Zoom – How to Update, and How to Personalize a Powerpoint Presentation

We have been using Zoom for a while now, but when is the last time you updated Zoom?  New updates are coming out every month (and sometimes weekly) and you may be missing out on features if you haven’t updated.  One of these features is a personalized Powerpoint presentation, which I will show you below.

But first, let’s update your Zoom.

Now that you have the latest version of Zoom you now have all the latest Zoom tools. One of the newer tools that Zoom has added is the ability to put your live picture into one of your Powerpoint presentations.

The ability to do this will give you a more personalized way to do a Powerpoint presentation, whether it is in a live class situation, or if you are recording a presentation to be embedded.

If you want to embed a recorded Zoom presentation, all you have to do is start the presentation, use the steps in the video below, and record the session. Once you are done, you can download the recording and add that video to your course content.

I hope you enjoyed these Zoom tips. Thanks for reading the Faculty Learning Corner!

Creating Course Recordings with Your Smartphone

As we do more teaching online, I receive many questions about creating video content. In an effort to help answer this question, I wanted to let you know that your Smart Phone can do a pretty awesome job of creating a personalized recording.

In the video below, the Alaska Folk Festival gives tips on how to create a high quality recording. Their video is meant for recording music, but the concepts are the same for your course recordings.

Pick a Quiet Uncluttered Location

  • Find a quiet and comfortable spot at home or in a quiet area where you can minimize distractions and outside noises. If you are doing your video outdoors, be aware of wind noise. 
  • Look at your background. Is there anything that you don’t want students to see? Is there anything that might be distracting? You want your students attention on the lesson you are delivering, and not on the background.

Lighting is Important

  • A $40 webcam with good lighting will create a higher quality video than a $1200 webcam with bad lighting.  Don’t record in a dim room, and avoid having a bright window or light behind you.  If it can be avoided, try to not have your only light source directly over-head. 
  • What you want is indirect light from a window in front of you or slightly off to either side.  This will illuminate your face while the camera is pointed at you.  If you have a lamp, place it behind your recording device. 
Computer set up with lighting behind the computer

Framing Your Shot

  • Having your video properly framed will make it look more professional and will enhance student engagement.
  • Make sure your camera is at eye level. An inexpensive way to do that is to put your camera on top of a stack of books. A good “eye-line” is important to help students feel comfortable watching the video.
  • Make sure you fit nicely in the picture. You don’t want the bottom of your face or top of your head to be cut off. Again, look at your background. Is there a plant that looks like it’s growing out of your head?


  • Audio is more important than video. A bad picture with great audio isn’t the best, but is better than bad audio with a good picture. A good picture with bad audio is going to be unwatchable every time.
  • Use an external microphone if possible. They do make microphones that can be plugged directly into a smartphone. Recording with a headset microphone is also a great choice.
  • If you are recording with a webcam or built-in camera microphone, be careful about background noise. Often wind and other sounds will be amplified through your microphone. 

Pre-recording Steps

  • Think about how you are dressed. Pajamas might be comfortable, but do they present the right image to your students?
  • Do a quick test prior to doing the actual recording. This will help tell you if the background is OK, if you are centered on the screen, and if the audio is working.
  • Look at the camera. This is your way of making “eye-contact” with the class. Relax and use mannerisms as if you were presenting a live lecture. This personalization will be appreciated by your students.
  • Have a script – know what you are going to say. Winging it through multiple takes could take a long time. It’s best to prepare what you are going to say prior to stepping in front of the camera. Plus if you have a script, this can be used as a transcript for students who need it.

I hope this was helpful as we continue to offer online courses.  Thanks for reading the FLC and I hope you have a great weekend!

How to Stay Sane While Isolating

It’s been a year since this pandemic started here in the US, and we are not quite done yet. It appears we will be isolating and working from home for a few more months, if not through the end of 2021. So how do we stay sane? Here is a video from the BBC with some tips.

With a drop in COVID19 cases, and vaccinations now available, we are getting closer to being “back to normal.” I put that in quotes, because who knows what “normal” will look like after the pandemic is over. But there is a light at the end of he tunnel.

Stay safe, get vaccinated, remember to social distance, and keep wearing your mask. We’re getting through this!! Have a great weekend!

