How do you keep in touch with your students? Email seems to be the obvious choice, but it can be surprisingly ineffective when trying to get in touch with Japanese university students. It is not uncommon to hear from a student that they have never checked their campus email. To get around this barrier, I initially tried using the Moodle messaging system as a backup, but a quick look at the access logs usually shows that the students I need to contact haven’t logged in for weeks. Where to go from here? Facebook?
I tried creating a Facebook group for one class, and I really liked how it shows read data on each post. I could log into Facebook and check my postings and see “viewed by 12”, and know that most of the students had seen it. While Facebook was a step up from Moodle and Email, it was through observing students in the classroom that I discovered the tool I needed.
I often noticed students with smartphones using a chat-bot in an app called Line to translate words. Line is a phone-based social networking service, and its user base has exploded in Japan. It is fairly safe to say that if your students have a smartphone they also have Line. So, it was this discovery that led me to creating groups in Line to communicate with students. The response rate is a vast improvement over my previous attempts, as it is the first app that most students check when they pick up their phone.
So, if you want to stay in touch with students, maybe it’s time to get you classrooms in Line.