Thursday, April 19, 2012

Professional Day Part 3: Wondering and Wisdom

The final entry on 2012 NSCC Profession Day’s workshop on social media and higher education  (Check out Part 1, Part 2, and the Workshop Resources) focuses on a few fun insights and questions that came up in the discussion.  

1. The Type of Social Media Invokes a Particular Culture of Performance
This was an interesting conclusion that I had not full thought about before, but makes absolutely sense with the online environment.  Just as there are places where we can be “ourselves” and places where we must be “professional” and places that blur the lines, social media has its equivalent.  Facebook still remains a place that swivels from personal to professional depending on who is using it (and how they choose to use it).  We may not like what others are posting, but we know that their “Facebook” but it’s their space to do with as they please.  By contrast, invokes a different sense of etiquette and behavior.  As an arena for recruiting and networking, the interactions and connection people make are more professional.  There is less likelihood for chatting in the casual way we find on Facebook.  I’ve witnessed this first hand with former students who contact me via LinkedIn (formal, polite, and articulate) in contrast to those who have contacted me in some capacity on Facebook (informal, emoticons, and slang).  

2.  Move Beyond the Big Ones
Another faculty member emphasized the importance of over-reliance on the big social media sites for person or educational use.  Sure, Facebook and Twitter are good and we can reliably expect large amounts of people to have access to them, but some of the smaller social media sites may help to keep from distracting students or introduce them to new tools they might not have known about otherwise.  

3.  What Would McLuhan Think?
 If the “medium is the message,” then how are we to make sense of social media?  A faculty member made this insightful point that I believe is important to engage with for anyone using social media.  I agree that social media requires substantive study for us to understand the ways in which it mitigates communication and content.  But this is also why I think using it in the classroom, filled with students full emerged in much of it already, might help the students as well to understand the medium/message intersection.  This makes further sense when we look at Twitter and the implication of a “tweet” and the need to shrink and contort our language into shorthand.

4.  80/20 Rule
    Regardless of how you’re going to use social media in that classroom, it seems clear that there is an 80%/20% rule to consider when using it.  That is, you need to spend 80% of your time in the planning and developing phases of prior to the course and then, expect to spend 20% time actually executing what you’re looking to do.  That is, in order to use social media meaningfully in a course, you need to become familiar with it, determine how you want to use it, and provide resources to help students make sense of the way that you want to use it for class (providing guidelines, expectations, etiquette, etc).  

5.  Future Workshops on Social Media
Some faculty suggested that it might be more useful in the future to offer three workshops on the topic of social media.  

  • Workshop 1:  Social Media for the Socially (Media) Isolated.  This workshop would be a very simple introduction to several of the big social media sites and their general uses.
  • Workshop 2:  Social Media Concerns.  This workshop would run more like a discussion about the challenges and concerns that faculty have when considering using social media for professional and educational purposes.
  • Workshop 3:  Using Social Media.  This workshop would focus largely on the research and tools out there that have effectively (and ineffectively, I suppose) used social media for educational and professional uses such as this.  
Overall, the workshop was rewarding for me to run but I also hope that faculty enjoyed them and benefitted from them (or from these posts).