[social media in university]

I have had to jump over a few hurdles in order to bring social media into some of my university teaching. Aspects of privacy are usually the hardest to circumvent.

Reading this article though is sure to raise educators' and learners' hackles...after all the effort of bringing social media into a classroom and developing skills of transliteracy (so students and educators can employ the tools in a meaningful and life-long learning context), Sam Houston State University is setting back all that work.

Their draft social-media policy is requiring that ANYONE with a campus-related Twitter, Facebook or other online account give administrators editing privileges. RIDICULOUS! To give someone editing privileges means they have full access to all of your data, and they can alter your information (your tweets, your Facebook status, even your privacy settings).

No thanks!


[infographic: world food crisis]

Thanks to Jenica Rhee for sending this great infographic along! This will be of interest to my Agricultural, Life & Environmental Science students too:

The Food Crisis
Created by: Public Health Degree You can see the infographic here too: http://www.publichealthdegree.com/world-food-crisis/


[social media in my undergrad. class: front page uni news]

I love this! I was interviewed a couple of weeks ago by Alex Migdal for the University of Alberta's newspaper, the Gateway. Amazingly, the story made the front page (w00t w00t) and Alex shared with readers how I'm using social media tools like Twitter in my undergrad. communications course for the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences.

Image appears in The Gateway, taken by Dan McKechnie

Profs bring technology to classroom with Twitter and podcasts

Alex Migdal
Staff Reporter
Oct 05, 2011
When Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES) instructor Jessica Laccetti first told her class of 160 students to use their smartphones and laptops to tweet about her class, there were surprised looks all around. Some students even emailed her after class to make sure they had heard her correctly.
“The first day, I think one person came with a laptop,” Laccetti said with a laugh. “I took a picture of the class on the second lecture and you can suddenly see the myriad of laptops.”
Laccetti isn’t encouraging aimless internet surfing during class though. Rather, she’s teaching ALES 204 – Communication Theory and Practice, a class that she said is devoted to providing ALES students “basic communication skills and bringing it into the new world.”
The class represents a change in the way instructors are teaching at the University of Alberta, implementing online and networking tools to make education relevant in the digital age.
Social media is an integral part of that new age, which explains why students in the class are immersed in it from day one. They’re introduced to various applications like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Delicious, and also create their own blogs for use as an electronic portfolio.
Laccetti estimates that 90 per cent of students hadn’t registered to Twitter prior to starting the class. Although students were uneasy with the application at first, Laccetti said they were tweeting with ease by the fourth class.
Nowadays, a steady stream of tweets marked with the Twitter hashtag #ales204 shows students sharing their experiences with their peers. Their tweets offer a glimpse of what they’ve recently learned.
In one class last week, students were offered some valuable tips on succeeding in an interview.
Student Megan Borle typed to Lacetti, “Who knew that the first thing that people notice when you walk into a room to speak is your shoes? Never would have guessed!” Another student, Madeleine Bosnyak, reiterated a useful tidbit learned in class: “Number one thing I learnt from Wendy’s presentation was to wear red to an interview. You’ll be remembered!”
Laccetti noted that students have told her they’re able to speak to her in a more conversational manner through Twitter, which she feels is ideal for facilitating learning.
As for Facebook, Laccetti teaches student to lay off the drunken party photos and to always be aware of their potential audience.
“In my own teaching experience at the undergraduate level, I don’t feel students are entirely aware,” she said. “They realize that they’re writing for an audience but they often think that audience is just their own circle of friends who they know in real life. And on things like their blog and Twitter, I don’t think they quite realize the extent of (their readership) yet.”
“When I pointed out to them our own class blog already had 5,000 people look at it, and it’s only been up 5 days, they were really surprised,” she added.
Dealing with a large online audience is nothing new for Jonathan White, director of surgical education at the U of A, who has amassed a quarter of a million listeners with his podcast, Surgery 101.
What started off as a series of 10 basic podcasts recorded in 2008 for a surgery class of 125 students has quickly evolved into a wildly successful podcast that’s been downloaded in 116 countries.
The podcast, released every Friday, features White and an array of experts discussing a variety of surgical topics, while also offering helpful advice like, “How to avoid fainting in the ER.”
White explains the podcast adds a dimension of fun and humour to a difficult course.
“It’s nice to be creative and use humour when you’re teaching,” White said. “The other thing is it’s just reaching a ridiculous number of people.”
“I’ve taught over 700 or 800 students over the past 5 years. And the podcast has now reached a quarter of a million people. For every two students that I’ve taught, I’ve probably taught 1,000 online.”
Students are such fans of White’s podcast that they’ve walked up to him in the library asking if they could help record a podcast. He also said that the podcast has become a useful way to teach students outside of class.
“I’m starting to actually use the podcast in real life. So if a student’s coming to work with me in the clinic tomorrow, I’ll tell them we’re doing a particular case and say, ‘If I was you, I would listen to podcast 38.’ It’s starting to become practical knowledge.”
Laccetti and White both view online and digital tools as an important proponent of education nowadays, and agree that these tools have facilitated their communication with students. They both hope to see these tools play a more prominent role in the U of A’s curriculum in the years to come.
“I think (social media) is highly important and I think if we as educators are not literate enough to pass that onto our students, we are doing them a disservice,” Laccetti said. “In any field, employers, if not now, certainly in the next three of four years, are going to require that people know how to manage a Facebook profile for their business … If we’re not teaching students this aspect, we’re not giving them a fair education.”
White shared similar sentiments, noting that technology allows education to be shared to a widespread audience.
“You’re surrounded by experts all the time at the U of A and they’ve got so much information to impart, and I think the amount of people you can reach through technology is enormous.”


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