Anytime, Anywhere Learning
SMU is a free online learning platform. You'll be taught the art of storytelling through the medium of integrated marketing. Not coincidentally, this just so happens to be our tutors' specific area of expertise. Taken together, the courses you will find here are different aspects of what's called Integrated Marketing: the intersection between branding, advertising, copy writing and different aspects of online marketing (social media marketing, content marketing, blogging, websites and online networking).
The free programme of study is built on the UK 3-year higher education degree model; specifically campus and on-line based delivered at Falmouth University. It's also based on years of delivering short, intensive career and professional development courses delivered to SMEs, not-for-profits and social enterprise and public sector organisations in Cornwall and the UK's Southwest.
- Level 1 (the 100 series of study units) is an intensive, immersive environment with a fast learning curve. Level 1 is designed to take beginners/novices and turn them into credible junior-level practitioners.
- Level 2 (the 200 series of study units) has an in-depth emphasis on consumer psychology/behaviour, audience profiling (i.e. demographics) , analytics (the art of listening to our audience and understanding what they want, like and dislike about our brand) and global market development and management.
- Level 3 (the 300 series of study units) has an in-depth focus on brand and campaign management, strategy, creativity and innovation.
The courses have been designed for you to learn at your own pace, anywhere and anytime. This is what's called self-directed study: you will be learning under your own steam. There isn't direct contact with tutors (although there is a paid tutorial & assessment option. More on that later.)
Each course is presented as, well, a course. All of the courses have a number of sessions for you to complete. Each session builds on what you learned in the previous session - just like each course builds on what you've learned in the previous course.
Each course and its corresponding sessions comes complete with step-by-step instructions on how to work your way through the material. You will have learning aims and outcomes - so you'll know exactly what you're supposed to learn from each course and course session...and honestly assess whether you've learned the key points or not.
And did we say its 100% free? You don't have to sign up for anything. There's no joining or subscribing to anything.
You won't earn a degree or receive a certificate. You will receive hands-on, practical and proven tips, tricks and tools to transform and improve your online marketing strategies, performance and abilities from some of the best minds in the business. If you're new to online marketing, by the end of this course you should have a working and credible online marketing presence to develop and grow.
The content for SMU's courses has been adapted from university-level integrated marketing course modules delivered at undergraduate, postgraduate as well as career and professional development level for a number of years. Years of teaching and professional practice have gone into the building of this platform.
Here's some of our success stories from university students we've taught:
- Undergraduate fashion design and performance sportswear design courses headhunted by top brands in their second as well as final year of study
- Postgraduate professional writing students landing literary agents, editors, publishers as well as copywriting clients and journalism freelance work
- Undergraduate advertising students landing paying clients while they were still on the course
- Event production students building brand awareness for their events -and landing clients
- Undergraduate music students achieving high online awareness - and great sales
- Postgraduate journalism and television production students landing jobs within their respective industries
- Local and regional businesses, organizations and public sector departments significantly improving their bottom line revenues
So, we hope that's inspired you!
We've provided additional information covering more specific areas of SMU and its courses below:
- How Our Lectures Work
- How Sessions Work
- How To Study Online
- Tutor Tutorials & Assessments
- Post-Course Mentoring
You'll get most from the lectures if you see them as your chance to 'be in the classroom' while studying from home or studying on the go.
You might not have the chance to ask tutors questions, or discuss points that are raised like you would in a classroom – but you can still use the lectures as an interactive resource.
It is important to note that you will not have access to a tutor. With this in mind, we've created social media space for SMU students to connect and ask each other questions/support, peer critiques - or just say hello like a traditional student would. There are two spaces we've created for you: one on Twitter and a second on Facebook.
Some study suggestions:
- Make notes as you listen.
- If questions emerge from a lecture - or you just need clarification - post it to the SMU Twitter and Facebook communities.Chances are, someone else will be in the same boat.
- You can also share ideas and responses with your peers on the SMU Twitter and Facebook communities- in the same way that you might initiate a ‘real time’ discussion in the classroom.
At SMU, each unit within a course is divided into a number of sessions. Each session covers a specific topic (for example, 'The building Blocks of Branding' or 'Giving Your Brand a Clear Voice'.
