An AUD professor joined forces with a senior student to show a way of using social media to improve communication skills on campus. And yes, it can be funny.
Advertising Professor and Outreach Coordinator Dina Faour and Digital Production and Storytelling senior Rasheed Al Hattab regularly have friendly and humorous encounters on an Instagram account: @professorstudent. The scenes are mainly set on campus, in the professors’ office in the Visual Communications department.
“I started by posting random Instagram stories,” said Al Hattab. “There were so many people replying to me that she is so funny, even people I don’t know. So, we posted a video and we saw that it triggered lots of reactions.”
So, how did it all start, and what can we learn from this experiment?
“Students approached me for an acting role for a project, and I said yes, and Rasheed was my director,” explained Professor Faour. “It was a funny role; I think I saved his movie!”
After that friendly encounter, Al Hattab would regularly go to Professor Faour’s office to seek her advice.
Their Instagram posts have become quite popular, and it’s not just because they are funny, random videos, but it is also because they set a positive example of faculty and student interactions.
There are some who believe that professors should not be too friendly with students, and need to maintain a certain formal relationship, even outside of the classroom. However, in this case, we see a completely different perspective on campus.
“I took a Harvard course, and I found that it is very healthy to have a friendly relationship with your student,” said Professor Faour. “The idea of not being friendly is kind of dated. In fact, the friendlier you are with your student, the more willing they are to learn, and the more you are able to relate to them. We must show empathy: I feel for you, I want to make sure you are studying the way you should and I want you to love what you’re doing and see it beyond the course.”
The fact that Professor Faour teaches at the Visual Communications department may also explain why she may have a different teaching and communication approach. “Anything artistic and communicative, as a professor, you can’t be too formal. In this school, it is more about soul searching. They can see themselves in us and we see ourselves in them.”
What is important is that the lines between professor and student are never crossed, and the relationship remains funny and respectful, while highlighting the benefits of having a positive, motivating interaction.