Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Engaging students in interaction during Internships

Finding ways, by which students can stay connected with their mentor and class mates when completing their internship will result in a more engaged experience and enhanced learning. Some of the most frequent requirements for students to stay in touch with their supervisor, instructor or mentor, is to maintain email communication, or to exchange notes, or to write one or several reports and/or present their experience at the end via a paper or oral presentation.
Are these traditional communication techniques still the best way to engage students and create a more permanent memory and reflection of the time as intern?

In a time when social networks are an important part of every student's life, it makes sense to use one of the social networking systems available to allow peer collaboration, live or timely sharing of experiences, peer feedback and social learning.
The following table presents other options that can be used to engage students when they are doing an internship. If you have other ideas about how to engage students while they are in their internships, please share them via comments in this blog.


Public Blog
Works as a journal

Instructor may provide open instructions or create a guide or key questions that students will use to follow in their postings.

1- Students can post updates to their work and the system will order it chronologically
2- They can receive and moderate other people comments
3- It is in the public domain, access over the internet should not be a problem
1- a blog is good for journaling but lacks the tools that a course management system will have such as discussion board, dropbox or file sharing.
2- Being in the public domain may be a challenge, names or other data should not be mentioned, public blogs are easily found and indexed by search engines.
interns are required to provide updates of their work, without other information sharing.
Private Blog (i.e. University of Illinois hosted blog)
Same as above
Same as above except (3)
3- Because it has restricted access by others, interns may share more information and feel better to provide honest peer reviews
1- Same as 1- above

Same as above
Wiki/ google docs
Works as a web page.
Organization can be customized by the user: By topics, by dates, by questions, etc.

1. Students will create a web page about their experience.
2- the webpage can last after the program and can become part of their portfolio
3. they can receive comments
4. it may be public or not
If the interest is chronological account of events, this is not the best solution.

The goal is to have a document that will reflect the work during internship, with a customized structure according to the user. Instead of having only a set of chronological posts as in a Journal.
Learning Management System (Moodle, Compass 2G)
Has multiple features hosted in one same place:
.Blog or Wiki,
.Discussion forum for interaction
. Document sharing
. Peer assessment and / or ratings
. surveys and other poll or assessment tools
1. Allows multiple ways for interaction
2. is private, so privacy settings will not be an issue

1. will not be available indefinitely when the student graduates
2. can only be temporarily part of the student’s portfolio
3. Cannot be shared with outsiders as is because it will contain information about other people as well.

The goal is to have multiple ways of interaction with the student during a finite time (the duration of the semester).

Facebook or LinkedIn (or other social networking option)
Has limited feature for interaction and sharing, but are embedded in the students’ daily communication habits
1. User friendly systems for interaction and communication
2. May have options for privacy settings.
3- Works as an organizer by topic or by date
1- If not private or closed group, may result in a disorganized recollection of events and reflections.
The group of interns has more than 5 participants, who are used to social networking sites, and enjoy working in that environment.

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