Why Use Yammer

Audience: Clubs, Faculty, Guests, Researchers, Staff, Students and Teaching Assistants

This KB Article References: Yammer
This Information is Intended for: Clubs, Faculty, Guests, Researchers, Staff, Students, Teaching Assistants
Last Updated: August 08, 2016

Faculty/Researchers

Even though Yammer was designed for business groups and teams to communicate and collaborate on projects, it has been adopted by higher education and is being used to fit Stony Brook University’s model of courses, projects, and teams.

Faculty and researchers may choose to use Yammer as a way to:

  • Boost inter-departmental communication
  • Facilitate communication and course announcements with various student groups
  • Continue group interaction long after a course has ended
  • Discuss current events related to a course
  • Moderate discussions related to course topics and objectives
  • Share files, online resources and sites
  • Share videos created by students
  • Conduct peer assessments
  • Allow students a place to connect with other students in their area of study
  • Give research groups a place to exchange ideas and information, including members outside of the @stonybrook.edu domain through the use of Yammer’s External Network feature
  • Provide students a place to interact with instructors in the same subject area who they may not otherwise get an opportunity to learn from directly if not enrolled in their course
  • Facilitate communication between TAs and students for large classes that rely on a TA to act as the primary liaison with students
  • Encourage students to ask questions
  • Foster more student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction
  • Go mobile to make things more convenient for students (Yammer has a free app for iOS and Android devices)
  • Tag topics of discussion that can easily be located later (the use of topics in Yammer is an excellent way to keep posts, comments, and notes organized)
  • Conduct formative assessment through the use of Yammer’s polling feature

While Yammer resembles social networking platforms that many of us are already familiar with, the use of Yammer does require some skills and an understanding of technology. It can be an exceptional addition to supporting a traditional classroom. While it does not (and will not) do class roster syncs, high-stakes exams, or any of the other things that Blackboard is good at, it does support an ease in flow of discourse that in some cases is missing from the traditional learning management system (LMS) environments. Yammer is not meant to replace Blackboard or any other LMS used at Stony Brook, but depending on individual preferences and specific use cases, some instructors may opt for the “lightweight” feel of Yammer and may choose to use it as a supplement to Blackboard since Yammer feeds can be embedded into Blackboard so students can easily see recent activity without having to actually sign in to the Yammer network. Yammer may appeal to instructors who do not want or need to use the full suite of robust tools that Blackboard offers.

Some instructors have reported using Yammer as the centerpiece of their own classes and have found that their students actually use it for more than just consumption – they end up posting original content, thoughts on links, and create collaborative notes. Some professors prefer to use Blackboard as the hub of the class and let Yammer handle just the conversation piece in a private group.

Stony Brook’s Yammer network requires NetID authentication, essentially turning it into a Stony Brook intranet. While groups created in Yammer can be made public or private, it is best practice to set up a private group for any type of class discussion.

Faculty should be aware upfront that there is no easy or straightforward way to maintain class rosters in Yammer, so they would need to manually add/invite students themselves.

It is also important for faculty to clearly communicate expectations to students of how Yammer will and will not be used for a course and there should be someone dedicated to responding to questions that arise in Yammer so that students gain confidence in using it and don’t get frustrated if they ask a question and no one responds in a timely manner.

Instructors are encouraged to contact Academic Technology Services at (631) 632-2777 to speak with an instructional  designer to better understand which tool (or combination of tools) will work best for their specific classroom need. The following questions should be considered:

  • Are the discussions you’re trying to support in Yammer going to be an important, high-stakes component of the course?

  • Will you be inviting “guest speakers” or other contributors from outside Stony Brook?

  • Do you need Yammer for group/team work or discussion, or will you only be using Yammer for whole-class discussions and work?

  • What is more important, ease of use/setup or privacy?

Students

Students may choose to use Yammer for:

  • As a home base for storing files and idea sharing for projects or group work
  • Communication among clubs/organizations
  • To build their social network on campus
  • To find out what’s happening at the University

 

Professional Staff

Reasons professional staff members may choose to use Yammer:

  • Manage projects
  • Seek help from other departments at the University
  • Network and share ideas with those who share similar interests
  • Move internal departmental or team discussions out of email so more people can participate and understand how decisions are reached
  • Advertise your department’s events
  • Solicit feedback from your campus customers and build demand and loyalty
  • Gain visibility for your own team/department and gain insights into how other campus departments operate
  • Boost workplace engagement by giving employees a voice
  • Help your team make informed decisions and respond to change quickly
  • Spark innovation
  • Build a unified culture at Stony Brook University
  • Stay connected to what employees are thinking
  • Accelerate campaign and collateral execution
  • Share intelligence faster
  • New staff orientation or onboarding

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