Educators can use Introducely as a gateway for building powerful learning opportunities for their students. Keep reading to learn more about how we invested in social capital theory and technology that can make a difference in academics.
Introducely Leverages Technology and Social Capital Theory
Social capital refers to the benefits gained from social connections and networks.
Social capital theory is the concept that social connections can bring positive value to all aspects of life, including academics. It states that you can trade in social value — often in the form of actions such as favors or general good will that comes from long-term relationships.
For example, someone who teaches high school history might also be friends with a successful nonfiction author specializing in World War II. That friendship might date back to college, and in that case, there is probably enough social capital present that the teacher can ask the writer to come speak to his or her class and the writer will make it happen.
In another example, a mom who homeschools her kids may be part of a homeschooling co-op. She may also be a caterer who takes on a last-minute wedding after a planning debacle leaves the bride stranded. What if the bride is a beekeeper? The homeschool mom might be able to trade on the new-found social capital, asking the beekeeper bride if she will allow a co-op field trip to her hives.
But what are the chances that you have the exact social capital to meet the educational needs of your students (or your own academic needs)? Obviously, it does happen, but you can’t always rely on fate and coincidence to meet educational needs.
Introducely makes it possible to leverage social capital that isn’t yours, reaching into other people’s networks via introductions. With access to Introducers from across the nation who know all types of people, you have a great chance at connecting with the exact resources you need to foster experiential learning for your students or academic growth for yourself.
How Teachers, Homeschool Parents and Other Educators Can Use Introducely
For educators, one of the main benefits of Introducely is the ability to connect with people who can help provide valuable learning experiences for students inside and outside of the classroom. Before we dive into exactly how that might work, let’s dig more into what experiential learning is and why it’s important.
The Importance of Experiential Learning that Goes Beyond the Classroom
Experiential learning is literally learning by experiencing. In 1984, David Kolb published a model of learning styles and an experiential learning theory.
He theorized that a four-stage learning cycle that involves “learning by doing” lets students touch on all the bases needed for people of all learning styles to fully comprehend information. Kolb’s learning cycle involves:
- Concrete Experience: Participating in a concrete experience (actively participating in or doing)
- Reflective Observation: Reflecting on or reviewing the experience
- Abstract Conceptualism: Drawing conclusions or taking lessons from the experience
- Active Experimentation: Applying the conclusions or lessons learned in various ways that lead to new concrete experiences and continue the learning cycle
Within a traditional learning environment such as a classroom or even a home, it’s possible to work through this cycle of learning on a variety of topics. Students in a high school chem lab can conduct hands-on experiments, and an elementary student being home schooled might work with someone to grow a small garden. These are experiential learning opportunities.
But the knowledge and resources within these environments are typically limited, so students can benefit from field trips, visits from experts and unique hands-on learning opportunities too.
According to research from the University of Central Arkansas, for example, field trips positively influence the motivation and interest of students with regard to learning.
Researchers from Baylor University and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay also looked at the efficacy of field trips, this time specifically with regard to science education. They found that field trips are effective in helping students make connections between what they’re learning and opportunities in the future, such as careers.
Simple common sense also makes it easy to see the value in reaching out to others to expand students’ learning opportunities. Whether you’re a public or private school teacher or a homeschool parent, you’re only one person with a specific background, life experience and voice. Though you’re working with books and other resources, students are still learning at least somewhat through your personal lens.
Bringing in experts, engaging in field trips and providing other learning opportunities helps expand the lens by which students learn.
Examples of Using Introducely to Support Learning
Introducely makes it easy to connect with others who can provide that expanded horizon for learners. Check out just a few ways you can do this below.
Plan Unique Field Trips
Many organizations make it easy to plan field trips. Museums, local attractions and zoos, for example, often publish information about field trips on their websites or have someone in charge of working with teachers or others to plan these events.
But if you’re looking for unique opportunities that fit the needs of your students or what you’re learning in the classroom, you may want to plan a field trip outside of the norm. That could require knowing someone who can make it happen.
