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Online Experiential Learning

Daniel Wallace, English

Daniel WallaceIn my other life, I developed some expertise in email marketing and managing professional newsletters. This academic year, I’ve been teaching UT students those techniques as part of the English department’s public / business writing course offerings.

Here’s what makes the class so effective so well online: every semester, we bring in one local Knoxville business person to be our “client,” and we interview them over Zoom about their business. We were lucky to be joined this semester, for instance, by boutique owner and plant-repreneur Jade Adams of Oglewood Ave. Then the students come up with business ideas for this entrepreneur based on the email automation / sequencing skills we’ve learned, and the entrepreneur comes back for a second Zoom session where the students, in teams, pitch her on their proposals. The entrepreneur picks a winning team and explains why.

Student Feedback

The students love this approach. This semester, one gave me permission to share their feedback:

“This project most definitely assisted in my learning of a real business situation. I actually even found it difficult to put myself in the client’s shoes and think for them instead of what I thought would be the best approach. I know that’s the whole point of business – to think in terms of what your client wants – but I’ve never done that before (I’m not a business major, in fact I couldn’t be further from it with being a science major.) … I went from thinking in terms of what I thought would be best for the client to thinking in terms of what would actually be most useful and easiest for her to actually implement herself.”

Another student credited the project to her winning an internship; two more said that the experience solidified their career path going forwards.

(Nothing good is done alone: the course was created in collaboration with Virginia Stormer, Assistant Director of Experience Learning at TLI; Shawn Carson, Director of the Entrepreneurship minor for the Haslam College of Business; Misty Anderson, Professor of English; and with the support of the English Department’s RWL division.)

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