The Importance of Sleep

Stick figure person in bed snoring

Someone I know has recently suffered from a condition that allowed them to only get about three hours of sleep per night. I can only think that this lack of sleep made it very difficult to function, especially when you remember that sleep is a basic need.

Sleep is a time where our body rests, allowing us to save energy and recharge.  Sleep can lower stress, tension, and anxiety.  Today I wanted to take a quick look at sleep, and hope this helps you to be the best you can be.


How long should we sleep?

Infants and children need more sleep, as that is when growth hormones are released.  Here are some recommendations for all age groups:

  • A newborn needs 14 to 18 hours,
  • Infants – 12 to 14 hours (doesn’t happen all at once as any parent will tell you!),
  • Toddlers and Preschoolers need 11 to 12 hours
  • School age children need 10 to 11 hours
  • Teenagers need 8 to 9 hours
  • Adults need 7 to 8 hours
  • Older adults (65 and older) need 5 to 7 hours

What keeps us from Sleeping?

Illness increases your need for sleep, but like my friend that I mentioned earlier, the symptoms of illness can cause you to not get enough sleep.  If you are ill, you need to do the best you can and try to get as much rest as possible.

Woman asleep on computer keyboard while holding a cup of coffee

Some of us (and I might be talking about me now!) may have experienced weight gain with changes to lifestyle due to COVID.  Weight gain actually causes a need for more sleep.  Foods can also cause sleep issues.  Chocolate, non-herbal tea, most soft drinks, and coffee contain caffeine, which inhibits sleep. 

Sleeping pills, and drugs for pain, anxiety, or depression will make you sleepy, but they decrease REM sleep (the period of time when your body gets the most rest), so they can cause you to feel tired, even after a night’s sleep.  This is also true of alcohol.

Stress and emotional issues can also cause sleeplessness. 

Tips for Sleeping

Protein helps sleep – you have probably heard of tryptophan causing sleepiness after a big turkey dinner.  Other foods that can help sleep are milk, cheese, fish, nuts and seeds, and poultry.

Exercise is great for sleep, but exercise just before bed can make it difficult to go to sleep. 

Here is a great 5 minute 30 second video that shares tips on getting the best night sleep you can!

I hope these tips help! Thanks for reading the Faculty Learning Corner.  Have a great weekend!

The History of Valentine’s Day and Loving Education

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day, a day where we talk about love, and give cards, flowers, and chocolates.  But where did this holiday come from?  Here is a 5:30 minute video that’s will give you the full history going back to ancient Rome.

So as we think about Valentines Day and school, how do we get students to love their courses? We need to engage students.

Creating an Engaging Learning Experience

To make an engaging experience for students, you should start by making course content impactful and results oriented. We can do this by creating an experience for students, rather than an “information dump.” Drop breadcrumbs of information to lead them on a path of discovery, and be there if they begin to stray off that path. Put students in a mindset of learning.

Make your lessons straight forward, concise and to the point. Remember to focus on the “need to know” information, and be careful about overloading them with “nice to know” information. Make sure you are following your learning objectives to keep you course on track.

Chunking Information

With a ever decreasing attention span of students (reportedly 8 seconds!!) make sure that your course comes in smaller chunks. You would never teach an entire semester in one long module. This is true of your lessons. Three 10 minute sections will work better than one 30 minute section. Break things down into manageable pieces for the student.


Again, focus on the “need to know” information, and dive right in. Your student would rather get right to the subject matter than to stay on the periphery for any length of time. This doesn’t mean to forget about supporting material, but be careful of being “in the weeds” too long. Give students the most important information first, then the detailed information, and lastly the supportive information.


When creating multimedia presentations, here are some things to remember:

  • Eliminate extraneous words pictures and sounds,
  • Use cues to highlight essential elements,
  • (Graphics + words) are better than (graphics + narration + text),
  • Keep relevant text close to associated pictures,
  • User-paced segments are better than continuous presentations,
  • Use a conversational tone in your narration – friendly, not formal,
  • Limit text as much as possible on the screen,
  • Use animated elements with basic transitions to highlight important elements, and
  • Try to make it simple and straight-forward instead of having too many graphical elements.


