Students Aim to Educate Their Peers and Faculty about Social Media
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
This week, the global cities of Bogota, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Milan celebrate "Social Media Week," with events and seminars focused on the use of digital media for building community, fostering civic collaboration, and empowering individuals.
And it's not just cities that are recognizing the need for formal events and initiatives aimed at social media education. College students have also taken up a similar goal.
In a guest post today, Alex Priest discusses his efforts with other students at American University to educate not only their peers but also faculty about the potential--and pitfalls--of social media in personal, professional, and classroom use. As social media correspondent at AoE, Alex will be contributing guest posts on the topic across the year.--Matthew Nisbet
In case you haven't noticed, social media has become a big deal. A really big deal. So big that, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 18 to 29 grew to a whopping 86 percent. And it's not just young people; During the same period social media use among users ages 50-64 grew by 88 percent--up to 47 percent--and actually doubled among those 65 and older, to 26 percent.
These are just numbers, but they solidify a widely held view—social media is changing the way we communicate and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.
My name is Alex Priest and I'm a senior major in the School of Communication at American University. The fact above is why I'm starting a social media club at my school this fall, and why I think it's essential that we start changing the way we look at social media as it relates to education, for both students and teachers alike.
Our organization is called AU-SMCEDU (American University Social Media Club Education Connection) and will eventually be part of a wide network of SMCEDU chapters at other colleges and universities. Our goals center around two ideas:
1. Teaching students and faculty the importance and utility of social media for learning, networking, and career-building.
2. Changing the way faculty look at social media in the classroom; convincing them that instead of social media being a distraction, it can be a tool and a resource for education.
Over the past two years I've become extremely involved in social media here in Washington, D.C. I've used it to share things that interest me, learn from communications and marketing professionals, build a network, and even get internships and job opportunities. It's improved my writing, exposed me to new ideas, challenged the way I think, and enhanced my education like few other experiences have through my entire educational career. I'd like to share that with my classmates, and I'd like to see social learning become a part of our education culture.
Our organization has lofty goals and heaps of ambition. And of course there will be challenges: the mindset of some more traditional faculty members, the limits of technology, and the perceived limited utility of social media are all steep obstacles to overcome.
Throughout the rest of my senior year, I'll be working toward achieving some of our goals, largely through building this organization on the American University campus and working with others in the D.C. community to spread the word regionally—and even nationally. On this blog I'll be documenting some of our progress and some of the interesting innovations in social media education that I find along the way, and I hope you'll join me.
NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.
Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!
And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"
All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!
Build up, tear down—new technology stirs up a cycle of progress and cynicism we've seen all throughout history.
- "Every time that there's a new technology, particularly around media, there's a set of outcries around how that media is corrupting culture or how it's destroying certain aspects of our life," says entrepreneur and author Elad Gil.
- In some cases there are real concerns, but taking a historical view can quell unnecessary panic. Progress and cynicism work in a cyclical fashion. New tech is unveiled, the media builds it up, then the media tears it down in a wave of backlash.
- Today we worry about kids and smartphones; 80 years ago we worried about kids and the radio; same cynicism, different day.
- Technology lifts the lid on human potential and quality of life, says Gil. We should be duly cautious, but optimism is more valuable (and arguably more rational) than pessimism.
Calling all big thinkers!
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