There may be times when you would like learners to take part in an activity that involves using a third party tool, or doing a practical activity and then reporting on it/the outcome.
At the moment, FutureLearn comments do not support embedded content, but learners can post links to content that is hosted elsewhere. There are three ways you might choose to facilitate this:
- Posting links in comments.
Our public-facing social media tips and tools contain simple information about where learners may choose to host content for sharing.
- Sharing the materials using a hashtag.
You could encourage learners to share materials on social media using a hashtag. This makes for a great pre-course activity. However, adoption and support of social media can vary greatly between audiences, so we advise against making an activity that relies on social media essential to the course (unless that is the subject of the course).
In both cases above, you may then choose to bring the content together to make it easier for learners to browse, or to curate it.
- Sharing directly to a platform or tool.
You could create a single place for learners to share their material. For example, a Padlet ‘wall’, a Facebook group, or a Flickr Group (for images). If you find the right tool, that balances the features you need (to make the content easy to browse) with barriers to entry (such as registration), this can often be the preferable option.
In all cases, you should ask yourself: is this activity as accessible as possible? What are the barriers to participation, and can you provide alternatives? Barriers often include device compatibility and registration requirements. Alternatives often include suggesting a wider range of tools, or posting text summaries as comments.
Three aims for your social media activity
- To raise awareness and encourage discussion—get people talking about your course on social media before it has even started.
- To motivate and connect new learners—encourage your learners to find and support each other on their social networks.
- To demonstrate value to a wider audience—share expertise, topical commentary and news stories in relation to the course subject, which is of value to both your existing learners and potential future learners.
If you're not an educator...
When discussing the course with your educators, you should find out whether they will be encouraging learners to create compelling content outside of the course. For example, perhaps they'll be asked to make something and then take a photo of it.
You should also monitor your course’s hashtag, because often learners will be creating materials even without being asked. These can be easily re-shared and are an easy way to demonstrate the fun of taking part in a course. For example, have a look at the games people are creating on Begin Programming.
Sheffield’s Exploring Play is another fantastic example of this, with learners sharing lots of inspirational stories and photos of activities they’ve tried out in real life. Browse through their Twitter feed to see retweeted examples. They kicked off their course with a fun #ToySelfie campaign too, which was the perfect blend of course marketing and educational activity.