The engaging learning experience is one that includes interaction. Make the student part of the learning by including interactivity that allows them to interpret, analyze, and make decisions.

Interaction also means engaging with the student. Teacher/Student interaction is a key element in keeping students motivated. And don’t forget Student/Student interaction. This is possibly the best thing that you can do for your student to help them feel part of something bigger than themselves. It will give them a sense of belonging, and maybe even open the opportunity for a future love connection!!

I hope you have a great Valentines Day this Sunday! Thanks for reading the FLC!

The Power of Education

Here is an inspiring talk from Michelle Obama as she speaks to the sophomore class at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C. in 2013.  She talks about higher education, and gives the students a glimpse into how important education is to their future.  This 17 minute speech was given in 2013, but is still relevant to students today.

Here’s the link (in case the embedded video doesn’t open) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY6h804boFs

As we reflect on the words of First Lady Michelle Obama, it is also important to point out her story. She was born and raised in the Southside of Chicago where her father worked as a city water plant employee. Her father’s multiple sclerosis had an effect on her growing up and she was determined to be a good student. After high school she applied and was accepted to Princeton, even after getting the advice that she was “setting her sites too high.” She graduated cum laude, and went on to Harvard Law School. She met Barack Obama, who was one of just a few African Americans at the law firm they worked at. Today she continues to be active with charities and has stayed politically active (although she has dismissed the idea of running for President).

As we celebrate Black History Month all February, I wanted to highlight Michelle Obama as someone to look up to. It is great to recognize and appreciate her hard work, determination, and strength.

Thank you for reading the FLC. Have a great weekend.

Group work in an Online Environment

As we teach online and usher in a new “21st Century” age of learning, an important aspect to keep in mind is student to instructor interaction, and just as important, student to student interaction.  Not only do we want students to get to know each other to form bonds and learn collaboration, but we also need them to be prepared for what life is like beyond school.  

In the current pandemic, some think that it forced us to consider online teaching. Many contend that it merely sped up the process of how fast we get there.  Education online is inevitable and growing, and even in the corporate world, many companies are selling their brick-and-mortar buildings because online can work better.  The company Articulate is a prime example of a business that is thriving while having a 100% remote work environment.

Group Work

An important aspect of today’s education is the ability to work as a team in groups. As University employees, we do this on a daily basis. Think of all the committees and online meetings you are involved in.

That being said, there is probably nothing that deflates a student more than being told that part of the semester will involve group work. They immediately think of the worst case scenario, where high-achieving students feel like they have to carry the whole team, or at least certain members, through the end of the project. This can be amplified when being online, because that “slacker” group member doesn’t have to physically face their frustrated team.

But, group work has advantages for students that shouldn’t be forgotten. It gives students a chance to interact, and learn group strategies that they will take with them as they enter the job market. It also can give them the opportunity to build something they wouldn’t be able to complete on their own.

Group Project Strategies

I wanted to help you by sharing some strategies in creating online group projects. I also wanted to help you understand the dynamics of group projects.

As you are putting this together, one of the most important things to remember is that the group project has a purpose. What do I mean by that? We need to make sure that students are working on the “why” of the project, and not just the “how.” Getting to the “why” is a motivator and leads to better work.

Daniel Pink tells us the advantages of “why”

Second, make sure the project is very organized. In doing this you need to make sure that students understand of what the group project needs to accomplish and what the steps are for completing it successfully.

Overall, you need to lay out the expectations for the group projects well in advance. It is best to warn students about group projects at the beginning of the semester, rather than springing it on them after the semester has started.

Remember to give students the purpose of the group project. Students want to do things that matter, they want to do things that are significant, and they want to do things that make a contribution to the team. If you can promote these motivational items as a part of the project (giving the student the “why”) you will find that your students performance will improve significantly.

Differences – F2F vs Online

Something to consider is that online students have the entire internet at their fingertips. this actually can create a situation that can be overwhelming as they search for information. It can help if you give students pointers on searching for information. Give them key points or elements to search for.

Also know that in a Face to Face situation, you can see progress unfold during class time. In an online course, this might not be as easy, and so different groups might be at different development stages at any given time. Make sure objectives for the project are clear, and given to students at the beginning to help stop student frustration (You don’t want students to think they are just doing “busy work.”). You will also need to be available to students when they need help.

