As It Happens

Professor tweets course syllabus clickbait to engage students

College professor Laura Seay borrows some clickbait headline writing skills in an attempt to get her students to read their syllabus and YOU WONT BELIEVE what happened next.
Colby College professor Laura Seay started sharing clickbait style headlines to try to encourage her students to read the syllabus for her course on African Government and Politics. (Laura Seay/Colby College/Twitter)

After a long summer break, how do you get a college kid to read a syllabus for a course on African Government and Politics?

That's the question Colby College assistant professor Laura Seay was struggling with when she hit on an idea. What if she wrote her syllabus in the style of click-bait Internet headlines?

"It kind of came about as an idea, just thinking about the way we engage students and the many competing sources there are for their attentions these days," Seay tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

"How would the modern lingo that we use to draw attention to headlines and news stories — how would that translate into the academic setting?"

Just for fun, Seay decided to float her idea online. She sent out a tweet and the #ClickBaitSyllabus hashtag went viral.

Seay says most of her students come prepared for class. But she understands distractions are always at hand with Snapchat and Instagram in their pockets.
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"It's a constant dilemma for some students," Seay explains. "I can't really criticize them when I'm goofing around on Twitter when I should be working on finishing my work!"

Seay says she doesn't actually plan on using any of her catchy tweets in the syllabus. But she hopes that the hashtag encourages teachers to continue to experiment with creative ways to engage students.

"We're living in a world where our news and information are written about with a lighter tone," Seay admits. "I don't know that the way we frame it cheapens it at all as long as we're still covering the fundamentals."

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Laura Seay.


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