Training college’s movies are successful with college students
By Mike Kilen
AVV news office
Dr. Brandon Juarez was in the dark and wearing a helmet at 5am
At this crazy hour, he wished everyone a good morning in the style of 2021 – on an Instagram story.
Juarez was ready to get on his bike and prepare for an Ironman triathlon in November. But on that day in early September, the Grand Canyon University College of Education (COE) associate professor was just beginning to guide viewers through his day in short video clips on the popular social media site.
Here he is standing on campus in front of Building 33 late in the morning and is wearing a bright blue jacket.
Here he stands in front of his class, his cell phone long-sleeved in selfie video style.
“All right, everyone, that’s ELM 210, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 am, and these are future teachers. Take a look at them, ”Juarez said before waving to his class of cheering students.
The new “Takeover Thursdays” on the COE Instagram feed (gcu_coe) from faculty and staff are part of an expanded social media effort to show executives and connect with students in whatever medium they use .
“One of our college goals is to put a face to the teaching profession so the wider community knows that there are hard working, dedicated, and passionate people who work tirelessly every day to ensure that students at all levels receive support they need for their success. ”COE Dean Dr. Meredith Critchfield called.
It works. Since Instagram Stories started on May 27, engagement on the account has increased 400%, which also features students, alumni, and faculty in Spotlight posts.
Fifteen teachers and staff have posted video stories that will take viewers on a journey that includes everything from bike rides to morning swimming lessons with their kids.
GCU students learned a lot about their teachers, and the staff learned a lot about each other.
“During COVID, the world all got smaller. It’s kind of a glimpse into what everyone was doing on a daily basis. ” Dr. Tracy Vasquez, Assistant Professor and Chair of Professional Growth and Development at the COE, said about the start of summer, which lasted strongly into the fall. “The students really started to understand that.”
Monthly interactions on the site in August increased almost fivefold from June to 2,300.
Vasquez, who co-directed the effort, said it was good to see colleagues who take care of themselves with fitness and other activities, but also in the way they give back to the community, e.g.
It has been shown that COE faculties emerge early. Dr. Lisa Bernier‘s story showed she was ready to take off at 5:15 p.m. telling viewers that she is in her 36th year as an educator and graduated from GCU in the 1980s.
“One thing I have learned over the years as an educator: You have to have a balanced life. So here I am with my Bible and my diary, ”she said of what she had learned from her reading.
Later that day, she finished her story by the pool.
COE executives used the knowledge of young employees, including COE Executive Assistant and GCU alum Lauren Balsley and student assistant Emily Sharp, a major in elementary school.
Sharp helps put together the short clips for the feed and has been counted to tell what the students will be reacting to on social media, which is dominated by Instagram in the current group.
“I found the quality to be good, but they are in careers of public speaking,” she said. “They are natural talents and feel comfortable in front of the camera.”
Students learn a lot about how faculty members go through their day.
“Wow, my professor does that outside of the office? It puts it in perspective, ”Sharp said. “You have all of these things going, but you put so much effort back as a professor.”
A social media presence is essential in any medium of the moment.
“I think the pandemic has shown educators the importance of having a digital footprint and multiple ways for students and other stakeholders to communicate with us,” Critchfield said.
Balsley has taken a leadership role in increasing that presence. She sees the videos and stories as a way for students to find out what their future life might be like, and she uses methods that professors advertise in their stories.
For example, associate professor Dr. Kimber Underdown promoted the use of Flipgrid, an app that enables teachers to enable video discussions.
Although the stories on Instagram only live on the website for 24 hours, the profiles of students and alumni are permanent.
A new idea this year are ongoing contributions from GCU alumna Shay Quitno, a 2021 graduate who took up a teaching position at Hermosa Vista Elementary School in Mesa.
In a video post on her first day of school, she admitted a sleepless fear before standing in front of her first grade.
“They walked into the room and it was like a switch had failed and my instincts activated,” she said.
She felt relief, and the audience felt it with her.
That’s the beauty of social media when used well – it connects others to their experiences, whether it’s graduates in a new job or faculty members sweating hard on a bike.
“It was fun showing the students the human side of their professors,” said Juarez. “This adds to the relationship we want to build with the students.”
Grand Canyon University senior author Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.
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