By Amy Erickson
In this month’s Online Classroom newsletter, Leilani Carver shares challenges she faced and innovations she employed after being asked to offer a public speaking class online. While many topics seem to lend themselves to the online format, public speaking did not. She was concerned about her students’ experience, but used many fruitful strategies to captivate her students. Although I’ve written about several of the classroom tactics she presented in her article, the following were new to me: FutureMe, Pinterest, and Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action site.
In December, I was thinking about goals for 2017. I read an article that recommended writing down one-, five-, and ten-year goals for one’s personal life, business, and health. I knew from years of coaching that goals needed to be specific, they required deadlines, and they needed to be visible. Not long after my coaching career, I learned a similar strategy for goals; a strategy Carver (2017) uses with students called SMART goals. (If you are new to the SMART goal acronym, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.)
While coaching, I was frequently discussing, setting, and evaluating goals with student-athletes. Until reading Carver’s article, however, it had not occurred to me to ask students to set academic goals for themselves. She recommended using FutureMe to do just that. FutureMe is a website that allows visitors to send an email to their future selves. Carver (2017) asked students to write out SMART goals for the class (or semester, or year) in an email that will be returned to them at a later date. Asking students to write emails to their future selves encourages them to take time to consider their goals for the class, along with strategies to achieve those goals. Instructors could ask students to write an email outlining goals at the start of the class and possibly share it in a discussion at the conclusion of class. (This would be equally fun for instructors to do with their own goals!) I think my motivation would increase if I knew an email was flying around out in cyberspace waiting to ultimately find its way back to my in-box. Perhaps FutureMe emails will similarly make students more accountable or attentive to what it will take to succeed. It is certainly worth a try.
I have an account on Pinterest, but I do not really use it. When I used Pinterest, it was to look at designs for remodeling or patterns for knitting a hat for my grandnephew. Carver (2017) stated, “I use Pinterest for sharing content, inspirational quotations, discussion prompts, comics, examples (both good and bad), writing prompts and tips, and media representations—and to make my students laugh” (para. 12). After reading this, I was prompted to revisit Pinterest. When I pulled up the site, the following populated my screen: Books for Kids Who Don’t Like to Read, 53 Books You Won’t Be Able to Put Down, and 11 Essential Grammar Rules. Say no more! I’m going to keep Pinterest close at hand for future students.
Finally, Carver (2017) likes to “incorporate interactive exercises by utilizing the resources provided by University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good in Action website, which offers science-based practices for living a meaningful life” (para. 6). For example, when studying positive psychology, Carver (2017) asks students to keep a gratitude journal. I think this website can be valuable even for those of us not teaching psychology courses. Recommending tools for living mindfully, affirming values, or practicing loving kindness can show our commitment to helping students and making the world a better place; win-win.