Showing posts with label Faculty and Communication with Students. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faculty and Communication with Students. Show all posts

Monday, December 14, 2020

How to Use Canvas to NUDGE Students to Complete Assignments

I am a TOTAL fan of the "message students who" feature on Canvas. Our university utilizes Canvas as our learning management platform. With this feature, I can message students who...

have not completed assignments
have not communicated with me
have an average below a certain threshold
have an average ABOVE a certain threshold
have done a STELLAR job on assignments
and MORE

I use this feature for EVERYTHING! You should definitely try it out! It is free and I've convinced other faculty to use it as well!

Check out my book - Retaining College Students Using Technology: A Guidebook for Student Affairs and Academic Affairs Professionals.

Remember to order copies for your team as well!

Interested in a specific student success topic or do you need a speaker for an upcoming conference? Contact me via direct message on Twitter or join our Student Success and Retention Institute - Learning Community on Facebook!

Thanks for visiting! 


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
Professor of Communication
Executive Director of the Texas Social Media Research Institute & Rural Communication Institute

My Social Media Channels!
Remember to Follow Me on Twitter! @drjtedwards
I Always Post Higher Education Videos on YouTube
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Watch My Videos on Twitter Live -
Email Me! I am PR Friendly! -

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are You a Professor-On-The-Go? Well, Google Voice is for You!


I am one of those "very odd" people who does not like to give my personal cell phone number to my students. As a result, I started using Google Voice in June 2010. I created a Google Voice number (based in Waco) and I added the number to my syllabus and university voice mail.

Whenever a student calls the telephone number they also call my cell phone and office phone number (I can set the service to only ring during certain hours and/or on certain days - i.e. - not on weekends). When I do not have time to talk to them, I just send them a text message and the students usually appreciate this aspect of Google Voice.

In addition to the calling and text message feature, Google Voice also transcribes your voice messages to text AND saves the voice message in my e-mail. This is very helpful when you are attending a meeting and/or teaching class.

I use Google Talk to communicate with friends and colleagues via video chat (on Gmail) and I make free calls at work through the software (without even picking up the telephone)!

This is an essential resource for professors-on-the-go! I value this service and I hope that they continue to provide this FREE service for us!

If you would like some more TIPS for using Google Voice, read this great article from Life Hacker -

Ask questions about this wonderful program for Friday's "Ask a Millennial Professor" post! 

Millennial Professor - Jennifer T. Edwards, Ed.D.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Admit It, I am a Binge Grader..

Millennial Professor Jennifer T. Edwards, Ed.D.


This summer, I am teaching the second half of my online course and I am a few days behind in grading. Okay, maybe I assigned a little too much in my online course, but I did not want to make this online course any less rigorous than my face-to-face course.

Binge Grading Explained
As a result, I have a lot of assignments to grade. Between the Google Doc assignments and the blackboard assignments, my days are consumed with grading. Not only do I grade one assignment, but I tend to grade SEVERAL assignments at one time (BINGE GRADING). I do not like grading assignments at office when the door is open. Here are my favorite spots for grading student assignments AND writing scholarly papers:

Five of My Favorite Binge Grading Spots!
1. Starbucks or Hastings
2. Riding in the Car
3. Marriott Hotels (free breakfast and free coffee/tea at anytime)
4. My Backyard
5. The Home Office I share with my husband.

My favorite time to grade papers is REALLY early in the morning (6 am to 9 am) at my desk in my home office or in a Marriott hotel room from 9 pm to 2 am.

Grading Papers with a SIZEABLE Amount of Feedback...
When I grade my students' assignments, I strive to give them a wealth of feedback.
If they spent time writing a paper, I am going to read the paper and contribute at least 20 to 30 comments per paper.

Ironically, yesterday I discovered an article titled "Students Mostly Satisfied, But Welcome Faculty Feedback on Papers". This article focuses on my undergraduate experiences, where I received letter or numerical grades on my paper but I did not know how I earned the grade. There were red marks on the front page, but I am not sure if the professor read past the first couple of pages. Not surprisingly, I am one of those people who strives to read EVERY SINGLE page that a student submits. This is a very time consuming task, but I really want to READ what the students write in their papers!

