Saturday, August 31, 2013

Social Media Help Online Students Connect

Rio Salado College student Justin Marshall
Justin Marshall is in his second year as a Maricopa County Community College District student. He recently transferred to Rio Salado College for the convenience of online classes andMonday starts.

“I turned 18 and got my GED in November of 2011,” Marshall said. “My original plan was to go to a traditional community college for the spring semester of the 2011-12 school year, but I ended up waiting until Fall of 2012 to enroll.”

Marshall spent a year at Mesa Community College before transferring Rio Salado, citing a need for a more flexible schedule.

“I’m only a few days into my first year as a Rio Salado student and I can already tell I’ll love it,” Marshall said.  “I'm someone who enjoys travel, so I like to be able to pick up and go when I have the time.  I also need a schedule that won’t interfere with my job. It's important for me to be able to learn on my own terms, whenever and wherever it's easy for me to do so.”
Marshall said he enjoys the college’s online learning environment.
“The online classes with flexible start dates were a must for me,” Marshall said. “Plus it's so much fun! The classes are online, so the dynamics and possibilities are much different than with in-person classes,” Marshall said.
Marshall, an avid engager in social media, especially appreciates how Rio Salado uses social media channels to connect with students.
“Many instructors make use of social media by requiring video blogging and stuff like that,” Marshall said. “Social connection, especially as an online student, is very important. I would even say it’s vital.”
He added, “Rio students don’t have the same social environment that students at traditional community colleges get. Being able to befriend each other over social media is great. It helps us feel connected to the college community. It’s pretty exciting to be a part of something so modern.”
Marshall said taking classes at multiple colleges in the Maricopa Community College District has been a breeze.
“Enrolling at Rio Salado and registering for classes was a painless process,” Marshall said. “I'm already an MCCCD student, so the paperwork and everything else that is required was already done.”
Marshall said he plans to graduate with an associate degree by the end of the 2014-15 school year and then transfer to Arizona State University where he will complete his bachelor’s degree.
“I’m taking Pre-calculus, Public Speaking and American Sign Language this semester,” Marshall said. “I did meet with an advisor to create an academic plan, but I chose all of my classes for myself.”
Although he is currently working as a collections officer at a call center, Marshall said he is planning a career as a speech-language pathologist.
“I have a passion for the deaf community, as well as hearing and speech disorders in general,” Marshall said.

This story can also be found in the August 31 edition of the Tempe Republic. 
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