When I wrote the original grant request to the Knight Foundation to create an e-learning program at The Poynter Institute, I put in estimate about how many people would take courses. It was one of my greatest lapses in predicting success, as I thought we might have 35,000 users by the end of the five-year grant.
After four years, we passed the 100,000 registered user milestone. In March we launched a marketing campaign thanks to the efforts of Susan Crain of LTV Marketing and Vicki Krueger, my deputy. Part of that campaign involved a press release and a paper called “NewsU Servcs Global E-Learning Audiences.”
We also ran a contest to gather stories about how NewsU change the lives of its users. My favorite was a reporter at newspaper in the northwest:
“I credit NewsU for helping me do my job better than I could on my own, giving me courage to try new things,” says Sheila Hagar, a reporter for the Walla Walla (Wash.) Union Bulletin. “I don’t feel alone when I take a class.”
One of my goals, not yet realized, was to find a way to create a community around people who took NewsU modules. I still have hopes that this will happen.
“The idea is to create a sense of community for those who want to share and ask questions of their fellow participants,” says Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning at The Poynter Institute. “You could call it a learning network. Your training should be much more than what’s on the screen.”