Google Documents Spoils Me...The Feedback Monster!
I adopt new technologies like Google Docs to provide instant feedback on their process (even before the paper is due). I configure the document to send me updates via e-mail whenever the document is modified. Several students contributed comments on an informal survey on Google Docs that I dispersed in the spring.

Are YOU a BINGE GRADER? If so, contribute your FAVORITE grading spots!

Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
Millennial Professor

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Do Not Give Up on My Online and Face-to-Face Students, Do YOU?

My experience as faculty has been a very rewarding, yet stressful experience. As a student affairs practitioner, we are encouraged to care for each and every student we communicate with on a daily basis. This is an easy process, because we usually communicated with a few select students on a daily basis.

However, as faculty we communicate with many students three times or more per week. We become an integrated part of each students' daily lives, we learn about their celebrations, their heartaches, and we observe their learning experiences.

As faculty, I try to learn each of my students' names, their hometowns, at least five facts about their lives, and their future career plans. This week, I encountered a student that I taught a few years ago at an campus international festival. I addressed her by name and we had a great conversation. I could tell that she was very surprised that I remembered her names and facts about her current life and future career.

As my career progresses, I hope to continue this strong level of interpersonal connectivity between faculty and students. This is a stressful process, but I hope that my students will remember my in-class and out-of-class efforts long after they graduate.

This is my experience as faculty, however some faculty give up on their students. Here is an article titled, "Do Faculty Give Up on Students?" and it focuses on how faculty can make a positive OR negative impact on their students. This impact seems to be directly influenced by a level of care that is exhibited by the faculty member.

Millennial Professor
Jennifer T. Edwards, Ed.D.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ms. Mentor! I Need Your Advice! (Book Review)

Ms. Mentor's New and Ever More Impeccable Advice for Women and Men in Academia

Over the break, I had the pleasure of reading, "Ms. Mentor's New and Ever More Impeccable Advice for Women and Men in Academia" by Emily Toth. I think Ms. Toth is the same woman that responds to the "Ms. Mentor" column in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

This book referred to the pleasures and perils that faculty encounter on mos
t college campuses (especially on the tenure track). The chapters in this book range from "Stewing in Graduate School" and "Love and Sex in Academia" to "You're Hired! Early Years in a Strange New World" and "What is Life After Tenure?"

These chapters were relatively eye opening, but I really enjoyed a section titled, "What Do College Teachers Do?" in "The Fine and Quirky Art of Teaching" chapter. In this section Toth (2009) offers a mind boggling statement:

Ms. Mentor urges her flock - teachers and would-be teachers - to take stock of themselves once they begin teaching. It can be the most rewarding and enriching job on earth, and the most challenging...No other professions, except maybe courtroom law and standup comedy, pay us for constantly thinking, and for keeping our intellects sparklingly alive (p. 125).

In the same chapter, Toth gives advice to all faculty who wish to make a difference in their students' lives:

Learning students' names, create discussion circles, make chat rooms, assign hands-on group projects, require in-class presentations, encourage role playing. Today's students learn by doing - making a Civil War - era quilt from a pattern found on the internet, writing a sonnet...You may fear that you're denying your students access to The Expert (you). But if they are teenagers, most would rather interact with each other than listen to you (p. 141).

I strongly believe the last sentence of the prior paragraph. I was a millennial student and now I am a professor from the millennial generation. I have been in the same seats that the students are currently seated in. As a result, I know the boredom that some of them experience in the classrooms every day.

In addition, the book features a great bibliography. Some books that I plan to request through interlibrary loan are:

"I'm the Teacher, You're the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom" by Patrick Allitt

"Will Teach for Food" by Cary Nelson

"In Pursuit of Knowledge: Scholars, Status, and Academic Culture" by Deborah L. Rhode

I hope you enjoyed the short book review!

Millennial Professor

Friday, February 27, 2009

Does a Professor's Attire Have an Impact on Student Learning?

The University of Cincinnati's Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning has a blog titled, "ProfPost". This website featured a VERY interesting video on the impact of professor's clothing on student learning. (As I stated before, I ALWAYS wear a suit to class.) I wonder a professor's attire has an impact on student respect or learning.

Here's the video from the ProfPost website.

Monday, February 16, 2009

El Diablo is in the Details: Fundrasing within Academic Departments

For the past couple of weeks, it seems most of my higher ed colleagues received letters from their college or university regarding the economic crisis. Academic departments are coping with economic crisis by implementing one or more of the following steps:
  • Increasing the faculty course load from 4:4 to 5:5.
  • Increasing the number of students in each class.
  • Releasing visiting faculty and adjunct faculty from their duties at the institution.
  • Eliminating out-of-state travel.
  • Decreasing the departmental travel budget.
The economic situation for some academic departments is becoming so bleak that they are supplementing their shrinking budgets with external funds from companies.

A few weeks ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article titled, "When Ads Enter the Classroom, It is a Deal with El Diablo". This article focused on a professor's plan to earn the department some seed money by advertising for a local business (El Diablo) in his classroom. His advertising plan included the following: placing the restaurant's logo on the class syllabus, dispersing El Diablo stickers to students, and projecting the logo on one of the classroom walls. This plan was downgraded when university administrators heard of his fund raising strategy.

Another classroom advertisement case stems from an article (This Lecture Brought to You By McDonalds) featured on the Colombia Spector Online. Apparently some professors invite Kaplan representatives to advertise their services at the beginning of the year. According to the article, some students are annoyed with this practice and are seeking actual course content in their classes.

A few questions stem from this practice:
1. Why are student services departments (athletic events, etc.) able to accept advertisement dollars while academic departments are not able to accept money from companies?
2. What incentives are professors receiving from their fundraising ventures?
3. What postive and/or negative implications does in-class fundraising have on student learning?

Millennial Professor

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ask a Millennial: "Four Ways to Reach Millennial Students in the Classroom"

Our first official question comes from Mitch ( about reaching millennials in the classroom.
I am writing for advice on reaching the millennials in the classroom. This is particularly a pain point for me, since I am a millennial myself. Any input you have is very helpful.
Well Mitch, here's my answer:
As a person who has served on both sides of the spectrum (student and professor), I will offer "Four Ways to Reach Millennial Students in the Classroom".
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 1 - USE STUDENT ENGAGEMENT ACTIVITIES
I define "student engagement activities" as small groups, in-class panel discussions, service learning, skits, blogs, wikis, and other activities. Millennials are taking many classes, they are involved in extra curricular activities, and are working AT THE SAME TIME. As a result, we have to keep these students awake during class. (I don't know about your teaching style, but I require students to attend class during every class session. This requires engaging activities that keep them awake and provide them with a closer relationship with the class material.) I use all of the above activities and I RARELY have students who fall asleep in class.
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 2 - POST-GRADUATION WORLD APPLICATION
Millennials actively engage themselves with course material that has "post-graduation" (real world) application. This generation wants instant gratification. For example, almost 75% of these students work jobs that require their attention for more than 20+ hours a week. They work to satisfy their needs and wants, which include cell phone bills, new ipod wants/needs, itunes downloads, GAS, college beverages, etc. This drive to have instant gratification applies in the classroom environment as well. For example, when a new concept is introduced in the classroom, these millennial students want to know how this will help them in the future. Make sure that you show these students exactly how they will use the classroom material in their post-graduation world.
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 3 - BE ENTHUSIASTIC
Professors/teachers - Try to exude enthusiasm in the classroom environment! If you are not excited about the material that you are teaching, the students will not be excited about the material that they are "learning". Millennials spent their lives watching Sesame Street, Camp Anawana, Salute Your Shorts, You Can't Do That On Television, What Would You Do, Sisqo's Dance Show on MTV, and Real World - they need stimulation! Therefore, be enthusiastic about your course content!
Millennial Reaching Mechanism 4 - USE TECHNOLOGY!
Reach millennials where they are - on the internet! Use an instant messenger to stay in contact with your students (I use yahoo IM). Join a social networking website. I would suggest The career services office on my campus says that many employers are searching linkedin for entry-level candidates.
Use your college or university's content management system (WebCT or Blackboard). I use blackboard to reduce my carbon footprint (i.e. - killing trees). I post the syllabus, assignments, announcements, and I require the students to interact with each other via the message board. In addition, I give the students their speech grades on blackboard via the grading rubric tool. This keeps the students accountable for their course grade by checking blackboard daily.
What a wonderful question Mitch! Everyone - Let me know what you think!
Also, please remember to submit your question for the "Ask a Millennial Question" before next Friday.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Professors Strike Back! - Professors on Facebook

