Led by the course's instructor, Jen Lee Reeves, and hosted by NewsU director Vicki Krueger, the webinar focused on how social media can enhance learning for students, why it's worth taking the risk in the classroom and examples that have worked. Reeves, the interactive director at KOMU-TV and komu.com, was amazing. Just learning about her awesome website at http://www.jenleereeves.com was worth the cost and 75 minutes at the computer.
Reeves also teaches new media as an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism. Midway through the session she said she focuses much of her interaction with students using the hashtag #jenclass. She has a Tumblr account and a Facebook group for current and former students, both identified by #jenclass. She also uses it for hashtag conversations with her students on Twitter, and expects it to happen during class time.
OMG! Why didn't I think of #loweclass before? I maintained a mandatory Facebook group for each of my courses last year at Marquette: Digital Journalism I (JOUR 1100), Digital Journalism II (JOUR 1550) and MU JOUR 4953 (Elections). Each time I wrote a new blog post meant having to put it into each group. This risked annoying those students who were in two or three of the groups, though I didn't want to neglect those who were only in one. Now, having a single #loweclass Facebook group means one post reaches all of my current and former students.
The new hashtag will have even greater impact for us on Twitter. My students regularly live tweet campus events and must include a class hashtag within each tweet as part of a given assignment. Using #JOUR1100 #JOUR1550 or #JOUR4953 isn't too bad if you're only using one of them. But that's 29 characters – remember, Twitter allows only 140 per tweet – whenever I want to get everyone's attention in all three classes during an assignment. The same applies when I want to share a weblink to a nicely written story or a link to a webpage offering nice job-hunting tips.
Using #loweclass will instead keep all three classes in the same hashtag conversation. And for the biggest live-tweeting opportunities, when our collective efforts causes an event hashtag to trend on Twitter, well, having #loweclass in each tweet means that my hashtag should like trend as well. That would not be a bad thing – would it?
I also require my students after every class to tweet about something they learned that day. Again, they must use their class hashtag, which means I have to look at three different hashtags – way too cumbersome and complicated – and the students only follow their respective conversation. Using #loweclass instead produces only one conversation and would help me make sure everyone's in it; yes, it will even help me take attendance. Better still, students and educators whom I can encounter nationwide would hopefully participate, too. Yes, the possibilities abound, including having my students live tweet when we have guest speakers in the new #loweclass. I'm excited!