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All alike!

These NTU professors and lecturers – all winners of the John Cheung Social Media Award – don’t frown upon students using Facebook or Twitter in class. Chrystal Chan finds out how they incorporate the use of social media into their lessons

Keeping lessons fluid and on Facebook

Asst Prof Marcos from NTU’s School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Students easily get into the flow of things in Asst Prof Marcos’s interactive classes on fluids engineering. And outside of class, there’s always Facebook to keep them interested.

Teaching is in this congenial professor’s blood. As an NTU undergraduate 15 years ago, he already began coaching his peers – as many as 20 at a time – in empty tutorial rooms at the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.

Returning to NTU with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he’s clearly a hit with his students. Responding to private messages about class work does eat into his personal time. But, no matter, he’s just happy when his students get the drift.

“I started a Facebook page for my class on thermo-fluids back in 2012 and it now has over 1,000 followers. After each lecture, I post links to YouTube videos of experiments and demonstrations to help students visualise and understand the concepts taught in class. I also use this account to send reminders about upcoming quizzes or extra classes. My students like using this platform to ask questions. They either send their queries privately using Facebook Messenger, or they leave comments on the posts, which generate vibrant discussions that everyone can benefit from.”

What his students say:

“The video demos he posts on Facebook give us a clearer picture of what we are learning and how it can be applied. By watching these clips, I get a better grasp of the concepts, and it definitely makes learning more interesting! Asst Prof Marcos also manages to address our queries specifically with the articles he shares. This is important because there is a lot of information online, but not all of it is useful.” – Geoffrey Lee, mechanical engineering freshman

Lessons in tweeting

Lecturer Wong Pei Wen from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information

Bubbly communication lecturer Wong Pei Wen won’t get upset if her students use social media in class. In fact, they are expected to do just that when they live-tweet guest lectures, conduct social listening or research the social media profiles of journalists.

Her teaching method even landed one student an internship offer from a public relations agency during a live-tweeting session.

The proof is in the pudding; at last count, 200 of her students are her Facebook friends.

Facebook is what she uses to manage group project consultations for her public relations or social media classes at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information. As speed is of the essence in real client projects, she does not mind communicating with her students via group chats in WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger if they prefer that over email, as long as she is awake.

In one of her social media modules, she partners companies – such as ice cream specialist Udders and used furniture store Hock Siong & Co – to give students a taste of what it is like to manage social media platforms.

“During ‘takeover weeks’, I get my students to post creative content, as well as monitor and regularly update the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts of their ‘clients’ and respond promptly to comments left on these platforms by followers."

What her students say:

“Live-tweeting guest lectures may not sound that exciting, but the prospect of having to live-tweet made us pay attention and listen out for useful soundbites. We soon realised that this was a great way of consolidating the key learning points from the guest lectures. Also, because Ms Wong uses social media to teach, our class discussions often veer into interesting topics trending on social media, such as the BreadTalk saga.” – Lim Zi Song, third-year communication student

Found in translation

Dr Cui Feng from NTU’s School of Humanities

We can’t do without Google Translate, but Facebook and WhatsApp are also vital tools for students taking Dr Cui Feng’s translation course.

In his classes, translation is rarely a solo effort, much like the real world. Students are often asked to work in groups and steer their own learning, though he’s always on hand to take their queries, be it via Facebook or WhatsApp.

Dr Cui, who is fluent in both Mandarin and English, completed his PhD studies at NTU in 2012 before joining the School of Humanities. About 400 of his students are his Facebook friends.

“I started a Facebook group for students doing their minor in translation. On it, I share articles about new developments in translation, job opportunities, upcoming seminars on translation techniques and research ideas. I also get students to talk about their personal experiences with learning translation or their experiences working as a translator.

I use a relatively new tool called Recap, which is a video response and reflection app. My students use Recap to film themselves expressing their thoughts after watching videos of notable translators like Fu Lei and Zhu Shenghao.”

What his students say:

“Facebook is a key part of our learning process as Dr Cui regularly uses it to post articles related to translation. We are supposed to read the articles, because he will discuss them with us in class. We are also required to watch short videos on YouTube and share what we have learnt in class. Dr Cui’s use of social media stimulates deeper thought and helps us see how theories can be applied in the real world.” – Jonathan Huang, final-year Chinese student

No culture shock on Facebook

Lecturer Hoo Hui Teng from NTU’s Nanyang Business School

If you are in business lecturer Hoo Hui Teng’s class on cultural intelligence, your homework would be to log on to Facebook and share a post of what you’ve just learnt.

The Nanyang Business School don believes her charges learn best when personal experiences – from cross-cultural experiences to cultural faux pas – are readily shared.

Everyone learns from the authentic experience of others, says Ms Hoo, who leads the business school’s initiative to assess and measure learning. It’s no surprise, then, that she’s on her way to completing her doctorate in education at NTU and University College London.

“As part of class participation, my students have to upload at least two posts as reflections of their learning journey in a closed Facebook group I set up. They also have to leave at least five posts or comments on their classmates’ accounts, and to share relevant articles they come across. I am mostly an observer on this account, but occasionally use it to announce assignment deadlines. Students have to “like” these posts, so I know they have read them.

The best part of having this Facebook group is that it doesn’t close with the end of the course. My students continue to share their insights on the topic, and I even see status updates on their graduation, career moves, marriage and even parenthood!”

What her students say:

“I enjoy taking Ms Hoo’s lessons as she comes up with creative ways to keep us interested. She gets us to share what we learn in class on Facebook, which means we see what everyone else has learnt too. We are also encouraged to give feedback on our classmates’ posts. All these help me learn better.” – Perch Soong, final-year mechanical engineering student