Tag Archives: adobe connect

Why We Need to Redefine “Face to Face” Communication

Virtual Meeting with avatars

credit - internetsiao.com

A story about a tech firm CEO banning the use of email for internal communication has been a topic of discussion around social media the last couple of days. Reported by multiple news agencies and websites, the title centers around the idea of “banning email” which is certainly a more sensational headline than the the fact that as the story notes,  “instant messaging and facebook-style interface” is replacing email for internal communications in the company.

This story reminds me of how in the last few years, some of the ways we, in our higher ed, communicate have changed. In addition to email and phones, instant messaging and video conferencing have become additional means to communicate in our daily work.  A few years ago, when we say face to face communication, that most likely meant two or more people looking at each other in the same physical room.

The concept of face to face communication is particularly relevant in student affairs and how we conduct our work.

I have heard some concerns about role of technology in how we interact with students and colleagues and how technology cannot/should not replace face to face interactions. However, our definition of face to face will probably have to change moving forward. Consider that some of our online students may never step onto our campus or that we will need to meet with students like international/out-of-state students before they even arrive on campus. With bigger bandwidth and the availability of wireless networking, face to face communication now carries a different meaning, to me anyways.

With Google+ Hangout, Skype via Facebook and other various free services available, the use of video conferencing for one-on-one and group communications will continue to become a bigger part of how we all communicate. Here are some examples I have seen video conferencing used on our campus:

  • My team of developers located on our campus use their webcams and Microsoft Communicator/Live Meeting to communicate daily with a couple of their colleagues who telecommute from different cities
  •  Our Admissions office staff use Adobe Connect to hold one-on-one and one-to-many virtual advising sessions with prospective students
  • A professor uses the same product to hold review sessions with his students
  • I had an informational interview using Skype and iphone with a graduate student from a different state
  • Students use TokBox to have multiple conversations
  • Video interviews of job applicants
  • A presentation on Identity Development Theories by a professor from San Diego State University to undergraduate students
  • Vendor presentations

A decade ago when the web became an important part of how we communicate with students,  along came  expectations of information/services available 24×7 and universities had to accommodate them. In these days of social media and more advanced technology, which include 2 way video communications, students will probably start expecting universities to use the tools and communicate they way they do in their personal lives.   In the future, what students define as face to face communication may be different than what we used to define it pre-social media days.

How do you see the way we communicate in our workplace  changing now and in the future?

 

 

 

Using Social Media/Technology to Assist International Students

This post is about how technology, including social media, can facilitate the adjustment to the culture, lifestyles and academic challenges faced by international students new to this country. I was at a meeting last week for student affairs managers at our university and one of the topics presented is the increasing population of international students.  The increase in the population could be partly attributed to the active recruitment of our admissions officers in other countries. According to this article by LA Times, the University of California system made the move to recruit more out-of-state students, including international students for geographic diversity and revenue. The unique needs of the international students were also discussed. Some of these challenges include:

  • Constant process of values, beliefs, and ways of life from the moment they arrive without traditional support network.
  • Those for whom English is a foreign language, there is a need for time to adjust and the need for support system.
  • The classroom style wherein the expected active class participation may run counter from their native educational systems.  Specifically, asking questions to the professor may be perceived as being rude.

As I was listening to these challenges, I could not help but reflect on how technology can provide assistance in the transition process of these international students. What resonates with me are  1) the need for a community and support system before they even arrive and during their stay and 2) the need to accommodate the different classroom participation style. As noted in that meeting, the students may know the answer but they may not verbalize them. The list of technology-related ideas below are very limited but they could certainly be components of university efforts to ensure the success of the transition process and retention of international students. In addition, the mention of the products/services below does not imply endorsements but to illustrate what are currently available to my knowledge.

  • University sponsored/managed social networks. While any individual can create groups and pages on facebook, I think colleges and universities should be proactive in setting up, managing and participating in their networks which could include groups, pages and apps within facebook like Inigral Schools App.  There is a lot of value in having students connected virtually, months before they even arrive on campus. Our campus does use Inigral Schools app and from personal observation, I have seen students introduce themselves to others and have conversations on topics that are not even related to academics but rather on similar interests, experience and similar location of origins. During the summer when orientation sessions were happening,  students asked details about what to expect from those who have previously attended them. Additionally, some students who attended the same sessions planned meet ups as well. Towards the beginning of the school year, topics discussed include items to bring for their dorms, class information (including common schedules), and plans to meet up for various activities (running, gym, surfing).
  • Social Media/Mobile for academic use. While the notion of using social media and mobile for academic use, particularly within classrooms as a means of participation is still not universally accepted, I think there is some value to providing alternative methods of engaging international students beyond verbal participation. There was  a study by Dr. Rey Junco that showed the use of twitter in the classroom led to an increase in the engagement and higher semester grade point average for students.  A good example of a system that uses social media and mobile for academic use, including active participation in the classroom is Studio by Purdue. From personal observation on facebook, I also see students collaborating on homework and forming study groups.
  • Personalized online orientations. One of the challenges for international students who are not familiar with the English language during orientations is that they may not be able to keep up with the presenters and comprehend materials being presented. In some cases, they are not able to attend these orientations physically. I think making these presentations available on-line, including one-on-one sessions using software like Adobe Connect, Skype and even Google+ Hang Out which makes these orientations more personal would probably make a difference in having international students feel more comfortable and understand the materials being presented to them.  In addition, general orientation sessions could also be recorded using software like Adobe Captivate and made available on university websites for later viewing.

What other ideas can you think of that could assist the transition (and retention) of international students?