Each course session builds upon the learning you've achieved in previous units. The first few units are always introductory in nature. They ease you into a subject. They will build your general knowledge about a subject before the deeper work begins. It is important that you don't skip the introductory sessions. They are referred to throughout a course - so you will need to be familiar with the content provided in them.
Each session has:
- Learning Aims & Outcomes: these give you your 'take-aways' for each session. You can also assess whether you've understood the specific subject matter within a session;
- Some preparatory reading;
- Preparatory video(s);
- A video lecture;
- Practice exercises for you to apply what you've learned;
- Videos that provide deeper subject knowledge;
- Templates and/or scenarios for you to reflect and apply your knowledge - or re-evaluate your current marketing practices; and
- Suggested further reading
Any student needs help when it comes to knowing what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Studying online requires even more guidance. Each course session comes with clear and easy-to-follow-guidance. Each session comes with clear instructions on what you will need to do for that session, including the order you should do them in. This is to ensure you get the most out of each session.
You may feel tempted to jump ahead within a session. Please don't. Sessions have been designed as relatively short units of study to keep you from being overwhelmed by demands on your time. Sessions are sequential. Each one contains nuggets of knowledge for you to apply to other sessions later on - and to use in sessions in the other courses.
Learning online might seem like a daunting prospect. It really shouldn't be. Studying without direct access to a tutor probably sounds even scarier still. We've take great care and diligence in providing you with guidance every step of the way to make it less so.
As with anything, there are tricks and tips for you to get the best out of learning online. Here's ours:
1. Establish a formal learning schedule
Free online courses are definitely flexible...but that doesn’t mean they’re loose. Figure out how much time you will need to devote to the course sessions and assignments. Make those hours a fixed and regular part of your weekly schedule. Take your "school hours" as seriously as you would your job.
Pick a time of day that will support your learning. This could be when the kids are in school, after dinner, during your lunch hour, when you're on public transportation - whatever best suits your schedule.
2. Establish a formal workspace
Create an effective study space. Make where you study as fixed as when you study. By having a set workspace, online learning will seem more real to you. It will also enable you to keep all your study materials close at hand. You also won't have to spend energy and time trying to figure out where you’re going to park yourself every day.
3. Block out distractions
This might be tough if you work at home. But if you can, make sure your workspace is a room with a door you can close, the TV is off, any music is turned down low and all your "toys" (videogames, smart phones, etc.) are safely out of sight and out of mind.
Communication to family or roommates that this is your space - and time - for study. Even hang a 'Studying - Please Do Not Disturb' sign on the door. This is your time and your space for you to learn.
Let your family and friends know what you're learning schedule is. Again, it's all about minimizing distractions while you're working.
4. Organize your work
Establish separate document files and file systems for your online coursework on your computer. Also, you may want to buy some notebooks and folders for organizing and preserving hardcopy documents. Again, take your online studies as seriously as you would those in a traditional campus-based course.
5. Nurture your online relationships
Online learning doesn’t have not be an isolating experience. SMU has provided online spaces for you to build social connections with fellow SMU learners. Feel free to be a part of the online study groups or develop relationships with people you may never meet face-to-face. Use these online social tools to not only enhance your sense of well-being, but also as valuable study resources.
6. Do not presume.
Many students assume that online courses require less work and are easier than traditional classes. In reality, online classes are designed to be just as rigorous and demanding as traditional courses. Be prepared to do a minimum of six hours of work a week in an online course - and that's a modest estimate. Some weeks and some sessions will require more than this, especially during the final sessions in a course which require deeper learning and assignment work.
7. Pay attention to the course learning objectives.
Every course and every session has learning objectives. Don’t ignore these objectives. Course objectives are carefully crafted and they are the foundations around which a well-designed course is built. Lectures, activities, and written assignments - in fact, everything in a course - flow from the objectives. If you understand the course and session objectives, you will understand what is expected of you in all aspects of the course and it's sessions. You will understand the criteria upon which you will need to assess your own learning.
8. Read and practice everything.
Go through every each session before you begin studying it. Don’t run through a course or a session skipping videos, animations, activities, etc. Each SMU course and each course session has been designed to help you achieve specific learning objectives. Even if something doesn’t have a grade attached to it, know that it is there to provide supplemental learning opportunities to better prepare you to apply your learning to your real world marketing projects and strategies.
