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Anonymity of Students in Social Media

With the ability to be anonymous on social media, students feel more confident in releasing their hate and negativity without realizing its repercussions.

Yik Yak is an app that allows students, in colleges and universities only, to anonymously post to everyone within a 10-mile radius; it is similar to Twitter, only there is no need of an account. It has rapidly become successful among many universities around the world.

Casey Fabris discusses the issue of Yik Yak and how it has developed into cyberbullying- including sexual insults towards female professors. Many students use the app to release their frustration towards their classes, professors, other students, and university life in general. However, because the app allows everyone in the area to view what others are posting, professors are able to see students’ rants against them as well.

(Photo credit: Shutterstock and Twitter)

Professors have admitted to being emotionally affected to at least a slight degree from reading various posts. Colleges are trying to find more constructive outlets for professor evaluations. eXplorance believes that its new service, Bluepulse will be a more positive version of Yik Yak since it will have both students and instructors involved. It is uncertain, however, whether this will stop students from posting hateful comments on Yik Yak.

Another similar service that Sabrina Huyett, a teaching assistant at Birmingham Young University, uses is DropThought. She believes that “giving students an outlet where they can constructively criticize might prevent them from airing grievances negatively on platforms like Yik Yak.” Huyett admits that the larger the classes, the more likely there will be negative criticisms.

David Parry, an associate professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, explains that even if new platforms are developed for student’s feedback, it will not stop them from using Yik Yak. What needs to be done, instead of trying to move students away from a specific social media platform, is for colleges to teach students how to use social media responsibly.

Fabris, Casey. “Anonymous Feedback, Fine. Insults? Not on These Platforms.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. N.p., 04 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Mar. 2015.

One Reason to Offer Free Online Courses: Alumni Engagement


Photo Credit to Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography

It is assumed that once you graduate from college you will no longer need to spend time in the classroom. A diploma from a university is a pinnacle moment of your educational career and once that has been obtained there is no use in spending any more time in a classroom. This idea is incorrect.

Casey Fabris examines the benefits of offering free online courses to college alumni in his article on The Chronicle of Higher Education website. This article examines the experiment conducted by Colgate University over the past few years in which they invited back alumni from the school to participate in MOOCs (massive open online courses). The courses offered ranged in subjects from “The Advent of the Atomic Bomb” to “Living Writers”. In a course offered last spring pertaining to atomic bombs they even invited veterans to participate in class discussions online to give the students a better perspective on their experiences with the war, since many of them weren’t even born at that time.

By offering free online courses to alumni from the school they are able to keep them connected with the community of both former and current students. During the first enrollment period Colgate University was able to enroll 380 alumni, when their original goal was only 238. The numbers grew to a whopping 800 online participants as the courses continued. The alumni participating in these courses were asked to share their feedback on the university’s experiment with online learning, and officials behind it considered it a success.

Other universities are now trying to engage their alumni using free online courses, offering former students a way to learn throughout their lives after university. The courses offer ways for alumni to engage each other if they wish and increase their knowledge even after their education has ended.

For more information on this topic visit the article above.

What You Need to Know About Yik Yak, an App Causing Trouble on Campuses

A new mobile app is sweeping college campuses but not for good reasons.

The app is known as Yik Yak, an anonymous virtual bulletin board which gives you the ability to post your thoughts for others to read.  But postings from college students aren’t what you’d expect.

Postings range from inappropriate comments regarding sex, racism, sexism, and escalate to threats of violence as well as public safety threats. In a few instances college buildings were actually closed or campuses put on high alert due to anonymous threats made on this app. A sophomore was actually arrested in connection with a post about a possible campus shooting.

This app also opens up a new avenue for cyber-bullying—bullies are taking advantage of the anonymity that comes with using this app to attack people.

That being said, “Not all colleges are treating Yik Yak as a threat. Mr. Buffington reported that several had contacted his company to express interest in harnessing the app to learn more about what their students really think.”

For more information please read:


Teaching with Google Glass

In an article on Campus Technology, they take a look at a professors who are finding an interesting use for Google Glass.

After having discussions with similar “digital explorers,” Robert Hernandez, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California, decided to create a course that centers on having students design applications for wearable devices. He is hoping that the class will reexamine the shape of an article and how you tell a story.

At Northeastern University, associate professors Rupal Patel and Stephen S. Intille co-teach a course that has students create apps that will “help people make behavioral changes” using Google Glasses donated by Google. One group of students created a prototype app that is designed to promote social development among people with autism.

William J. Ward, a professor of social media at Syracuse University, has his students create apps for Google Glass using social media to determine which of their ideas is getting the most social conversation.

Hernandez notes that it’s not possible to know if Google Glass will be the next big thing, or if it will just be an interesting concept that never takes off. Nonetheless, he is certain change is coming.

Simplifying the Design Process- One Canva at a Time

To all designers and creators: have you ever opened Photoshop, PowerPoint, Word, or even social media sites and asked yourself now what? How about those who fear the Adobe Suite or even Microsoft Office?

Canva, a design app, simplifies creating posters, flyers, presentations, business cards, Facebook covers- you name it. With a selection of professional, pre-designed graphics and stock photos to choose from, you can finish a project within minutes. Be aware that most stock photos have Canva watermarks or you can pay $1 to omit it.

Most of the design process is drag-and-drop. Choose what background, layout, and text you want in your project, then fill in the blanks. Customizing their templates is no problem either. Click on an object to move it, change the color, edit the text, or delete it.

Designs and graphics are great to embellish presentations- especially “PowerPoint-esque” ones. They catch audience’s attention and intrigue listeners. Be aware though, too much text and over the top graphics can just as easily detract your audience. Learn your medium before giving a presentation.

Below are examples of posters we made in less than five minutes:

UWB Learning Tech LT Mission

What can you create on Canva?