The Accudemia Engagement Board, available to all regular Accudemia license holders and their users, is a way to help students and other members of your community engage easily with each other, especially around topics related to the academic and college experience.
This Best Practices Guide will review the basic functionality of the Engagement Board and provide some ideas about how to leverage it for your center and institution to maximize student participation and engagement.
We’ve created extensive documentation to help you use and customize the Engagement Board, which you can find here. Essentially though, you can use it however you’d like! If you want to disallow students from creating channels or replying to posts, you can do that. If you want to limit certain channels to only certain users, you can do that. If you want to join channels with users from other colleges and universities, you can do that!
There are six types of channels: Public Channels (anyone from your institution can join), Center Channels (a channel specific for your student support center), Class Channels (accessible only to students enrolled in a specified class), Group Channels (users must be invited or added to participate), Global Channel (accessible by any Accudemia user with specified roles at any institution), and a General Channel (a public channel that doesn’t require joining to view).
Students are already using outside social media applications to communicate. However, you cannot control, view, or moderate your students’ discussions on these forums. The Accudemia Engagement Board allows you to view, control, and moderate these discussions.
Unlike traditional social media, the Engagement Board is a secure method of communication that ensures control for yourself and other administrators and ensures that students will only be able to communicate with other students and other approved users. The level of customization and control available to you provides peace of mind and helps you create an experience that makes sense for your unique student body. Furthermore, there are many opportunities for you, other administrators, staff, and faculty members to connect using the Engagement Board, both within your institution and outside of it, again with the assurance of a secure and safe experience.
Personal information is not made public between users of the Engagement Board, and each channel can have customized privacy settings, in addition to customized settings for each type of user and even individual users. Simply put: you have control over what happens with your institution’s Engagement Board, and who has access to it.
Besides security, there’s another big reason to encourage your students and colleagues to use the Engagement Board. Since it’s accessed via Accudemia, using the Engagement Board means more students are logging into Accudemia, which means you have more opportunities to advertise your center and encourage its use.
We’ve divided our list of channel ideas into the various channel types available, but if you are interested in using one of these ideas and feel another channel type would work better for you, feel free to set that up however it makes sense for your institution and center!
For information that could be of interest to anyone at your institution, a public or a global channel are good option. Both channels are accessible by anyone at your institution with specified roles (you’ll set that when you create the channel), but while public channels require a user to join to view and participate in posts, anyone can participate in a global channel without joining. You can still set channels to read-only if you want members to only be able to view posts, or control which types of user roles can access your channel, even if they’re public or general.
A Lost and Found board can be a good way for students to share items that they’ve found on campus, or ask others to keep an eye out for things they are missing. If your campus already has a lost and found office, then as an alternative, the office can create a channel that’s “read-only” for students and which serves as a way to announce found items.
If your center sponsors any extracurricular activities, such as a book club, a sport, or a performance, you can build one or more channels to discuss these types of activities or encourage students and other departments to build them too. Posts can be made in this channel letting students know about upcoming events and activities and how to access them.
This is a great opportunity for career centers or other folks at your campus who want to spread the word about job or internship opportunities, either on or off campus. It can be a centralized classifieds area for jobs, and/or a place to post job hunting tips.
Most college campuses have at least some students who need to find roommates for on or off-campus housing, and avenues to search for housemates are not always secure. Since only verified students and employees can be members of Engagement Board channels, creating a housing and roommate channel could be a good solution to this issue. It would allow students to guarantee that they are only communicating with other students, and would allow for these conversations to be reviewed and moderated by a college employee.
You may already know that Accudemia’s feature Book$mart allows students to list and purchase used textbooks, but sometimes students may have items that they are trying to unload which don’t quite work for Book$mart. Whether they want to sell or give away these items, an Engagement Board channel for just this purpose is a secure way for them to do so.
Your campus’s food services could make use of the Engagement Board as well! This is an easy way for your students to find out about the latest updates about cafeterias and other food-related news on campus. Whether it’s a menu change or free pizza, we know college students want the latest info about how to feed themselves.
The Engagement Board can be one of several avenues students turn to for important information about campus, such as on-campus event information, safety information, and closure announcements.
For many schools, especially ones in urban areas, getting to campus is a hot topic. A transportation channel can help students navigate the best way to get to school by bus or subway, organize carpools, and generally discuss all things transportation.
