Published: April 10, 2012

Assistant Professor of Psychology Eliana Colunga talked about the ways she integrated various discussion platforms into her courses to encourage student participation during her Teaching with  Technology presentation. Through her discussion, Dr. Colunga highlighted the importance of student discussion as it provides the foundation for understanding the course material.

The first method employed by Colunga was Discussion Threads, which are digital conversation forums centered on a single topic. For each reading, a Discussion Thread was created and the students would respond to the question based on their course reading. Initially, Colunga found that this approach worked, but ultimately it proved unsuccessful as it did not lead to the robust conversations she envisioned, requiring her to discover a new way to engage the students.

Determined to find a new method that would resonate with her technologically inclined students, Colunga decided to create a Facebook page to house all the digital aspects of her course. Each Facebook page is specifically made for each class, meaning all the material found on the fan page is catered toward one specific course. On the course fan page, students can find the readings of the day, post questions, and participate in online discussions. Through integrating this technology, Colunga has found that students gain more confidence to speak in class when they are actively writing on the Facebook page and receiving positive feedback from her. As an instructor, Dr. Colunga wants to make it clear she cares, so she will always respond to student questions and maintains an active digital presence for her students. Addressing the privacy concerns of both students and professors, when students like a fan page on Facebook as opposed to joining a group, the creator of the page is unable to see any of their fans’ personal information. Through using a platform that students frequently interact with, Colunga discovered a technological solution to improve the digital experience of the classroom as well as encourage confidence in her students.

Although the Facebook page may not be the most conventional of methods, it certainly connects with today’s digitally oriented students who are constantly on that website. Using this free resource, Colunga comes to her students instead of forcing them to come her, which in turn creates a more cohesive and personal classroom experience for the students. As the success of her approach demonstrates, technological solutions to educational problems are successful when they resonate with the behaviors and mannerisms of today’s college student.