The Voice‘s social media feature, Student Sizzle, debuted almost nine years ago, on October 3, 2014. I know this for sure because I compiled that piece, and since then I’ve compiled most of the Student Sizzle features that run weekly in The Voice.
Over the course of hundreds of Student Sizzle columns, some things have changed, but many have stayed the same. While the cohort of students participating on the social channels changes as students complete their studies and move on, the questions and concerns they have during their time at AU remain much the same (with some exceptions—who had heard of ProctorU back in 2014?).
Looking back at the inaugural Student Sizzle, I notice one student voiced concern about AU implementing a switch from paper textbooks to etexts. While most courses have now migrated to using etexts, students today still complain about them.
For the earliest Student Sizzle columns, I covered posts from the AUSU Student Forums, as well as the AthaU Facebook group, and Twitter. Most current AU students probably aren’t aware that AUSU used to have an online forum in which students could discuss concerns, ask questions, and find answers. The AUSU Student Forums were discontinued in 2015. In my article of June 12, 2015, Dismantling the AUSU Forum, I extolled the benefits of the forums, and lamented AUSU’s lack of promoting them to new students.
The AUSU Forums disappeared at the beginning of October 2015, in conjunction with AUSU’s website upgrade. Soon afterwards, AUSU introduced a student smartphone app, which was meant, in part, to replace the student forums and also the student planner (an actual paper booklet AUSU produced and mailed to students annually until 2015.) When I was an AU student I didn’t have a smartphone, and now that I have a smartphone I’m not an AU student. Consequently, I have never been able to use the app or include its posts in the Student Sizzle column.
Other AU student social channels appeared over the years. A student-run Reddit channel started up in 2016, followed by a Discord channel in 2020. The Discord and AthaU Facebook group sites continue to attract the highest traffic volumes.
Having followed these sites for many years, I notice that some questions and concerns are posted over and over again. I would say that the top five discussion threads revolve around these topics:
- tutor feedback/marking (or lack thereof)
- ProctorU exam invigilation
- changing exam dates
The top five questions that I see come up frequently include:
- Is AU a real university? (this appears on the Reddit channel regularly; its members aren’t limited to AU students.)
- How can I switch tutors? (usually following negative feedback on an assignment.)
- Do courses end on the last day of the month, or the day before the last day? (I’ve never understood this one, but it comes up a lot.)
- How do you cite the course manual in an essay? (I learned the answer to this from the AUSU Student Forums way back when, but have since forgotten.)
- And, my favourite: Can someone suggest an easy course? (preferably without exams and can be completed in no time at all.)
I sometimes answer student questions while I’m sweeping through the channels looking for posts to highlight for the Student Sizzle column. I have never answered the “easy course” question but have often been tempted to reply “PHIL 252.” (In truth, I did find PHIL 252 easy, but I recognize that many students seem to struggle with it.)
This week, after some 400 Student Sizzle columns to date, I compiled my final Student Sizzle. I haven’t been an AU student since 2018, and I want to step back from some of the social channels I’ve been following.
But students are social, and the social channels will keep sizzling in The Voice.
[Are you one who can keep up with the AU social media scene? If so, contact email@example.com and let him know. He’s looking for someone able to take over the Student Sizzle, and willing to pay for it!]