What do you do when you want to build a sense of community among your cadre of adjunct faculty who appear on your campus for only a few hours a day, usually after 5 p.m., and only for a few days a week? They mean so much to you and your students, department, and college, and you want to make them aware of that, but how? How do you draw them in, keep them connected, and make them a part of the community conversation when the reality of their lives on your campus makes that seem impossible?
Businesses regularly use social media to draw the attention of a crowd; take their products, mission, and services to another level; or offer promotions that instill a sense of ownership and involvement in the company. Adjunct coordinators want something very similar: smart ways to use social media to draw attention to your very talented adjuncts, to involve them in taking the department’s mission to another level, and to instill in adjuncts a sense of ownership and involvement.
Draw attention. Have you seen a dynamic TED Talk and thought, “If only my faculty could deliver like that, they would blow our students away!” Have you seen a YouTube video of someone explaining what sounded like Greek, only to learn it really was Greek, and best of all, you understood it?!
Locate videos about what the best faculty do and how they motivate students and engage today’s college learner, and share them with your adjuncts. Locate brief videos (about five to seven minutes in length is ideal), make them easy to access, and introduce them with quick titles such as “Want to Know What the Best Teachers Do? Watch This!” Even invite adjuncts to share videos they have found useful.
Go a step further and create a YouTube channel for your department to showcase your online community of exemplary educators, and have adjuncts upload videos of themselves demonstrating their extraordinary teaching talents. Soon the primary resource for demonstrating what the best faculty do will be the repository created by your community of adjunct faculty.
Take your mission to another level. Use Twitter to share college events and encourage adjuncts to engage in the festivities and further the college’s mission of supporting students inside and outside of the classroom. Are there weekend events? Thursday night games? A Saturday afternoon play? Four steps, and your Twitter account is ready.
First, create a free Twitter account. Consider devoting this account solely to department and adjunct business. Identify a Twitter name that is recognizable and understood by adjuncts as an account managed by the department.
Then, identify a unique Twitter hashtag (#) you’ll use to create the adjunct faculty community conversation. Conduct a search on Twitter for the hashtag you create to ensure it is not already being used.
Next, create a free Hootsuite account at www.hootsuite.com where you can schedule Tweets to automatically post on the dates and at the times you specify throughout the academic year.
Finally, consult the college’s calendar of events to identify those events you will use as the basis for your Tweets and start scheduling them to go out!
For instance, at the start of the term, the adjunct coordinator for the math department at XYZ College might schedule the following Tweets to post the week of an event using Hootsuite, and include a unique hashtag that he or she shares with his or her adjunct faculty community:
Support the XYZ soccer team this Friday! Cannot wait to see you there! #xyzadjunctmath
Will you fall into the Fall Mixer? See you Saturday at 6 p.m. in Hawkins Hall! #xyzadjunctmath
Homecoming won’t be the same without you! See full details on the college’s website! #xyzadjunctmath
Consider continuing the conversation after each event with a follow-up post asking who attended and what they thought about the event. Or, instead of event-related Tweets, start a community of sharing by using another unique hashtag and asking adjuncts to share best practices via Twitter.
Instill a sense of ownership and involvement. Have an Adjunct of the Month by inviting adjunct faculty to take ownership of their courses. Here’s how:
Encourage all adjunct faculty to create personal connections to the courses they teach and share best practices with their colleagues. Connect with your web administrator/designer to create a simple entry form that asks adjunct faculty to submit responses to items such as:
- What did you do to make your course different this month?
- What tech tool did you use?
- How can others learn more information about the tool? For example, provide a URL to a website or to a demonstration.
- How did your students respond? What did they/you see/experience that may not have occurred had you opted to teach the course as is?
- What is a must-see/must-read for faculty who want to learn more about and/or do more with edtech? For example, provide the full bibliographic information for a current scholarly article or a link to an edtech thought leaders blog, an infographic, or a demonstration.
Randomly select an adjunct faculty member to feature on the college’s website each month of the academic year. Consider selecting a winner who gets the honor of presenting his or her ideas to colleagues at the next back-to-college convocation or adjunct faculty orientation. Watch out . . . full-time faculty may want in on the action, too!
Senior Digital Educator, Cengage Learning
Certified Advanced Facilitator, University of Phoenix