Education upgraded to 21st century with social media

IUS Horizon

IU Southeast has found a way to integrate social networking into student’s education through the use of their Oncourse account. The new program is called CourseNetworking.

CourseNetworking is a social network available to IUS students that is focused on improving the educational experience by opening up dialog and interaction between like-minded students.

Sarah Zike, director of business development at CourseNetworking, said CourseNetworking is designed to offer students a cultural experience.

“It is a useful educational tool because it helps open up the classroom,” she said. “It helps students see their academic discipline from another perspective.”

David Rainbolt, IU Southeast Institute for Learning and Teaching Excellence technology coordinator said CourseNetworking functions as an add-on for Oncourse.

Rainbolt said CourseNetworking provides features such as discussion forums, polls, quizzes and events. He said faculty members can grade interaction and participation by tracking anar seeds.

For each action on CourseNetworking, users can gain anar seeds. He said anar is the Persian word for pomegranate, and these seeds serve as a point system for CourseNetworking.

Rainbolt said using default anar seeds settings, users can earn up to 20 seeds per day, 100 per week and 1600 per semester. Faculty members can decide how to apply anar seeds to student grades, he said.

Some faculty members could decide to use anar seeds as extra credit points or as part of a participation grade, Rainbolt said.

He said CourseNetworking is still in the Beta-testing stage and some features are not available or fully functional.

“Beta testing, for CourseNetworking, is a state where the site is still being heavily refined,” Zike said. “We’re still collecting known issues, learning about bugs and optimizing the site for the iPad.”

Rainbolt said it will take time for faculty and students to get used to using CourseNetworking.

“It’s taken a long time for Oncourse to get where it’s at,” he said.

Zikes said that a major developing feature of CourseNetworking is a mobile app, something Oncourse does not offer. She said she those designing the program expect a version of the CourseNetworking mobile app to be available soon.

Another upcoming feature, a video feature, CourseNetworking will allow one-way video casts, Zikes said. She said instructors can broadcast lectures, and students can broadcast class presentations.

Rainbolt said CourseNetworking also allows integration with Twitter and Facebook, and he thinks the interaction with social media is a valuable aspect of CourseNetworking.

“It’s an attempt to get students to think about class material when they aren’t in class,” he said.

He said if students are on Facebook and see that someone posted on CourseNetworking, it could remind students to do their homework.

Chelsey Engle, psychology junior, said she is not sure she wants CourseNetworking integrated into her social networking experience. She said she thinks school and social life should be kept separate, and she does not think CourseNetworking will affect her school experience much.

“I don’t need a reminder to do my homework,” Engle said.

Angelica Wiseman, psychology junior, said she likes the idea of integrating social networking into education but is worried it could be a distraction.

“It’s nice to think about school away from school because it helps reinforce learning,” she said. “But it can also be a distraction. For me, social media is a really bad distraction.”

Rainbolt said he is optimistic about the future of CourseNetworking at IU Southeast.

“I think it holds real potential,” he said. “It’s going to be a few years before that potential is realized.”

Zikes said CourseNetworking is interested in collecting feedbacks and suggestions from students during the Beta testing phase.

Students can visit to offer feedback.