Edmonton Academy Proposal

Overview
Description of Organization
The Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled (EASLD) is a non-profit association that was founded in 1983 in response to the need expressed by parents of children with learning disabilities, and was granted status as an Alberta Education Designated Special Education Private School in 1998. The school accepts students from grade four to twelve that have been previously diagnosed with learning disabilities and teaches these students strategies that unlock their learning potential and ensure success.

The Edmonton Academy aims to provide students with the skills they need to return to a conventional school setting or post-secondary within two to three years’ time. Teachers are selected on the basis of special training and professional competence and continually work to expand their knowledge and skill set to provide the best possible assistance to the students. The school has a student to teacher ratio as low as 6:1 to ensure each student’s individual needs are being met. The school believes that each student deserves the chance to fulfill his or her academic potential and to feel confident in doing so. Teachers provide a positive learning environment through patience, understanding, and enthusiasm. Teachers provide a carefully structured learning environment by being firm, consistent, and straightforward, so that students understand what is expected of them. Students receive feedback so that both they and their teachers can work together to find learning strategies that allow for better understanding of academic material. Parental involvement is welcomed, encouraged, and expected. This unique structure allows the teachers to respond directly and effectively to each student’s needs. Learning disabilities are often referred to as “invisible handicaps,” meaning children with learning disabilities are often overlooked or dismissed. The Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled plays a significant role in helping these children achieve their realized potential.

Key Messages
• The Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled is a school for students diagnosed with learning disabilities.
• The school aims to provide students with skills and strategies they can use when they return to a conventional school setting or post-secondary institution.
• The school helps students realize their potential.
• The students are between grades four and twelve.
• The student teacher ratio is as low as 6:1 and as high as 12:1.
• The students are of average or above average intellect. They simply require different learning strategies

• Teachers are selected on the basis of special training and professional competence and continually work to expand their knowledge and skill set to provide the best possible assistance to their students.

Objectives
The primary purpose of this campaign is to develop marketing strategies for the Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled. Despite being thirty-one years in operation, the Edmonton Academy is not well-known. Its primary recruitment strategy is through word-of-mouth. The objective of this campaign is to raise awareness about the organization through social media and a print brochure that will bring people back to the refreshed website, where clear, accessible content regarding the Edmonton Academy already exists. By raising awareness about the school, their goals, and their years of dedication and success, we hope to increase enrollment numbers.

Scope & Deliverables
This campaign will focus on refreshing the EASLD website through restructuring to make it more user-friendly. This campaign will also include the creation of a Facebook page for the organization and a print brochure that will advertise the service provided by the school. The main goal with the brochure is to refer people back to the website where they can find out more information and contact the school if they are interested in the service. We would like to look at the creation of some print ads for distribution in the daily newspaper, however, this is not currently within the scope of the campaign. If the campaign progresses ahead of schedule, we may look at doing this later after discussing it with the client.

Situational Analysis
The current campaign being used by the Edmonton Academy utilizes a mix of print media, radio ads and a website that allows access to important information about the school. As a collective whole, the media channels currently used by the academy have brought more attention to the school and the opportunities it provides for its students. Based on the overall analysis of these channels, the website would be considered the most active platform due to easy accessibility for parents and students.

The website is an excellent source of information and provides an opportunity for interested parents and students to look at what the academy can provide for them. While the information is easy to locate and explains important facts, the overall design can be altered and expanded to make it easier to access and more appealing to those who are looking. There are also some features on the website that could be expanded upon to create a more interactive atmosphere on the site (calendar, admissions, and links.)
Print media was another major channel of communication used by the academy. While pamphlets about EASLD can be distributed to a larger audience, there were some potential concerns brought up in the meeting. The mailing list is still growing, but there are key details that can make the process less cost effective and harder to access for individuals who are not on the academy’s mailing list.

Radio was the third channel that was discussed and analyzed. The benefit to using multimedia ads in radio is that there is potential for a larger audience. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case if an individual changes the station during the ad or if the ad is played during a time slot that isn’t popular (such as 7AM for early commuters heading to work and school).

