Social Media

The ESC faculty reading period is a time to read (obviously), a time to explore, and a time to create. This summer, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring Web 2.0 — the tools, the implications, and some of the sites. I’ve created a set of bookmarks at Delicious, found a range of publications and individuals to follow on Twitter, virtually attended several conferences and workshops, and even read traditional books on my Kindle as well as journal articles online.

As the reading period draws to a close, however, I’ve shifted my attention to how I’ll make use of what I’ve learned in my work with students. Much of my direct work with students is in two online courses: Social/Professional Issues for IT and Economic Issues and Strategies for IT. The goals of both of these courses are for students to first learn a framework for analysis and then apply that analysis to the real-world: current events in ICT (information and communication technologies).

Keeping up with changes in these technologies, the social issues and legal cases related to them, and the economic realities of the various players has also become increasingly difficult as the volume of stuff made available by an ever growing number of organizations and individuals has exploded. Keeping up with blogs, technology publications, news organizations, as well as research in the field(s) is an overwhelming task. While a newsfeed reader (Bloglines in my case) helps keep track of some of the material, Twitter (microblogging) has become yet another way to quickly share interesting bits of news or videos, comment on workshops or conferences one is simultaneously attending/watching, and, of course, find more distractions or be subjected to more spam. On the other hand, Twitter would also be a convenient way for me to announce to all of my students (if they “followed” me) that the office is closed due to a water main break (last June) or that there’s too much snow (sometime this coming winter if past is prologue).

Finding new material leads to the next problem: how to manage it. Since technology changes so rapidly, I’ve added articles to each of my courses each term; however, I haven’t always removed articles as they became obsolete or, unfortunately, as the workload for students increased. Since it’s important to me to make good use of student time and energy, I’ve decided to replace those articles with either links to particular tags in my Delicious bookmarks or, in some cases, embedded sets of bookmarks for particular purposes. My hope is that this will keep the courses current and make better use of student time, as well as managing all of my resources in one place. I look forward to hearing from students about this change.

The success of these strategies, of course, depends on the continuing existence of my newsfeed reader, Delicious (or the foresight to maintain regular backups of my bookmarks — oops! let me take a moment to go do that! I also backed up my Bloglines subscriptions while I was at it), and Twitter. What is the likelihood of survival for each of these businesses? What are the economic principles that make them function? Where’s the money??

This, then, is what I really learned this summer: for my Economic Issues and Strategies for IT course to remain current, we’re going to need to address social media. It should be a very interesting year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *