Many of us have them: the University created ‘Class of 2013’ groups or pages in Facebook. I’m sure many of us use them in the same way: connect with students, answer questions, read and pass along prevalent student issues, etc. But how many of us really interact with students versus remaining a quiet but visible resource?
Unobtrusively, I’ve been adding ‘officers’ to our Class of group that represent various areas of the university that may be important to new students: New Student Programs, Student Affairs/Activities, On and Off Campus Housing, etc. I’ve made it known to students that this group is here for them to use and for the university to make better. I’ve reached out to active students in the forums and asked for them to become officers representing their peers for feedback and to make the community better. So far, all involved have seemed excited and engaged.
Overall, the University has remained an outsider, letting students speak to each other about problems, fears and questions while watching upperclassmen, other freshmen, or office representatives jump in with answers. Primarily, students seem to answer students questions organically without university sanctioned prompting. I’ve found this exercise in community management and growth fascinating.
How have your communities been created, grown and fostered? Have you needed to provide much more than the forum itself to watch it grow and be a valued resource?