AcAdv, Career, UGST1000

Open Options: Choosing a Major With Road Trip Nation

With first year students, there are many new, exciting and scary things about starting college or university. Higher education offers a place to be intellectually challenged, develop socially, discover your interests, and engage with a variety of opportunities on campus and beyond. The road and journey are both wide open. The open road and the growing number of academic/career possibilities seems to be a bigger challenge to our student population. Besides the confusion of campus jargon and the navigation of a larger than high school institution, there seems to be more students and family members at orientation who are anxious about making the “right decisions now” for later. Many higher ed students have an idea or inkling of what they want to do, but most are not sure about their academic options, career path planning, and helpful resources to support their decision-making process.

For UNT students who enter into the undecided/undeclared program at UNT, the Office for Exploring Majors [where I work] utilizes the Roadtrip Nation (RTN) resources and has a  RTN project as part of the UGST 1000 – First Year Seminar class.

The Open Road for #UGST1000 Course Design The RTN project helps students explore their personal, academic, and career path. More importantly, it allows them to learn that there is more than one path to obtain their goals and dreams. In picking up  Roadtrip Nation: A Guide to Discovering Your Path in Life and Finding the Open Road: A Guide to Self-Construction Rather Than Mass Production – I was reminded about my own academic/career journey and questions I had in undergrad and after. There are a number of different professional journeys and narratives that provide readers a “path” of how to get to where you want to go.

Overall, I will be using Finding the Open Road stories and interviews (posted online) to help expose the pre-Journalism (News, Advertising, Strategic Communication & PR) and pre-Business (Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Management) students in UGST 1000 figure out how to navigate their own experience. I do like the strategies and ideas in the “Do It Yourself” section of the Roadtrip Nation book to help guide our students learning. The plan is to take the follow chapters and make them into easy-to-use guides for both the UGST 1000 instructors and students that follows the Roadtrip Nation Manifesto:

  1. First, Find Your Red Rubber Ball – What inspires you? What is your passion? Identifying interests, values, and likes.
  2. Whom Should You Meet? – tips on how to find people, being resourceful, using your personal network, how to reach out to new people
  3. Getting the Meeting – cold calls, the pitch, being persistent, communication strategies
  4. Preparing for the Interview – researching the person, their company, their work experience
  5. In the Meeting – what to talk about, suggested questions, informational interview samples, interview/meeting etiquette
  6. Closing – ending a meeting, sending thanks, developing a mentoring relationship

RTN asks....

References:

Marriner, M. & Gebhard, N. (2006). Roadtrip Nation: A guide to discovering your path in life. New York: Ballentine Books.

Marriner, M., McAllister, B. & Gebhard, N. (2005). Finding the open road: A guide to self-construction rather than mass production. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press.

Learning Community, Social Media, Training, UGST1000

Facebook for Learning Communities: Groups vs. Pages

Image c/o Interactyx.com

In supporting and creating instructor resources for our 30 or so first year seminar classes, one areas I’m currently working on is our social media for learning (quel supris!). There are a number of resources, “how to” guides, and instructional case studies to support digital learning pedagogy. In curating content for our #UGST1000 (formerly UCRS 1000) Blackboard Learn Instructor site , I realized that the area of using Facebook and other social networks for our learning communities was lacking. Sure there are a few of us out there using these spaces, but it was rare to see any information available for suggested practices let alone understand how our campus social media beliefs impact our Facebook for learning.

Below is the quick guide I created to introduce Facebook Groups & Pages for our first year seminar instructors. I welcome and encourage others to post your ideas and share resources to the comments section – so we can enhance our #edusocmedia learning practices.

What Are Facebook Groups?

Facebook states that groups are designed “for members of groups to connect, share and even collaborate on a given topic or idea.” Groups have been used to market, promote or share group happenings. The key feature behind Facebook groups is the ability to make them “invite only” or limit these spaces to specific groups, i.e. like your seminar section of UGST 1000. These groups can be private or closed for only your students. Although this is a closed feature, you will need to “friend” students in your course to a closed or secret group; however an “open” group option will allow you to add anyone from Facebook.

WARNING: You may (gasp!) not have students who are on Facebook or wish to be “added” to a private group. Keep this in mind. Also, I would encourage you to work with your Peer Mentor in your class to support the cultivation and development of this online learning community.
Instructor perspective:
Ryan: They all REALLY liked our class Facebook group and participated in that quite a bit. I’m considering just using Facebook this time around rather than try to get them all onto a new social network.

Laura: Peer mentors a great support & can often set up these Facebook groups and “friend” students for the instructors. I would encourage this and support the peer mentors as they develop community in your UCRS 1000 Group (ours from Fall 2011) online and in class.

What Are Facebook Pages?

In contrast to Facebook groups, which are focused on organizing around specific topics or ideas, Facebook Pages “allow entities such as public figures and organizations to broadcast information to their fans.” If you are looking to set up your class’s “official Facebook presence” you would opt for a Facebook Page. Students just need to “Like” the page for the semester and they can always opt out when the semester is over. Students who like this page will need to remember to check and monitor their Facebook stream to ensure that they are reading updates posted for the course so they do not miss out on any happenings, announcements or updates.

Simply put, Facebook Pages is a simpler tool for instructors and peer mentors to maintain and use for UGST 1000 Learning Communities. Students, staff, and faculty can view an open Facebook Page even if they opt to not have their own personal account on Facebook. Pages are an easy medium to put out content, share updates, and keep your learning community informed. As the administrator for this page, I would strongly encourage interaction to encourage 2-way conversations by using polls, asking questions, and encouraging comments, pictures or videos to be posted to the course page. You will want to enable sharing features for your community and talk about the purpose or standards for your social space.

Instructor Perspectives:
Laura: I like how you can share ideas, post comments and have others follow along with the discussion – it is a great way to connect to student in the social space of Facebook without having to add them to my own personal/professional “friend” list. The Pages can also be integrated with other features such as Twitter, blogs, photo sharing & videos. Here is the Office for Exploring Majors Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ExploringMajors

Do You Want to Have a Facebook Group or Page for YOUR Learning Community?
If you are trying to determine whether to use a Facebook Page or a Facebook Group for your UGST 1000 class there are a number of other resources posted in the reference section below to help you best understand the features.
There are a number of other seasoned  instructors who might want to share their ideas or thoughts on the use of both Facebook Pages and Groups (or other social networks) for UGST 1000. Take a look at the handy chart below that breaks up and compares the features; however with other social media things change and are always subject to change.

Facebook Groups & Pages Learning Resources:


10 Reasons Why Facebook is Ideal for Managing Social Learning

The Ultimate Guide for Using Facebook in Education

Facebook Groups Vs Pages: The Definitive Guide

Facebook Groups Vs. Pages: What’s The Difference

Facebook Tips: What’s the difference between a  Facebook page and group?

Pros and Cons of Facebook Groups vs. Pages

Facebook Group vs. Facebook Fan Page: What’s Better?