Twitter or Text for Recall
Tweets and texts are immediate and short. Your short messages to students will arrive almost immediately on their cell phones, wherever they are and whatever they are doing. This can provide instant feedback and reinforce what you want students to know before class.
-“Can you name all the bones in the foot NOW?”
-“List for a friend the instruments in a typical bebop quartet.”
-“How many of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence can you name? You need to be able to list at least 10 of the top of your head before coming to class.”
The point is that you are asking students what they recall, and not to search for the answer using their phone.
Send students a link in your Tweet to a 5 point quiz in your LMS or on a website), or on an index card as class starts.
Skype can also be used productively in class:
• Guest Speakers
The costs of a guest speaker have just been drastically reduced. If you want your students to get another perspective from someone who lives in another city or country, you don’t need your guest to travel. You can talk to an eye-witness of a recent world event or opposing sides of a conflict. Your class on the Holocaust can now talk first hand to a survivor, regardless of where your campus is. You can also ask Professor Smith, who teaches on the coast, if he will substitute for you when you are in the hospital or on a topic she knows better than you.
• Classes during Faculty Travel
Most universities are working on a contingency plan for H1N1 that involves faculty working from home, but the virtual seminar is also an option if you need to present a paper at a distant conference. You can bring your laptop and meet with your students during the regular class period. You can also leave a podcast for the week you are traveling.
• Visiting Faculty
The pool of adjunct or visiting faculty just became worldwide and cheap. If you need that one advanced course and Professor Jones is on sabbatical, you can still hire an expert from another university or city. The same applies for TAs. Some universities have already outsourced grading to India, but now live tutorials and office hours can also be hired globally.
• Team Teaching
If you teach in a small school or the colleague you have always wanted to collaborate with lives across the globe, you can now offer that seminar to your students with one or more virtual professors.
• Students Abroad or Summer School
One of the biggest issues in study abroad is the availability of classes in the major. Now your students can travel and still take that advanced engineering seminar on your campus that they need to graduate.
Suppose you want to teach a small graduate seminar, but you have only a few students at your home institution who are interested in the subject. Opening up your class to students in Finland and Japan both provides a critical mass to offer the course and adds a global perspective for discussion.
• Real-Time Simultaneous Chat
In a physical classroom you can only have a single conversation at once, or if you do buzz groups, you are limited to one group at a time. But in a virtual classroom, you can have dozens of conversations, even on different topics, going on at once and you can quickly scan the texts and jump among them.
• Global Discussion
Imagine teaching introduction to ethics in collaboration with professors In Denmark and Australia. Suppose the three professors taught each others’ classes once a month. Think about how it would change the discussion to have your students talking to the foreign students instead of their usual classmates. You could use live video conferences, but even just sharing some asynchronous chat or a discussion board, it is much easier than ever before to get a diverse mix of student to student discussion.
•Interactive Real-Time Virtual Tour
You have a former student who now works at the Large Hadron Collider or the Louvre. Perhaps they can give you a tour and take questions live from students.
•Virtual Study Groups
Most LMS have a groups function that allows the professor to create virtual groups with an email list and a shared discussion space, but you can also use any number of social networking sites. Facebook allows groups large and small and a group hashtag will allow group members to communicate on Twitter. In Ning, groups can form a homepage and everything works like Facebook, but in a closed environment. (Ning is, unfortunately, no longer free and now requires all users to be members.) Google+ has “circles” which make it easy to divide up students (or friends) into isolated or overlapping groups.
You can chat almost anywhere. Facebook, AIM, Google Talk, Skype and MSN Messenger all allow users to chat live. If you look at the bottom right hand corner of your own Facebook page, you can click to see which of your friends are currently online and able to chat with you. When all else fails, there is always the phone and the conference call.
When setting up a virtual study group, create a shared purpose. Issue a problem set to each group and require each member to solve one problem and share it with the group. Ask the group collectively to check each other’s work and then determine a shared grade for the group’s wall. In other words, grade for answers, but also for supportive collaboration (if that is a learning outcome). Universities have not been good at teaching collaboration, but it is highly valued in the workplace.
Another common real world assignment might be the production of a proposal for a new product or venture capital. Require students to work virtually and create shared documents (Google Docs, Tumblr or Dropbox are perfect for this) and other online tools. Take it one step further and partner with universities in other locations (or even internationally) so students get to work with students from diverse backgrounds whom they may never meet face to face.
How to Share your screen on Skype: https://support.skype.com/en-us/faq/FA10215/How-do-I-share-my-screen
What to do on Facebook
Here are some things you can do on Facebook:
• Create a Facebook Group for your class or a special project.
Students can join without becoming your friend. If you want the group to be an integral part of your class, you need to post there on a regular basis and encourage students to do the same.
• Extending the Classroom
Since most students will follow Facebook on their phones, this is a good way to get to your students where they are quickly.
• Online Discussion
You can use your class group to post announcements, links, photos, video or study questions, but it is most useful as an interactive tool that allows students to respond in a place (the group “wall”) where everyone can see both their question and answers from you or other students.
• Chat Office Hours
You can have an exclusive chat within a group on Facebook. Instead of having physical office hours, try virtual hours on Facebook.
• Take a Poll
While you can post a question as a “status” you can also post something on your group or personal wall as a question and add answer options. You can even set it up so anyone can add an answer option. You can allow any student to poll the class as well.
Having a group is a great opening for student questions. Any member of the group can post to the group wall and everyone can see it. You can also see which of your friends is online at any moment and ask to chat with other group members who are online too. This is a great way for students to connect to others in the class and form their own study groups.
• Your Wall
Be aware that students who are Facebook friends will post questions to your personal “wall” if you give them access. This is a great public forum since everyone can see your response, but I think this is best done on the class page or your professional page, and not on your personal wall.
• Facebook Events
You can create events open, by invitation or for a group on Facebook and this is the perfect way to organize a field trip.
More Things to do with Social Networks and Virtual Groups
- A learning community for your class
- A larger learning community: Your School Statistics Community
- Allow students to post notes or questions during class
- Encourage students to post answers during class (to each other)
- Let parents watch, learn or connect with students
- Smaller study groups
- Create a group project with a shared document (Google Docs, Tumblr or Dropbox)
Edmodo: Facebook combined with Blackboard, Free, mostly k-12 so far
Ning: a small monthly fee, but you can customize the social network you want
Twitter: use # (hashtag) or twibes, twittgroups or grouptweet to create groups
Most LMS’s also include communication tools and a discussion board for your class