Integrating digital and social media tools into RA training programs can be an exciting and innovative way to hold your RAs’ attention. Below are some useful sites, apps, and services that you can use and some examples of how to use them. Have other ideas?
|Poll Everywhere www.polleverywhere.com
Poll Everywhere allows you to set up online polls that can be displayed in real-time in a web browser or embedded in a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation. RAs can text their answers to a poll-specific phone number, or enter answers through a web browser, and results will be displayed instantly. Poll Everywhere allows you to set up multiple choice or free-response-type polls. Basic level access is free and should be sufficient for your group even though it limits the number of responses.
Creating a Facebook group and inviting RAs to join is a great way to communicate messages to staff, allow them to share and post common group photos, and comment on almost anything. You can also integrate it into icebreakers where groups need to take team photos or videos and post them to the group. It’s also a great way to collect quotes or photos for later use in RA Recruitment materials. An alternative, if you’re sharing pictures, is to use a common hashtag on Instagram.
Establish a hashtag for your training and advertise this at the start. Hashtags are basically common search terms that you can use that allow you to set up your own virtual “chat room.” Searching for that hashtag produces an entire threaded conversation from your community. Don’t use something generic like “#RATraining” to avoid confusion with others that may be using that term. You can use Twitter to start conversations, allow students to submit questions, and even stream the results on a projector at the front of the room. See examples of twitter wall apps.
|You Tube www.youtube.com
(alternative site: vimeo.com)
YouTube is a great way to engage students in training videos over the summer or during RA Training as “homework” or prep work for the next day. If you find videos you want to include in your training presentations, you can also use a site like keepvid.com to download them and embed them in a presentation. This will allow you to show them without needing an internet connection.
|Google Docs docs.google.com
(and related Google products like Google Sites and Calendars)
These online collaborative tools are excellent resources for creating and sharing duty calendars, sign-up lists for opening tasks, program tracking, polling, and many other collaborative projects. Docs allow you to change sharing preferences so students don’t need a Google account to edit them. Two often overlooked features include the ability to distribute surveys (Google Forms) and create staff-specific web portals (Google Sites).
GroupMe is a group SMS text and internet based messaging service. Add your hall staff into a list and it creates a virtual text chat room. Members can send messages to a common number or group and they get sent to all members of the group. Services like this are great for keeping in touch with a NACURH student delegation or for a staff to share timely information and coordinate during opening or other critical times. This can be used with or without a GroupMe smartphone app (although the app enables many additional features).
SlideShare is an online repository for different presentations and documents. You can easily upload PowerPoint, Keynote, and PDF presentations and tag them so others can easily search for them. This offers a great way for RAs to review presentations later. You can also do a search for presentations designed by others.
Prezi is an online app that allows you to create interesting “zooming” presentations for your training program. It’s a great alternative to the standard boring PowerPoint and can be accessed online at anytime. Another alternative is to use Apple’s Keynote (available only on the Mac). Keynote is similar to PowerPoint but was built with much more cinematic transitions and the ability to more easily integrate multimedia. The feature that sets Prezi apart from these other apps is the ability to share them publicly on the web, much like Slideshare. Haikudeck also offers this feature.
A Note About Social Media Social Justice
When engaging in any of these technologies, it is important to think about universal design and the ability of all of your RAs to participate. Although many of these sites allow increased accessibility for some, they can create new barriers for others. Additionally, the socio-economic status of your participants, and the cost of smart phones and txt messaging plans can also present a barrier.
Image Credit: Scroll and Click by SamahR