This past July and August, CTCL offered for the first time our professional development courses for election officials in a convenient online classroom. To put the courses in the reach of everyone, we made them just $30.00.
Even though it was our first time delivering curricula online, our Summer School program was a big success, bringing together over 100 participants from California to Rhode Island and everywhere in between.
CTCL has been offering professional development courses since our founding in 2015, but before Summer School, they were only provided in person at election offices. While the personal touch can be great, these in-person courses bring travel and lodging expenses, and they require participants to take hours away from their normal work.
We’ve known that quick, affordable, online courses could help us bring our training to more people.
In late spring of this year, with the guidance and insight of our Advisory Committee, we prepared condensed, 90-minute versions of our most popular courses, selected a price, and started to promote them. We also created engaging, shareable videos and graphics to help spread the word through social media.
We offered the 4 courses on successive Wednesdays in July and August at 1:00 p.m. Central, hoping to involve participants from all time zones. For our video conferencing platform, we used Zoom, a straightforward program that allowed us to share slides, send polls, chat with participants, and produce video recordings for later reference.
Not knowing how much engagement we’d get, we initially decided that if 5-10 people would sign up for each of our 4 courses, we’d declare Summer School a success. But ultimately, we ended up with 10 times that number: our most popular course had 74 participants, and even our least-attended course brought in 47 people.
We were pretty excited.
Who were the participants? Our 102 students came from 34 county offices, 8 municipal offices, and 3 state offices that administer elections for, in total, over 17 million American voters.
Big election authorities like Dallas County, Texas (with 1.29 million registered voters) attended Summer School, as did small jurisdictions like the city of Houghton, Michigan (home to 3,056 registered voters).
Responses to the courses have been positive, with many participants sharing plans to immediately use what they learned.
“I loved the courses,” stated one participant, adding, “I am already applying tools I learned from Summer School.”
“I have never experienced such an interactive webinar,” another participant shared, explaining, “My coworker and I were so inspired, we have made a weekly game plan to address our Website to make it more assessable.”
With the positive experience of Summer School behind us, we’re already thinking about plans for future online courses. We hope to offer these same 4 courses again in the winter or spring of 2018, and in addition, we’re in the process of developing new curricula based on feedback that we’ve received.
Stay tuned for details as we prepare to expand our online course offerings. To share your ideas or requests for future courses, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.