Audience Analysis

The three segments of the Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled’s audience are parents, medical practitioners/psychologists, and teachers.
Parents: Aims, Needs, and Requirements
The aims of a parent of a child with learning disabilities are to give their child the tools to learn and understand. Parents want their children to be independent. They want to help their children and work with them through their frustrations. The Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled provides that self-sufficiency. The two-to-three-year schooling they offer is geared toward providing your child with the tools necessary not only to grasp academic concepts but also to cope with the social anxieties or challenges they face as a student with learning disabilities. This concept of self-sufficiency through learning is applicable to all areas of life. The EASLD wants to foster independence in your child, as you do. Many schools aren’t equipped to deal with certain kinds or degrees of learning disabilities and can’t provide the requisite attention a student with learning disabilities may need. EASLD shares the same aims as the parents of students with learning disabilities in that both parents and the school aim to instill self-sufficiency and independence in the student, build confidence, and create an accepting, caring environment in which the student can thrive.

A parent of a student with learning disabilities needs their child to receive a personalized education where their child is able to have their learning disabilities properly addressed. Parents need a school that can adapt to a variety of learning disabilities and is willing to adapt teaching methods accordingly. Parents need convenience. If possible, most parents would rather not be forced to send their child out of the province or country in order for their child’s learning needs to be met. Parents want to be involved in their child’s learning process and support their child. Parents require trust before they enroll their students in a particular school. Students with learning disabilities
require qualities like patience and empathy, but they also require discipline and structure. These qualities are requirements for parents with students with learning disabilities.

Mediums for Parents
Social media is an effective marketing tool, particularly because social media has the ability to reach a large audience. Facebook is effective for showcasing events. Some parents of students attending EASLD are currently on the Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled Parent Council, which conducts fundraising. Through Facebook, they can advertise these events to the community where there is a great opportunity for parents of students with learning disabilities to attend events and learn more about EASLD. Print brochures will reach those parents that don’t use social media and the refreshed website will also allow news of events to reach this audience.

Features for Accommodation
This campaign will include common features of clarity, accessibility, and innovation across all three of our focuses. This campaign seeks to eliminate frustration and confusion by not wasting words, using powerful, clear, language and sleek, modern graphics. This campaign will strive to make obtaining information regarding enrollment, staff, tuition and other fees, as clear and accessible as possible for parents. We understand that a learning disability is often frustrating for all those affected by it and that the search for an education that acknowledges the learning disability and adapts to the social and academic needs of the student with the learning disability can be frustrating as well. A clear, professional website, Facebook page, and brochure can be a significant defining factor in whether or not a parent enrolls their child in a particular school. This campaign seeks to provide that ease and accessibility to important information when a parent needs it most.

Medical Practitioners/Psychologists: Needs, Aims, and Requirements
Medical practitioners/psychologists aim to provide an accurate, thorough diagnosis and to increase their client base. In this instance, word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. If even one or two parents of students with learning disabilities attending EASLD refer a particular psychologist to another parent, people will form positive associations with that particular psychologist and the school itself. We understand EASLD is not affiliated with certain psychologists, however, psychologists, parents, and staff at EASLD all have to work together to ensure both the enrollment and the learning process runs smoothly, and when people have positive experiences with the psychologists referred by EASLD, then positive associations will be made, which is beneficial for both the psychologist and the school as well as the parents and their children. To a degree, parents, teachers, and medical practitioners/psychologists are dependent on each other’s cooperation.

Medical practitioners/psychologists need parents to have an idea of what areas their child is having learning difficulties in, if their children are visual learners, auditory learners, etc. Being aware of their child’s difficulties and struggles and supplying this information to a medical practitioner or psychologist is something a parent can do to help the medical practitioner/psychologist to give the child an accurate diagnosis. Medical practitioners/psychologists need parents and teachers to be educated about learning disabilities so they can better do their job. Medical practitioners/psychologists require that parents have all necessary documents.

