How to Improve Learner Experience with Mobile Messaging

The following is a guest post written by Anastasia Sviridenko, content marketing manager at TextMagicIf you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

Mastering virtual communication is really essential to running a successful online course. Did you know that one of the biggest challenges to online courses is student engagement? Without the pressure of face-to-face teacher and classmate competition, many students lack follow-through. Mobile messaging through apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, and SMS messaging can create those important connections and ensure a better learner experience.

Mobile messaging has a lot of benefits as a communication tool between teacher and student, and even among students. First, more and more people are comfortable using messaging platforms. Though some may think that mobile messaging is only for millennials, a study by AARP showed that 88 percent of adults aged 50+ use their mobile for IMS. And with a variety of apps to choose from, you can choose the one that is most popular among your virtual students.

While younger people are abandoning email and voice calls, the trend towards texting has been gaining ground with all demographics. That means that using mobile messaging will allow you to reach the largest number of your students effectively.

Also, it’s convenient. Many online course students are currently employed or have other commitments that keep them busy. By allowing mobile communication, students don’t have to wait until they’re at their desktop to send a question.

They might even forget the question by then anyway! Instead, as they’re messaging colleagues on WhatsApp or responding to a message on Facebook Messenger, they can shoot off a question to you as they come up, increasing engagement and facilitating learning.

It also allows the teacher to answer faster, giving the student a timely response that they might need in order to finish an assignment.

Here are some benefits of mobile messaging for both online teachers and students.

Allows Students Easy Access to Teachers

Students may struggle with a number of challenges in an online course. As mentioned above, engagement is a big issue. By allowing students easy access to the teacher through mobile messaging platforms that they already use, it enhances engagement and stimulates more active participation. It also gives teachers a convenient platform to offer explanations and encouragement.

Great for Communicating Reminders and Changes

If there are any last-minute changes in course material, deadlines or online sessions, mobile messaging is a great way to let people know. Text is particularly effective since it’s immediate and has nearly 100 percent open rates. That means if you send out a text, you’re nearly guaranteed that your students will read the message. It also doesn’t depend on an internet connection for student to be able to receive it.

For that reason, it’s also good to remind students of upcoming exams and assignments. Everyone gets busy and it can be hard to stay on top of schedules and deadlines while juggling other life events. A little reminder can help students be prepared and make it easier for them to succeed in your course.

Group Discussions Help Build Community

Students taking online courses may miss the community that comes with on-site courses. Apps like WhatsApp and Slack can help create that necessary community. Groups have so many benefits:

  • They stimulate discussion, giving students a wider range of information on the subject they’re studying
  • They help students answer each other’s questions, relieving the pressure on the teacher as the only point of reference
  • They allow students to increase their network, a valuable benefit to students
  • They allow the teacher to observe what areas are most challenging and which themes are most interesting to students, helping with the planning of future courses

Collect Feedback Through Mobile Polls

Mobile messaging isn’t just a great tool to use during a course. It can also be of use after a course is already finished. Why not send out a quick poll to students after the course is over? It’s easy and convenient to respond to a mobile poll message while on the go, so students will be more likely to respond.

Keep the poll simple, with just a few key questions to increase participation. Finishing the course experience with a feedback poll is very important for many reasons.

It allows you to see what areas you did well in and what areas need improvement. This will help you organize your next course to better meet expectations.

It gives students a place to voice criticisms in a productive way. If you get negative feedback, address it proactively by responding to the student individually, offering to remedy any complaints they had. It could have been a misunderstanding or miscommunication that caused the trouble. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a negative experience and turn it into something positive, improving a student’s overall experience with your course.

Let Them Know About Related Courses

Many students will appreciate learning about similar related courses that would help them hone a skill they’ve been developing. Continuing your relationship with the student by letting them know about upcoming courses through a mobile message can strengthen their relationship to your course and enhance their overall learning satisfaction.

Online educators can use mobile messaging to improve the overall learning experience. By giving students a convenient platform where they can communicate with the teacher and other learners, you enhance community and open the doors for greater exchange.

