Tomi Oluwasanmi uses YouTube in her public health classroom
When Tomi reached out to me on Instagram about being on my show, I was excited. While I’ve spoken with other people about their use of social media in the classroom, Tomi is using it to make her lectures more accessible.
Today I’m talking with Tomi Oluwasanmi, MPH an adjunct professor at the CUNY School of Medicine and NYU College of Global and Public Health.
I was excited to sit down and chat with Tomi about her work and social media life.
I’m Jennifer, thanks for checking out The Social Academic, my blog / podcast about life in the HigherEd world. I share an advice article and interview each month just for you.
In this chat, Tomi and I talk about her teaching practices. Like how she goes live on YouTube so her students can access the lectures later!
Tomi has successfully reached out to mentors and collaborators through social media. And she has some great advice for you on how to do it.
Her top tips for social media are to reach out and start conversations with your network.
That you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to “other academics who have more experience because they will be able to guide you in the right way and also provide good advice.”
Tomi also says it’s important to “use social media for good.”
It’s all on this episode of The Social Academic. Check it out.
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Jennifer: Today we are here with Tomi Oluwasanmi, MPH. Hi Tomi, how are you today?
Tomi: I’m well, and yourself?
Jennifer: I’m doing well. So just to get us started, why don’t you tell me a little bit about you?
Tomi: Well I received my Masters of Public Health and epidemiology from New York University College of Global Public Health and my interest lies in chronic diseases and also I’m teaching a variety of public health courses.
Jennifer: So public health and a variety of diseases. Very interesting. I’d love to hear more about your current work.
Tomi: Well, currently I work at two academic institutions. So the first one is the CUNY School of Medicine and I worked specifically in the Community Health and Social Medicine Department for the Sophie Davis Biomedical Program, which is a BS-MD 7-year program in which you have the undergraduates. Um, they received their BS in 3 years and then 4 years they received their MD.
And then the other institution is my alma mater, the NYU College of Global Public Health. So there I’m an adjunct assistant professor, so I helped with the epi recitations in which I review concepts that are covered during the epi lecture and we also go over in class practice exercises and um, go over stuff that relate to homework assignments.
Jennifer: Nice. So, two kind of different, different modes of teaching. That sounds really interesting.
Tomi: Yes. Thank you.
Going live on YouTube for the classroom
Jennifer: So we connected over Instagram. I’d love to hear more about your social media use. What is your favorite social media platform?
Tomi: Oh, now? It is Instagram.
Jennifer: Instagram. Why is that?
Tomi: For Instagram I’m able to reach out to other academics and also watch teaching tip videos and other things that is related to academia and research.
Jennifer: Teaching tip videos. That sounds really cool. Is that something that you find on Instagram?
Tomi: Yes. I also find on Instagram as well as on YouTube. That’s great.
Jennifer: Teaching tip videos. Now you mentioned that use YouTube to host in class lectures and I’d love to hear a little bit more about that.
Tomi: Well on YouTube they have this button called “go live.” So I click on the go live button and then I’m able to for the lectures there. So that’s for students who are unable to make it to class.
And then after I’ve finished with the lectures, I immediately can upload the YouTube videos and I also click the unlisted option.
So the unlisted option basically states that whoever gets this link, they have access to it and it’s not access. They don’t, they don’t have access.
Jennifer: I see. So it’s something that you can say just share with your students, and keep it like more of a private video.
Jennifer: That’s great. And do you do that so that people who can’t be in class have access to it. Do you find that students who are in class will go back to those ever?
Tomi: Yes, because I’m able to count the number of views and they do tell me that the material that they were not able to grasp during the, in class classroom, they’re able to learn it outside of the classroom.
Jennifer: That’s great. How did you get started doing that? Like what gave you the idea?
Tomi: Well during my previous semesters of teaching, one, I actually wanted to make sure I was teaching the correct material to my students and also help with how I pronounce my words and also make sure that the materials are up to par.
So what prompted me also is to make sure that the material that is covered during lecture, they have it via video and if there’s any disputes with regards to exams or stuff that the students may think weren’t put on the exam or quizzes that weren’t in carbon in lecture actually had the videos as evidence.
Jennifer: I love that reasoning. That’s so funny.
So it helps your students because they get access to it. They can refresh topics and if they miss class they get access to the full lecture.
But it also helps you because it does keep that kind of official record of what goes on in class.
Jennifer: Would you say that it’s a lot harder than like not recording it? Is there a lot of work that’s involved in, um, I guess going live on YouTube?
Tomi: Um, no, it’s just that I have to know how to position my laptop correctly so I see the lecture slides. And then also if I need to explain things more and content with regards to me writing on the board, I have to also make sure that that is also being projected on my laptop.
So I have to make sure that there is minimum time for me to write important notes and if they’re not put it in the video, I make sure I put pictures so that they’ll see the notes that were written on the board.
