Category Archives: Around WIC

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Social Media Outside of the Classroom

As the graduate intern for social media, I’ve been teaching social media workshops for Penn students, faculty, and staff at the Weigle Information Commons for over two years now. When I first started, it still was not clear what the purpose of social media was in the classroom or in academic life for that matter. However, more and more people are now buying into the idea of personal/professional branding and using social media platforms as learning tools.

In the last two years, we have all noted the rise of social media usage and how the lines between personal, professional, and useful are blurring. With the close of election 2016, the beginning of 2017, and the resurgence of using social media to organize in-person gatherings and protests, there is absolutely no doubt that social media will continue to rise in importance for college-age Americans and those who serve them as educators, mentors, colleagues, and support staff.

Here at the Penn Libraries, January has been an exciting time. On Saturday, the 14th, a hundred or so librarians, scientists, coders, hackers, and interested parties gathered to scrape data from NOAA.gov and other websites prior to the new administration potentially removing it from those sites. In addition, we have a series of workshops on identifying and avoiding “Fake News.” Individually, neither of these events is about “social media” in the way that my social media workshops are, but they are inherently linked to how undergraduate, graduate, and professional students use social media in their everyday lives on-and-off campus, in-and-out of the classroom.

Fake news is often perpetuated through news feeds on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. In addition, accessing real news, and learning about real “threats” such as losing valuable information about climate change or other public scientific data, also occurs on social media sites. Most of us access our news digitally and many of us access our news on social media platforms.

For many years, I’ve heard concerns from older generations that millennials and younger generations consume news and “real information” differently and perhaps less intentionally. This quote from the Media Insight Project’s study on how millennials get their news is illuminating:

The worry is that Millennials’ awareness of the world, as a result, is narrow, their discovery of events is incidental and passive, and that news is just one of many random elements in a social feed.

This has been the concern of older generations of educators since I started working professionally with social media in college in 2010 and continues through to today. From my experience, students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels are very concerned that they are accessing and publishing the right information. There is a lot of social anxiety around what our brands look like online and building those brands requires a certain level of familiarity and comfort with using social media. For intellectual spaces like Penn, it also means that there is growing concern among active users of social media that their intellectual growth and learning empowers them to understand what they read and take action on it. Here are some of that 2014 study’s findings about how millennials consume news:

  • While Millennials are highly equipped, it is not true they are constantly connected. More than 90 percent of adults age 18-34 surveyed own smartphones, and half own tablets. But only half (51 percent) say they are online most or all of the day.

  • Email is the most common digital activity, but news is a significant part of the online lives of Millennials, as well. Fully 69 percent report getting news at least once a day — 40 percent several times a day.

  • Millennials acquire news for many reasons, which include a fairly even mix of civic motivations (74 percent), problem-solving needs (63 percent), and social factors (67 percent) such as talking about it with friends.

As we look forward into this new year, I plan to attend as many workshops and teach as many workshops as possible about how to continue to be a responsible consumer of media. Keep the Penn Weigle Information Commons and the Penn Libraries’ programming sites bookmarked as these are themes that we continue to explore as a university and a community.

If you’re interested attending our ongoing workshops relating to media consumption, digital, and social media, here are a few:

(Jan. 30) Shoddy News

(Feb. 8) Creating Meaningful Graphics

(Feb. 15) Creating Video Presentations

New Statistical Software Consultant

Patricia PoseyPatricia Posey, our new statistical software consultant, begins this coming week, offering appointments to provide assistance with statistical software, including R, Stata, and SPSS. She welcomes questions about proper commands, data visualization, and regression analysis. She cautions that her assistance is not intended to help students decide on the suitability of a given statistical method for their research, pick which datasets to use, or interpret results that should be based on the researcher’s ideas and discipline-specific expectations.

Patricia is a 4th year doctoral candidate in Political Science, where she specializes in American Politics. Her research investigates how financial services influence the political engagement and political attitudes of racial and ethnic minorities. Her statistical experience covers analysis of a variety of social science data sets. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Political Science and Sociology with a minor in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida in 2013.

Patricia will be offering statistical software help by appointment on Monday and Tuesday afternoons at WIC in room 116, starting on January 30th. Use the online scheduler to view her availability and request an appointment.

A Chilly Winter Break at WIC

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With finals upon us and winter break quickly approaching, we wanted to inform our patrons that we’ll be having some work done at WIC over winter break. From December 27th through 30th, the library duct systems will be cleaned, which means that WIC will be chilly, noisy, and possibly overtaken by workers in certain booths and rooms. Even though WIC will be open (but not staffed) those days from 8:30am to 5pm, we’ve taken all of the bookings for the booths, group study rooms, and the WIC Seminar Room offline in case our workers need them. Anyone using WIC is more that welcome to sit in a booth or room, but please know that if the workers need access to any areas, they may ask you to move.

Please feel free to get in touch with us at wic1@pobox.upenn.edu with any questions. We wish everyone a happy holiday and restful winter break!

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Why Social Media?

Why social media at Penn? Social media at Penn and in college, graduate school, and in the professional world is not about scrubbing all traces of who you are off the internet. It’s about creating content that you are “sincerely” passionate about engaging with and making connections online that will lead to IRL experiences like your next research project, a career, a new friend, or an amazing conference experience.

