As a business professor, I am interested in how today’s college student learns. What I’ve found is that regardless of the type of student (adult, traditional undergrad, graduate, MBA etc.), it is helpful to create communication channels outside of the confinements of the Online or traditional classroom. Below are four ways to engage students through social media.
1. Start a Google Hangout
Google Hangouts permit Google+ users to meet via video chat. Up to 10 people can chat at any one time allowing for a decent number of participants to pop in and out of a given session. The hangouts are useful for quick meetings outside of class to discuss assignments or to clarify information. You can share your desktop for a demonstration or connect to YouTube to show a relevant video. Although there are some small annoyances such as the sometimes frozen screen or loss of video connection (due to the quality of each user’s Internet service), it is well worth trying. Knowing Google, it will only get better over time. Here is a quick overview:
2. Ask Questions on Your Facebook Fan Page
If you have a Facebook fan page or class page, ask questions of your fans/students. This is a good way to get feedback or to confirm understanding of a concept. You can also gain the perceptions of students on a particular topic. For example, I asked many of my colleagues/students who follow the Dr. Craig Winstead fan page their thoughts on time management. See the summary of the 27 responses (including my own) below:
3. Create a Class Pinterest Board
As the popularity of Pinterest (the Online pin board service) continues to grow, users are finding unique ways to take advantage of its addictive power (if you haven’t tried it, you will soon know what I mean). Students can use it to start a class board to collect images related to a project or to share resources such as websites, infographics, or useful books. Here are a few infographics that I’ve collected as an example.
4. Follow a Class Hashtag on Twitter
The official definition states: “The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.” Twitter users follow tweets (messages) with hashtags that interest them such as #sports or #socialmediabuzz. Students can create their own hashtags such as #MGT495 or #thepelicanproject to designate a category relevant to a particular class. This not only may generate discussion among class members, but also may elicit the views or responses from their friends who see their tweets. In turn, this might lead to more interest in a particular class or a particular college/university on the part of students.
Note: As a word of caution, none of these platforms is robust enough to hold an actual class online. I am suggesting them merely as alternatives to in-class discussion or information sharing. However, this should not detract from the quality of conversation or presentation.