Mediums for Medical Practitioners/Psychologists
Social media will be one of the strongest mediums in terms of reaching medical practitioners/psychologists. Social media will help to make medical practitioners/psychologists aware of the schools existence. When medical practitioners/psychologists see parents communicating about the school via Facebook and see that medical practitioners/psychologists are needed as part of the enrollment process, they might offer their services and become active in the discussion. It’s an opportunity to drum up free advertising for themselves via word-of-mouth and social media, increase their client based, and analyze and diagnosis different types of learning disabilities and become part of the solution.

Teachers: Aims, Needs, & Requirements
The staff at EASLD aims to provide a personalized teaching approach for students with learning disabilities. They aim to adapt to different learning styles. This is demonstrated by the conferences and workshops teachers at EASLD are encouraged to attend in order to strengthen their skills and knowledge. In turn, those teachers disseminate this knowledge to other Edmonton Academy staff via workshops and inservices. EASLD aims to stay current, give their students the tools to learn in the ways that work for them, and instill independence and discipline. Possessing self-discipline is significant when coping with a learning disability. When one learning technique doesn’t work, both the student and the teacher have to push through to find another. Self-discipline is key to learning and if ingrained, is valuable in all facets of life.

EASLD places emphasis on being firm and consistent. Consistency is important in the learning process so that students understand that a particular set of expectation have been set and that they must strive to meet those expectations. The school aims to provide breaks from the classroom through physical education. The teachers at EASLD want your child to receive a quality education and that means learning gradually, exploring different skills through physical activity, and understanding the link between mind, body, and learning. Teachers and staff at EASLD need the cooperation and involvement of parents and medical practitioners. They require the appropriate documents from parents and they require that all instructions have been followed and rules adhered to by both parents and medical practitioners.

Competitive Analysis
The three competitors of organizations similar to the Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled are the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta, York Elementary School in Edmonton, and Foothills Academy in Calgary.

Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta
The Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta is a registered charity and non-profit organization composed of parents and professionals. The organization provides programs for children, adults, and parents with or affected by learning disabilities. The organization focuses its efforts on province-wide initiatives that represent the learning disabilities community. The website for the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta is excellent. They have an RSS feed, a Facebook page, and a Twitter page. Their Facebook page has a “Join the Discussion” section, encouraging people to share their thoughts on how government, businesses, and communities can better support people with learning disabilities. The Facebook page for this organization receives lots of comments and posts containing links to relevant articles. The Facebook page also showcases individuals who have campaigned for the rights of individuals with learning disabilities and taken cases to court. The Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta has developed videos to be used in classroom settings to educate teachers and students about learning disabilities. The website does use some flowery language but this seems to be the only weakness. The organization also has programs where students with learning disabilities are taught learning strategies.

Our team did look at the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta’s Edmonton branch and they don’t have as effective a website. They also don’t have a Twitter page but they do have a Facebook page with 126 likes, although the likes are mostly from their affiliate organizations in Alberta. The Edmonton branch of the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta does advertise fundraisers on their Facebook and they do post frequently.

York Elementary School
York Elementary School is located in Edmonton and part of the Edmonton Public School System. The school is for students from kindergarten to grade six. Although the school is not specifically for students with learning disabilities it does pride itself on adapting teaching strategies to each student’s learning styles. The school has no Facebook or Twitter page but the Edmonton Public School System has both. The website lists upcoming events, however, it also uses quite a bit of flowery and ambiguous language. The website advertises the fact that the school uses Google Docs so students can share their homework with teachers, and that this way, students won’t have to worry about forgetting their homework.

