Considering that study abroad educational experiences are not usually limited to your standard classroom setting, we believe that you shouldn’t limit yourself to the traditional means of communicating with your students either. In our experience, professors and study abroad staff need quicker access to their students to communicate changes or updates in real time than email or university servers, such as Blackboard, may be able to provide.
So, how can you get in touch with your study abroad students outside of email? We have compiled our list of the top three ways to communicate with students below. Let us know if your program uses these tools or what your most successful channels have been to keep in close contact with students!
1) Group Messaging Tools
If there is one thing that we can almost guarantee, it’s that your students will have their cell phone on them at all times. We would even be so bold as to say that a large majority of students will have functioning smartphones at their disposal during their time abroad. Given this information, group messaging tools are a great way to instantly connect with your students.
In terms of more general messaging tools, WhatsApp is a great free option that works on all smartphones. If you’re looking for something built specifically for professors and staff to communicate with students, there are a variety of options available such as Remind, which alerts students via text message of any course updates pushed out by the professor or staff member.
2) Website or Blog
Our second tool recommendation of a program website or blog is a great way to provide access to students on helpful resources, as well as providing a space to make updates throughout their time abroad. There are plenty of great free options such as WordPress that require zero coding or website development skills to create!
A website or blog also provides you with an opportunity to engage with students as they may be interested in sharing blogs or their own articles on your platform. Once their time abroad is over you can keep the site up and they will be able to revisit this capsule in time of their study abroad experience.
3) Social Media Accounts and Groups
If you really want to reach your students where they are already spending a lot of their time, than contacting them on social media channels is the communication tool for you and your program. Whether you prefer to create a Twitter or Instagram handle, or want to create a specific private Facebook group, there are tons of social media options out there that will allow you to communicate with your study abroad students in a causal and conversational way.
These platforms also are a great way for students to stay in touch with each other and their experience abroad after they have returned home, so you can leave these channels active after their program ends for them to utilize!
Finally, has your study abroad program tried implementing any new methods of communicating with students? If so, leave us a comment below sharing your experience!