Friday, April 15, 2016

10 Seconds At A Time, A Teacher Tries Snapchat To Engage Students. From NPR.

What's the first step of learning? Paying attention.

Which may be hard for students to do when they're constantly peeking at their phones. So, as the adage goes: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

One app that teachers are embracing is Snapchat. That's the one where you send a video or picture, and then it disappears 10 seconds after you open it.

For some teachers, it makes sense. Their students are already using it. Snapchat has around 100 million users worldwide and, according to one estimate, 77 percent of college students use it daily.

And so, Michael Britt thought, why not go there? He's an adjunct professor at Marist College in upstate New York.

Since last fall, Britt has built Snapchat videos into his introductory psychology class. He takes "snaps" of real-life examples of what he's teaching in class, and posts it to the app. He does this right before exams, so his students will look at them when they're studying.

The rest.


  1. Why not just kick them out of class for using their phones?

  2. Why not just kick them out of class for using their phones?

  3. Is it scholarship that counts?

  4. I have to read the rest of the linked article at NPR, but here is my initial reaction:

    Why is every new pedagogy some sort of con to distract them from their shiny toys? This is meeting them where they are? Where they are is not a planet I'm sure I want to be on anymore. "Idiocracy" is turning out to be a documentary.

    It's beer o'clock for me.

  5. Personally, I like EMH's idea, but to be fair, in the article’s comments section the instructor added some thoughtful ideas about things that were not included in the piece.

    It got me thinking - we often see stuff like this in the media (i.e. teacher uses something gimmicky intended to benefit snowflakes), but how does it get there? Is it the instructor contacting them, is it students, or what?

    1. At some schools, between sending emails about proper use of the school's logo, the marketing department sends emails asking about anything you've done that may be newsworthy. Sometimes they actually hook something.

    2. Now OPH is posting what I'm thinking just before I post it. This is getting a bit spooky.

      So, yes, the professor *might* have contacted NPR (I doubt the students did), but my guess is he did an internal or external workshop/conference-type presentation, and it got amplified by his chair (doing the right thing in the current academic/political context for the department) and then the uni PR department.

      From the proffie's responses in the comment thread (polite, informative, non-defensive), he seems like a reasonable sort (as opposed to, say, a self-aggrandizing attention-seeker). It sounds like the snapchat videos are a well-thought-out "extra" in a class that has the usual longer passive-learning and active-learning sorts of activities, in a healthy mix. My only objection is that this sort of thing can make the rest of us do more and more to "reach" the students, and I, at least, (feel that) I don't have time. But that's definitely not my best pedagogical self talking.

  6. You said it, OPH.

  7. "It takes effort not to be constantly checking Facebook, Snapchat..."

    Yes, it does. Sitting still and paying attention for an hour is a skill that must be learned. Why don't we insist that the kids practice this valuable skill?

  8. I understand utilizing different approaches to try to reach as many students as possible. And I do this - I use handouts, in-class exercises, video tutorials, discussions, etc. Post everything on the LMS and an conscientious about answering emails. But I refuse to use facebook, twitter, or snapchat. There are limits.

    Besides, I think one of the valuable skills college offers is that students must adapt to different situations and teaching styles. After all, their future bosses are not going to go out of their way to adapt to their employees. Sure we should reach out, but we should also expect students to learn some flexibility and meet us half-way.

    My 2 cents.

    1. Amen, comrade.

      I checked out the linked article. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that the Snapchat videos are meant to be viewed outside of class. OK, thinks I, that's not so bad.

      But then I wonder, is it necessary? Isn't there some other electronic repository that might host the video clips, something that doesn't require student to have a particular app or even a smartphone at all? Something the students should be using anyway? A system of information management, if you will, specialized for learning?


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