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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I'm contemplating using Google Buzz as a way to broadcast announcements and stuff to my classes. At one point I was thinking about using Twitter for that but not very many students are actually on Twitter. I've also thought about setting up a Facebook page, at least for the 500-seater, but when I've surveyed students about that option, the response has been pretty lukewarm. I already tell students to use my gmail address (since my official school email account seems to get way too much spam), and I know that a lot of them have gmail accounts themselves. I use Facebook to connect with people I'm actually friends with, and Twitter for connecting with random bloggers and other online acquaintances (though I haven't been tweeting much lately at all), and I kind of like the idea of having a separate way to communicate with students. I just don't know if any of my students would actually want that. I guess I can give them the option and see how it works...


  1. I don't know what your course management software is, but ours (which is institutionally develoed--we're part of the SAKAI consortium) has an email component. I tell my students to use it to contact me by email (it redces/eliminates the possibility that a valid message will appear to be spam). I also use it to communicate with them.

    It has a feature that allows students to enter an alternative email address (actually, more than one) to which messages can automatically be forwarded. It allows me to define sub-groups of the class and send messages separately to each sub-group.

    And using it induces them to check into the CMS more often, which is (for me, anyway) really helpful.

  2. You could also set up a twitter account just for your class, like Kurt Lindemann does with Comm 103.

  3. @doc: We use Blackboard and I post everything there. I only send out blanket emails when there's something particularly important and timely I want to tell my students, but they know they are supposed to check Blackboard regularly. My issue is that they sometimes don't, so I've tried to think of ways to make sure that they don't miss stuff. I do realize that it's up to them, and maybe I'm just babying them too much, but if it reduces the number of emails I get because they didn't see something I posted, then I'm willing to give it a shot.
    @Cleocatra: the problem is that very few of my students are on Twitter. I figure it's easier to go to where they are than ask them to sign up for a service they won't use.

  4. The Facebook fan page option seems to be a workable one. You set up a page for your course and invite your students to become "fans" of the page. Then anything you post there shows up in their news feeds when they log in to Facebook. This has the advantage of not requiring your students to "friend" you on Facebook; they just "fan" the page.

    I wouldn't use it as the only communication method with students, but it sounds like you're looking for a secondary communication system, one that supplements the CMS you're using. When I set my course's fan page up, about 2/3 of my students became fans.


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