A few examples of field trip ideas that might require the support, cooperation or leadership of someone outside of the normal educator network include:
- Getting an insider look at a car dealership’s service department for a high school auto shop class
- A visit to a medical lab for a chemistry class
- A tour of a local bakery for a homeschool group
- A visit to a dairy farm for an elementary school group
Educators can create a request on Introducely asking to be introduced to someone who can help with a field trip. For example: “Introduce me to the owner or manager of a local bakery or cake shop willing to host 10 children aged 7 to 12 for a midmorning tour.”
Schedule Expert Speakers
Not all learning opportunities involve students going to the resource. Sometimes, it works well for the resource to come to you in person or via an online meeting. You can use Introducely to find experts willing to:
- Speak to or provide presentations to your students
- Engage in Q&A sessions with students
- Work with or mentor individual students or small groups
- Participate in events or hands-on activities with learners
You might ask to be introduced to a botanist willing to come on a leaf hunt with 3rd graders and provide them with age-appropriate information about trees. Or, you could post a request asking to be introduced to a dentist or hygienist willing to give a talk and demonstrate good oral hygiene skills for elementary school kids.
Educators at higher levels could ask to be introduced to all types of experts willing to engage with students in hands-on learning opportunities or provide high-quality presentations on niche subjects. Examples include people in specific careers who can talk to students about their fields or individuals who are from other nations who can share their cultures.
Set Up Work Studies or Internships
As learners get older, hands-on opportunities can become more complex. Teachers, parents and others can help students connect with internships and work studies by asking for help on Introducely.
A teacher who wants to connect every student with a business willing to host them for a day might turn to Introducely to find professionals that match each learner’s interest. And a high school guidance counselor could assist students in finding internships or work studies supporting career readiness before college by asking for introductions online.
Find a Tutor
Parents looking to help students catch up or improve confidence for an important test might want to hire a tutor. If you can’t find anyone within your own network to do the job, the right tutor could be a simple request away on Introducely. You might ask for introductions to:
- Someone with experience helping students struggling in specific subjects
- Tutors who can help with test prep for the ACTs or SATs
- People willing to give lessons in extracurricular activities such as music or art
Locate Resources to Support Learning Opportunities
Sometimes you don’t need the expert to provide a learning opportunity, but you do need help with the resources. Whether it’s funding or access to specific equipment or supplies, you may be able to find someone on Introducely who can help.
Ask for introductions to business owners willing to sponsor trips or equipment, or request to be introduced to someone with access to specific resources who is willing to loan them to educators.
Be as creative as you need when using Introducely to help support your learners.
Individuals Can Use Introducely to Support Academic Growth Too
But what if you’re looking to advance your own academic growth as an undergrad or grad student? Introducely can help with that too. Here are just a few ways you might use the platform to connect with people who can help you learn and grow:
- Seek introductions to people capable and willing to be a mentor for you as you navigate various aspects of your education
- Find options for practicums, internships or clinicals that aren’t available through your school or program
- Get connected with people willing to be interviewed via email, on the phone or in person for the purpose of college papers or thesis projects
- Ask for an introduction to someone who has a resource or book that you need and is willing to loan it, sell it or give it away
Quick Tips for Making Introducely Work for You
It really is that simple. Whether you’re looking for a book you can’t find or need an expert to lead an outing for your class, our wide network of verified Introducers ensures you can connect with someone who can help.
To get the most out of Introducely, follow a few best practices:
- When possible, offer payment for the introduction. Even offering as much as $10 can help ensure you get some quality leads on your request.
- Be as specific as possible. Give times, locations and requirements so Introducers know if someone in their network might be a good match.
- Choose more than one contact method. Not everyone is comfortable reaching out initially by phone or setting up an in-person meeting immediately. You can choose from numerous contact methods, including chat, email, text and video call too. Pick a couple to increase the chances of getting introductions.
It costs nothing to make requests, and you can make as many as you want. You only pay a small request fee plus any reward you set for introductions when you’re successfully introduced to someone. So, start today by posting requests to meet any academic needs.