An historic institution looks to the future
Florida A&M University in Tallahassee FL was founded in 1887, and is the highest-ranked of the public HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the United States. They have been using ThingLink in a variety of ways for the past few years, alongside learning and digital media consultant LMichelle Salvant.
A true EdTech innovator and futurist, LMichelle has long been a proponent of using visual technology to enable young people to best showcase their skills and learning. A ThingLinker herself since 2017, she had initially introduced the platform to FAMU as a platform for virtual tours. More recently she has shown students how they could create their own digital, interactive and immersive multi-media resumes using ThingLink.
Living Learning Community
The FAMU College of Science and Technology (CST) Living-Learning Community (LLC) exists to foster student participation in various academic, community service and social activities, all of which are designed to build a greater sense of community and stronger relationships. At its core is a weekly faculty-led seminar which brings together community outreach and academic projects, taught via the active learning method. However Covid-19 meant that some CST students were unable to live in college, and so were unable to meet their classmates in person and build those all-important peer bonds.
The power of a journal
LMichelle is passionate about the power of journaling your everyday life to bring about self-awareness, and using those journals to connect with others. So instead of the usual LLC social events, why not create and share immersive digital journals to help the students get to know each other? In a journaling session with the students, she introduced them to using ThingLink and the concept of Immersive Journaling®️ – and how to combine the two to encourage a greater level of self development and community connection.
The students took the opportunity to really let their personalities shine through these journals, showing an inspiring range of hobbies, interests and passions – from cookery to dance, painting to politics, and a wide variety of sports. Using ThingLink meant that as well as images and text, they could add personal videos, their own favourite music compilations, even audio of their own musical compositions – all of which gives a rounded and very personalised picture of each of these young people. They also opened up about their aspirations, their career expectations and approaches to study, the excitement and nervousness about leaving home for college during Covid and in general how they were feeling about the effects of the pandemic on their living and learning. What they each produced is a fascinating insight into their young lives and personalities. As LMichelle puts it: “These type of Immersive Learner Journals give you insights into a person’s life more deeply than just a conversation.”
A detailed picture of each young person now exists – much fuller, richer and full of personal detail and character than might ever be gleaned from a brief introduction at a social event.
The mask parade!
Betty Proctor and Joanna Pennington, teachers in the CST LLC, were already working on an idea to represent the students in a sort of digital yearbook. Being 2020, it would be a Mask Parade!
Each portrait leads to a short self-penned introduction including the student’s goals and an interesting fact about themselves. LMichelle worked with the teachers to turn the parade into a ThingLink, incorporating the journaling work. Now, once a student submits their Immersive Learner Journal, it is added to their bio. A fantastic way for all the students to get to know each other and in turn to build a strong and active community.
“With all of our activities virtual this year, it was challenging to create the sense of community with the students and for them to get to know each other. Some participants stayed home this semester while some of them lived together in the residence hall. The Immersive Learner Journals allowed the students to share their interests, goals, and dreams.”
Lisa McClelland, Ed.D. Director, CST Academic Support Initiatives
For teachers: Why not encourage your students to create their own Immersive Learner Journals, to encourage a sense of community and stronger relationships?
For organisations: Could your team use the concept of Immersive Journaling®️ to get to know each other better and make connections that would aid teamwork?
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