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This content was published: September 24, 2018. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Activity Feed: An Easier Way to Increase Engagement

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Photo of Tracy Chapman singing 'Give Me One Reason' live

“Gimme one reason to stay here” Tracy Chapman, also most students; Image CC-By 4.0 by Hans Hillewaert

The number one variable that an educator can control to best facilitate success for a student is engagement. How do we convey an investment in students for a smooth process and excellent outcomes?

The asynchronous environment is a trade off: it has all the possibilities of self-propelled learning, but there is no longer the common space where the instructor’s daily or weekly engagement comes across naturally. However, the new Activity Feed tool may provide some of the benefits of the lost social common space.

The format is simplified and straightforward, and can offer the educator a place to more casually create an exchange of ideas. There is the ability to create posts (“messages”), and to attach a link, video, or other piece of media. There is also the ability to create an assignment within the tool itself, or to select an existing assignment.

Graphic illustrating the process to create a message or assignment

If creating an assignment from scratch, it is a simple and quick alternative to navigating to the ‘assignments’ tab. What is more, it may be a great opportunity to assign more casual, perhaps even ungraded, experiential “work” for the student to more thoroughly embody the content. If selecting an existing assignment, it can be a helpful reminder for the students to complete the work prior to a due date. Whether graded or ungraded, it is an arguably easier way to create assignments.

The Activity Feed is also a user-friendly way to promote Culturally Diverse Teaching. We know that creating more diverse opportunities for experiential learning can firm the presence of the educator in the student’s learning, and give the student a chance to put the material in their own context. It may be a bridge to far to rework the graded material just yet-but what if you tested new activities in a more relaxed space? How could your class benefit from a casual forum?

Fun ways to use Activity Feed:

  • You can create a ‘water cooler’ type message, ex: “Did anybody see SNL last weekend? Did you catch their take on ‘Pride and Prejudice’?” and post a link to the video clip (and allow commenting)
  • You can rename the “Activity Feed” to something more specific to your class, such as “Checking In,” and have it be a weekly check-in with the class
  • You can create graded, class specific and time sensitive assignments, ex: “The renowned Astronomy expert Laura Dern will be in Portland, 5 bonus points if you attend and post your favorite quote of hers!”
  • Create a weekly ‘weird facts about ___” post, and schedule them out to publish each Monday of the course
  • Use as a ‘first week check-in’ with students for them to stay enrolled in course

Graphic view of the homepage widget and how to create a message or assignment

How is this different from Announcement tool?

When do you use Activity feed vs. Announcement?

  • Use Activity feed to create information that pertains to the course for a limited time (the current term); ex. “There will be guest speaker coming to class on Thursday.” The activity feed message function cannot be carried over to future classes. However, the activity feed assignment function can be transferred to a new course, and you can re-link it back to the Activity feed there. It is designed for simple, fun messages – note the emojis!
  • Use Announcement to relay a message that you use every term; ex. “Welcome to your class. You can access your syllabus and course calendar from the Content area, inside the Course Information module.”

Want to start using it?

You can easily add Activity feed to your homepage. Simply switch your homepage to the “PCC campus homepage.” If you’re currently using a custom homepage, follow the activity feed guide to add it to your homepage.

Get Help

Still confused and not sure about how to use Activity feed? Contact your Campus Instructional Technology Specialist, or the Online Faculty Helpdesk at 971-722-8227.