Foothills Academy
Foothills Academy was the first school for learning disabilities in Alberta. It is a non-profit school for elementary, junior high and high school students with learning disabilities and is located in Calgary, Alberta. The website for Foothills Academy is clean, sleek, and provides extensive information on the schools programs and policies. The tackle issues of self-esteem and bullying. The school implemented the Google Apps for Education Suite for all students and staff so that students and teachers can collaborate and engage in discussion. Foothills Academy does fundraising and they conduct workshops for students with learning disabilities. The school places emphasis on preparing its students for post-secondary education. The school has a Facebook page with 251 likes and they post regularly. They also have a Twitter page with 308 followers and the school frequently tweets. On the Twitter page there are lots of discussions about learning disabilities as well as photos of Foothills Academy students participating in school activities. The Foothills Academy website has a link to where teacher have created blogs for their students. One blog shared photos and stories of a field trip, while another teacher created a blog for her grade-three-to-five computer class and is introducing them to blogging as a platform for their work. All these blogs showcase students’ work and are a great way for parents to share in their child’s learning progress.

Final Thoughts
In analyzing the competitors of organizations similar to the Edmonton Academy for the Learning Disabled, we came upon a common theme of language that was flowery and ambiguous. EASLD doesn’t seem to have this problem. The content on the school’s website is informative, clear, and accessible. We want to carry this kind of language into the other two elements of print and social media that we will be working on. We have learned that EASLD’s emphasis on a patient, nurturing, but also disciplinary staff is to its advantage. Also, the emphasis EASLD places on giving its students the tools and skills they will need in future academic endeavours is very significant as we believe all students want to be in control, self-sufficient, and confident in their academic abilities. Parents want their children to be independent, healthy, and accepted. Not all educational institutions are concerned with teaching in ways that allow students to absorb the information and strengthen and expand the ways in which they learn best. EASLD places due emphasis on this significant aspect of their teaching strategies and we feel this is something that is important to all people with or affected by learning disabilities.
Communication Channels

After careful consideration, the project team has decided that the EASLD website, a Facebook page and an online pamphlet/information package will be the channels used in the campaign. The team’s primary goal for the website is to present the current information in a more esthetically pleasing design. This will include a change in the drop menu, incorporating a link to the new Facebook page and more. Another possible detail that can be expanded upon is making a visible calendar that doesn’t have to be downloaded to be viewed by individuals looking through the website. The focus for this redesign is to bring more traffic to the website to raise awareness about the school.

Another key communication channel that the team discussed was creating a Facebook page for the school. Over the last few years, the numbers of personal profiles has increased on the media website that allows for networking and interaction between users around the world. As a result of this connectivity, Facebook has also made it easier for organizations and companies to promote their work on the site. Our team is looking to utilize the various tools provided by the social media site to increase awareness of the academy. This can be done through photos, web links, audio or video clips, and more. Parents and students can “like” EASLD’s Facebook page for others to see the academy’s profile while requesting others to like it.

The last major communication channel that the project team has decided to use is a combination of a more traditional communication channel and the website. While the academy already explained the use of pamphlets and a mailing list, the team decided to make this more accessible to everyone. The goal is to create a new pamphlet that can be accessed online by anyone, thus removing the demand for expanding that mailing list. The purpose of the pamphlet it to mirror that of a “press kit” or “information kit” that other major organizations have used when people are inquiring about them. The information kit for the academy would have the ability to grow by including a monthly newsletter or any other documents the academy would like to share. As a whole, all of these communications channels are easily linked to one another and allow for a blend between traditional and non-traditional media.

Schedule
The project team will notify the client of any changes made to the schedule.
•Week of February 3: Meet with client to discuss the proposal (tentative)
•Week of February 10: Social media strategy and brochure submitted to client for feedback
•Week of February 17: Meet with client (tentative)
•March 2-11: Kaitlyn will be out of the country (will make arrangements for her absence)
•March 5: Meet with client to go over progress and any other items to be completed (tentative)
•March 11: Final multimedia productions submitted to client
•March 13: Final multimedia productions submitted to MacEwan.

