Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tried Something New? Trying Something New?

So the end of the semester can be quite chaotic with students rushing to finish their assignments and instructors rushing to submit their grades.  But as the dust settles and you have time to reflect upon the previous semester, what worked?  As you look forward to the next semester, what are you thinking about trying? 

We want you (and your ideas)!
Here in Academic Technology, we always want to hear from faculty about what you're doing and how it's going.  Did you use a new feature in Angel you hadn't tried before?  Did you integrate blogging into your class?  Are you using Powerpoint or Prezi for your class for the first time?  Did you have your students make videos?  

So if you have a moment, please let us know what new project you've tackled or even let us know if you're tackling a new project.  At times, we may be able to help and guide you toward useful resources and at other times, we just want to hear about great ways our faculty are engaging our students.  Some of the best ideas and resources that we have here to offer faculty come from faculty sharing and brainstorming with us ways to more broadly apply different projects. 

As we've said elsewhere on this blog, we like to share some of those great ideas and we're always looking for new ones.  So if you get the chance, share some ideas either here in the blog or feel free to email us.

Along those lines, we hope that you by now have heard about our  College Instructional Technology Study that we are in the process of conducting.  If you haven't heard about it or want to hear more, check out our  public document.  And if you want to set up an appoint with us to talk about your experiences, challenges, concerns, and ideas about instructional technology, please let us know.  If you don't want to meet with us, but want to share your thoughts anyways, feel free to fill out this survey


Monday, December 17, 2012

5 Means of Handling Gmail Effeciently

Like many of us, I sometimes have a foreboding dread about opening my Gmail and being inundated with messages, both relevant and irrelevant to my work.  For some, this probably prolongs opening it and further increasing the amount of potential emails in their inbox.  

However, there are ways to mitigate email in efficient ways to save you time and the dread of opening an over-cluttered email box.  This post examines how to get your email on mobile devices, how to forward your email, how to filter and organize your email, and finally, how to more quickly respond to certain perfunctory communications.

1.  Email on Mobile Devices.  
Faculty and staff are often interested in getting their school email on mobile devices, particularly their phones.  This allows them to deal with the emails in smaller batches (a few at a time rather than scores).  If you have a mobile device that is Internet enabled and would like to receive your email on it, the best place to go to is Pipeline.  In Pipeline, one of the tabs is specifically dedicated to Gmail explaining a variety of great tools and information (The "Gmail Is Here" tab).  Specifically, the tab contains step-by-step instructions on how to program your smartphones to receive email. 
2.  Forwarding Gmail
Some folks don't necessarily want to deal with several different email streams into their mobile devices.  Instead, they would just prefer their email forwarded to their personal email.  The advantage to this is that at least the person knows what's in the work email box, but does not feel obligated (real or imagined) to respond right at the moment he or she receives a work-related email.  This works even better when you create filters to identify the email (see below).    

You can get the step-by-step Google guide to forwarding your NSCC Gmail account here or you can also check out this video that shows how. 

3.  Labelling Email
A great method that I use to keep my email organized is labelling.   Labels are akin to folders in other email systems.  Email can be labelled to help you quickly determine where to put that email.  For instance, I have all the newsletters, blog updates, etc that come in, labelled as "News."  I'll create folders for different projects or types of correspondence (class related, order related, etc).  As email come in, I can place it in the appropriate folder so that when I'm ready to look at that subject matter, all the emails are there waiting for me.  But what's great about Gmail is that you can create filters to automatically label certain emails (from specific addresses, emails containing certain words, or other specific attributes).  

You can get the step-by-step Google guide to labelling your NSCC Gmail account here or you can also check out this video that shows how.  

4.  Using Filters.
Filtering your email is a great way to save time and deal with only the most pressing emails as well as to organize everything coming into your inbox.  This is a great way to either see your inbox highly organized or only filled with certain types of email.  Maybe you serve on a committee; you can have any email from the people on that committee or any email containing the specific name of the committee (e.g. "Student Life Committee") be automatically tagged with a specific designation or moved out of your inbox and into label (that is, folder).  Maybe you tell your students to always include the course title when emailing you and use that as a basis to filter those emails into a Student folderThis is a highly versatile tool for keeping that inbox from overloading you. 

