When you think back on your most valuable learning experiences, where and when were they? Many impactful learning experiences take place at school. However, we also learn in our daily lives, whether it’s how to handle a professional situation or problem-solve on the go.
For many of us, the best way to learn is by applying knowledge gained through lectures, lessons, and in-class conversations to a real-world project. Education isn’t confined to the classroom; some of our greatest lessons are learned on the job, while travelling, or by pursuing a new professional project. In short, we are learning new skills every day.
This is the innovative educational concept behind the Experiential Learning Exchange at The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. This flexible education model provides hands-on, project-based skills development and gives participants the opportunity to learn from a network of industry experts, coaches, and peers. ELX is completely customizable to suit different learning styles and various levels of expertise. You can choose how you want to learn, from networking events, learning modules with personal coaches, and one-time master classes taught by industry experts. Additionally, you can even set your own learning schedule with your coaches, meaning that you can tailor your classes to fit your life.
If you want to learn a specific, career-oriented skill, such as Cloud Computing or Creating Consumer Demand, keep reading to see which learning option is right for you. TalentEgg spoke with Marcelo Reyes, a participant in the Social Media Marketing Today master class, to find out how the skills he learned through ELX contributed to his career advancement.
Learning Applicable Skills from Industry Experts
If you are looking to gain experience in a specific skill area or build on your existing knowledge, ELX master classes may be right for you. Master classes are single-session talks given by an industry expert. These sessions familiarize students with emerging professional trends that are in-demand in the job market today. At the end of each talk, students have the chance to network with the instructor and get advice that is applicable to their personal projects.
For Marcelo Reyes, an entrepreneur starting his own business Bloom & Roots selling handmade, natural body-care products, social media marketing was essential to getting his venture off the ground. However, Marcelo is pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University; as a student, Marcelo’s jam-packed schedule didn’t leave him much free time to gain an understanding of business marketing. The Social Media Marketing Today master class was the perfect fit for his needs, and in a small group of 10 people, he was able to get in-depth advice about how to best use social media for his specific business project. Since the class took place in the evening, Marcelo was able to prioritize his studies with his desire to learn about this key topic.
The Social Media Marketing Master Class was taught by Jaimy Warner, the Head of Social Media for North America with Crowd, a global creative communications agency. For Marcelo, learning about marketing from the perspective of an industry expert was the perfect way to see how marketing theory can be applied to real-world projects. In fact, Marcelo describes the master class as “theory in practice.” After the session, it was clear how he could apply theoretical concepts directly to his business, where he could see the results from the class with his own eyes.
“Experiential learning is much more effective than a lecture where you don’t have a chance to apply your knowledge,” says Marcelo.
“In the master class, I was able to apply the theory directly to developing my business.”
The class taught attendees how to build and maintain a social media community, how to engage audiences, and how to expand their reach. During the talk, attendees learned how to set a 3-month social media strategy, define their distinguishing social media voice, and measure metrics and performance rates to analyze how their strategy was taking effect. All of these theoretical topics were presented with the instructor’s personal experiences in mind, which helped Marcelo contextualize the content he was learning in class.
“The most valuable thing I learned from the workshop was about engagement,” says Marcelo.
“Before, I had never seen social media the way the instructor described it, which is as a platform to engage with people and invite people to become familiar with your products. It changed the way I saw social media as a marketing tool.”
Along with the importance of social media marketing, Marcelo also experienced the value of in-person networking at the ELX master class. During the session, the attendees formed small groups and shared their ideas and professional goals with one another, a collaborative method that gave Marcelo some crucial feedback on his business venture. Moreover, The Chang School administration gave Marcelo continued support for his business launch, connecting him with opportunities to sell his products and represent his brand. Some of the administration are even fans of his products, and have helped spread the word about his growing business.
“I received great support from The Chang School,” says Marcelo.
“I believe The Chang School has great resources and is really committed to supporting its students.” Marcelo Reyes, Entrepreneur and Student at Ryerson University
From Experiential Learning to Entrepreneurship
Although the ELX master class lasted for a single session, the lessons Marcelo learned have only continued to further his career. After he completed the Social Media Marketing Today class, Marcelo got the chance to apply his in-class skills to his business, Bloom & Roots. After he established a strong social media following, Marcelo received a letter of acceptance to the SLC Christmas Market, where he could represent his business to the public and network with attendees.
“We set up every social media website for our brand after the class,” says Marcelo.
“I used the lessons I had learned from the Social Media master class, including tools to schedule social media posts, and since then we have been able to build a great little audience with whom to connect.”
Today, Marcelo has built up a strong community of people who are interested in his business. He is able to count The Chang School administration among his supporters, and is excited to see how his business will continue to grow. Marcelo attributes much of his entrepreneurial success to his participation in the extracurricular master class, and would highly recommend enrolling to gain extra career skills. For Marcelo, the Experiential Learning Exchange was the perfect blend of in-class and real life learning, and gave him an education that will help him establish his career.