Forming Groups

Forcing students to work together can introduce students to new perspectives and lead to healthy collaboration. It can also backfire if students don’t get along or their work styles aren’t compatible. Online, that dynamic can be heightened because students are operating with only a limited understanding of their fellow students’ personalities and behaviors.

When forming groups in an online situation, you may want to also consider their work schedules. Some may only be able to work at night, while others may only be able to work in the morning. Making sure group members have compatible work schedules will be important to the success of the projects.

Make sure part of the group experience includes a communication plan. It’s good if the students in the group have each others detailed weekly schedules, email addresses, and cell phone numbers. Establishing tasks for individual team members, and making sure they are all working within the same platform will help them complete the assignment.

5 Stages of Small Group Development

Here is information that should be shared with students prior to them starting a group project. They need to know that there is a normal process in developing a group, and that there are 5 Stages of Small Group Development. The group dynamics will determine how long a group is in any individual stage.

  • Forming
    • Individuals come together to form a group in search of a safe space. They look for acceptance from the group. They gather information about the similarities and differences amongst the members of the group. Conversation is simplistic and controversial topics are avoided. The early group is focused on orientation – both to the assigned tasks and to one another. To grow beyond this stage, the group must be willing to venture into more controversial and challenging territory.
  • Storming
    • This stage is characterized by conflict and competition between individuals in the group as they begin to accomplish the assigned tasks. These conflicts naturally arise from the differences in personalities and approaches. Individuals are forced to either bend their own attitudes and beliefs or assert themselves more strongly as a challenge to other members of the groups. At this point the group must collectively determine a path for proceeding with the work, individual responsibility for elements of the work and the level of performance which is expected both by individuals and the group as a whole. Listening to one another can help the group move from this stage of testing boundaries into the next stage of productive problem solving.
  • Norming
    • In this stage, group members begin to recognize the value of individual contributions, and for a community. Members are willing to take risks on the ideas of others and move forward. Questions are asked, leadership responsibility is distributed, and trust is built. Individual conflicts begin to dissipate and a feeling of group belonging and membership begins to form. In order to continue in this stage and move onward, the group must maintain open communication channels, trust in one another, and creativity must be embraced.
  • Performing
    • At this stage, the group achieves true interdependence. The roles of group members are fluid, and the group is working cohesively both as a group and as individual members towards the common goal of completing the assigned tasks. The group is at its peak of productivity. Morale and group loyalty are at a high, and the group is able to efficiently move forward on assigned tasks.
  • Adjourning
    • This phase marks the end of the group’s work together, the completion of tasks and the dissolving of the group as a working unit. During this phase, group members thank one another and say their goodbyes before parting ways.


Grading a group project can be another issue that you need to think about prior to implementing it.

You can assign a single grade to the entire group. But, if you do this you may be rewarding a good grade to students that did not participate, and had little to do with the final project results. Or, you may be giving a less than good grade to a team, but maybe miss out on the students who did their best, but the project just didn’t come together.

As part of the project you might want to include a student review. Students can evaluate their own performance, and also review the performance of their teammates. In doing this you could give individual participation grades and a final group grade.

Should you do it?

Now for the “why.” It will take extra work on your part to create a successful group project. But in doing so you create an opportunity for students to learn valuable skills in communication and group dynamics that will serve them well beyond the course. Whatever field they decide to enter, the skills they acquire in the group project will help them as they enter their chosen field of work. And in todays workforce, there is a good chance that their colleagues will be working from different locations, making these skills invaluable.

The group project will also allow students to engage with each other, which will also give students a sense of belonging. Student to student interaction is important, and connections made here may last well beyond their school years!

Thank you for reading the Faculty Learning Corner. Have a great weekend!

The New Blackboard Content Editor

At the same time UAS went to Blackboard SaaS (the cloud version of Bb), we were updated with a new content editor. Here is a quick two minute video to tell you about some of the changes, and also a chart to help you find your favorite tools, as compared to the old content editor.

Notable things to watch out for:

There are two issues with the content editor that I need you to be aware of.