You can get the step-by-step Google guide to filters for your NSCC Gmail account here or you can also check out this video that shows how. 

5.  Canned Responses
Are there certain emails that you grow tired writing (and writing again and again)?  There's a tool for that within Gmail.  Faculty can create canned responses that they can quickly send off with just a few clicks.  A good example for this is if you are taking submissions from students and want to confirm without writing the same email time and again, you can send a canned response already on hand and save yourself substantive time.  It's useful to look past your older sent emails and see what types of emails have you had to send regularly and then script those canned responses, ready to go whenever needed. 

To learn how to activate the Canned Responses in Gmail and then how to create them, check out this video.  

How do you manage your email in a way that doesn't overwhelm you? 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Preparing Your ANGEL Course for the Spring Semester

As you start to think about your spring courses, we wanted to share with you the following important information that will help you prepare your course site in ANGEL.

Please review the “Preparing your ANGEL Course for a New Semester” checklist for directions on getting your course site set up for a new semester.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

Thursday, December 6, 2012

For Ever and Ever and Evernote...

I thought I would deviate from my usual ANGEL tips and mention an app on the iPad I have started using called Evernote.  This free app allows you to capture and store a variety of different things, such as pictures, notes, and articles and then allows you to share them across your different devices.  Evernote is a great tool for helping you organize your documents or "notes" into what it calls “Notebooks”. You can have many notebooks and even notebooks within a notebook.

I downloaded the app to both my office computer and my iPad and the program will sync between the two automatically (or I can manually sync if I want to be doubly sure!). I find it very useful when I am at a meeting and want to record my notes but not carry a big, cumbersome laptop.  I bring my iPad, type my notes and then I can either email them or access them on my PC when I get back to my office. Evernote  automatically stores your notes in the Cloud so you can find them on either device.  Your “ notes" automatically save and sync. 

Evernote also assigns you a custom email address that you can use within your account. You can email pictures, notes, etc. to that account and it will show up in your Evernote account. Or you can quickly email your notes to someone.

There are a couple of apps that Evernote works with.  It connects with the drawing tool, Skitch.  You are able to annotate, label, and markup with arrows, shapes, word phrases, etc. to make your point and then share it with others. It can demonstrate a point quickly and highlight what is important. Again, what's great is that it will automatically sync across your devices too. Once you download the app, it will ask you if you would like to create a new notebook in Evernote called “Skitch” to house your images. 

There are great ways that these tools can be used.  Imagine this – you are an instructor of horticulture. You are in a meeting and have a really interesting speaker who is demonstrating how to diagnose a particular plant disease.  You can type your notes on your iPad, take a snapshot of the plant, show the diseased leaves by pointing to it with an arrow and voila, when you get back to your office it shows up on your computer! Or you could email it to your class and quickly point out the information! 

Another interesting Evernote app is called WebClipper.  It will easily clip part of or all of any webpage, including text, graphics and links.  With it you could collect anything that interests you and keep it forever, even if the original site goes away.  It is not a free app but an interesting one.

Any apps that you would like to share?  We would love hearing about them!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Using Clickers to Help Facilitate Controversial Topics in the Classroom

One great way to use clickers in the classroom is to help facilitate discussion around controversial issues.   What are your students' opinions on such topics as drug and alcohol use, government services, taxes, same-sex marriage, abortion, etc?   Is it difficult to get students to speak up around controversial issues?  A simple technology tool--the clicker--can be used to help poll students on these and other subjects and stimulate class discussion.  Clickers allow for students to participate and answer such questions without necessarily feeling vulnerable and exposed for their beliefs.  This can also help build trust and designate the classroom as a safe space to have good discussions on such topics, allowing for more meaningful conversations.

Here are a few good websites on strategies for using clickers on controversial topics, if you're interested in knowing more:

If you've been grappling with the idea of using clickers here at North Shore, please contact me at

We're just a "click" away! (sorry couldn't resist)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Interview with David Weinberger

Several months back, I had the pleasure of reading David Weinberger's book, Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room.  (You can also find it in the Noblenet Library System to borrow, here). Rather than go on and on about the book, which I easily could, I lucked into the chance to interview him for this blog. Following up on his book, I got the opportunity to hear David speak and even the opportunity to interview him.  For more details about David, you can check out his brief bio on the Berman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Lance:  Let’s start with two fun questions:  Have you looked at your Wikipedia Page?  Have you been tempted to modify it?