 

Author’s Bio: 

Anastasia Sviridenko is a content marketing manager at TextMagic. She’s always on the lookout for new ways to create exciting content. When she’s not working, you can find her at home curling up with a book.

 

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Should We Incorporate Social Media Into Online Education?

The following is a guest post written by Emily Johnson, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

Let’s be honest: online teaching and learning is not easy. Both instructors as well as students need to deal with a number of problems that arise from the limitations of virtual education. Thus, online instruction requires novel, creative methods, which would help students acquire new knowledge and make them feel less isolated.

Does social media have the power to improve virtual education? Can it solve most of the problems both online educators as well as online students strive to overcome each and every day? Would incorporating it into virtual teaching and learning make a difference? Keep on reading to find out.

The Challenges of Online Education and How Social Media Can Help To Overcome Them

Whether you’re a teacher who considers conducting online courses or a student who got enchanted by an idea of getting a degree online and wants to try, chances are that you think there’s nothing complicated about it:

  • As an online tutor, all you’ll have to do is to prepare materials, upload them on a site, and then, check the progress of your students and provide them with feedback.
  • As an online student, all you’ll have to do is download materials from a website, study them at home, and then, do the homework and upload it on a site.

That’s it, right? Unfortunately, in practice, it’s more complicated than that. Each step of the way only seems to be easy. In reality, problems arise. Problems, which can be hard to deal with and solve.

#1 Computer literacy.

Attending and creating an online course requires a person to develop new computer skills, and while professors may already have the knowledge on how to navigate the necessary systems and programs, many students don’t. Research shows that computer literacy of university graduates is low. Thus, we can assume that computer literacy of students who just begin their studies or are in the middle of them isn’t any better.

Now, to be able to fully participate in an online course, students need to learn to use LMS (i.e. Learning Management System), be able to operate such programs as MS Word or PowerPoint, and fix computer problems if they occur. Without any technological knowledge and skills, it can be a challenge too hard to deal with.

Also, although “Help Pages” and detailed FAQ sections may be of some help, finding the necessary information and following instruction can be time-consuming, problematic, and frustrating. Thus, here’s another idea:

To allow students to contact and chat with a computer expert via a social media platform. It’s fast and easy. Moreover, this way, students can quickly improve their computer skills and feel more supported in their studies.

#2 Communication problems and the lack of human contact.

Conducting as well as participating in an online course often results in communication problems and limits for both professors as well as students. Thus, exchanging thoughts, sharing ideas, asking questions, clarifying various issues, explaining the course material, or simply talking, may take some time and be difficult (especially if it can only happen in the LMS or via email). What’s more, distance learning means learning away from a campus and student dormitories, which can affect a person’s sense of belonging to a community of students and so, make them feel isolated.

Can we improve communication between online tutors and students, and help students make friendships, share their thoughts, and interact with their peers? Yes, we can. Social media is the answer.

By promoting the use of social media and creating special groups for students on such platforms as Facebook, we can help teachers contact their students (and vice versa) quickly from any device, and we provide students with a perfect place to talk to their peers, discuss problems, share various ideas or reviews, and form a community. In fact, in a recent study, 75% of students say they feel comfortable using social networking to discuss course work with other students and 58% use it to communicate with their classmates.

Now, since students find social media platforms useful for educational purposes as well as forming friendships, incorporating social media into online education can both improve communication between students and teachers, and make students feel less lonely.

#3 Boredom, self-motivation and time-management.

Although online courses work for a number of students, many fail an online class, especially at community colleges. Why? Well, in a study conducted in 2011, students provided a number of reasons why you may fail an online course, and so, drop out of college. Here are the causes:

  • Motivation (35%).
  • Study habits (17%).
  • Academic preparedness (12%).
  • External factors (11%).
  • Attitudes (11%).
  • Instruction (10%).
  • Relevancy issues (4%).

What also has a negative impact on online students is the fact that e-learning may sometimes feel like e-reading. Thus, online courses lack variety and can be simply boring. After all, not everyone find reading textbooks and other materials as the best way to learn. Some students acquire new knowledge by listening to lectures. Others prefer doing things in practice. There are also those who learn best by watching videos. So, variety in virtual education is a must to keep students engaged.