  1. The spellchecker needs to be enabled after text is written. It is no longer automatically “on.” Once you have finished adding text, click on the “ABC button” to do a spell check.
Please be aware that Blackboard's Content Editor recently changed and, while it has a large number of new and enhanced features, the spell check feature must now be enabled after text is written.
  1. There is an issue with the Preview button. The Preview button doesn’t actually show how things will look after submitting them. For example, if you hit the enter bar to go to the next line, the Preview button shows a single space, but after you submit, the actual post is double spaced. You cannot count on the Preview button to show you exactly what you will see when you hit the submit button.

    This is a known issue at Blackboard, so should be fixed in an update.
Picture of the Blackboard content editor, showing where the Preview icon is.

Detailed comparison for tools

Below is a comparison between the old content editor and the new content editor. An accessible version, that you can download, can be accessed by clicking the link below:

Additional changes and notes

  • To improve accessibility and mobile use, windows are now overlay modals instead of new windows.
  • To help maintain academic integrity, the feature to convert links into playable embedded media is disabled during test-taking so helpful resources can’t be viewed in a test if a locked-down browser is being used. Similarly, links can’t be opened when authoring.
  • The editor size will automatically scale on the page to fit the content. To edit a large amount of content and pin the toolbar to the top, use the full screen mode.

I hope this helps you to understand the new content editor. Let the CELT team know of any issues you might be having. Thank you for reading the FLC. Have a great weekend!

Having Difficult Conversations

Chancellor Carey has asked the UAS CELT team to work on programs that deal with the impact of social media, and also to prepare you for difficult conversations. Last week I touched on social media. This week we will take a look at difficult conversations. Like last week, this post is only a very small piece of the larger puzzle, and is not intended to prepare you for all situations you may face.

Preparing for Difficult Conversations

Cartoon of two people with a number between then.  One is saying it's a 6, while the other says it's a 9.

Difficult conversations happen in the classroom, between faculty, staff, and administration, and also outside of school. I wanted to get started with a set of steps to help you prepare for difficult conversations. The following comes from Ashira Prossack, who is a coach, speaker, and journalist for Forbes magazine.

Be direct.

  • When having a difficult conversation, be direct and get to the point quickly.
  • Don’t give feedback sandwiches (say something nice; then critical feedback – what you actually want to say; then say something nice again)
  • Don’t give an excess of compliments. Feedback sandwiches and excess compliments will mask the point of the conversation and lessen its impact. Difficult conversations become even more difficult when the delivery is muddled.  
  • Dive right into the critique. Most of the time, the person you’re talking to knows that a critique is coming, so rather than dancing around the subject, just get to it.

Be specific.

  • Be honest and thorough with your feedback, and fully clarify why you’re having the conversation.
  • Offer as many concrete examples as possible so the person understands you’re not just pulling things out of thin air.
  • The more clarity you can provide, the better the critique will be received.

Plan out the conversation.

  • Don’t do this in the spur of the moment.
  • You want to think of what you’re going to say, as well as anticipate how the other person might react. Think of the questions they might ask and have answers prepared.
  • The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to stay even tempered and not get flustered, and therefore deliver a more solid critique.

Watch your language.

  • The actual words you use during the conversation matter. You must outline the critique and the reason you’re having the conversation, but don’t stop there.
  • You’ll also want to talk about the outcome you’d like to see.
  • Illustrating what a positive outcome looks like creates a goal that can be worked toward.

Offer a solution.

  • Nothing is worse than delivering a critique and leaving it just at that. You’ll want to clearly explain:
    • the reason for the conversation,
    • the specific critique, and
    • then offer suggestions to improve.

Manage your emotions.

Cartoon of a boy and girl yelling at each other
  • You want to speak in an even tone and keep it professional. Don’t let your emotions dictate your delivery.
  • If you get emotional, so will the other person. This is especially important when the conversation is with someone who you care greatly for or work closely with. In this situation, take a step back and remove the relationship from the equation.
  • It can help if you simply look at things from a fact based standpoint, and focus solely on that. When emotions start to take over, remind yourself that the more in control you are of your emotions, the better you’ll be able to deliver the message.

Be empathetic.

