Students Aim to Educate Their Peers and Faculty about Social Media

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.

In addition, you can keep up with me on Twitter and my personal blog, and participate in SMCEDU-related discussions and progress through the SMCEDU Ning site, smcedu.org.--Guest post by Alex Priest

Study: 50% of people pursuing science careers in academia will drop out after 5 years

That's a sharp increase from the 1960s when it took the same share of scientists an average of 35 years to drop out of academia.

Pixabay
Surprising Science
  • The study tracked the careers of more than 100,000 scientists over 50 years.
  • The results showed career lifespans are shrinking, and fewer scientists are getting credited as the lead author on scientific papers.
  • Scientists are still pursuing careers in the private sector, however there are key differences between research conducted in academia and industry.
Keep reading Show less

Why being busy is a modern sickness

We have to practice doing nothing more often.

Photo: Shutterstock
Personal Growth
  • Constantly being busy is neurologically taxing and emotionally draining.
  • In his new book, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes that you're doing a disservice to others by always being busy.
  • Busyness is often an excuse for the discomfort of being alone with your own thoughts.
Keep reading Show less

New ‘microneedle patch’ could help heart attack patients regrow tissue

The bold technique involves surgically implanting a so-called microneedle patch directly onto the heart.

Red human heart against a yellow background (Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • Heart attacks leave scar tissue on the heart, which can reduce the organ's ability to pump blood throughout the body.
  • The microneedle patch aims to deliver therapeutic cells directly to the damaged tissue.
  • It hasn't been tested on humans yet, but the method has shown promising signs in research on animals.
Keep reading Show less