Now, since online students are not self-motivated to learn, find it hard to create and stick to their own learning schedules, and often get bored, is there anything we can do to help them? As a matter of fact, yes, there is. Social media gives us a possibility to solve a number of problems that online students face.

Here are several creative ideas on how educators can use social media platforms to support their students:

  • Create and post inspirational and motivational quotes on Facebook, and thus, help your students achieve their goals.
  • Send reminders about assignments and upcoming deadlines via online platforms.
  • Make competitions and contests (thus, you can encourage creative writing, help students improve their skills in a number of areas, and entertain them).
  • Instead of uploading another longish lecture on a website for your students to read, make a video lesson on YouTube.
  • Ask intriguing questions in posts and so, start an online discussion (let your students engage in a conversation with you as well as their peers).
  • Encourage your students to make posts or tweets on a given topic for extra credit.

As you can see, social media gives a number of possibilities to help students succeed in an online class.

Final Thoughts

There are many reasons why we should incorporate social media into online education. First of all, students are familiar with it, so they will have no problems with accessing materials on social media platforms or contacting their teachers. Also, social media platforms can help students to form and maintain interactions with others. Moreover, it allows online students to ask more questions and get answers fast.

For online teachers, social media gives a lot of new opportunities as well. Teachers can easily contact their students, have more possibilities to help them acquire new knowledge as well as engage them. Also, it’s much faster, easier, and convenient to give students feedback via a social media platform than an online system.

Thus, by incorporating social media into virtual education we’ve nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

Author’s Bio: Emily Johnson is a college graduate who spends her free time writing thought-provoking blog posts about education, college life, blogging, and writing. Her articles that give career advice help and inspire people all over the Web. To find out more about Emily, check out her Twitter.

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

5 Smart Ways to Use the Internet in the Classroom

The following is a guest post written by Lori Wade, freelance blogger and content writer. If you would like to submit a guest post, please contact us.

Let’s be frank here — the academe has always been a little behind when it comes to practically everything remotely related to innovation. Well, if we are completely honest, ‘a little’ is an understatement here. No doubt it is often the problem with the municipal budget that some schools have terribly outdated computers, but the really troubling issue is that a lot of teachers still refuse to embrace technology and make it a part of the education process.

To put it simply, every teacher these days has to understand that the millennial generation is gradually becoming the major workforce in the job market, and the millennials that are drawing closer to their college graduation are not overly anxious about the old ways. The same is even more true for the new generation of school students, who are now being tagged as digital natives.

In other words, whichever age group you are working with, it is your primary goal as a teacher to make the environment student-friendly. The good news is that you can easily achieve this effect even on a small school budget. The Internet, in particular, can be a handy and affordable learning tool in every classroom. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the internet in your lessons:

#1 Take advantage of video lessons

Videos offer a great way to make education fun, no matter which subjects you are dealing with. Plus, the days when you had to book a separate room for any video class are long gone — you can now use software to project films from your phone/tablet directly to the classroom screen.

Another huge perk is that you can easily find plenty of free, educational channels on YouTube. Simply subscribing to a couple of video blogs in your subject area might save you a lot of trouble when preparing for the next lesson — after all, most of these videos are short, funny and visual. This is simply a win-win situation both for the students and the teachers! (If you are a student and accidentally came across this article, this is the part when you start thinking of sharing it with your teacher. No, seriously — just make sure to pick the most liberal professor).

#2 Invite remote speakers

Another great idea that will give any lesson a refreshing vibe is to invite remote speakers. Once again, this solution is suitable for all age groups and subjects, but, of course, you will have to choose your guests accordingly. For the youngest ones, for example, it can be a remote type of ‘who I want to be when I grow up’ lesson, where representatives of different professions attend virtually instead of coming in person to the classroom personally. For older students, you can invite subject matter experts — here, the engagement will mostly depend on your own connections.

Plus, the number of apps to choose from is enormous. From Skype and FaceTime to Viber and WhatsApp, these apps come with no fees or complications — a stable Internet connection and a screen are all you need.

