We have a special treat today...fantastic insights from veteran community administrator Alesa Little of Career Step. (Thanks for sharing your story Alesa!)
Career Step has had a great online community for a long time. How has your strategy evolved over the years? Has the emergence of social media affected your strategy?
Our community certainly has evolved over the years. When it began, it was much more about students and graduates having a place to hang out without much interaction from Career Step instructors. As it has evolved, it has become one of Career Step’s greatest student and graduate support resources.
All Career Step instructors are active in their respective forums and in our wildly popular Ask an Instructor chat room. Now, students and graduates can interact with each other and with instructors and other support members via our community site.
We don’t use social media integration with our site, but social media sites played a big part in helping us evolve our support opportunities to include our online community. I know for myself, if I have the choice to call or chat online live with a company, I will choose the online option. We found that to be true with many of our students and graduates as well and our community handles all of that very well.
Can you share any tips for others who might be considering a move to Hoop.la from a previous platform?
It certainly can be a little nerve-wracking at first, but you can make the transition pretty painless.
The first tip I’d like to share is to keep your community members informed about the change and when it is going to take place. Change inevitably sparks some fear and negativity, so just stay involved in your community and answer questions when they come up. Social Strata provides a good checklist for
moving over to Hoop.la and I filled that out so that I could stay organized during the transition.
Another tip is to block out a little more time than is expected for the switch. Our move took place well within the time period we had blocked out and that gave us plenty of time to make sure everything was perfect before we “flipped the switch” and went live.
My last tip is to not be afraid to ask questions. The Social Strata team is always prompt, helpful, and has resolved any questions or issues painlessly.
What’s the purpose of your online community? Can you describe how it fits into your program?
Career Step is an online education and training solutions company. Because our courses are online, students often feel alone while taking their classes from home. Our community serves to fill that void by providing a place where our students can join together, ask questions, make study buddies (and lasting friends too), interact with graduates of our programs, and interact with employers who hire our graduates.
It helps students and graduates to stay connected and informed. Our community also provides a place for students and graduates to interact with instructors and other support team members to get questions answered and issues resolved.
How do you integrate your online course materials with the community platform?
Our community contains the most fantastic student and graduate-created content to help each other.
Not all students learn the same way and the community contains tons of study tips and tricks, additional resource websites, practice lists, etc. to suit almost everyone’s needs.
Not only does our community have a ton of new information each day, but the fact that it is searchable turns it in to a database of answers and information.
Most areas where students tend to have difficulty in their course have been discussed in our community and students (and graduates) can simply use the search feature to look for information about those areas. It’s not just a community; it’s a support database too!
How do you let your students know about the Hoop.la site? Is it part of the course registration flow?
The community is discussed with students during the enrollment process, as well as at several other points throughout their course.
We encourage them to get involved from day one.
We link to our Hoop.la site directly from the student’s course home page.
We also notify students and graduates any time a chat occurs so that they can get involved if they haven’t already set up an account.
What’s your “success metric” for the community?
Our community “success metric” is based on page views and membership. We usually have over 130,000 standard page views per month and an average of over 300 new members every month. Our chat rooms are also well loved with usually over 3 million pushes every month.
Do you allow students to remain in the community after their course is over, or is participation limited only to current students?
Graduates have lifetime access to our community, as long as they follow our Terms of Service.
Our graduate forums are some of the most active areas in our community! The community is a great resource for them as they get out into the workforce. We host industry guest chats with employers, and a lot of graduates use the community after they have graduated to network with other working graduates, help out current students, and attend those chats.
What’s been the most surprising thing that’s happened because of the Career Step community? Do you have any fun stories to share?
I think one of the fun things about our community is the diversity! We have students and graduates from the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, the UK, and many other places, and all of them come from different backgrounds and life situations.
Getting to see so many diverse and wonderful people interacting, buoying each other up, and providing insight is so much fun to behold.
In our Break Room forum, we’ve had a game of The Person Below Me going for 6 years now and it is always fun to see what new questions and answers community members have.
Thank you so much Alesa!
Career Step is an online provider of career-focused education and corporate training, and has trained over 85,000 students, has more than 150 partnerships with colleges and universities nationwide, and provides training for several of the most respected healthcare employers in the nation.