David:  Not in years. Of course I'm tempted to modify it. I don't think anyone ever fully agrees with anything anyone ever says about her/him :)  And at one point it said I'm a Canadian, which is factually wrong; someone fixed that eventually.

Lance:  So besides the title, what would be the best tweet-length description of the book?

David:  The Internet is letting us scale up knowledge, which is changing knowledge's nature. #2b2k .  Not very exciting, but under 140 characters.

Lance:  What were some of the surprises or unexpected information/responses you had in composing the book?

David:  Hmm. Writing is how I think and learn, so the fun part is that it's almost all surprising to me. To be specific: I don't know.

Lance:  Do you think copyright law will change?  Do you feel organizations like Creative Commons have it right or is there another uncharted arena with which to explore?

David:  CC works within existing copyright law; it lets you specify a far more useful and human set of terms, without requiring a change to copyright law. It's wonderful. But as most CC'ers would agree, we also need to change the law.

I thought the Republican Study Committee's report on copyright law, issued last Friday and withdrawn on Saturday, was a terrific starting place.

Lance:  You argue that the Net isn’t as much as an echo-chamber as naysayers like to pretend it is.  That is, that people don't easily slip into mob-mentality to validate and encourage their groupthink.  Yet how would your argument apply to something like cyber-bullying, where the same (if not similar) dynamic is at play?

David:  That's not exactly what I meant. Echo chambers are real. But the fear that the Net is nothing but an echo chamber seems to me to be based in part on a misunderstanding of how conversation and understanding work.  Conversation requires a huge amount of agreement over values and beliefs, just as in an echo chamber. But nasty negative echo chambers certainly exist.

Lance:  Though you applaud the multiplicity of knowledge in your book, you also note that there is some knowledge that is or can be clearly wrong (To be honest; I forget if this was specifically in the book or just from your lecture; can’t seem to find the passage, so I’m not sure).  Do you feel society is heading towards a “knowledge cliff” in some capacity?

David:  If the post-cliff position is that we are not able to come to agreement, then we've been over that cliff from the beginning. The Net has made it clear that we're not going to come to agreement, even when the facts are clear. But we are also discovering/inventing ways to deal fruitfully with disagreement. Not always, but sometimes. There is hope, therefore -- not hope that we'll all agree someday, but hope that we may learn to benefit from those disagreements.

Lance: Do you see any leaders (cultural, political, etc) that are working from the vantage point of the innate common ground between different groups/views?  

David: These are what my friend Ethan Zuckerman calls "bridge" figures. He's writing about people interpreting one culture to another, but there are bridge figures across most of our differences. And, not to be too much of a Reddit fanboy, but IAMA's are a forum designed as bridges. As for particular people, well, I'm terrible at that type of recall.

Lance:  You discuss a lot of the positive elements of the Internet, but what bothers/frustrates you the most about the Internet and the new forms of “knowledge”?

David:  Everything, except info overload. I don't buy that we're overloaded. But I am deeply disturbed by the fact that people now can more firmly believe wrong ideas.

Lance:  What advice do you have for those who encounter the Internet with trepidation about the information potentially made available to them?

David:  Grow up. If you want your information spoon-fed by a bunch of white men, get in your time machine and go back 20 years. Otherwise, if you genuinely don't know what to believe on the Internet, find some real-world friends on the Net and find some mainstream authorities on the Net, and listen to them.

Lance:  What do you think will be the characteristics of next phenomenon on the Internet?

David:  We won't know until it happens. It may perhaps have to do with something that we can do at scale that we otherwise couldn't have imagined.

Lance:  You talk about the idea that human brains can't process the depth of knowledge and complexity in the world and on the Internet?  Are we on the path to the singularity?

David:  If "singularity" means being able to transfer consciousness to computers, then no. That dream is based on an unwarranted belief that brains are purely formal, and that anything in that form -- i.e., that has the same relationships among the neurons -- is conscious. That confuses the map with the territory. If "singularity" means we can do amazing things due to exponential growth, then we've been there for 20 years.

