Using tech tools to connect with students

Student using tabletOur students have high expectations that uWaterloo will communicate with them in the ways they want. Sure, there is still a place for email in the hearts and minds of students (although they do expect us to follow some best practices) but there are other interesting and effective ways to connect with them. The Student Success Office (SSO) has been experimenting with different tech tools to connect with our students, and help them connect with each other. Here are a few examples.

Social media

Students told us they wanted student-specific social media channels so we created uWaterlooLife accounts on Facebook and on Twitter. Both offer the just-enough, just-in-time information they need to be successful, as well as some fun, study-break content.

Live chats

Incoming students tend to have lots of questions before they arrive on campus and are not always sure who to ask. Each term, we host a series of live chats, via Ustream, featuring upper-year students and cross-campus experts who answer real-time student questions. We cover topics for first-year, graduate and transfer students. We record the Ustream sessions and post them on the SSO site so students can watch the chats whenever it’s convenient.

Tutor Connect

Some students need tutors and other students need tutoring jobs. Tutor Connect, an IST-developed, online tutoring board allows students to search for tutors or post their tutoring services for other uWaterloo students.

uWaterloo Life blog

The uWaterloo Life blog features stories of student success; big successes, small successes and lots in between. We launched the blog in August 2013 with the WCMS blog feature and we post twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Read our most recent story about a grad gaming researcher.

Student Portal

While still in development, the SSO and IST have been working on a student portal: an online gateway for just-enough, just-in-time information to help students be successful both in and out of the classroom. Beta testing will begin this fall.

uWaterloo 24-hours in photos project – running today

For a second year, we are running a social media project encouraging the campus community--students, faculty, staff and alumni--to submit their photos and videos of a day in the life of uWaterloo. Starting at 12:01am and running until 11:59pm tonight (Wednesday, October 2), you can submit a photo or video via Twitter, Instagram or Vine with #uwaterloolife. We’ll curate the photos and videos on Storify for everyone to follow. This is a fun way to encourage students to engage with the university and demonstrate how the whole campus can come together to create a sense of community.

Learn more about these and other student focused initiatives at the November 15 Friday Morning Seminar, MC 2009, 9-9:45 a.m.

We’re always happy to hear any ideas you may have to help us connect with students.

Thanks to our guest blogger Jude Doble, Student Success Office.

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