9. Be open to new ways of learning.
Students learn in different ways. Some people prefer text, others prefer audio, others learn better through watching video while others learn better through doing things. Our tutors use a variety of strategies to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. Give animations, videos, text and audio files a try, even if they seem different from what you’re used to. Well-designed courses use technology to enhance learning, so be open to it.
10. Be comfortable communicating through text.
Most communication in an online course occurs through the written word. Social media posts, written assignments, and email are all common modes of communication in online courses. This is different from campus-based classes, where a lot of communication is oral. Be prepared to read and write a lot in online courses.
Skills for successful study
Skills for Online Learning is a great, free, online course provided by the Open University's open education program, LearningSpace. This unit aims to make the process of learning much more explicit by inviting you to apply various ideas and activities to your own study as a way of increasing your awareness of your own learning. You can access it here: http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/skillsforstudy
As much as we would like it to be, direct access to SMU tutors isn't viable, sustainable or possible. It is the main reason why SMU has created online spaces for SMU learners to post questions, build their own learning communities - or just say hello to one another.
you may feel as though you need a professional helping hand. With that in mind, SMU does offered a pay-as-you-go tutor support and assessment option. You under no obligation to take this option. The courses remain free-and your access to them remains free. Your tutors are academics as well as current industry practitioners.
The paid tutorial option is provided as a series of 10 hour support blocks. How you use these 10 hour support blocks is largely determined by the student. Basically, the 10 hours of support includes:
- 'Formative' feedback. This is the kind of feedback that can be given on your social media profile/presence as you develop it online. We want your efforts to succeed. So our formative feedback is supportive, constructive and tailored to make you reflect.
- 'Summative' feedback. This is final feedback on your online profile. It's our final assessment on the profile that you've built
- Tutorial support. As you work your way through the courses and sessions, you may require support in understanding key concepts and/or doing the assignments.
- Tutorial support will be by arrangement at a time convenient to you and the tutor. They can be online (online video or audio conferencing, e.g. Skype), via email with written feedback reports - or a combination of the two.
You and your tutor will agree how the ten hours should be used to best support your study and/or the development of your online marketing presence.
Some points to bear in mind:
- Whether you already have a web presence (social media account, website, blog, etc), it takes approximately an hour for a tutor to go through them all, making notes for comment/assessment/discussion.
- That hour may seem very brief. However, SMU's tutors have successfully taught this material at undergraduate, postgraduate and career & professional development level for years. We know what works and what doesn't with online marketing. So our process of providing initial feedback/assessment that is concise, meaningful and actionable is a stream-lined process.
- We'd rather spend the majority of time working with you to develop your online presence...and not on an overlong initial assessment.
Price: US $300 based on 10 hours of assessment and feedback
What's not included in the paid tutorial option:
- You will not receive a diploma or degree
- You will not receive a grade. What you will receive is a final, summative, assessment on your online marketing presence. Think of it as a final consultancy meeting.
- A guarantee that your new or improved online marketing presence will make you millions. We will give you the tips, tricks, tools and the knowledge you need to increase your online visibility. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
You may want advice or a second opinion about your online marketing profile and/or practices after you complete our series of courses. With this in mind, SMU offers a paid mentoring service. SMU's tutors are integrated marketing professionals with a proven track record in their industry, from the creative industries to designer-makers, artist, telecommunications, FMCG, non-profit and corporate projects.
An SMU mentor will offer a constructive analysis and feedback of your online marketing presence, strategies and writing style. The report will suggest practical ways to remedy elements that don’t quite work and will indicate how you might develop your online marketing practice further. After an initial discussion, you’ll have six consultations with your mentor as you develop your online marketing over a period of time, usually 12 months. You can agree the timings in advance, but they usually take place every two months either by email or Skype. You will also receive a copy of your Mentor's notes.
Together, you and your mentor might choose to focus on a specific area of your online marketing, hone specific techniques, nail down your key marketing messages or generally polish your online marketing practice and strategies and push towards achieving your stated aims/goals.
At the end of the period, your mentor will summarize his or her thoughts on your progress, either in a Skype call, podcast or in written form, indicating what your next action plan should be.
The full, 12-month mentoring service costs US $1,500.