Technology Tools for a More Connected World Campus Experience

Meeting and connecting with classmates are a huge part of college life, but during my first semester at Penn State World Campus, there was little opportunity to interact with my fellow students apart from online discussions. There was none of the chitchatting, talking shop, or comparing notes that happens in real life. I definitely felt FOMO! So I looked around, and since then have found several ways to virtually “meet and greet” my peers online, which I’d like to share with you. 

Join a club or organization

One of the first things I did was join the World Campus Student Government Association (WCSGA). I ran for Technology Chair and have been serving for the past year and a half. I’ve met students, faculty, and administrators that have connected me to the Penn State culture. I’ve also learned how student government works and had a say on initiatives that benefit students. In addition to WCSGA, there are many World Campus clubs and organizations you can join to help you get more of the Penn State experience.

Attend virtual and/or in-person events

Last September, I attended the World Campus Student Leadership Conference, which was a 2-day, hybrid (in-person and virtual) event at University Park. There were lots of educational workshops to choose from, and I got to meet face-to-face with colleagues that until then I had only known through Zoom. That weekend, I was one of a few students that represented their campuses at the All-University Day football game, and we all marched on the football field during half-time. Huge thrill! To find out about upcoming World Campus happenings, visit the Events Calendar.

Take advantage of free collaboration tools

Another way I’ve gotten to know my fellow World Campus students is through the text messaging app GroupMe. In my second semester, I joined one group for my program (MPS in Strategic Communications), and since then have joined or started others for each individual class I’ve taken. There are conversations going on every day, and I can jump in if I have something to say or just want to see what others are talking about. You can give tips on classes you’ve already taken or check if others can help you with questions you have. You can also find support if you’re frustrated and just need to vent. If your class doesn’t have a GroupMe yet, it’s super easy to start one and invite your classmates.

For the Tech Committee, we’ve found that Microsoft Teams and Zoom work best for quick texts and meetings.

Here’s what some of my fellow WCSGA members use to stay connected online:

“I typically use Discord to communicate with my classmates. At the start of most of my classes, I will go and create a Discord Server — which is essentially a big chat room — and send the join link to my classmates via Canvas Inbox. I find Discord the most practical because it’s pretty user-friendly, and you can create different ‘chat rooms’ inside of your ultimate server/chat room to keep files more organized! I have also used Teams, WhatsApp, and GroupMe as other means of communication with my classmates throughout my journey at Penn State so far!” — Nicole K.

“So far, I have mainly used GroupMe to communicate with classmates. My Spanish group decided to use GroupMe last semester for coordinating study sessions and group projects, and it was very helpful! It’s an easy app to use overall, from setting up new groups to participating in multiple groups at once. I would definitely recommend GroupMe to other students, and I will likely use it again myself this semester for communication with classmates.” — Mollie G.

Zoom has actually been the most valuable go-to collaboration tool in my courses. It’s a tool that is already widely used in my program for formal project presentations and events, and so everyone is already very familiar with it. In group projects, we tend to coordinate over Canvas or email for scheduling meeting times and then jump on Zoom to get to work. The screen sharing, multiple options for joining from different devices, and just the ease of creating meeting links and calendar invites makes it easy.” — Matt H.

“I use WhatsApp, Teams, GroupMe, and Discord. I have found my favorite is WhatsApp because it is easier for me to use. I am learning how to use Discord, but it is a bit confusing, although it seems easier to organize different sub-groups into a main group. I am glad that we can utilize apps like these; otherwise, I would have nonstop text messages and emails.” — Ariel H.

Connecting with fellow students is a way to grow our professional networks, get better grades, and build camaraderie. Go out and get to know some wonderful people today!

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