Jennifer: Ah, taking a picture and using that as something that you can just embed into that or in the comments even. I think that’s a great idea.
And it sounds like it’s not too much extra work to be able to do it and it makes your class significantly more kind of accessible for everyone. I love that.
Tomi: Thank you.
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Direct messaging on social media and Instagram stories
Jennifer: So I’m curious, what ways do you engage with your audience, your followers? How do you most interact with them on social media?
Tomi: DM’s and Instagram stories.
Jennifer: DM’s can, can we talk a little bit more about DM’s? I think that it’s something that maybe occasionally has a bad rap. Not that everyone knows that they can send direct messages and that people are on the other side that are excited to receive them and excited to have conversations that way.
Tomi: So with the direct messages, there are some in which people may send me inquiries related to either my work or other stuff that I do that’s related to health. So that’s how one way I interact with them.
And then with the Instagram stories I do, you know, post interesting fun stuff that’s related to my job. And with that I have conversations with people during the day.
Or if during my downtime I respond to direct messages I think that are important, but I don’t share them are private conversations.
Jennifer: I love that. So you can have conversations, um, through direct messages and you can kind of spark conversations or idea that like topics of discussion using Instagram stories.
Do you use stories often? Like how often would you say you use Instagram stories?
Tomi: I use it every day.
Jennifer: Every day. No, that’s great.
You know, I just did a blog post about Instagram store, Instagram and over half of all Instagram users watch stories like daily. So if you’re posting them daily, people are excited to receive them.
LinkedIn is a great way to reach your professional network
Jennifer: Now you also mentioned that use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great platform to connect with your professional network. I’m curious, how do you use LinkedIn?
Tomi: So for LinkedIn I use it to reach out to colleagues in both public health and academia in which I inquire about teaching techniques and also of course design because I am fairly new in academia.
And I want to make sure that, yes, there are room for mistakes but not too many. And then also I’m just so reach out as a form of mentorship.
So recently I reached out to a colleague of mine. At Hunter College and she taught epidemiology, for that institution for the past five years. So I explained to her, even though I’ve taught at be to high school students, I want to know how epidemiology is taught at Hunter College.
So from there, with that LinkedIn message, I talked to her for an hour, just asking questions. And then she also, enrolled me in her course in which I was able to view her course materials. And then that also gave me the opportunity to make sure that the course materials that I’m creating that is specifically for those students and the Community Health Program at Hunter College.
Jennifer: Yeah. That’s amazing. Can I ask how you went about like sending that message? Was that a message through LinkedIn or was it email?
Tomi: It was through LinkedIn. So, um, how I received her name was that, um, my department head, he sent me, previous course syllabi. And then, from there I received her name and then I sent a message on LinkedIn stating that, “Oh, I recently finished teaching the college now version of epidemiology for high school students. However, I’m coming back in the Spring 2020 and I’m teaching the high school students.”
And so from there, she stated that she would love to speak with me. And I said, thank you. So I made sure that the, message I sent was very formal and very direct and also stated, my requests just to speak to her with regards to specifically course materials.
Jennifer: That is great advice.
So when you reach out to someone on LinkedIn, a colleague or someone connected through your professional network, stay pretty formal. But be clear and direct about what you’re coming to the table with, what your needs are and…
How long would you say that message was? Was it on the shorter side or the longer side?
Tomi: Well, so the message was pretty like around 5 sentences max.
I was like, my name the department, where I currently teach. And then also that I received for course syllabus and then helped with course materials.
Jennifer: I love that. And would you say that you’ve connected with other people on LinkedIn this way? Using a similar kind of message?
Tomi: Um, yes. And so like for example, when I was looking with regards to learning more about, epidemiology, I reached out to other individuals asking them, if you would like to either have a phone call or a coffee date to explain to me about your experience working in epidemiology and then also in public health.
Jennifer: I love that. Thanks so much for sharing that language and the details of what your messages are. I think that that’s something that could really help people realize how LinkedIn could be useful to them in their own professional careers.
So what advice would you give to new faculty or academics joining social media? I remember you just said that you’re a newer academic, so you have just done this yourself. What advice would you give to new people who are joining now?
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Tomi’s tips for Instagram and LinkedIn
Tomi: So specifically, um, I would talk about, 2 social media platforms, so that would be LinkedIn, Instagram.
So one, reaching out to individuals in your respective fields. You can reach out with regards to research interests.
Also, sharing teaching techniques that you have developed on your own or learned about and actually want to discuss with people who are already in the field.
I always say that don’t be afraid to reach out to other academics who have more experience because they will be able to guide you in the right way and also provide good advice.
Also follow hashtags that are specifically to your field and connected to other academic and or research fields.
Jennifer: I like that. And actually you can follow hashtags on both Instagram and on LinkedIn.
