Private Facebook Group Assists Faculty Communication

Making and maintaining connections can be a challenge when you are one of 70 faculty members teaching a First Year Seminar at Appalachian State. But a private Facebook group organized by Lillian Nave, UDL Coordinator in the Center for Academic Excellence, has proven to be a successful way for faculty and staff scattered throughout the campus to communicate, share ideas and help each other.

“It’s a medium for our generation and it’s not as stuffy as a departmental email,” Nave said. “Faculty can spend just two or three minutes there while scrolling through Facebook at lunch.”

FYS – For Your Sanity – is the official name of the Facebook group. It is a closed group for First Year Seminar faculty. Admission is by request; only members of the group are able to make and see posts. The group has about 45 members and maintains a professional yet very warm and collegial atmosphere as members can choose to interact in this forum, but do not necessarily need to be “Facebook Friends” with the other members in the group.

Nave said the group page can be used to post videos, share reminders of deadlines, ask a question, or share a success story. Occasionally a posted meme provides a moment of humor for the group and sometimes makes its way into a lecture or presentation.

One benefit of the FYS group is that it is easy to retrieve a posted item without scrolling through hundreds of email messages. “It’s also a very low stakes way to float a new idea since participation is not tied to your performance or evaluation,” Nave said.

Andy Miller is a First Year Seminar instructor who teaches a course titled “Radio Free Jazz: Europe.” He also teaches at Owen High School which means there is little time for interacting with his fellow First Year Seminar instructors.

Miller said he appreciates the collaborative energy of other First Year Seminar instructors and says he is grateful when someone posts a really good lecture or article. “Because we have some common background, we can reflect on our practices in ways that inspire us.”

Miller said it is easy to save a feed for future use, and everyone can learn when someone posts information about items that are common to all the courses such as library, student, and community resources.

As a teacher, Miller focuses on the link between high school and college and considers this student population to be his “sweet spot.” So any resource that helps him and his students is welcome. And, as the name suggests, if a Facebook group helps you keep your sanity when multiple projects and demands are swirling around you—so much the better.