Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) provides its incoming freshman students with the First Year Seminar Program (FYS). FYS is designed to help transition students into college level responsibilities, familiarize students with the campus, educate them on resources available and introduce them to their desired field of study if they have selected one.
Back in August, University College decided to pilot CN Post in some FYS and Bridge courses for the fall 2016 semester. Ten instructors signed up and have been using CN Post within their courses for the entire semester. The semester is now coming to a close, so today, we were able to gather feedback from the instructors in the Teaching Scholar’s Think Tank (TST) meeting.
The faculty members were first asked to share their experience using CN Post and tools they have used and found helpful. Most all of the courses used posting. Instructors shared that their students enjoyed communicating with their peers in the academic social networking environment CN provides. Diana Sims-Harris told CN she really liked using the hashtag feature; she created hashtags at the beginning of the semester to serve as discussion topics that her students could use to label their posts. A few of these included #AskMentor, #ScienceNews, #CareersinScience, etc. These hashtags helped guide her student’s posts, helped them filter each other’s posts and even introduced them to campus resources with her predefinted #CampusResources hashtag.
First Year Seminar Philanthropy instructor, Pamela Clark, also utilized hashtags along with many other features on CN Post. She had her students download the CN mobile app and they photographed and interviewed people on the IUPUI campus and then shared it with their peers while using the hashtag #HumansofIUPUI. This activity helped first year students familiarize themselves with the IUPUI community. Pamela even used the global class feature to connect her course with her colleagues’ courses so their students could share and connect with other students outside of their own class.
Other instructors, like Michelle Quirke, decided to put their own spin on CN Post. Michelle awarded her students badges and even created her own badge titled “Quirke’s Quality Questions” or the Q badge. She had her students create thoughtful sample exam questions derived from their reading assignments with the poll tool and encouraged them to not only answer each other’s questions but to rate them as well. She would consider the quality and ratings of each poll and choose a winner to award the Q badge to. The winner’s question would even appear on the actual exam. So, students hunted for this Q badge to see who received it and what the question is. This inspired her students to read their assignments, create good questions, think critically, answer sample questions, evaluate their peers’ questions and learn through a fun activity.
At the TST meeting, FYS instructors were also asked if they had any suggestions for CN Post. Tim Scully expressed how helpful it would be to create rubrics for Anar Seeds so he could gain a better idea of the participation work load he is assigning and so his students could gain a better understanding of what is expected of them. Dennis Rudnick suggested that aside from posting job opportunities CN should provide students with information about graduate programs and research opportunities based on their profile. This would make CN a stronger, academic network and help engage students further into the platform and get students thinking about their interests and what those may look like in the future.
CourseNetworking and the IUPUI CyberLab conducted a student survey in these FYS courses from November to December. 125 students responded the survey. The survey results were shared with instructors on this TST meeting. The image below displays the answers on a few highlighted questions. Other experienced CN instructors also joined the meeting and their course surveys received similar results.
At the end of the meeting an exciting drawing also took place. The FYS instructors were encouraged to nominate their students for the best CN portfolio award. Ten students completed all the key sections of their portfolio and received the “Best Portfolio” badge. The top five were entered into a drawing for cash price from CourseNetworking. At the meeting the winners were drawn. The three winners drawn were Taylor Hobbs (https://www.thecn.com/TH574), Justice Pacheco (https://www.thecn.com/JP311) and Hannah Oliver (https://www.thecn.com/HO52) and an honorable mention was awarded to Gordon Shao (https://www.thecn.com/GS139).
Taylor Hobbs Justice Pacheco Hannah Oliver Gordon Shao
The CN pilot program and the meeting were full of learning opportunities and the instructors expressed that they would be using CN next semester to explore more tools and deliver more engaging learning activities to students.