Budget
The following budget has been put together according to industry standards and the time frame of five weeks. Our group estimates the total billable hours of the multimedia project to be 125 hours at 25 hours per person. Costs have been lowered by assigning costs slightly lower than the industry standard to accommodate for the fact that the members of project team are still completing their Bachelor of Communication Studies degree.
•Creation of Facebook page (not including design, content, customer relationships, etc.): $400
•Social media strategy (set up of page, guidelines around posting and engaging with users, pre-written posts, etc.): $4,000
•Brochure (not including the cost of printing and distribution): $350
•Website: $4,000

Testing & Analysis
The success of this project will be measured based on the mediums used. To measure the success of the webpage upgrade and changes we will be using Google Analytics. This tool will enable us to find out information about Edmonton Academy’s audiences using the website. We will track visitor activity on the website as well as where they are coming from. We can measure the effectiveness of the layout of the page and the visibility and ease of use based on where visitors are clicking. Another way to measure the effectiveness is to see if the traffic on the webpage increased based off an increase in print and radio ads. Effective print and radio ads will draw people to the website to seek more information. This will see an increase in traffic on the website and we will be able to measure the success of the print and radio campaigns. Overall the best way to measure the effectiveness is to monitor the website and changes in traffic it sees over the course of the campaign. It is also possible to run a poll on the website asking what brought the visitor to the website (brochure, radio etc.) to get a more specific view of the effectiveness of the print and radio advertising. The success of the Facebook page can be measured by the amount of likes and interaction it sees. Facebook is interactive so a successful page can be measured by the amount of comments and interaction on the page.

If the webpage does not go live it will have to be measured through focus groups. It would be best to compile small groups of individuals to discuss the ease and accessibility of the website. The groups can be made up of people new to the program
and we can discuss their ability to use the website to fulfill their needs and offer them the information they are looking for. It would also be best to include members of the faculty to see if the website aligns with their goals and vision. It is important to measure both visitor’s needs and management goals and expectations, so therefore focus groups should include people from both of the groups.

Editorial & Maintenance Plan
Mediums that might be included at a later date in the campaign are print ads for distribution in the daily newspaper. Facebook needs to be maintained and updated over time. The project team would supply maintenance information for the social media site to the overseer of social media for the Edmonton Academy. Because we’re doing a sleek, clean, modern look for the website, it should withstand the test of time. The website is a primary hub for solid information while Facebook is where the interactivity happens.

About Us
Kaitlyn Wilson is the project manager on this campaign. She will be the major liaison between the project team and the Edmonton Academy and will be developing the project materials with her team. As a third year communications student, she is a strong writer and communicator. She has worked in the project management office of a financial institution for over two years.

Elizabeth Lienau is the editor of this campaign. She will be working on print materials with the group as well as collaborating with group members on the creation of a social media site for Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled. She is a third year Communications student with strong verbal and written communication skills.

Christina Zoernig is one of the social and multimedia analysts of this campaign. Her focus will be on the multimedia platforms being used in the campaign for the Edmonton Academy Society for the Learning Disabled and social media channels. As a fourth year communications student, Christina has a strong background in journalism, writing, social media and verbal communication. She has completed projects for the St. Albert Gazette, the Edmonton Journal, CBC Radio and StrokeLink.

Jen Henderson is one of the social and multimedia analysts of this campaign. She is a third year communications student with previous education in Nutrition and Food Science. She has strong research, writing, and social media communication skills. She has previously worked with small businesses to create social media and marketing platforms.

Next Steps
The project team’s next step will be to meet to discuss the multimedia production phase. From there the project team will arrange a meeting with the client to go over the proposal and integrate any changes before the multimedia production phase begins. As outlined in the schedule, a tentative meeting between the client and the project team may take place the first week of February. Before moving on to the multimedia production phase, the project team does require the Edmonton Academy’s logo and school colours to ensure that the colours on the brochure are consistent with the colours used in other multimedia. After meeting with the client to discuss any ideas or changes, the project team will begin the multimedia production phase.

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