Using Social Media for Student Learning

April 19, 2012

Being able to maximize college students’ use of social media toward learning is going to be a skill higher education professionals will need to master in order to effectively engage our students. Unfortunately, many university faculty and administrators see social media as a mere waste of time and antithetical to the goals and mission of higher education. On Friday, April 20, 2012 at 2:00pm (EST), I presented a webinar titled Using Social Media to Enhance Student Learning Outcomes as hosted by StudentAffairs.com.

The webinar covered strategies for using social media to develop student learning outcomes as well as how to formulate a plan to assess learning outcomes using such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. Here is a small sample of social media learning strategies that was covered during the webinar:

Blogging Learning Strategies:

  • Use WordPress as a platform to publish educational information
  • Mine blog comments as qualitative and quantitative data

Twitter Learning Strategies:

  • Utilize unique hashtags for specific classes and programs
  • Employ the “One Minute Paper”: Students will tweet the most important item learned and one remaining question they have
  • Teach “Back Channel” discussion so students can summarize lessons learned from the class or program

Facebook Learning Strategies:

  • “Piggyback” efforts using blogging, YouTube, and Twitter to post educational links and videos on your Facebook page
  • Use “Surveys” and “Likes” as a means to acquire data

This webinar, using CAS standards to develop learning outcomes, demonstrates how college and university student affairs administrators can harness the power of social media as a vehicle for developing, enhancing, and assessing student learning outcomes.

I encourage you and your department colleagues to attend this affordable webinar. Please click HERE to see more details and to register for the replay of this webinar. 


How Student Life Can Leverage Fiverr.com

April 17, 2012

 

Recently I was introduced to Fiverr.com by my assistant director who gave me a quick demonstration of this awesome little service. In a nutshell, Fiverr.com allows individuals from around the world to sell products and services for $5.00. In return, Fiverr.com keeps $1.00 for the transaction. For all intents and purposes, it’s kind of like a mini-version of Craigslist, but with an actual shopping cart and feedback interface.

Products and services can vary from singing telegrams and flyer designs to resume proof-reading and homemade crafts. We went ahead and made our own services available, which include providing team development activities and program lesson plans for only $5.00 (*see below*).

Sellers also offer “extras” on top of the initial $5.00 for extended services or enhancements to the product or service you are buying. For example, I ordered a professional flyer design for a program I am sponsoring. For an additional $10.00, the graphic artist created it in less than two days. It was well worth the extra money for me!

I thought that Fiverr.com would be a perfect platform that both students and student life administrators could mine for valuable services and to sell services themselves. Student organizations could easily use it as a means to fundraise. Administrators can purchase awesome yet inexpensive commercials and designs for department advertising, messages for staff recognition, and even small gifts that could be used as prizes for departmental initiatives and programs. The possibilities are truly endless!

Take a look at Fiverr.com, and leave us a comment as to how you have used the service or intend on using it in the future. 


Creating Effective Group Interview Activities

April 4, 2012

Nothing should be as crucial and important as selecting top-notch student staffers for the upcoming semester or even for various summer sessions. Colleges and universities employ various processes for screening and selecting staffers, which in many cases includes a group interview process. For those of you not familiar with this, a “group process” is a day when potential student candidates are invited to participate in various activities to assess their worthiness to move on through the job selection process. The length of the group process and the types of activities involved are institution-specific, and many of the activities are handed down from one “generation” of professional staffers to the next.

While a group interview process can be a very powerful assessment tool, I have observed many that were filled with “fluff” activities and ice-breakers that did not help in assessing whether or not a student will be a good fit for the open position(s). Having student candidates solve puzzles or perform the “human knot” to determine if they would be a good resident assistant or orientation leader is just as effective as having medical students sit down and play a card game to assess their level of concentration for surgery. The only benefit of these types of group interview activities are to screen out the “show-off’s” and those who hide in a corner.

Here are some strategies and suggestions for creating effective group process activities:

  • Create actual quizzes to determine their level of knowledge about campus information and resources necessary for the position. While most of this information is something that would naturally be covered in training, there is nothing wrong to determine the level of awareness a student has pertaining to job-related information. A 10 to 20 question quiz can be distributed to everyone during a group process. Scored quizzes can serve as a source of valuable information to see if they take the quiz seriously and write mindful guesses even if they do not know the exact answer (or to see if they attempt to cheat!) Additionally, quiz scores can be used as “tie-breakers” should the selection process get down to a few candidates left for one remaining position. (Question examples could include: 1. Where is the counseling center located on campus? 2. What is the phone number for campus police? 3. What are the dining hall hours?)    
  • Include activities that require them to create or demonstrate something job-related. I like to see job candidates actively show me effort and motivation. If they give a half-hearted effort during an interview process, they most likely are going to perform in a similar manner if they are hired; past behavior usually predicts future behavior. One example: Having them come prepared with a leadership portfolio to present to the group will allow you to see if they actually do the work ahead of time, the quality of the work, and if they present well to the group. The presentation is particularly important since you are hiring for positions that require high levels of interaction with people. A handful of candidates may simply self-select out because they do not want to put the time and effort into this project. An example for screening orientation leaders could be to break them up into smaller groups with a current employee and have them give impromptu campus tours. Each candidate could give a short five minute walking tour while the other candidates ask questions posing as new students. Each candidate would get the opportunity to serve in each role (i.e., tour guide and new student). Given that not every situation can be trained for, this allows you to see how they think on their feet, handle potentially difficult questions, and also to see if they are a good sport when given the opportunity to ask questions to a fellow candidate (i.e., Did they try to stump them out of malice and competition? Were they helpful despite not being the guide? Did they even ask questions? Did they take the activity seriously?)  

Keep in mind that a group interview should only be one part of the entire screening and selection process; the group process should be seen as one tool in your toolbox along with individual interviews and application materials.

Please leave suggestions of group interview activities that have and have not worked for you below in the comments section.


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