San Jacinto College social media efforts recognized
PASADENA, Texas — San Jacinto College continues to set best practices for higher education social media. As part of the “Getting Connected: Harnessing the Power of Social Media Technology to Enhance Community College Student Success” grant, San Jacinto College Social Media Coordinator, Alyssa Tinsley, was recognized at the grant’s summer convening.
San Jacinto College is one of one of eight community colleges awarded an $80,000 social media-oriented grant by the League for Innovation in the Community College in October of 2011. The three-year project was developed in conjunction with the University of Arizona, Claremont Graduate University, and a team of Schools App developers at Inigral, Inc. The goal of the grant is to increase understanding of issues relevant to social media technology’s ability to connect students to college-based information and resources, and to increase retention rates and student success. As part of the study, Inigral’s Facebook application, Schools App, is being used by the eight designated schools to better understand the role that social media plays within academic success.
Members of the grant’s principle research team, Dr. Regina Deil-Amen, associate professor, Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Arizona, and Dr. Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, associate professor, School of Educational Studies, Claremont Graduate University, recognized Tinsley as a "weekend warrior" for working through last minute issues surrounding the San Jacinto College site visit such as compliance with the internal review board and student interview scheduling.
“The most challenging task was coordinating the site visit,” said Tinsley. “We had some issues to work out regarding the internal review board application and specific state laws regarding compensation for the interviews and focus groups,” she added. Part of the challenge lied in having to contact students during the College’s spring break. The interviews and focus groups were arranged, and the grant site visit was a success.
The College has 3,863 currently enrolled students and 204 faculty and staff using Schools App. To date, more than 1,968 conversations have been started within Schools App, translating into 12,776 user posts. Within the application, 4,364 "communities" have been created, which center on topics ranging from class year, academic pursuit, hobbies, and favorite movies. Students are encouraged to create their own communities, and faculty members have also created communities around their courses.
Beginning with the Fall 2012 semester, several sections of the College’s required student success course will be available online. San Jacinto College Central Campus Instructional designer, Laura Armer, is interested in building components of the course into Schools App, such as class discussions, office hours, and the live chat availability. “I was trying to think of ways to create a sense of community and connection among the students in what will primarily be an online course experience,” said Armer. “With Schools App, a private community can be created for a specific class, so the discussions can take place among the students in an environment (Facebook) that they are comfortable with, but yet is separate from the students’ personal Facebook accounts. I believe the students will benefit from having this online community because it will be a comfortable, easy way for them to respond to the faculty’s discussion questions and to interact with other students,” Armer added.
Tinsley is also working with other key student service areas, like enrollment services, to encourage more social media engagement and added student support through Schools App. “I'm hoping we're getting to a point where it will be used more in the classroom,” said Tinsley. “Currently, students are mainly using Schools App to meet others outside of the classroom and share recommendations about professors and courses with each other. Research suggests that the more engaged students are with the College, that they are more likely to succeed and persist, and Schools App provides another avenue for them to engage with San Jacinto College. To me, watching the students support one another and being able to offer them assistance in a format where they are the most comfortable is the best part of this process.”
About San Jacinto College: Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SanJacintoCollege.
Photo: San Jacinto College Social Media Coordinator, Alyssa Tinsley, was recently recognized for her efforts as coordinator for the “Getting Connected: Harnessing the Power of Social Media Technology to Enhance Community College Student Success” grant from the League for Innovation in the Community College. Photo credit: Andrea Vasquez, San Jacinto College marketing department.