By Freddy Monares
The art of obtaining a college degree is evolving and the world of social media is opening the lines of communication.
College is now a little easier through the access of Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets that connect students with professors and other classmates.
Groups specifically made for East Los Angeles College textbook sales, ELAC in general and other issues surrounding our college are popping up on social media sites.
The Los Angeles Community College District organized a special training program named Faculty Teaching and Learning Academy this January.
Adjunct assistant professor Daniel Waktola, Ph.D., was in attendance at the training program. Dr. Waktola says that included in this training was the use of social media in the classroom.
“In most courses, students meet once a week and their interaction with classmates are very limited. Facebook enables the interaction- seven days a week,” says Dr. Waktola.
Dr. Waktola has implemented Facebook this year in his Physical Geography and Earth Science course and has already seen the impact of social media on his classes.
Students get much of their coursework done outside of the classes and social media site proves to be advantageous for students taking the course.
“The unique advantage of Facebook is that many students are already using Facebook, and spending [a] considerable portion of their time,” says Waktola. “I can reach them in a simple, fast and efficient way.”
Another advantage the group offers is it encourages students to post events related to the class on the group wall.
“Students post pictures taken during picnics during their weekends such as landslides, clouds, deserts, smog and parks…. which adds new dimension to the course and get it linked to their daily life.” Waktola says.
Waktola says most conversations posted on the group’s wall include questions about deadlines, comments on new material posted by the instructor, helping fellow students better understand homework assignments and find cheaper textbooks.
In another Facebook group, “ELAC Students TxtBk – Buy, Sell, Trade,” students from ELAC can post and sell or trade books no longer useful to students.
“What gave me the idea to create the group was the frustration of buying textbooks,” said group administrator and third-year ELAC student Anna Figueroa.
Students have figured out how to corner the market and really use networks to do what they are intended for, networking.
Through the organizing of the student body, they are inadvertently easing the way students are going about schooling.
“I kind of got the idea from Facebook where they use groups to do the same thing with other items; shoes, clothes, etc. It’s also easier than selling (books) back to websites or Amazon,” Figueroa said.
The group was founded about a year ago and currently reaches more than 200 members.
“I feel like the growth of this group is slow. I do my best to try to encourage people to add their classmates on here, to share the groups, or search us,” Figueroa said.
Instead of textbooks gathering dust in student’s desks, they are being re-circulated with the use of the cyber-world.
Figueroa and the textbook buyback group have eased this process immensely.
The use of this group may also help clean up the campus. The boards on campus have too many fliers that often times end up on the floor, littering the campus with unwanted ads of used books.
“I’d like for there to be space to put some flyers about school activities and clubs,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa hopes that the use of the club alleviates some of the postings on the bulletin boards around campus.
Waktola says the integration of Facebook with his courses can also build bridges for students who are interested in the same area of study. “They could be invited as a guest to share their ideas/experiences to junior students who are going to enroll in my course next semester,” Waktola says.
Waktola encourages other instructors to include social media to better reach the students they are teaching.
“Whether we like it or not, Facebook and other social media tools are the most important modes of communication amongst our students,” Waktola says.
If you would like to be a part of Figueora’s textbook buy-back group visit the group’s site at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ELACStudentTxtbks/ or contact the group at ELACStudentTxtbks@groups.facebook.com.