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How do I engage better with the students of today?

Dr. James Redd is an English professor who constantly evaluates new ways to incorporate technology into his classroom. “Innovators keep us on our toes. I’m no spring chicken in the online classroom, as in my ten-year career spanning more than a hundred online classes, I’ve used Moodle, eCollege, Blackboard – you name it. None of these platforms are perfect – any student or teacher will tell you. All of us, I believe, have spent more time cursing them than praising them.” These outdated systems leave many faculty members sometimes wondering, “Is technology supposed to make our lives easier?”

Dr. Red was introduced to CampusKnot’s mission to empower educators to create a fun, flexible environment for learners through accessible and innovative technology. He was understandably wary of the products that claim to solve all the problems of their predecessors. “They had me hooked, but I hadn’t taken the line or sinker yet. I decided to try out their website for myself.”

His first Impression went something like this “CampusKnot was easy to use, from the signup process to interact with the platform. I just entered my .edu email address to sign-up, and a confirmation link was sent to me. Students aren’t willing to go through a long sign-up process, and neither am I. I like that an .edu email address is required to sign up. This means that the platform immediately creates an exclusive communal space for university students alone. Next, the platform looks like Facebook and LinkedIn, so the learning curve was slight. I can see posts in an activity feed that students and instructors make to the whole community, or I can create private classrooms for my students.”

“My primary interest is in the classroom, so I created a test course group. Inviting students to join CampusKnot and the course group seems effortless. I can use a .csv file for convenience, and I can see their current invite status. Once students enroll in the course, I can post announcements to an activity feed that all students can see. They also can post to the feed with questions or requests. Compared to my learning management system, I find this platform to be more engaging and easier to use. The greatest strength of this tool is the feed because it enhances class discussion via a user-friendly platform. My current students constantly complain about our learning management system discussion board’s usability, but it is required and necessary in my online classes. One of my favorite features provided by CampusKnot is the ability to create a profile where students can see my picture and learn a little about me. I instantly become more personable, and students will be more willing to reach out to me if they need help. I also can learn more about them and they about each other. In an online classroom environment, this could be an invaluable engagement tool.”

Dr. Redd states, “CampusKnot is an evolving product. Its current features can improve many of the downsides of the Blackboard platform. Sometimes, classroom technology makes me want to throw my computer, but it’s improving fast. Campusknot and I should be on speaking terms for a long time to come.”

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Interview made by Clint VanCourt with Dr. James Redd, English professor. For more information on CampusKnot participation tools click here.

Clint Vancourt

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