tech integration to save the world

As I was reading this article on Open Educational Resources (OERs) and the cost of ‘free’ textbooks, I was also reminded why I began using Twitter (which I also recently discussed for a CAE post here) and the connection to teaching college students to be college students.

While I begin exploring the use of Twitter in online only grad classes – the idea still holds, how do *we* (faculty, staff and administrators of higher education institutions) teach students to be students? Not to pat myself on the back but a couple of my current students started a discussion on Twitter about the ease of completing my hybrid course because of the repetitive curriculum design. They always know when materials are due. I designed the curriculum specifically considering how students would interact with the curriculum and stay on-task with all assignments. Sometimes this is difficult – letting the calendar dictate time on assignments instead of the time I think assignments need. But, if students feel more organized, they *in theory* will actually spend the amount of time I feel is required on the assignment, because of organization. Again, I’m designing the curriculum influenced by a calendar, and the need to develop student awareness of what it means to be a student.

Returning to the Inside Higher Ed article – Feldmen’s discussions of OER focuses on graduation rates. For me this is an incredibly interesting discussion that I have not seen enough written about. In working to reduce costs of education, one of the biggest costs is student loans with no degree. Tying this in to my use of Twiiter and other technology – can technology integration into classrooms help support students more effectively to improve graduation rates?

In my recent Twitter feed i’ve circulated an article on topic selection for undergrads (engl110mu), ‘free’ speech in online communities (engl311mu), articles to support future semester courses, advertisements for campus events to benefit undergrads, etc. While Twitter can be a way for institutions to further develop their brands, could this medium be used to better support student retention and graduation? Could ‘just in time’ messaging be used to send students notes (if they are following the *right* handle or *right* hashtag) to support students with the resources they need at different times in the semester? Could the use of Twitter empower students unaware of the requirements of being a student without outing students not in the know?

While I continue to ponder ways of supporting students through twitter use (I still work with my former students through Twitter – so I know it remains a place to stay in contact), I think we (again faculty, staff, administration) as administrators of students should consider alternate ways of supporting students, inside and outside our classrooms. I truly hope future discussions of OERs focus on their value for the types of material, and the content of the material they provide instead of the dismal graduation rates.


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