content supplants human teaching in this case.

That gets us to our Intead Insight review of: "Research on the Use of Khan Academy in Schools." The research was conducted by SRI and the Gates Foundation to understand the outcomes of using Khan Academy videos as teaching tools. 

The research compares various groups of teachers and students in the use of Khan Academcy to support instruction. We will highlight just a few results, and we will use this discussion to make a broader point about shifting student behavior and what that means for us in the field of international student recruitment and enrollment.

The authors state that : 

  • A majority of teachers were happy with their Khan Academy experience and planned to use it with their students in the upcoming school year;
  • A significant portion of students, but less than the majority, reported that Khan Academy had a positive effect on their math learning and feelings about doing math.

Table 7  below from the report show how highly effective this learning tool is for strong students and that it provides strong support for average students. 

The report, and our own experience personally and professionally, leads us to a number of conclusions important for future student recruitment and enrollment marketing.

  • High school students are trained to use video to get information.
  • They are used to, even expect, "on demand" information.  
  • They may not want to talk to you (the authority figure) directly until they have collected enough information and feel comfortable with their knowledge of a subject.

Here's the thing: When we consider our roles in reaching this audience, think about the best methods available to provide relevant and comprehensive, on demand content that can be easily discovered.

Ah Ha! Now we better understand the value of YouTube searches -- they are many times easier than navigating a university website. 

Now consider gamification -- putting elements of games into non-game environments. Teaching has always employed a level of competition (spelling bees). Using online tools and video are a natural extension. Consider how you might put challenges into your content. Indvidual challenges (crossword puzzles) to group challenges (timed or point-based challenges that you can compare to peers). This perspective can bring your student-focused marketing to a new level. 

Look at the chart A 2 below showing how Khan Academy adds game elements to their program. Here at Intead, we have been testing and deploying different games to help international students learn American expressions -- sports expressions that come up in everyday parlance ("I think we should punt."), cultural nuances of our food, and geographic knowledge. These games are fun and extremely useful to those trying to understand American English and culture.

Bottom Line: You are looking for ways to reach and engage students so that they pay attention to your brand and message. Digital marketing, just like teaching in the classroom, is partially about experimenting with different ways of conveying your message and content. In constrast to the classroom experience, digital marketing has an instant share button. When something catches our attention today we like to let others know, "this is good."

So there's today's lesson: When done well, digital marketing engages and you can know when it is "done well" because the analytics behind it will provide quick, quantitative feedback on what is working and what is not. That is truly valuable information.