Lance:  What challenges does the new information frontier hold for educational institutes big and small?

David:  The focus on educating individuals, learning as a private activity, the emphasis on test-taking, the write-a-report model of learning, the evaluation of individuals, the assumptions about long-form thinking, the reliance on textbooks, the cost of education, the digital divide, the prestige of printed journals...

Lance:  How would educators contend with this new frontier in an effective manner?

David:  We'll know when today's students are the senior teachers. But the most obvious things are: 1. Educate constantly in how to use the Web; 2. Encourage public, social, web-form learning.

Lance:  Besides of course your own book, what recommendations for reading (books, articles, or sites) might you have for an educator trying to get a better grasp around the Internet and its implications for education?

David:  I'm terrible at this. I freeze. I worry about the stuff I forgot. So, I'll just point to Brown and Thomas' A New Culture of Learning.Oh, and Clay Shirky.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pinging Students in the Online Environment

What follows is focused on online learning, but I think that it has weight with consideration to even face to face classes.
pinging:  present participle of ping (Verb)

  1. Make such a sound.
  2. Cause (something) to make a such a sound.
Pinging  is an onomatopoetic word; it sounds like the sound it makes.  "Ping" often indicates a higher pitch sound, often like a formal dinner bell.   Within the digital world, it has its origins with blogging.  It's a means to sending out an alert to various sites that your site has updated (akin to the dinner bell, it's a sound going out to indicate that people should come in).

Borrowing from the above, I'm going to discuss the idea of "pinging" our students.  Herein, we'll talk about why to ping students, ways to ping students, and how to make pinging efficient.  This is very important for online courses but also have value in the face to face classes.

Why Ping
The concern about pinging the students often centers on recognizing them as adults and determining that they can make rational clear choices and decisions--they don't need to be babied as the saying goes. But I don't know if that's entirely accurate (both that they can make rational clear choices and decisions AND that pinging them is equivalent to babying them).
Over the last 50 years the college environment has significantly changed.  From researching in the library to researching at home at 3am in your pajamas, from dorms so students can live on campus to online education where students may never visit the campus, the context of learning continues to shift.  What that means for the typical college student is the are given less cues to direct them to their learning.  It's not them being lazy so much as there is less contextual cues for them to go do their work, because their personal, professional and school life are much more intertwined and shifting from one to another though easy in one sense, is still a cognitive shift that needs some nudging and direction.

Reluctant instructors often feel it's not their responsibility to remind their students and I have certainly felt that at times.  Yet, I cannot deny my own experience that when I do send out reminders and such, I get more students submitting their work on time and more students willing to acknowledge and discuss the missing deadline.  If scheduling an extra reminder or two generates better success for my students, I'm inclined to favor it as a practice.

Ultimately, it's about helping to prime the students so that they can make better choices in their lives.  If we know that they are bombard with hundreds if not thousands of advertisements a day along with scores of emails, texts, and phone calls; it can be extremely hard to remember or recall or even shift focus onto course work.  A reminder from the instructor can help nudge the student into the needed mindset to get the work done.   

Finally, with particular attention to the online environment, students can feel awfully isolated.  There is no physical classroom and much less human interaction.  The instructor can use pinging as a way to provide a life-line to a student who is teetering on the edge of failing or passing, of staying or withdrawing from the class. 

Ways to Ping

Class Recap Email & Announcement:  One way to ping the students is to send a class email reminding them of what was gone over in the Face-to-Face or Online Class using the class-email feature and the announcement  feature in Angel.  This is a great opportunity reiterate reminders and identify important points from the class.  It's also an opportunity to identify and validate their work and contributions to the course.  It's useful to use both the Announcement in Angel as well as the Group Email to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to see the message.  It's often easy to compose the message in Announcements and then copy and paste it into an email.   

Assignment Deadline Reminder:  Whenever there is an approaching deadline for an assignment either due in class or online, I often send a 1 week reminder and a 24-hour reminder.  As I'll talk about in the automate feature, this isn't particularly time consuming and again, serves as a useful way for students get in any last minute questions or map out their week better.

