Intentional uses of Social Media in Academia

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This post begins a short series on uses of social media in academia. The following post was co-authored by Karen Gonzalez Rice and Anthony Graesch, with help from Jessica McCullough.

Social media can be used to share, co-create, critically evaluate, and discuss ideas, all of which fall squarely within the spectrum of goals shared by communities in higher education.  Unfortunately, discussions concerning the applications of social media in higher education often focus only on the highly visible and adverse outcomes, including instances in which user-generated content violates community norms and/or undermines the integrity, jeopardizes the safety, or does harm to others.  Although it is imperative that we thoroughly examine such instances, it’s also important that we explore and discuss the applications of social media to our pedagogical and intellectual goals.

As faculty co-directors of the Technology Fellows Program, we are concerned that recent events, sparked by a colleague’s posts on a public Facebook page, might discourage faculty from experimenting with social media as a pedagogical tool.  Alongside our colleagues in Instructional Technology, we see compelling evidence  that social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used to forge and sustain meaningful connections with students, alumni, and broader communities within and beyond institutions of higher education.  In this post and in a series of posts in the coming weeks, we highlight a diverse set of intentional, productive uses of social media in Connecticut College faculty pedagogies.  In these examples, faculty draw on the unique possibilities of social media to facilitate dialogue among students, maintain meaningful connections with far-flung alumni, foster communities based on particular scholarly interests, and draw attention to ways that disciplinary methods and ideas participate in current events beyond the classroom.

Ann Marie Davis uses a private Facebook group as a venue for students in a first-year seminar to build community by sharing co-curricular experiences and connecting these experiences with course themes.

Ana Campos Holland promotes and celebrates achievements in student-faculty collaborative research projects with the campus community and broader world using Facebook.

Karen Gonzalez Rice uses Instagram to supplement course content, connect objects in the Connecticut College art collections with the topics of the course, provide insight into her research process, and build dialogue beyond the classroom.

The Department of Anthropology connects with students and alumni through public Facebook and Twitter accounts, with frequent news of student and alumni accomplishments, department events, and student activities abroad.

Look for details of these and other uses of social media in continued posts.  In the meantime, the following resources can help you begin to think through the practicalities and implications of integrating social media into your pedagogy:

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