People don’t always realize that hashtags are a way to search for good content and posts on LinkedIn as well. So that’s another area people kind of explore finding their community.
Tomi: Thank you.
Jennifer: Yeah. So I’m curious, how did you find new people to connect with when you’ve got an Instagram initially? Like how did you find your first couple of people that you wanted to follow that were in your field?
Tomi: Well, so I’ll just start off with first I would see the individuals that I know in-person, like personally had a conversation with. And then with those individuals that had a LinkedIn. And so from their LinkedIn I’ll put in their names to see if they haven’t Instagram.
And funny enough this past summer when I posted something on my Instagram, I saw that there was this individual who is in public health and epidemiology. So I reached out to her and I found out this past summer that we work at the same place.
Jennifer: Oh, that’s great.
Tomi: Sometimes it’s random. Sometimes I know the individuals and then other times I just follow other people that do things of public health.
So right now I follow a lot of public health consultants. I’ve been working in public health for 10 years, so I just read their blog posts and also their Instagram posts, their Instagram stories, just to see how they use their specific skillsets to get into consulting.
Jennifer: That’s great. So using it for a lot of different things. Um, but the one thing that I really liked that you said is that you were looking for people that you had connected with on LinkedIn, on Instagram, and that you were able to find some of them. I think that, that, that’s really interesting, that kind of cross-platform ability to connect with people.
Social media for learning for your personal and professional life
Jennifer: Okay. So what do you enjoy most about social media? What do you get out of it?
Tomi: In general or specifically for, for my field?
Jennifer: Um, I think in general, I think, yeah. In general, what, what, what do you feel you enjoy most about social media and any social media? It doesn’t have to be specifically public health. It could be personal as well.
Tomi: Okay. So I’ll start with the professional and then go to the personal one. So the professional standpoint, I love watching videos on YouTube specifically on how to improve on my teaching techniques for large and small class sizes.
For other stuff that’s related to professional aspects of social media on LinkedIn. I do get a chance to read articles that aren’t related to my field.
And then on the personal standpoint, I love reading interesting quotes, that specifically pertain to determination and also trying to reach your goals.
And then there are other, um, posts in which I find hilarious because comedy is good. It’s not good medicine for the soul. So I get a good kick out of that.
And then also, um, love viewing other content for when it comes to personal growth, but that personal growth like deals with like maybe if I want to learn more about like makeup stuff cause I’m not a makeup junkie. But again, techniques or even like hair techniques. So that’s more of like on a personal side.
Jennifer: Yeah, there’s so much stuff you can learn from social media, whether it’s uh, you know, hair stuff, which I tend to look up and um, how to make like natural products. There’s all sorts of things that I feel like I can just find on social media and learn something new.
Tomi: Yes. I agree as well.
Use social media for good
Jennifer: Well, this was a really fun conversation. Is there anything that you’d like to add or share?
Tomi: Um, I would say that just to use social media for good and to also voice your opinions and also, um, opinions that, um, stand correct and also be very realistic with what you post on social media.
Jennifer: Hmm. What do you mean by that? By “be realistic”?
Tomi: like in a sense that don’t paint a false reality. So for example, when I’m talking about my work, I do state the good side of it. And then also kind of like the difficult side with regards to like, okay, I know this lecture went well, but I know there’s some things I need to improve on.
Jennifer: Hmm. So being honest about, um, both sides, both the positive and the negative.
Jennifer: I really like that. Thank you so much for this conversation. And for talking to me about how you use social media, I especially love how you’re using YouTube in the classroom, to provide that extra, extra content for your students to be able to give them access to it when they need it. Thank you so much for talking to me today. Tell me
Tomi: Thank you. I appreciate it, Jennifer.
Jennifer: Great. All right.
Thanks so much for joining me for this academic interview with Tomi Oluwasanmi.
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Bio for Tomi Oluwasanmi of CUNY School of Medicine and NYU College of Global Public Health
Tomi Oluwasanmi, MPH is an adjunct faculty member with the CUNY School of Medicine Department of Community Health and Social Medicine. In addition, she also holds an additional teaching appointment with the Department of Epidemiology at NYU College of Global Public Health.
Aside from lecturing has participated in professional development programs that aim to equip educators with the following skills: development of hybrid courses and writing intensive to course material.
Connect with Tomi on
Jennifer van Alstyne is a Peruvian-American poet and public relations consultant. She founded The Academic Designer, LLC to help academics, researchers, and writers control their online presence and share their work with the world.
She holds a B.A. from Monmouth University in English, and an M.F.A. from Naropa University in Writing & Poetics where she was the Jack Kerouac Fellow. Jennifer also holds an M.A. from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Literature and Cultural Studies where she was one of four master’s fellows and a finalist for the Outstanding Master’s Graduate Award.