Part 2 in the Series: Social Media in Education
Recently I undercover a story from Campus Technology highlighting a few unique faculty using social media in the classroom. Professor Betsy Sigman (@bsigman) of Georgetown was utilizing Google+ in her Developing/Managing Databases course. I was able to contact Sigman to get some additional questions answered and permission to share her innovative use of social media in education on my blog and in my Teaching and Learning with Social Media course for faculty.
In order to get the students more engaged and make them feel “like they were on the cutting edge of some of the things going on in the database world,” Sigman challenged them to keep up with current events when they found something that was interesting and pertained to data. One of the keys to success is making their participation a part of their grade.
Students posted links to videos; photos; reports; articles; different technologies for data storage, data communication, and data visualization. Then they followed up with comments on the posts.
As a platform for maintaining this repository of content, Sigman and the students chose Google+. From the standpoint of the professor, she really like it because it is restricted to just the class. Sigman discussed how her students were already well-versed with Facebook and Twitter but wanted to try something different. At this time no other social media is integrated in the course.
Sigman was drawn to several of Google+’s features, including Circles and Hangouts with Extras. Circles provide a structure for organizing groups of people for sharing specific uploads and comments. So to get the use of Google+ started, everybody signed up for a Gmail account, then signed into Google+, and Sigman invited all 46 of her students into a circle; they in turn created their own circles for the class. Sigman stated, “circles were a bit tricky to set up initially, although it got easier to do so over the period of last semester’s course.”
Google Hangouts with Extras allows groups of up to 10 people to do video conferencing; screen sharing; Google Docs, Notes, and Sketchpad integration; and YouTube video viewing. Although the limit of 10 participants would prevent Sigman from using Hangouts to hold remote classes, she did try it out for office hours and group projects collaboration.
Sigman currently only teaches a face-to-face course but would find it easy to utilize this same practice in a fully online course.