If I were a freshman student, would I want to have my professor as a friend on facebook? Facebook is supposed to be a website that college students keep in contact with college students and alumni keep in contact with alumni (or any combination of the prior groups). Now the prevailing question is, "What happens with the professor happens to be a newly minted alumna/alum of an institution and is an active member of facebook?

Today, the New York Times released an article titled, "The Professor as Open Book". I received the article this morning via Google Reader (RSS feed). This article touches on the following topics:
  • -> Professors Strike Back (A television show that allows professors to verbally refute their students' negative comments on
  • Professors' Personal Decisions to Divulge Their Personal Information on Social Networking Websites.

My Analysis - I have a facebook profile that is private (my students cannot search for me). This profile affords me several benefits: (a) I can communicate with friends from my college years, (b) I can conduct research on facebook with students from other institutions, and (c) I am able to post pictures of family/friends without having undergraduates viewing them.

However, I think that professors should have a public profile that their students can access. Research has proven that professors who have public facebook profiles are more likely to have a positive relationship with their students. In addition, I strongly urge professors to practice professional demeanor on

Sometimes it is hard to do because there are so many features that jeopardize academic professionalism. For example, facebook users can take quizzes on their profiles that may not be very professional (Test Your Sex in the City IQ) or they also have to option to add applications (Send a Drink - alcoholic, non-alcoholic, water). I recently read an article about student affairs professionals and - Best Practices Among Student Affairs Professionals Using Social Networking Websites.

Question of the Week - Should professors have profiles on facebook?

Millennial Professor

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Communicating with Students via Yahoo Instant Messenger

Communicating with Millennial Students by Using the Yahoo Instant Messenger Program:
A Forthcoming Study

In the fall, I started using Yahoo Instant Messenger to communicate with my students during office hours. My office hours are in the morning and afternoon. I try to make office hours convenient for both me and my students, but sometimes both cannot be accomplished for all parties involved.

Therefore, I incorporated the use of Yahoo Instant Messenger to communicate with my students. Most of my students are millennials and they are excited about an additional way to communicate with me during office hours and outside of the workday. However, I use the "invisible" feature very frequently to avoid the "24 hour professor" syndrome.

The Future Study
I am writing a paper about my experiences, but I wanted to share then with the blog readers. Last fall, only five students from my 100+ students joined my instant messaging program. In addition, most of the students communicated with me through This spring, over 20 students have joined my instant messaging program and midterms have not occurred yet. Who knows what the number will be by the end of the semester.

Implications for Further Research
After the semester ends, the students do not delete my name from their Yahoo Instant Messenger list and I am able to maintain communication with them. This may serve as a longitudinal qualitative assessment mechanism for my virtual communication research.

My Instant Messaging Background
I have used instant messaging programs since 1998 when I was still in high school. Back then we had ICQ and I thought that program was the best thing since sliced bread. During college I made the switch to AOL instant messenger to keep in contact with my sorority sisters. In graduate school, I started using Yahoo IM,, and recently

Monday, February 4, 2008

Publishing Revisited...

Publishing is important...they say. I intrapersonally reply, "Important eh? I need to research something that has future implications in my life and in the lives of others... Can publishing accomplish this?"

Sure it can, publishing is important. Important enough for me to spend 7:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m. polishing my faculty evaluation packet with current publications.

