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Keep this frequency clear

Keep this frequency clear

A review of staff/student communication channels for higher education.

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David Watson

January 28, 2015
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  1. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Keep this frequency clear

    Staff and student communication – looking for a way forward
  2. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue  12 month programme

    of study  Taught in blended mode  Vocational in nature  Students want ROI websitearchitecture.co.uk
  3. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Who are our students?

     20-30 students each year  50/50% gender mix  50/50% UK/Non-UK  24-54yr age range  Designers & non-designers  Recent graduates at the start of their career  Mature professionals changing career
  4. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Programme organisation  Contact

    time = 1 day/week  F2F is intensive  Project work in students’ own time away from campus  Staff team are full/part-time  Support is online  Co-ordination important
  5. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Our approach to teaching

     Web design is in flux  Too much new stuff for the individual learner  Staff + students = the learning team  Teams need to communicate  But there are problems…
  6. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Communication has become Fragmented

    Students vary in level of Engagement
  7. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Channel characteristics  Synchronous/asynchronous

    (can be both)  Public/private (can be both)  Archival/transient (can be both)  Official/unofficial (mutually exclusive)
  8. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue What tools have we

    used?
  9. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Email  Asynchronous 

    Private  Archival/transient  Official* (university)  Usage = in decline (esp. by younger students) *Confusion over university vs. personal email addresses
  10. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue VLE (Moodle)  Asynchronous

     Private (group)  Archival (per year)  Official* (university)  Usage = very reluctant *There is a 3-line whip on the use of Moodle
  11. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Forum  Asynchronous +

    synchronous chat component  Public + private forums  Archival + transient (chat)  Official (programme)  Usage = reluctant We have been running an online forum for the programme since it began in 2000, long before Moodle was introduced. Although initially popular, use has declined.
  12. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Google Groups  Asynchronous

     Private (group)  Archival  Official (programme)  Usage = reluctant In 2013-14 we introduced Google Groups as a platform on one course. Students did not take to it.
  13. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Twitter  Synchronous/asynchronous 

    Public/private  Transient  Unofficial  Usage = popular (mostly) We have been encouraging students to use Twitter as a way of connecting with the world outside of education.
  14. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Facebook  Synchronous/asynchronous 

    Public  Transient/archival  Unofficial  Usage = in decline Students set up their own Facebook group a few years ago. It’s a good way to keep in touch with alumni.
  15. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue WhatsApp  Synchronous 

    Private (group)  Transient  Unofficial (exclusive)  Usage = secret! WhatsApp and other direct messaging services like Telegram and Kik are favoured back channels for student communication.
  16. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue

  17. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Interest in Second Life

    peaked in 2007. Universities created virtual campuses; this was the future of education. Beware of platform dependency
  18. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue The perfect channel is:

     Synchronous and asynchronous  Public and private  Archival and transient  Official*  Permanent/not subject to trend *Students will/should find their own unofficial “back” channels
  19. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue But what channels do

    students use?
  20. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue BA Graphic Design –

    Year 2 Average number of interactions by type over one week Synchronous, transient interactions are most popular.
  21. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Is there any channel

    loyalty?
  22. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Max: 16 year old

    indie gaming geek Tilly: 14 year old Sherlock fan obsessive
  23. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Max  TeamSpeak (running

    on private server)  Skype (on PC text only)  Telegram (on phone – waiting for PC beta)  Facebook (for organising events) Tilly  Text (SMS)  Snapchat (on phone)  Facebook (on phone/PC)  Kik (on phone) Q: What are the most important channels when communicating with your friends Now available WhatsApp (on phone) Messaging only Changes in the last 6 months
  24. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Max “Only for receiving

    information from people/organisations.” Tilly “I never use it, it’s too slow.” Q: How important is email to you?
  25. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Qualities that teens/twenties want

    in channels  Convenience  Immediacy (real-time/synchronous)  Transience  Exclusivity (unofficial) These are not necessarily the qualities that make for good staff/student communication in further/higher education.
  26. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Is there a way

    forward?
  27. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue A new platform 

    Some of our part-time tutors had experience of Slack working in a commercial environment.  After some trials during summer 2014, we introduced the platform to students in September 2014.  Initial indications are good…
  28. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue 469 451 The total

    number of interactions on the programme forum in the 2013-14 academic year. The total number of interactions on Slack in the first term of 2014-15. * * Quantitatively this looks good but need to consider quality too.
  29. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue What is Slack? 

    “Slack is team communication for the 21st century.”  It was launched in August 2013 and quickly became popular.  In October 2014, the company raised $120 million in venture capital.  Slack is free to use for up to 10,000 messages with paid options above that.  It integrates a lot but is simple to use…
  30. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Windows desktop iOS tablet

    Android phone Cross platform
  31. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Quality of interactions Students

    bringing found content to the centre and putting our team learning ethos into practice.
  32. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Quality of interactions Students

    using the platform to develop a feeling of community and empathy.
  33. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Back channels  Despite

    all that Slack can do, students still feel the need for their own “back channel” and WhatsApp is the platform of choice.
  34. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue Conclusions  The communication

    landscape is diverse and fluid.  Ultimately, Slack is just another channel.  We have to be prepared to pick up new channels when they work for us and drop them when they don’t or when something better comes along.  Slack is better than what we had last year, it’s not the solution to all our problems.
  35. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue

  36. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue We can’t assume that

    future students will want to engage with any of the communication channels we are familiar with or those which we sanction and the very fact that we have a preference for a particular channel may actually deter students from using it.
  37. David Watson: University of Greenwich @springfishblue MA Web Design &

    Content Planning websitearchitecture.co.uk Course materials coursestuff.co.uk (David) eyelearn.org/ma/applied-art-for-the-web (Prisca) Staff team David Watson @springfishblue Prisca Schmarsow @prisca_eyedea Cole Henley @cole007 Stephanie Troeth @sniffles Conference talkwebdesign.co.uk