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Office 365 for Education

20 ways to use Yammer in Education

1. Send out a message to everyone

Encourage all users to start using Yammer for communication and sharing. Post an introductory message asking for ideas on how Yammer might be used in your institution. You might have to check that everyone has been invited or has signed up, by sending out more traditional communication like email or even put up posters around the place, but try and encourage as many people as possible to join.

Put the word out that Yammer is the social network for your institution and watch the ideas flow!

2. Set up some basic groups

Groups can be really useful in education institutions, and there are many different types of group you could set up, but for now you can start with setting up staff and student groups. Remember to make them private so that each group of users feels confident about sharing and posting. You don’t want students joining your staff group…  or vice versa!

3. Set up an external network for parents and caregivers

Yammer is a fantastic way to keep in touch with the parents and caregivers of your students, and is brilliant for improving home-school relationships. Why not encourage all of your parents to sign up for Yammer at the next parents’ evening? You can post regular updates, examination timetables, sports dates, school show details… and Yammer messages never get lost on the way home like printed newsletters!

4. Use the Praise button!

The Praise function is a lovely way to let your whole institution know about special achievements made by individual students and staff. You can use this feature for fantastic performance in sports, music and drama, or just about any special case meriting reward and recognition. Staff promotions and professional recognition and even births, birthdays and marriages can be shared with everyone or just within groups on Yammer.

5. Advertise a special event

If it’s the school show, sports day or any other special occasion in the life of your education institution, why not use Yammer to let people know about it? Using the Events feature is a great way to remind everybody about what’s happening. Next time you have a parents’ evening, sporting function or other school event, use Yammer to tell everybody about it.

6. Schedule staff meetings

You could use the Events feature to schedule your staff meetings, particularly if they are not always on the same day or at the same time. Use the Events feature in your whole staff group to let everyone know there is a staff meeting coming up. And you can also attach the agenda and minutes from the previous meeting to ensure that all staff members receive them before your meeting. You could also use Yammer for staff professional development activity sessions.

7. Set up special interest groups

You can use Groups for lots of different purposes on Yammer. How about having a group for each of your subject departments or faculties? And how about one for each student year group or even class? Societies and clubs could also have their own Yammer groups for communication and sharing. Lots of updates might only be of interest to members of these groups and so the main institution update stream will be less cluttered if groups are used in this way. The groups can be made private or public and, of course, they have all of the features of the institution’s main Yammer network, so documents, files and other information can be shared and stored in the usual way. Why not use groups more widely in your institution in this way?

8. Set up a project Yammer group

If you’re working on a special project or initiative, then set up a Yammer group for better and quicker communication between those involved. You can share work deadlines, schedule significant dates and project milestones using the Events feature, Share and collaborate on documents and files, and even hold online Yammer meetings and discussions when decisions have to be made and progress reviewed. All of this makes Yammer a fantastic project communication tool for educators and students.

9. Use an external network to collaborate with another institution

Using external networks is a good way of involving others outside of your institution in the learning and teaching within your classroom. You could set up a network with a subject expert from the local college or university and your class students for discussion sessions and expert input into your work. Simply invite your expert and your class students to the new network and they will be able to interact together. Yammer brings the world into your classroom.

10. Use an external network to collaborate with another class

You could also use an external network to join another class and chat about the work you are both doing. You can try to connect with another institution somewhere else in the world doing similar work to your class and get your students chatting to the students from the other class using a Yammer external network. All you need to do is to set up the network and invite them to join. This is a great way to hold weekly discussion sessions with the two classes working together.  After all, anyone can use Yammer for free so there is no cost to the other institution even if they are not already signed up. Yammer takes your classroom out to the world.

11. Better staff-student revision sessions

Yammer is a safe way for teachers and students to interact. Teachers in your institution can run easy-to-access revision and coaching sessions using Yammer to ask questions and offer advice and feedback.  By creating polls and asking questions, teachers can keep in touch with their students, assess their understanding and monitor progress. Students can ask questions they might not like to ask in class. Social networking is a cultural tool for students, which educators can tap into and use to help with academic progress in a way that is fun and relevant to the students’ lifestyles.

