Top #EdShift Tech Tools of 2016: Facebook Live, Slack, Snapchat

    by Stacy Forster
    December 22, 2016
    Creative Commons photo. Click on the photo or here to see the full series.

    Click on the photo or here to see the full series. Creative Commons photo.

    In our final #EdShift chat of 2016, we looked back at the technology tools that defined the year and gazed into our crystal balls to try to figure out what we’ll be using and talking about in 2017. Here’s are the biggest trends of the year, according to our EdShift experts:

    1. Facebook Live:

    Live streaming social media tools popped up in 2015, but FacebookLive was the top tech tool of 2016 because of how easy it was to use within the Facebook platform, Katy Culver of the University of Wisconsin-Madison tweeted in our chat. The tool, which launches with just a tap, turned any Facebook user into a broadcaster and brought us everything in this year from Chewbacca Momthe most watched FacebookLive video ever— to the aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile and President Obama’s final press conference of 2016. With news organizations bringing viewers and readers inside the newsroom through FacebookLive, it’s changing the way they can talk and interact with viewers, and it’s forcing journalists to improve their delivery, Lisa Collins of Loyola University New Orleans said. Educators are using it, too: Texas State University used it to cover Mass Comm Week, said Texas State’s Cindy Royal, while Culver used it to during a lecture on careers, encouraging alumni to weigh in with comments, prompting “HUGE engagement.”


    2. Pokémon Go:

    At the end of 2015, we were expecting this year to be the one where virtual reality made its move into the mainstream. Instead, this summer everyone was talking about Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game that had millions of people wandering streets, parks and other outdoor spaces searching and scanning for Pokémon. “I was in New Zealand when it broke out and you could tell when people were on the hunt for Pokemon. I was like, wow-global impact,” American University in Cairo’s Kim Fox said. It also showed the lightning speed at which technology can sometimes be adopted — Forbes reports 500 million people downloaded the app this year. “Pokémon Go showed us potential of location-based apps & game dynamics. Brilliant,” Royal said.

    3. Slack:

    The team messaging platform is well established as a way to consolidate conversations in newsrooms and other media organizations, but it’s continuing to make headway in other places, including the classroom. Royal said she’s using it for course discussions and planning for events, Culver gained efficiency in using it to organize teams and activities, and the students in my magazine class largely forgot about using our class Facebook page and chose to do most everything over our Slack channels.


    4. Managing it all:

    With new tools being introduced almost every day, even those of us who are the most tech savvy struggle to keep up with it all. “Resistance is futile,” Royal said. “Just have to accept that this is what we do. Experiment, be curious.” Kym Fox of Texas State University, said, “I give myself permission to say ‘I don’t know everything,’ and let students share their knowledge.” Collins said she tries to stay aware of everything that’s available, but focuses on using one or two of them really well. If you are going to try to add up-to-the-minute technology to what you’re teaching, start small. Texas State University offers instruction in new topics through one-credit-hour short courses on such things as drones and coding.

    5. What’s ahead?

    It’s too early to tell what the hot tech trends of 2017 will be — the new Snapchat features? Tools for verification? Media adoption of the technology behind smart stores? Whatever it is, find a way to deploy it, Culver said. “When you see a tool in use, find a way to use it immediately afterward. Otherwise, you forget about it.”

    Stacy Forster teaches journalism and strategic communication in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also serves as moderator for the #EdShift Twitter chats.



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