Magnify was developed as a platform to provide a place where our users—friends, family, faculty members, and colleagues—could come together and work to resolve issues facing their community. The software was designed to provide these users with the tools needed to connect with others who are passionate about similar issues, a positive environment for constructive conversation, and a platform to get things done. The Magnify team recently touched base with a few Magnify users in order to learn more about how they were using the platform and to make improvements both in and outside of their academic settings.
When speaking with Dr. Brian Harrison, lecturer at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, he described Magnify as “an opportunity to make a mistake” when using the platform in his LGBTQ+ and contemporary public policy courses. He found that Magnify works well in his public policy courses because they allow class concepts to be implemented and tested, while at the same time allowing students to “make mistakes and learn from them.” This demonstrates a valuable asset of the Magnify software: a tool to integrate components of course syllabi into the real world through networks of student peers.
Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin Bethany Albertson and Associate Professor of Political Science at George Mason University’s Schar School Policy and Government Jennifer Victor both found successful implementation of Magnify in their larger intro lecture courses. Both professors used the platform to create smaller groups within these larger groups to facilitate action networks among students that would not have formed otherwise, facilitating the theory of intimacy by building community and taking action.
Christian Grose, an Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southern California, continued this trend of using Magnify to make large classes small in his course on election reform. Through Magnify’s implementation, he saw his students bring about real change at the local level through the renaming of a university building, demonstrating the ways our action-centered platform amplifies local advocacy efforts to bring about concrete change within communities.
Overall, after speaking with these esteemed users, the Magnify Team has compiled a list of recommendations on how best to maximize the Magnify experience:
- Try incorporating Magnify into the syllabus of the class in a way that allows students to connect it to the course material. This may make it seem more relevant and helpful, rather than distant and unrelated.
- We recommend offering extra credit to students who choose to use Magnify instead of making it mandatory. Magnify should feel like a useful and meaningful tool, but making it mandatory for assignments may put students off. For those who choose to use it with less pressure attached, they may be more able to see what Magnify can help them accomplish.
- Encourage students to work on Magnify projects in groups. This collaboration can lead to more participation and ideas that garner broader interest.
The possibilities for using Magnify, both inside and outside of the classroom, are endless. We hope these tips from professors who have incorporated Magnify into their courses help others engage students in the classroom and use the platform to effect positive change in their communities.