I’ve now had this conversation countless times. As the Saturday consultant at the Weigle Information Commons, I’ve taught social media workshops at the Penn Libraries for two years now. Now and then, I publish a blog post on a particular social platform or tool. Every few months, a friend, a patron, a colleague, or a stranger asks about my work with social media and says, “Oh, I should really do more online!”

Continue reading Why Social Media?

WordPress for Japanese Prints

This past spring, WIC staff members had the opportunity to work with Julie Nelson Davis‘s Art History 515: Utamaro and His Contemporaries seminar class. Students were first tasked with researching and cataloging a new collection of Japanese prints donated by Dr. Cecilia Segawa Seigle to the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts in Van Pelt Library. Thereafter, students worked together to build a collaborative WordPress site that would serve as an online catalog for the selected prints.

This image shows Julie's class interacting with the prints.

Julie developed this course with two main objectives in mind: the first was to provide students with a hands-on experience of the original materials, the second was to enable them to strengthen their web-design skills. She writes,

“This course was designed to bring together object-based learning with digital innovations.”

In this way, students interacted with and interpreted real objects, and the website showcases and preserves their research. WordPress, the platform of choice, makes it easy for multiple users to collaborate on a single site together. Each student set up a profile to create posts for individual prints for the catalog. Students were then able to upload images and add their text and links to related works.

Image of one of the posts on the website.
Post for Chōbunsai Eishi, “Beauties on a Pleasure Boat on the Sumida River,” ca. 1792-93

Together, the class also decided on an overall theme, which controls the look and feel of the site. WIC provided an initial overview of WordPress and met with students as they refined the project. In developing the online catalog, students were able to connect with their audience and directly shape how their research is experienced. Julie states,

“It gave them a sense that their research is real and that it really mattered.”

Check out her class’s fantastic website here. She also discussed her class’s experience during our spring Lightning Round held on April 26th and hopes to expand upon the project with future classes.

WIC staff have provided training and support to a number of courses throughout the years, and we look forward to collaborating with new classes in the upcoming semesters. If you have an idea for a project for your class, be sure to check out our Request Custom Training page. You are also always welcome to shoot us an email if you have questions.

If you are interested in learning more about WordPress, we provide workshops on the basics regularly. Our next WordPress Basics class will take place on Wednesday, July 13th from 11 to 12:30 p.m.  We can also provide a one-on-one consultation if you have more specific questions.

Congrats to Tanya Johnson!

Congratulations to WIC’s graduate intern and Excel tutor extraordinaire, Tanya Johnson, for winning the American Library Association’s 2016 LITA/Ex Libris Student Writing Award!  Tanya’s paper, “Let’s Get Virtual: An Examination of Best Practices to Provide Public Access to Digital Versions of Three-Dimensional Objects,” will be published in the peer-reviewed journal, Information Technology and Libraries.  In the meantime, Tanya is off celebrating in Florida, where she will receive the award at the ALA Annual Conference on Sunday.

Read the ALA’s newsletter announcing the award, and keep an eye out for her paper in an upcoming issue of Information Technology and Libraries!

 

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What’s so great about Snapchat?

alexThis guest post by Alex Burns C’16 describes the mobile messaging application Snapchat. Alex is a recent graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Jenna Wortham’s recent New York Times Magazine article on Snapchat raised some very interesting points about the nature of social media usage today. The fundamental appeal of Snapchat is its “re-humanization” of social media interactions. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, where users upload polished photos and constantly interact with companies & brands, Snapchat utilizes low-resolution, real-time photos & short videos, making for a less manufactured, more authentic social interaction.

Snapchat messages, referred to as Snaps, are appealing to me because they are so much more raw than other forms of social media. While various filters can be utilized, these messages must be taken in real time and are only visible to most users temporarily. In an age where digital footprints seemingly follow you everywhere, it is refreshing to send messages that might be visible to your most of your friends for a matter of seconds.  As a result of the short-lived nature of snaps, there is much less pressure to look attractive or cool. People are less afraid to be themselves in photos that will soon be forgotten. The fact that these photos must be taken in real time make snaps more honest than other forms of social media.  You can’t spend time photo-shopping or uploading photos taken by other people at past dates. Snaps represent what you are doing at that very moment in time. Like life experiences, Snaps are mostly temporary. In Jenna’s words:

Snapchat isn’t the place where you go to be pretty. It’s the place where you go to be yourself.”

Not only is Snapchat refreshingly authentic, it has also changing the way we communicate. When emoji were introduced in 2011, they forever changed the austere nature of text messages by allowing users to supplement texts with graphics relaying various emotions. Emoji helped humanize text messages. While emoji have been widely embraced, there is a limit to what can be expressed through them. As Jenna writes, “though the catalog of emoji has expanded in response to user demand, it still struggles to keep up with the multiplicity of human experiences.” Snapchat has helped fill this void by allowing users to send more personalized graphics in real time. In a way, Snapchat allows users to create their own emoji. Whether it is drawing a picture, or conveying emotion through a personal photo, Snapchat has shifted the format of an instant message from a message based in text, to a message made up primarily of a graphic image which can be supplemented with text. This greater ability to customize messages is transforming communication and making it even more enjoyable.