By Jen Verhagen and Shaley White, Student Project Coordinators, American Democracy Project, Fort Hays State University (Kan.)
The FHSU eCitizenship initiative is exploring new ways to get students involved in the conversation about the events that are important to them in the world around them. In 2012, we’ve taken our Tiger Talkback democracy forum online. We were inspired by projects like IUPUI’s Democracy Plaza, and when we posted dry erase boards in our student union, FHSU’s students had something to say.
But there’s no need to keep the conversation restricted to the Memorial Union. Twitter has allowed us to let students participate in the Union, on the quad, from home, anywhere. From the website to Twitter-friendly apps on smartphones and tablets, the weekly Tiger Talkback questions are prompting FHSU students to take the conversation into the cloud and engage with our virtual students as well as the world beyond. Follow Tiger Talkback at https://twitter.com/TigerTalkback!
With mobile students and a large virtual college population, FHSU is a great university to have a mobile discussion platform. Traditional and virtual students might be classmates passing each other on the street and never know it. Virtual students can feel disengaged from the campus community and campus students can feel like they have no voice. By putting Tiger Talkback on Twitter (@TigerTalkback), we bring everyone into the conversation.
We have produced two short videos for Tiger Talkback online: one to promote it by Learning Commons Director Cynthia Garrety, and another instructional sign-up and use video by Dr. Chapman Rackaway. As students become more accustomed to using Twitter participation has been expanding. Students live-tweeted recent Student Government Association President and Vice-President debates, and the number of FHSU students with their own Twitter feeds grows every day.
For additional information:
Jen Verhagen is a senior from Holland, MI. She is majoring in Political Science with International Relations and Pre-Law and also received a certificate in Leadership. Jen will graduate in May 2012 and plans to continue her education at FHSU by getting a Masters in Liberal Studies in Organization Leadership. She is a Student Coordinator for the American Democracy Project. Jen works at organizing programs to engage students in the participation of democracy and allow students to have a better understanding of the current issues facing the world today.
Shaley White serves as a Student Project Coordinator for the American Democracy Project at Fort Hays State University. She creatively develops and assists in developing programs to engage the Fort Hays community in active participation and awareness of our Democracy as well as current issues. Shaley attends Fort Hays State University through the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science and intends on staying at FHSU to attain a Nursing Degree. She is from Leoti, Kansas.