Create  a Course Hashtag You could also create a course hashtag for your class on Twitter so students can be reminded, ask questions, or interact while on the go.  This can also be useful since peers might be able to respond more timely than you.

How to Make Pinging Efficient

Copy previous messages There's no need to reinvent the wheel.  Once you've created a message, copy it, being sure to change the dates, assignment, and other relevant information.  

Create temples:  Depending on how many different ways you want to ping your class, it might be useful to set up templates for each kind such as Assignment Reminders, Assignment Changes, Missing Assignments, Recommended Readings, Sharing Timely Research/Information Related to the Course, General Check In ("How are you doing?"), etc.  This allows you to just plug in the specifics and send it off to students.  

Automation in AngelWith both of those steps achieved, you could also create a series of automations within Angel which will automatically ping your students (with emails) upon different events within the course (submitting or failing to submitting an assignment, failing to log into the course for more than a determined period of time) or just general reminders in relation to course events (1 week prior reminder, etc).  This is a great feature as it allows you to create the automation and it will run on its own at the correct time; you can also copy these over from semester to semester.  
Ultimately, the goals are to make sure students do not feel they are out on the wild frontier with no real interaction from their instructors and to do the best we can to help guide and remind the student towards accomplishing the tasks and work within the course.  

What ways have you found to ping your students?  What combinations do you see most success with?  For what reasons might you want to ping your students?

ANGEL Tip #6: Adding Icons

As you look at how you have organized your course materials in ANGEL, you might want to think about further customizing it.

A great "HELP" icon?
Icons are a great way of adding a bit of particular detail to your course.  You can use specific icons to point your students to specific content.  For example, you might want to use an arrow for the “start here” section.  I like a "group" icon to designate the Discussion Board Folder or one that shows a box for the Drop Box folder.  A student would clearly know what type of content is located in these folders.  Once in the folder, you can use an icon to designate a particular week . 

It is important to be consistent with your icons. Too many different ones would make it confusing for your students.  

ANGEL has a few icons you can use but, to add a specialized icon for a folder, you will need to download icon images to your desktop and then upload them into ANGEL. The icon must be saved as a GIF or JPEG file.  If, after you upload them, you notice the image is not clear it means the image is too small.  You might have to either resize it or find another image.

A great "Video" icon.
You can use icons of your own or there are plenty of free sites on the web for you to choose from.   I found some fun icons at iconbazar and findicons.  Note: Make sure you only use images that are free and not copyright protected.  A good site for free and open icons is Open Icon Library.

To add customization icons for a content item:
  • Always select the Advanced option under that item’s Settings link.
  • Under the Content tab scroll to the “Link Settings” area. There are two ways to add your icon image:      
           (1) Use one already in ANGEL by clicking on “Browse” in the Link Settings area. Click the Icons tab, select one of the folders, and then click on an icon.  Lastly, click Save. 
           (2) Or to add a special icon, click on “Browse” in the Link Settings area and then the Browse button.  Find the location where you saved the icon on your computer (remember to save it as a jpeg), click Open, and then Upload File.  Click the icon link in the path box and then Save.

If you have special icons that you might use frequently, you might want to upload the icon image to your personal content links in ANGEL.  You can do this by going to the content settings URL link settings area again and click browse. You will see a tab called Personal where you can upload icons you might use consistently.

Hope you enjoy the tip and please let us know of any interesting things you do in ANGEL so we can pass it along!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Document Cameras at NSCC

Document cameras are a classroom technology that are becoming more and more a standard part of the physical classrooms.  The cameras are integrated into the Smart Classroom.  Whether you’ve used this technology before or are using it for the very first time, you can begin to learn or learn more about why the use of this technology in the classroom may help to enhance teaching and learning.  Below are several articles that will give you a glimpse into how you might consider integrating the use of this tool into your teaching.

If you’d like more information about document camera technology here at North Shore Community College and would like to discuss ways to use this in your teaching, please contact me, Dave Houle, at or 978-739-5530.
Have you used document cameras in your classes before?  What did you find useful about them?  What worked and what didn't?  Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ANGEL Tip #5: Disabling Tabs

You have heard the saying, You learn something new everyday, well today I learned something new about ANGEL!

