This was an interesting conversation for me in terms of meaning. Being Canadian, I didn’t know what ‘Tesco’ was when Helen used it as an example (as I said in this post). If I didn’t know what Tesco was, I would’ve missed the meaning and context of her example. Meaning can be easily misinterpreted in education and is something I made an effort to consider when creating course activities for my marketing class. I tried to use current and authentic examples of marketing practices that would resonate with the class – keeping in mind the demographic of my students.
I was also struck by Chenée’s mention of the marketisation of education. There has been much research and debate on the use of marketing strategies and tactics in higher education (HE) institutions. Guilbault (2016) discusses how “students should be viewed as customers in HE.” This stance seems logical to me as long we view HE institutions as “market-driven” organisations. Marketing, at its core, endeavours to discover and satisfy the needs of consumers/customers; can’t this also be applied to HE institutions? Guilbault (2016) also points to the importance of “creating and maintaining superior value [for students] through effective application of the marketing mix” (the marketing mix being: product, price, promotion and place – explained in depth in this 2009 article by Chai Lee Goi.
Product: A Master of Science Degree in Digital Education from the University of Edinburgh
Price: Tuition (a large amount of money)
Promotion: U of Edinburgh promotes itself through social media and various other online platforms as well as print and product placement
Place: City of Edinburgh, and the WWW (especially in the case of online distance learners)! Satellite campuses?
This brings me back to Helen’s comment: “What if we knew as much about our students as Tesco does about its customers;” isn’t this what LA and data mining in education are trying to do – collect as much information as possible about past and current students/customers in order to retain current students/customers and to attract an increased number of future students/customers?
The following quotation from Mark (2013) cited in Guilbault (2016) is particularly significant:
“…there have been significant advances in customer theory and … many opponents of a student-customer model may be basing their criticisms on an outdated conceptualisation of the customer role’ and ‘customers are no longer viewed as passive recipients, but as active participants in service delivery and co-producers of the services they receive.”
Are students ‘co-producers’ of the services they receive from their institution? I certainly feel I am co-creating/producing my own education here at Edinburgh, mainly due to the student-centred nature of the assignments and activities and the freedom of choice I am given in the MSCDE programme.
Lastly, I am compelled to post this quote from Ng and Forbes (2009) cited in Guilbault (2016) because it resonates with me and points to the importance of social interaction, communication and community within universities:
“…the core service in a university experience is a learning experience that is the co-creation of the people within the university – between students, students and teachers, students and administrators, etc.”
Guilbault, M. (2016) Students as customers in higher education: reframing the debate, Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 26:2, 132-142, DOI: 10.1080/08841241.2016.1245234
Find the PDF of this article here: Melodi Guilbault.
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