Believe it or not, I have almost 10 publications "in process". Now the term, "in process" is relative and can be misconstrued, thus begins the clarification process...
For me, the term "in process" means that I have a Word 2007 document for the following topics (included by not limited to):
  1. Engaging business and professional speaking students in a small group-based business plan competition.

  2. Supports for and barriers to on-time graduation as perceived by Hispanic American undergraduate students attending historically black colleges and universities and historically white colleges and universities.

  3. Student engagement and the high school science classroom.

  4. Service learning and the intercultural communication classroom.

  5. Communication among African American undergraduate students and academic advisers.

  6. Undergraduate students’ perceptions of the future implications of facebook and myspace.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Faculty on Facebook?

My goals for today are to: a) clean my desk (at home), b) pay bills, and c) think of an additional research idea. For some reason, the "faculty on facebook" focus just caught my attention as I sifted through the research material in my home office.

I often cut special articles from my weekly subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education and organize them in a folder. I found an advertisement for lap desks from the Library of Congress and an article.

This article, "
For Professors, 'Friending' Can Be Fraught'" by Sara Lipka, really caught my eye. My professors are joining facebook and are befriending their students. Being the millennial that I am, I have chosen not to venture in that direction. Since I actually look like an undergraduate student, I do not want to be perceived by the students and the faculty of my institution as a "young" professor. By the using the term "young", I mean to allude to the fact that many young professors do "hang out" with their students and consequently have problems controlling their classroom. As a result, I am just friends with the people from my former institutions.

Facebook can be beneficial for team building outside of the classroom environment, but I do not want to become "too friendly" with my students. In addition, I promised all of my students that I will not look at their facebook profiles, because I do not want to have my "in class" image of my students tarnished by information they choose to broadcast about themselves.

I may wait two to three more years before joining the online social networking websites that feature my current institution. Every millennial does not want to embrace the full capabilities of online social networking (i.e. - me).

By the way, I will definitely keep my blog updated on new articles that I find to supplement my research!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Faculty on Facebook - Beneficial or Detrimental?

I finally had a chance to read last week's edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education today! On page A18, there was an article titled, Facebook Lets Users Search Library Stacks. So, I did what any millennial would do and I accessed the article on the website.

Two Thumbs Up!
I added the JSTOR and WorldCat application to my facebook profile. They are WONDERFUL! Being the prolific academic in training that I strive to be, I added my favorite book of the moment - "Write to the Top! How to be a Prolific Academic". I am too excited about sharing my reviews of the book with others through the WorldCat application.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Looking Scholarly
The only negative aspect of adding the profile is that I will look "scholarly" in front of my friends from high school and undergraduate school. However, I did add a few of the professors from my former institution so I think that I may look "scholarly" in front of my colleagues. Well, I conclude that "looking scholarly" pays the bills.

Some Articles about Faculty on Facebook
Crossing Boundaries: Identity Management and Student/Faculty Relationships on the Facebook -

“Faculty Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Scholarly Communication”

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Once Was Adjunct, But Now I Am Found, Was Blind But Now I See

It is a jungle out there! Adjuncts just know HALF of what goes on in an academic department. I functioned as an adjunct for a year for a university and a community college and I did now know WHAT was going on among assistant professors/full-time faculty.

Adjunct Power
It is amazing how many people actually teach in adjunct positions. Currently, there are more adjunct professors than tenured or tenure-track professors (Finder, 2007).With this many people having power in higher education, it is interesting that this group of people do not have decision making power. I see this from my point of view as an assistant professor, but if I step back and look at the national situation from an adjunct's point of view I am appauled.

Possible Solutions
It would actually be interesting to see if adjuncts form a national/state union. Addressing the situation of decision making authority, my former community college actually allowed adjuncts to function on faculty senate. Unheard of! It was interesting, but I do not think that adjuncts could actually run for a position.

Here is an interesting book about the adjunct experience - "Ghosts in the Classroom : Stories of College Adjunct Faculty--and the Price We All Pay".