12. Hold a debate

Debating can be a fantastic way to help students develop a deeper understanding of different subjects as well as issues with current affairs. Good debating also helps them develop a tolerance and understanding of different points of view. Yammer can bring people together to debate without them needing to be all together in the same room. As it is a social network, students won’t take long to get to know how it works, which means that educators can focus their time on the subject to be debated rather than teaching students how to use the technology. Yammer is designed for fast, easy communication and is great for encouraging young people to participate in discussion and debate.

13. Create a mentor programme on Yammer

Yammer groups can be invaluable in bringing together people who would normally not be able to meet up, like different age groups and full and part time students. You could use Yammer to bring these groups together in ways that also make a positive impact in your institution. Try using Yammer to enable new students to connect with seniors and ask questions and share problems they might be encountering as they get used to their new surroundings. It’s often much easier to ask questions and seek advice online rather than face to face.  Yammer groups are a useful way to facilitate this dialogue and make life easier for many students.

14. Create an information hub

Why not try using your Yammer group as an information hub? Posting useful web links for students, as well as coursework suggestions and advice, deadlines and schedules for meetings and classes or even school notices is a quick and easy way of getting information out to where it needs to be, but also creates a resource centre that students can use and keep coming back to. The search function means that anything can be found by using keywords and easily retrieved. Students will also start to post useful information and engage in conversation about the work being done.  But keep it light, social and fun - try not to post assignments or grades or use it to manage student performance.

15. Use Yammer to teach online safety

As Yammer is completely internal to your institution, there is no risk of inappropriate connections being made with unknown individuals or groups. This means that you could use it as a ‘sandpit’ to teach younger students all about setting up online profiles and responsible use of social networking. This would be impossible to do with a public network like Twitter or Facebook. These students can now get hands on experience in using social networking in a safe and secure environment.

16. Brand your Yammer

Why not customise your Yammer so that it fits in with your brand? You can add your logo and masthead images, have a Yammer email header picture and change the colour scheme. This might be a bit complex for Yammer newbies, and you need to be an administrator. You can access the tools by clicking on Admin, which you’ll find just under Networks on the menu running down the left side of your home screen.  Doing this branding will make Yammer much more personal to your institution.

17. Yammer is mobile

Yammer can be used on any mobile platform and there are apps for Windows, Android and iPhone. Encourage your educators and students to download the apps onto their cell phones and tablets and they’ll be all set to carry on the conversations while out and about. Learning though collaboration doesn’t just have to take place in the classroom and Yammer is perfect for helping fit your students’ learning to their lifestyles.

18. Explore the apps

Spend some time going through the apps that are available for Yammer, and encourage other users to explore and share their discoveries with everyone else. You could set up an apps group on Yammer where you can share and discuss the different apps users find and how they can be used in learning and teaching.  The Links app is particularly useful - it gives you a list of all the links that have been posted by everyone in your network.

19. Take care with your posts

Remember that your posts on Yammer are public records, so it can be a case of post in haste and repent at leisure. If you are upset or angry, it is probably a good idea to wait ten minutes before hitting the Post button. While you can hide conversations by clicking on the X icon, the posts will still appear in searches and @mentions (you use the @ before a user’s name to search for them).  So think carefully before you make a post you might later come to regret!

20. Check someone out!

Clicking on someone’s name brings up lots of interesting information about them - their conversations, links, polls, praise and bookmarks.  If you are casually browsing through your Yammer, you can uncover loads of interesting new information by looking at, for example, the bookmarks of the people you follow or their links.  It’s rather like knowledge grazing through your contacts. So go check them all out and see what you can discover...

Safe and secure social networking with Yammer - Further Reading

» Setting up and using Yammer
» 20 ways to use Yammer in Education

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