Rules of Engagement: Six Ways to Bring Your Classroom to Life

College students looking at a professor lecturing in a big lecture hall

“Welcome to Marketing 1100 – Introduction to Marketing” I strain to say over the sounds of Can’t Feel My Face by The Weeknd that I have playing before this class. I play music before each of my classes and take requests a week before classes so I can ensure that the lyrics are appropriate. The music stops and on cue I say, “Happy Monday (on this particular day).”

Start a Conversation

I immediately launch into current business events and allow 3-4 students to present current events they prepared for presentation. On this day we engage in lively debate over an upcoming Canadian election issue on the legalization of marijuana and the economic impacts of that decision. Someone else offers another headline on the latest developments on Volkswagen’s emissions violations. As I thank the class for their contributions, I always remind them how following current events demonstrate how fluid marketing and business issues are and how they extend beyond our country.

Set Expectations

Student engagement is the key element of all of my courses and without it I would have to find another way to teach as in 29 years I have never given a lecture. It starts with sharing with students my expectations that they attend each class having read the assigned readings whether they understand them or not. My role is to facilitate our discussion, using a PowerPoint presentation that will explain what they have read by asking for and providing current examples. I am always striving for international examples in India and China to relate to my International students. I taught for a short period of time at a university in China and that will certainly help me share stories on Chinese culture in an upcoming chapter on Consumer Behaviour.

Be Prepared

I have experienced this first hand so I can only offer anecdotal evidence. We use Moodle 2.7 as our learning management system [LMS] so I ensure that my Moodle page for Marketing 1100 is fully populated with all of the robust student resources for each chapter that accompany my Pearson Marketing textbook. This includes PowerPoint slides, Simulations, Flash cards, Videos and the WestJet mini-cases introduced from the flight deck by a friend of mine, Sherri Stringer who is a Captain with WestJet.

Add a new dimension – Gamify

I take many of these student resources from my Moodle page and attach a gamification badge to them that students can earn to win prizes ranging from dinners at a local chicken and rib restaurant, T-shirts from a local radio station and a gift card for school supplies from a Staples. Students can also redeem 12 badges they have earned for the opportunity to drop their lowest MyMarketingLab™ homework lab grade.

Keep ahead of the curve

I have been teaching for 29 years and pride myself in being ahead of the curve, whether it’s recording podcasts as an exam resource, using the flipped classroom model, teaching in a virtual classroom or having evening office hours by Skype. I try to make the learning experience just that – a positive experience.

Use Technology inside and outside the classroom

My students all have smartphones, is there a better way to engage them?
I have a Facebook page entitled, ‘Cambrian College Business Students Association’ that I post daily 3 topical business articles that students are asked to comment on. In addition I have a twice monthly column on CBC Radio – Canada’s private broadcaster entitled, ‘Business with Brian’. I cover a different topic during each column to a listening audience of 100,000 people. I am going to air tomorrow to discuss ‘franchising’. I am a regular contributor to newspaper and television providing commentary on local and national business issues. I am quite active on social media including Facebook, Twitter (I tweet @brianvendramin), use Instagram to highlight new products or campaigns, use a live-streaming app for guest speaker presentations and I have a website,


I also have a case study tracking the success I have had using MyMarketingLab. If you are interested in reading it, you can access it here.


I welcome your comments below, or if you prefer to contact me directly you can reach me at 705 566-8101 ext. 7559 or


About the Author
Brian Vendramin

Brian Vendramin

Brian Vendramin is a tenured professor at Cambrian College, teaching marketing from first year through to third year. He covers a wide range of subjects including: Introduction to Marketing, Professional Selling, and Marketing Management. He has distinguished himself by creating engagement and keeping an eye on the big picture because of his strategic marketing background. He is the guy that SME’s call to gain that competitive edge and to develop and execute a strategy effectively to deliver results. Whether it is sales training, customer service programs, or developing a promotional program, it all starts with a solid IMC plan – Integrated Marketing Communication plan and a budget.

He said about his life, “I am lucky enough to live and prosper in a community where I have been able to shape minds for 30 years. I really have the best gig ever.”