Web 2.0

5 Ploys for Going Viral

Just because technology is in the school’s name “does not mean that all of our instructors are out there tweeting, using Facebook, blogging, and creating YouTube channels for their materials,” says NJIT’s Haggerty. And when it comes to trying out web 2.0 in the classroom, the institute finds that it hardly ever works when a member of the Instructional Technology and Media Services team approaches a professor and says, “ ‘Hey, how about you try this?’ ” says CIO Ullman.

So what does work? To have the student body drive reluctant faculty into the arms of technology, explains Director of Instructional Technology Reynolds. Here’s the NJIT team’s advice for going viral on campus:

Create an instance of every single course in the learning management system. At NJIT that’s Moodle. “Students will see it. They’ll start to use it even just to contact some of their other classmates. And that will goad them to say to their faculty, ‘Hey, why don’t you put the notes out here in Moodle for us too?’ ” says Ullman.

Don’t ask faculty to teach students how to use a tool, even if they want to implement a given program in their classes. The NJIT team has created video training sessions that walk students step-by-step through the use of a product. “The faculty don’t need to know how to do that,” says Haggerty. “They simply point the students to the website.”

Use students as moles. Along with his other duties, Haggerty is an instructor in the Professional and Technical Communications department, where his students learn how to create digital media like podcasts. Haggerty encourages his students to take those skills and use them in their other classes—creating a podcast for an assignment in history, for example—which often sparks interest in the other faculty for learning more about the tool.

Help faculty gain campuswide fame. One prof used features in WebCT to create a series of online adaptive quizzes that were then migrated to Moodle. The quizzes were automatically customized for each test-taker to help students in a general chemistry class get immediate feedback and figure out how they’re faring. Now every faculty member teaching that intro class uses those quizzes.

Help faculty gain worldwide fame. The team helped Bruce Bukiet, an NJIT calculus instructor, create four- to eight-minute podcasts specifically to help his honors students. He then added those to the OpenCourseWare Consortium, iTunes U, and YouTube, generating thousands of hits for his lectures—including math students from other instructors’ classes at NJIT.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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