Many faculty look to me to help resolve issues or help them design their ANGEL courses to be the most effective for students.  I love helping them and in the process I get to see so many interesting ideas and presentations.  By investigating problems I have, on occasion, come across things you can do in ANGEL to make the flow between faculty and student smooth.  The goal is to make navigating through the course as effortless as possible.  Today, a faculty member showed me how to disable the tabs a student can see across their ANGEL course page.  If you don’t use the tab why have it displayed?

Why don’t you take a look and decide if it is a tab you want to keep?

To disable a tab:

  1. Go to your course shell in Angel
  2. Select the Manage tab
  3. Then under the section “Course Settings,” select to Tab Settings
  4. Select the Tabs that you do not want displayed and change the option to disabled
  5. Remember to save

A great way to make your ANGEL course clean and concise!

How else do you try to make navigating Angel less daunting or challenging for students?  What other ways do you try to make Angel more coherent to your students?  Share your thoughts in the comment box below. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

ANGEL Tip #4: Setting Up the Gradebook

It is the beginning of week 7 of the fall semester; a great time to reflect on what the semester has been like.  It is also a great time for students to analyze how they are doing in class.  A great tool for them to use when doing this is the ANGEL gradebook.  It gives the student the insight on how they are doing at any particular point in the semester.

The ANGEL gradebook is available for all courses; it doesn’t matter if it is online, hybrid or a face-to-face course.  Any faculty member can choose to use it.

First thing to consider when doing the gradebook is whether you want to use the point or percentage system.  The gradebook is set up by categories that reflect what percentage of the total grade that category is worth.  Then each category will contain the total assignments that make up that category.
For example – you could have 3 categories:
  • Homework worth 25 % of the total grade
  • Quizzes worth 25% of the total grade
  • Final Exam worth 50% of the total grade

For assignments you could have:
  • 10 homework assignments (each with the best achievable grade being 100)
  • 3 quizzes (each with the best achievable grade being 100)
  • 1 final exam (with the best achievable grade being 100)

The ANGEL gradebook will automatically do the calculations for you as you enter your grades.  No more spreadsheets and formulas to figure out!
Technology is great but it is always a good idea to have a printed or saved copy of your gradebook.  Not only can technology be fallible, but, if, for some reason, a student questioned their grade in the future you would have your own copy of the gradebook even if you were no longer using ANGEL.  It is very easy to do.
  1. Go to the manage tab, then gradebook.
  2. On the left side you will see the print option.
  3. Click on it and generate a pdf. You can even change the font if you would like to view it in a larger size.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Extending the Classroom with Google+

Recently, Information Services made two new Google tools available through our Gmail accounts.  These tools, Google+ and Blogger, were implemented at the request of several faculty who wanted to experiment with them in their classes.  One of the benefits of having access to these tools from within our NSCC Google suite is that faculty and students will not have to sign-up for a separate Gmail account with an additional username and password.

Google+ is Google's social networking platform.  Faculty, staff, and students now have access to this tool from within our Google suite by clicking on the +You (or +Your Name) option in the black toolbar at the top.

Google+ has several features and one of them is Google Hangouts which is a tool that allows for video conferencing with up to ten people.

Here are just a few uses of Google Hangouts inside and outside of the classroom:
  • Hold small group meetings with faculty, staff or students
  • Conduct virtual office hours
  • Share computer screen to walk through a web site or demonstrate a software program
  • View and discuss YouTube videos
  • View and/or edit Google Documents collaboratively for writing workshops or group projects
  • Bring in a guest lecturer
To use Google Hangouts, you do need to set up a Google+ profile within your Gmail account.  You can do one-on-one video conferencing without a Google+ profile.
Note: When entering your birth date, make sure you do not select a year that will make you 13 years or younger. This will lock your North Shore Gmail account.
For more information on social media in the classroom and using Google+, please take a look at these resources:
Please do not hesitate to contact us at to brainstorm ideas for integrating Google+ and other social media into your teaching or for assistance in using any of these tools.