  • While your delivery of the message should be stoic, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t empathize. Think of how the other person will feel during the conversation, and allow them to process their emotions.
  • If you see they’re really struggling with what you’ve said, pause for a minute while they collect themselves.
  • Clearly explain why you’re having the conversation to help them fully understand where you’re coming from.
  • If they’re really taking the news poorly, remind them that you’re delivering this critique to make them better, and you want to see them succeed.

Allow the other person to ask questions.

  • Questions serve a double purpose. Asking questions helps the other person process what’s happened, and it allows you to clarify and solidify details of the conversation.
  • If you aren’t sure that the other person fully comprehended the conversation, ask clarifying questions to check their understanding.

Next time you have to have a difficult conversation, keep these points in mind to ensure that it’s productive and well received.

Conflict Resolution

A situation we frequently find ourselves in is being in the middle of a conflict between people with opposite viewpoints. I think many of us are feeling this right now, and often we tend to try and pick a side, but is this the best solution? What else can we do?

Graph showing conflict resolution with axis being concern for others and concern for self.

Interpersonal conflict has been defined as:

“An expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from the other party in achieving their goals.”

I bet that sounds familiar to all of us!

Here are five strategies for dealing with conflict:

  1. Compete or Fight – This is the classic win/lose situation, where the strength and power of one person wins the conflict.
    • It has its place, but anyone using it needs to be aware that it will create a loser and, if that loser has no outlet for expressing their concerns, then it will lead to bad feelings. This strategy is probably best only used where little or no further contact is necessary between the individuals or groups concerned.
  2. Collaboration – This is the ideal outcome: a win/win situation.
    • However, it requires input of time from those involved to work through the difficulties, and find a way to solve the problem that is agreeable to all. This may be hard work, especially if the positions have already become entrenched, but it is also likely to be the best possible starting point early in a conflict situation.
  3. Compromise or Negotiation – This is likely to result in a better result than win/lose, but it’s not quite win/win. You could call it a no-score draw.
    • Both parties give up something in favor of an agreed mid-point solution. This effectively results in a solution that pleases nobody very much, but hopefully will not offend or upset anyone too much. It takes less time than collaboration, but is likely to result in less commitment to the outcome because it is nobody’s preferred option.
  4. Denial or Avoidance – This is where everyone pretends there is no problem.
    • This strategy is used surprisingly often and can be quite effective. It is particularly helpful if those in conflict need time to ‘cool down’ before any discussion, or if the conflict is unimportant and will simply resolve itself given time.
    • However, it cannot be used if the conflict won’t just die down. Under these circumstances, using this strategy will create a lose/lose situation: there will still be bad feeling, but no clearing the air through discussion. It results, in Transactional Analysis terms, in ‘I’m not OK, you’re not OK’. This can result in serious stress for those involved.
  5. Smoothing Over the Problem – On the surface, harmony is maintained but, underneath, there is still conflict.
    • This is similar to the situation above, except that one person is probably OK with this smoothing, while the other remains in conflict, creating a win/lose situation again. It can work where preserving a relationship is more important than dealing with the conflict right now. It is, however, not very useful if one person, or others outside the conflict, feel that the situation must be resolved.

Are we in the Revenge Business?

As we enter 2021, we may be trying to claim victory over the conflicts we’ve been dealing with for years. I wanted you to see this 2 minute clip from actor Mandy Patinkin, who played Inigo Montoya in Rob Reiner’s 1987 film The Princess Bride.

I believe that Mandy Patinkin makes a good point, and that we need to sit down, take a deep breath or three, and think about where we want to be. It’s time to get out of the “revenge business” and start having the difficult conversations.

I want to close by sharing a statement by Chancellor Carey that was sent the morning after the January 6th riot at the Capital.

Photo of UAS Chancellor Karen Carey

“The events of January 6, 2021 will be examined in the following days, weeks, and perhaps decades as a part of history.  As a university, UAS will engage as part of the fabric of our community and nation, recognizing freedom of speech, academic freedom, and respect for one another as part of civil discourse.  We will stand by our values of excellence in teaching and community engagement, and collaboration and understanding.  Violence, or any threat of violence, is never the answer.”

I want to stress again, that this is the tip of a very, very large iceberg, and this post only scratches the surface. Stay tuned for more training by the CELT team. Have a great weekend, “embrace your fellow human beings,” and as always, thank you for reading the Faculty Learning Corner.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2021, from https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/conflict-and-mediation.html

Prossack, A. (2020, September 09). How To Have Difficult Conversations At Work. Retrieved January 12, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashiraprossack1/2018/10/28/how-to-have-difficult-conversations-at-work/?sh=7a09bbc710b7

UAS Chancellors Office. (2021, January 7). A Message from UAS Chancellor Karen Carey [E-mail].

The Impacts of Social Media

The Globe with Social Media logos around it.

Chancellor Carey, in light of the historic events of January 6th, has asked UAS’s CELT team for programs that focus on a couple of key areas of our current lives.

My FLC today will touch on the impacts of social media, while next week we will talk about “difficult conversations.”  My hope is that these two weeks can help jump-start this dialog, as CELT prepares a more thorough look at these topics at a later date. 

Why Social Media

Why is social media used?

Here are the most popular reasons for internet users worldwide to use social media as of the 4th quarter 2018:

Reasons why users use social media.  click for accessible graph

Social media has been gaining traction over the last 15 to 20 years. In 2005, just 5% of adults in the US were on at least one social media platform, where as today that number is closer to 70% (and over 80% for teens).

Social media is a place where you can keep in touch with long distance relations, and even make new friends. It’s a place that can be an outlet for creativity.

Are there Negatives to Social Media?

Yes, there are negatives to social media. It is reported that 20% of the population gets all their news from social media, a place where it’s often hard to know fact from opinion. It can also be employed to disseminate information quickly, whether the information is factual or not. Social Media has also created a situation where marginal views can be quickly brought to the main-stream by grouping with others that are like minded.

Not only is it difficult to know what is “real” (It must be true, I found it on the internet) but it’s not even clear if individuals are real. They might be presenting their true-self, or they might be creating a false-self, as Brad Paisley shows us in the video below.

Social Media at the University – Opportunities and Challenges

Here at UAS we use social media in some very good ways. It helps us to brand the university and helps us get the UAS message out in a very personalized way. It allows students, faculty, staff, and the general public to connect and see what we are up to.

Opportunities in the Classroom

The University of Washington has identified the following opportunities for Faculty:

  • Students would like to see more opportunities to use social media in the classroom, because research shows that “social media assists students with acquiring new information, facilitates connections with course material and peers, and improves productivity.”
  • Students would like an increase in their ability to use their mobile devices. Mobile device ownership has risen with social media access and students see a benefit in mobile device usage as a tool for peer to peer and student/teacher interaction.
  • Students build connections with peers, faculty, and make campus connections via social media. “In 2015, 31% of UW students said they felt they would be more effective if better skilled at using social media as a learning tool.” In 2015 56% of UW students said that they were using social media as a learning tool.

Challenges in the Classroom

Here are challenges identified at the University of Washington:

  • Students want to keep their academic life separate from their social life. Many are wary of the use of social media in academics and how it might impact their privacy.
  • Behaviorally “the intensity of social media use contributes to … unproductive behaviors, including behaviors that may distract from the task at hand.”
  • Both students and faculty are concerned about the distracting nature of social media. A majority of students find that “technology devices and services, including social media, sometimes prevents them from concentrating.” Instructors think of social media as a source of entertainment and 63% of instructors found the use of mobile devices in the classroom distracting to students.

UW Recommendations

University of Washington’s IT Department has come up with recommendations for Using Social Media in the Classroom. These recommendations help with preparing, applying, and managing social media in the classroom.

UW Recommendation chart - accessible by the link Using Social Media in the Classroom

Final Thoughts

This is really the tip of a rather large iceberg, and I am sure CELT will be offering training on this subject this semester. There is a lot to cover, including cyberbullying, FERPA issues and sharing information, and even social media friendships. Social media is not going away, so it’s best to know all you can!

Two men sitting at a table.  First one says "How was your vacation?" and second one says, "I'm analyzing it now.  The photo only got 8 likes but one of them was from someone really influential."

Have a great weekend and thank you for reading the FLC!! Next week we’ll discuss having difficult conversations.