Enhance and Extend the Online Experience in Higher Education

Teaching fully online classes is great for most students, but on the other side of things it’s been hard to have those spur of the moment discussions that lead to real breakthroughs in understanding or lead to otherwise uncovered topics that end up being exactly what the students need.

In Fresno Unified we started using Yammer a couple of years ago, but as a teacher it wasn’t very useful because the constantly-on nature of it was not practical for teachers who were tied into a certain schedule. But it at least gave me a context for the ‘end of email’ kind of communication.  When I started consulted at OpenEd last summer they used a tool that allowed the same – even more important for a team that has never met in person before!

Now I’m very excited for my Fall semester of class to take this concept to my class. I’ll be using a product called PiApp which applies the idea of a, “useful chatroom” to higher education. I had tried todaysmeet sessions before, but studen’ts didn’t seem to find it useful and/or I got very little engagement. With PiApp I will be able to have office hours, have students themselves host discussions on targeted topics (instead of boring/one dimensional Forum posts is my plan). Sure, you can use Twitter, but I want students to feel completely safe and for some topics, don’t feel the public forum is the better forum.

Engaging college students in higher-level discussions on sometimes targeted, sometimes not will help everyone. I plan on using this to introduce the concept to my students:

This semester we will be using a live-chat service called PiApp to extend and enhance the online class experience.

My office hours will be X-Y pm every Xday on PiApp, but the general forum is open for discussion at all times! With PiApp, you can:

– ask questions and get answers

– Post links, images, documents

– Favorite posts you really like and reply individually to certain topics. 

If you have a question on something instead of emailing me or reading the syllabus you can ask your colleagues and often get an answer sooner. 

For more information there is a video here on how to use it, and know that participation is mandatory in addition to your Moodle materials. If you feel uncomfortable with this platform please let me know, or want to go through a webinar before using it please let me know. Please go to piapp.co and use this code to sign up:  

PiApp also hosts a weekly Twitter Chat every Wednesday at 4pmCentral time using #PiChat   -very engaging chat among adjuncts/thinkers on different higher-ed topics.

Can’t wait to see it in action and feel more connected to my students!


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