Over the last couple of years, I have had the chance to do various guest lectures on many topics. Some have been focused on social media and public relations, while there are others dedicated to social media and crisis communications, blogging, and how to manage your online reputation. However, most of these were not done in person – but rather, via Skype.
I have guest lectured for both undergraduate and graduate courses in public relations via Skype – they have been a lot of fun and definitely a very positive experience for me as a professor. One of the first that I did while at the University of Tennessee was with Dr. John Cacioppo, where he talked to my students about PR and the ELM model. Great to hear from one of the leading experts and researchers in Psychology!
I have also brought in several professionals in the classroom both at the University of Tennessee and at the University of Louisville. This past week, I had the pleasure of having Hannah Shinault, a PR professional and fellow researcher at Virginia Tech, come to my class via Skype and discuss non-profit PR with my students.
It was a wonderful presentation and my students were engaged and very enthusiastic about the topic. I am also planning on having several Skype Guest Lectures in my upcoming social media class at the University of Louisville this Spring semester. Very exciting!
Skype is a wonderful tool to use to bring in professionals in the classroom you would not have had otherwise because of location, time constraints, etc. However, this is a wonderful tool that I have used myself in the classroom.
Here are some of my tips for doing guest lectures virtually via Skype or Google+:
- Test out the new technology: Always make sure that you know how to share your PowerPoints via Skype or Google+, discuss what happens if the technology fails (always think of this in preparation for Plan B, C, etc), and what are some of the things you would like do show via technology (videos, websites, etc).
- Test calls are important: Testing out the technology but also talking with the fellow professor ahead of time is key. All of the professionals I have guest lectured for have been my friends and fellow colleagues in PR, Communications, and other disciplines – so it is also a great opportunity to catch up as well! Schedule these ahead of time a few days/weeks before your scheduled guest lecture.
- Practice and determine how long you have for your guest lecture: I have done guest lectures that have been 20 minutes but as long as 1.5 – 2 hrs long – so you want to make sure you have plenty of material for the students. In addition, you need to make sure what other elements you can include in your presentation as well. For example, I did a guest lecture on crisis communications where the the first hour was dedicated to lecture, but the next hour we did a simulation exercise – which was pretty cool and useful for the students to get practice in crisis communications.
- Look at the webcam to make eye contact with the students: Make sure to make eye contact and introduce yourself to your students. You can have your PowerPoint up and notes available, but you want to make sure you do the same thing you would do if you were in the classroom in person.
- After the presentation, upload your PowerPoints: Be generous with your presentations and upload them for others to view as well. You may give the professors some additional readings and resources as well for their students to help them in their future studies. I usually upload my guest lecture presentations either on my website or on Slideshare.
- Promote class hashtags to use to also engage students: Some classes have their own hashtags for guest lectures, so make sure you know this so you can follow the conversations and updates via Twitter during your guest lecture. Students will sometimes ask you questions that you will want to make sure to address before the end of the lecture. Tools like Bottlenose, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite are just a few tools you may want to have ready to go before your presentation.
- Be prepared for having presentation recorded via Google Air: Just something to consider – there is a possibility that your presentation may be recorded – and you have to think about whether or not you would like this up online. If it is recorded however, you would be able to share it as well as post it on your blog, website, etc.
In summary, Skype and Google+ are both wonderful tools to use to have guest lectures as well as virtual office hours. Many opportunities to use in the classroom to really enhance the overall learning experience for your students! Hope you all are having a great day.