Brock University’s new augmented reality (AR) marketing course has been internationally recognized.
The one-of-a-kind course offered by the Goodman School of Business recently placed first in the 2020 Innovation in Business Education Award competition by the MidAmerican Business Deans Association. The award recognizes creative and unique strategies and programs that advance the quality of higher education.
Assistant Professor of Marketing Joachim Scholz, who created and teaches Brock’s AR Marketing course, said the award reinforces the importance for business schools to design courses with industry and consumer demand in mind.
“The world of augmented reality is quickly advancing, and companies are starting to notice,” he said. “The Goodman School of Business is the first and only business school to offer an entire course dedicated to the strategic marketing opportunities of AR. Students who complete the course will have knowledge and experience driving creative and strategic ideation for a professionally implemented, real-world AR marketing campaign.”
In contrast to virtual reality technology, where everything a user sees is a virtual environment, AR augments a consumer’s physical environment with digital components. For example, consumers might use their phone to visualize how a sofa might look in their living room. The sofa is digital, but everything else is real.
In the AR Marketing course, students explore strategies and frameworks on how AR can be successfully used to build brands, create customer experiences, increase conversion in online and brick-and-mortar retail environments, and design advertising campaigns that maximize customer engagement and influence purchasing decisions.
The course adopts a virtual agency model to complement and deepen Brock University’s strong focus on experiential education.
A current trend in the marketing services industry, virtual agencies bring together several specialized agencies and external freelancers to collaborate with each other to fulfil a client project. It allows agencies to be nimble and avoid the large rosters of permanent staff that are usually found in full-service marketing agencies.
For the AR Marketing course, students take on the role of strategic planners and the creative team within a virtual agency, whereas the execution of students’ strategies is completed by a specialized AR development studio on a pro bono basis.
Working with industry professionals who execute the students’ strategies increases the realism of the course and its impact.
“When partnering with a brand client alone, the project unfortunately often ends with students pitching their ideas,” said Scholz. “The client might not have the skillsets or budgets needed for implementation, the student recommendations might not be developed enough for execution in live campaigns, or the implementation timeframe available within the course might be too short for the client.”
In addition to the implementation partner that executes student strategies, consultants from a professional creative agency help students to conceive campaigns for the client and a pitch consultant from a professional marketing agency helps students communicate their strategy proposals in the most effective way.
“It’s an updated version of experiential education,” said David DiPietro, Senior Experiential Education Co-ordinator, who worked with Scholz on the design of the AR Marketing course. “Students develop their strategic-thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills by taking on a variety of senior marketing agency roles and by consulting with industry experts to bring the AR Marketing project to life.”
Although the course was originally designed to be delivered in person, it was easily converted to an online format to comply with Brock University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“A virtual agency model is a great fit for online education,” said Scholz. “It’s a highly collaborative experience that provides students with superior value, especially when compared to other larger online courses. It adds realism to the course, which is especially important as marketing becomes more and more complex.”
Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes said winning first place in the Innovation in Business Education Award competition “is a testament to the high-quality education students are receiving from Goodman’s diverse and dedicated team of faculty and staff.”
This is not the first year the Goodman School of Business has placed in the Innovation in Business Education Award competition. Last year, Goodman’s Internet and Social Media Marketing course led by Professor Kai-Yu Wang was awarded third place.
“Being recognized for innovativeness in education two years in a row among some of world’s top business schools is tremendous sustained recognition for the Goodman School,” said Gaudes. “These award-winning courses provide students with added value by immersing them in innovative and transformational business processes, which empower them to make a positive impact in real-world applications.”