Many students need to volunteer as part of their academic program, and many more just want to do so to get involved with their community. A channel specifically to post and answer questions about volunteer opportunities near campus can be a great way for students to discover these options.
Similarly to volunteering opportunities, students may find it difficult to navigate all of the scholarships that might be available to them. Students and other users can share tips about scholarships they’ve found and their qualifications, ask questions, and even request feedback on submission materials.
Many students are interested in things to do outside of campus but aren’t sure where to start. A local happenings channel can help students and other users share information about local events and activities such as concerts and other performances, farmers markets, and specials for local establishments.
We’ve all heard students talk about the skills they wish they had been taught in high school, and their best resource for learning those skills is from each other. A life skills board can allow students not only to ask questions about things like how to change a tire, how to cook, how to do taxes, and much more. This could also be a good place to post group opportunities to learn these skills, such as classes at the local library or community centers.
Group channels are great for limiting discussions to certain groups of students or other users. Only invited users can join group channels, making it ideal for the ideas listed below.
Students within a class may form a study group and want to discuss their group happenings and questions separately from their main class channel, so a study group channel is a great way for them to do that.
Similarly to study groups, a small group of lab partners may find it easier to hold discussions in a small group channel.
Students working on a project together can create their own channel for discussions related to their assignment.
Fraternities, sororities, clubs, sports, and other organizations on campus can create channels with only designated members able to join.
Opportunities to volunteer exist at many schools, and leaders can make a group channel to help disseminate important information such as meeting times, and hour requirements, and to communicate things like shift needs.
Each center can have one channel attached to it, so the ideas in this list can each be the main purpose of your center’s channel or one of several ways you utilize it!
Communication information about your center is no easy task. You can leverage the Accudemia homepage for this, but with this option, students aren’t notified if there are changes or updates. That’s why it’s also a good idea to create a channel on the Engagement Board to list your center’s important policies and announcements. You can create this as a “read-only” board for students but encourage them to subscribe to the channel so they’ll receive a notification when updates are made. Aside from general center announcements, this can be a good outlet to remind students about important center policies, such as no-show limits for appointments and conduct expectations.
You can create a channel accessible only to the current staff of your center, which can be a great and secure place for them to interact. This would be a good option both for sharing announcements and important information to staff and for your staff to speak to each other about questions related to their work.
Provide students and other users the opportunity to ask questions of center administrators questions about how to utilize their services. It’s a great way to show transparency and help you build an FAQ.
Like Center channels, each class can have one channel attached to it. The following ideas are just a couple of ways faculty can utilize their designated class channel.
Help students enrolled in specific courses by allowing them to join course-specific channels to discuss quick questions with tutors and other students, share resources, and form study groups. This can be especially helpful as an additional resource for gen ed courses, or courses with high DFW rates.
Research advisors may want to create a channel for themselves and their assistants to help with communications regarding their projects. For example, they may announce new publications that have come out of their lab, discuss upcoming conferences, announce new funding sources, or communicate about deadlines or tasks.
Global channels are accessible by any user at any institution using Accudemia (as long as they have the right role designated by the group creator). We have already created a few global channels for you and your colleagues to utilize, but you can still create your own or contact us with ideas for what you’d like to see.
We have set up two channels specifically for admins at the various institutions utilizing Accudemia. One is for discussion of all things related to Accudemia, the other is for general discussion about topics related to running student support centers. Just click “Browse Channels” and search for “Accudemia Admin Lounge” or “Center Admin Discussions.”
Our Engineerica Education Keynote Webinar series has proven very popular among college and university employees across the country and around the world. While not all attendees are Accudemia clients, those who are can take advantage of a special channel devoted to discussing upcoming and recent keynote sessions. This is also a great place to suggest future keynote speakers! To join, browse channels and search, “Engineerica Education Keynote Series Discussions.”
The sky is the limit when it comes to ways to leverage the Engagement Board. Don’t be afraid to contact your Customer Success Manager with questions or to discuss additional ideas for its usage. The benefits for your center, your institution, and your students are numerous, and we are excited to see how you utilize it.
We would love to hear which of the above ideas would benefit your center and students. Also, if you have other ideas for utilizing the Engagement Board, we would love to hear about them. Send us a note to let us know.