Snap That! A Snapchat Experiment in an Asynchronous Course

Concurrent Session 6

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Depending on several factors, such as the social platforms your students use and your teaching objectives, Snapchat might be right for your online class. Find out how one instructor used this app to enhance social presence. Explore tips for getting started with Snapchat and planning for student engagement.


Melissa A. Venable, PhD is a writer and online education advisor at BestColleges where she contributes to web content on topics related to college and career decision-making. In this role she also conducts an annual research initiative reporting online education trends gathered from a variety of stakeholders. Melissa is an adjunct instructor and course designer for Saint Leo University and the University of South Florida. She received her doctorate in instructional technology from the University of South Florida with research interests in distance education and online student support. Melissa is also a certified career coach.

Extended Abstract

Technology allows us to expand our reach as educators, but our success comes in choosing appropriate tools for each task. Social media tools, such as Snapchat, can help us support our students in new ways. These include, but are not limited to, the connectivism approach of providing “new opportunities for people to learn and share information across the World Wide Web and among themselves” (Learning Theories, 2015). Snapchat as a social network allows students and instructors to make connections outside of the online classroom, connections that “enable us to learn more” (Siemens, 2004). These tools can also provide ways to address the transactional distance between online instructors and students which can negatively affect learning outcomes (Moore, 1993).

In Spring 2018 academic term, the presenter introduced Snapchat to students in one asynchronous course in an online, graduate-level, instructional design program. Why Snapchat? More than 190 million Shapchatters currently access their accounts daily (Smith, 2018). While the majority of these users are younger - 78% of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat (Smith & Anderson, 2018) - more than half of all new users are over 25 (Newberry, 2016).

The goals of this initiative were to explore use of this specific tool as a way to: (a) enhance instructor presence, (b) interact with online students outside the online course system as a professional network, (c) address frequently asked career planning topics, and (d) move out of the instructor’s comfort zone with existing social platforms.

The presenter will share first-hand experience of how she introduced students to the Snapchat app, created a plan for specific interaction in advance, and integrated Snapchat use into the workflow of a semester. The session will include a list of activities discovered in the initiative that could be replicated in other online courses. Materials developed for use in this project will also be shared, to include:

  • Course Announcements

  • Snapchat Student Guide

  • Snapchat Activities Planning Matrix

  • Student Feedback Surveys

In this initiative, student participation was voluntary. While the number of students choosing to participate was small, the connections with those that did join in were strengthened through broader conversations about not only course assignments, but also local community topics and personal pastimes and triumphs. This connection extended in one case beyond the end of the class. All students, those who participated and those who didn’t, were asked to provide feedback at the end of the term through a brief online survey. At the time of this conference, the presenter will also be able to include details and feedback from the Summer 2018 semester, which is in progress at the time of this proposal.

Attendees can expect to:

  • Explore one of the most popular social media platforms among 18 to 24 year olds.

  • Develop a list of practical Snapchat activities for use with online students.

  • Learn from the presenter’s first-hand experience using Snapchat to interact with students in an educational setting.

  • Share their ideas, suggestions, and questions related to the use of Snapchat with online students.


Learning Theories. (June 1, 2015). Connectivism (Siemens, Downes). Retrieved from

Moore, M.G. (1993). Theory of transactional distance. Retrieved from

Newberry, C. (August 24, 2016). Top Snapchat demographics that matter to social media marketers. Hootsuite. Retrieved from

Siemens, G. (December 12, 2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. eLearnspace. Retrieved from

Smith, A. & Anderson, M. (March, 1, 2018). Social media use in 2018. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from

Smith, C. (May 11, 2018). By the numbers: 140+ amazing Snapchat statistics and facts. DMR. Retrieved from