• Do you see a use for Google+, especially Google Hangouts, in the teaching and learning environment?  What goals might this tool help you meet?
• What challenges do you see to using Google+?
• What role, if any, does social media play in the classroom?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Social Media & Teaching at NSCC

Social Media & Teaching at NSCC

Social Media:
  • Can foster student to student, student to faculty, and student to content interactions.
  • Can facilitate communication expediently.
  • Can encourage informal learning and the development of personal information networks for students.
  • Can aid in developing meaningful connections with students.

When to Use Social Media in the Classroom:
  • To encourage informal discussions between students and faculty.
  • To identify and share new or recently-discovered content that is course relevant.
  • To provide a voice for those who find classroom settings intimidating or challenging.
  • To make education accessible in unique ways the classroom inhibits.
  • To collaborate on a piece of media (text, image, sound, video, etc) for meaningful discussion that can be captured and reproduced in other settings.

Different Social Media & Potential Assignments or Projects

  • Student journals
  • Faculty observations & students comment
  • Course blog where all students contribute relevant posts related to the course
  • Collaborative note-taking
  • Group blogs based upon different course-topics
Google Hangouts

  • Student-faculty video conferences
  • Student group conferences
  • Collaborative work space
  • Office hours
  • Peer reviews
  • Small-group workshops with students and faculty

  • News-tracking for different disciplines
  • Live classroom question forum
  • Encouraging dialogue with professionals within a given field
  • Collaborative note-taking
  • Tweeting live events

  • Social bookmarking
  • Organize online course readings
  • Collectively annotating course material
  • Research space for project/paper
  • Develop a collection of supplemental resources that can be reproduced for the next course.

Recommendations for Using Social Media in the Classroom
We always encourage faculty to contact the Instructional Technology and Design Team - Andrea Milligan (, Lance Eaton (, David Houle (, & Patricia Lavoie ( for help in addressing some of the following concerns:  
  • Gaining familiarity with the tool.
  • Aligning usage of social media with course goals and objectives.
  • Making the tool accessible and easy to learn for students.
  • Developing guidelines about the ways in which the tool will be used (and how students will be evaluated with regards to its usage).

For More Information
Please visit the ITD Social Media Resources page at:


  1. Log into North Shore Gmail (
  2. Click on More in the black toolbar across the top of the screen.
  3. Click on Blogger.
  4. You will be prompted to create a profile.  Select Create a Limited Profile for Blogger.
  5. You will then be prompted to select a Display Name.  This is the name that will show up when you post on Blogger.
Once in Blogger:
  1. Select New Blog to create a new blog.
  2. Provide your blog with a name.
  3. Create a name for your Blog's address (often an abbreviated version of your blog's name)
  4. Select a Design Template for your Blog (how you want the blog to appear--this can be changed later on).
  5. Select Create blog!
  6. You will be returned to your Dashboard where it will list your blog.  To start composing a blog, click  Start posting or the pencil icon under your blog's title.

  1. Log into North Shore Gmail (  
  2. To set up your Google+ account with the domain:  
    1. Click on the +You in the black toolbar across the top of the screen.  
    2. Click on the down arrow next to your email address and then the Join Google+ button. 
  3. In step 1 (Upgrade):  
    1. You will need to check off the box that reads: “I understand the changes to Picasa Web Albums”.  
    2. We recommend that you uncheck the box that reads: “Google may use my account information to personalize +1s content”. 
    3. Click the Upgrade button. 
  4. In step 2 (Add people):  
    1. You can just click the Continue button at this point.  You do  not need to add any people.  
    2. Click the Continue button at the “Follow interesting people and pages” screen.  
    3. Click the Continue anyway button at the “you might be lonely...” screen. 
  5. At step 3 (Be awesome):  
  6. Click the Finish button.  You do not need to add a photo or fill out the rest of the information (unless you want to). 
  7. Once you have set up your Google+ account, you will see +Your Name in the black toolbar across the top of the screen instead of +You.

Once in Google+:  
  1. Click on the Start a hangout button (on your Google+ home page) to create a video conferencing space.  
  2. Enter in the email addresses of students or colleagues to invite to the hangout.  
  3. Provide your hangout a name (for example: CPS100 Office Hours)  
  4. Click the Hang out button.

Note: Google+ is available on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.  Also, use of Google+ and Blogger fall under NSCC’s Computer Use Policy (  For full Social Media Guidelines, visit: