Tool 27: Connecting Your Curriculum to the Web

The Internet offers a variety of ways to help you reference, pilot, market, and update your curriculum, and to train and inform people about the positive human development your curriculum provides. This tool provides hints for ways to accomplish these tasks using the web.

Referencing Web Resources in Your Curriculum

The web offers a wealth of educational resources that can be incorporated into the design of your print and electronic curriculum. Consider including reviewed reference and research sites for your audiences to give them access to the theory behind a learning method or idea. Some web sites offer live video demonstrations to teach a skill or present an idea. Consider using this option for skills and practices that are best demonstrated visually to support your curriculum. You can also simply list web sites that will expand the resources and experiences in your content area outside of those offered in your curriculum.

Piloting Your Materials Using the Web

Consider posting one or two curriculum activities on an appropriate area of the MSU Extension website to encourage educators, 4-H clubs and groups, and their volunteers to use them as part of their MSU Extension experience. These users could then complete an evaluation of the experience that gets e-mailed back to you. You can also use the web posting to do focus group piloting of the activities in classrooms, at workshops, or at other community sites. This is particularly useful if the activity is a digital-based or -assisted experience. Refer to Designing Your Pilot Process for more information on web-based piloting.

Marketing and Promoting Your Curriculum Through the Web

Expand the marketing of your curriculum by creating a resource page on the MSU Extension website that gives visitors an opportunity to learn more about the curriculum, to "test drive" it (either by printing off activities or experiencing online curriculum activities), and then to actually buy it (with a link to the online MSU Extension Bookstore). The resource page can be built with key words that will generate traffic from people seeking resources in that area. Online social media outlets, e-newsletters, and e-mail discussion groups allow you to target market your curriculum to groups who have a specific need or interest in your content area. Think about those lists you already belong to and research others that will link you with potential audiences. Consider also purchasing advertising space on sites that are guaranteed to reach an audience you think would be interested in what your curriculum offers. Those ads can then link people back to your promotional web page. More information on marketing and promotion can be found in Tool 25: Designing a Promotion Plan.

Updating Your Curriculum

The web has great potential for updating print and video curricula with new activities, new resources, and new reference or research materials that can’t be easily updated in print format. You can create and provide resources in "print-on-demand" formats that match and complement the original curriculum materials. If you’ve developed a curriculum in a CD-ROM or DVD format, consider creating updates and supplemental materials that can be easily downloaded.

Training and Informing Staff and Volunteers

You can offer an interactive online staff and volunteer training around using your new curriculum. Consider how you would train staff and volunteers if you were with them in person, then think through how you could incorporate that strategy into an interactive, web-based training experience. You can also develop message boards, blogs, and e-mail and social media discussion groups to allow volunteers to share with each other their experiences with the curriculum and how participants are responding to it in practice.

Web-Related Words of Advice . . .

It’s important to consider several issues related to using the web in programming for youth. For example, on the national level, 4-H (USDA and National 4-H Council) has a policy of not collecting personal information from young people online. Some thought from you about how you do this will be critical if you find your use of the web requires some personal data input. Plan to consult with an MSU Extension communications manager as you carry out work in this area.

Last Updated: May 2, 2015; Last Reviewed: May 2, 2015
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