College Academics

Storified by Shannon Lehotsky · Mon, Oct 29 2012 07:38:12

Using Wiggio for my graduate course in communication management at one of the Boston area’s elite private universities has put the power of instant gratification at my fingertips. As a veteran adjunct at that university, I may be no digital native, but Wiggio’s ease-of-use makes me feel like one. It enables instant, 360 degree, real-time or synchronous contact between my students and me, and among all of them and each other. It transforms top-down teaching by unleashing user-generated content and communication. Hello, Wiggio - goodbye, university website.
Wiggio is a versatile tool for a college professor. Adding a student to a Wiggio site is faster than the world’s shortest attention span - including mine! I no longer have to wait for the command-and-control bureaucracy to come through on the dime. I can shoot a text or email to one, or several, or all of my students, and post up-to-the-minute links, just like that! I am currently a member of 30 groups, whose memberships range from 3 to more than 100 members. I am logging into Wiggio everyday, as it’s my primary class management tool.

I teach classes in each of the fall and spring semesters at Salem State University (SSU). I also have been teaching one graduate level course each semester, with the exception of 2 semesters, since 1990 at an elite college in Boston. Each of my classes has about 15-20 students. Except for my WebCT online courses (I teach one per semester at Salem State), I have had all my classes use Wiggio exclusively since the site launched in 2008. Wiggio also travels overseas very well. I even used it to teach a class at a private university in Bogota, Colombia.

No sooner did I introduce Wiggio to my undergraduate classes and to the PRSSA Chapter I advise at SSU, that my students embraced it. They liked its ease-of-use so much that they became Wiggio evangelists. The word of Wiggio spread across campus, and in no time there were a few hundred student classes using Wiggio.
After introducing Wiggio to my undergrads, they make Wiggio their go-to tool. Student teams pull together an assignment, meet on or offline, create a file, edit it, and present it at the next class. Currently, most of my undergrad students are active Wiggio users – of my 45 students, about 75% of them are communicating through Wiggio each week by asking each other questions, crowd-sourcing questions, using Wiggio to post links for the class and me. Within the classes I teach, about 50-75% of class work is facilitated by or submitted through Wiggio.
Faculty committees have adopted Wiggio, too. At SSU, there are faculty fundraising and assessment committees, each with 25-30 members. These committees have members ranging in age from 25-65 years old, and they are also using Wiggio to collaborate.
The cool part about using Wiggio in class is this: Not only do students submit work via Wiggio; they do it in real-class time, tackling a problem at the beginning of a class, conferencing with each other FTF (face to face), and creating a PowerPoint or Prezi to present their group answer before the end of the same class. This process fosters instant critical thinking, instant problem solving, and instant communication. In other words, the fundamental and bottom-line skills employers seek, the students are building through Wiggio.
For a digital immigrant like me, Wiggio’s ease of use is a god send. Unlike tools that have a million bells and whistles that require a steep, long learning curve, Wiggio is 99.9% idiot-proof. Which goes not only for a Boomer professor like me, but also for the least tech-savvy student or faculty member at my university. The big, bright icons and clear, concise on-screen directions are just what the doctor ordered for my squinty eyes – and just the thing for this impatient age of shorter attention spans and sky-high expectations.
Rob Brown
Professor at Salem State University