#3 Create collaboration groups

Some projects are all about collaboration. All of the messaging apps mentioned above allow users to create groups where members can discuss project-related topics. Another example of a similar app is Slack, which is widely used in a variety of companies that work in teams.

Creating dedicated chat/discussion groups can be very useful for many subjects, allowing the whole team to works towards a common goal. Whether it is a lab report or a training marketing project, the use of Internet and technology in this example teaches students to collaborate, brainstorm, and contribute their share of effort towards the end result. Another great perk is that these forums prepare students for the real-time work environment, stressing the value of teamwork, and potentially reducing the learning curve in the workplace.

#4 Share public files and documents

Speaking of working together, Google suite has made it simpler than ever. Google allows creating shared access to text documents, spreadsheets, and even entire folders. Apple docs also features the same functionality, but the Apple product has its limits since it is very unlikely that all of your students will be Apple/Mac users. Google, on the other hand, hosts its programs on a cloud, using a web browser to access all of the files; so, user operational system makes no difference here.

There are dozens of ways to use Google Docs to increase productivity. The simplest one is to share all of the new assignments in class. Shared files will also become a perfect addition to shared study boards — instead of simply discussing one project or another online, students can actually work together on documents, presentations, graphs, reports, etc. They can even improve their college essay writing by having access to other papers from their class.

Plus, Google docs features the ability to add comments to a document, so it is possible to choose a couple of sample works and share your insight using this feature. Giving specific paper examples and commenting on what is right and what is wrong with each of the papers is the surest way to teach students writing or any other subject in that matter.

#5 Make your lessons more visual

Finally, the Internet gives teachers a chance to make each and every one of their lessons more visual. Pictures and photos are the surest way to achieve this effect. However, the sky’s the limit when choosing visual materials. For example, when teaching geography, you can make use of online maps, taking your audience to the remote locations. Maps can also prove useful when teaching culture and history (for example, an old photo of the location vs. a present-day street view). This approach creates a sense of connection, which is the surest way for the information to make its way into the student’s’ long-term memory.

Another idea, obvious as it may seem, is to use slides in your lessons. This is not a new concept — slides have been used in lectures for years. But, using the internet can give your old visuals a new vibe. By ‘visuals’ we do not necessarily mean pictures and graphs. Those could also be text fragments with the essential information, quotations, and practically any other written information you want to stress.

 

As you can see, using the Internet in a classroom does not necessarily mean that students will go through their Facebook feed (well, some of them will). Still, making Internet a part of your education process has more pluses than minuses. Put some effort into your lectures, try to walk in your students’ shoes, and speak their language — this is the best way to engage your maturing audience.

 

Author’s Bio: Lori Wade is a freelance content writer for Thriving Writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. Lori is used to handling many writing orders at the same time and as she likes sharing her ideas and experience, she decided to write a great article for you to show how multiple tasks should be dealt with. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her in other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

 

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Touro College.

Social Media in the 2016 Presidential Election

Only 9 days left until Election Day! Wondering how each of the candidates got to this point? Check out these two great videos on technology in the 2016 Presidential Election and the effect of social media on the candidates’ campaigns.

 

Social Media’s Effects on the 2016 Presidential Election

 

 

The Rise of Technology in the 2016 Presidential Election

 

Sources:

Social Media’s Effects on the 2016 Presidential Election, from Bob Buckley, FOX8

The Rise of Technology in the 2016 Presidential Election, from The Washington Post

A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Social media has become an indispensable part of 21st century life, and now educators are finding ways to use it for educational purposes as well.

The infographic below, created by OnlineColleges.net, suggests 25 ways to use social media for education, including:

  • Communicating with students and notifying them about assignment due dates and upcoming events
  • Allowing students to communicate with each other and with the teacher to ask questions and discuss course material
  • Incorporating videos and interactive presentations in courses
  • Posting supplementary materials to add interest to the course
  • Maintaining dynamic discussions among students
  • Discovering fresh ideas for lesson plans and projects
  • Keeping up with the latest trends in education by sharing and collaborating with other professionals
  • Enabling students to present their projects and assignments to fellow students and to the public

A Teacher’s Guide to Social Media