Tag Archives: In the News

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

Commons’ Publications: Reviewed

CoverLearnerInteractionsOnlineThe Commons’ staff are no stranger to publishing and have written about technology, learning, collaboration, and teaching tools, all things we love at WIC. Recently, WIC Digital Projects Fellow Vickie Karasic and director Anu Vedantham wrote a chapter for Researching Language Learners Interactions Online: From Social Media to MOOCs (Dixon and Thomas). Their chapter, “Video Creation Tools for Language Learning: Lessons Learned” focuses on digital video creation tools and the benefit of using video assignments for language learning. Their chapter received a brief mention in a book review by Elena Martin-Monje this month:

 

“…video assignments enhance the understanding of other languages and cultures, while at the same time they enable students to be more aware of their own identity through this learning process.”

Vickie has written about this project before, including details of interviewing language faculty members at Penn. She has also showcased her workshop on using Audio and Video in PowerPoint for Beginning Japanese.

Read other reports and publications written about the Commons (the Educause article made 2014’s Top Ten Most Read list) and check out our monthly workshops if you are interested in learning some of the same tech tools referenced in the book!

Demystifying the Digital Humanities

As a new intern here at WIC, I would like to dedicate my first blog post to an issue that has both piqued my academic interest and that has, quite frankly, often baffled me thus far in my graduate studies:  what exactly is “digital humanities” (“DH” for short)?  This is a difficult question to answer, precisely because the field keeps morphing as our knowledge of technology and, therefore, digital scholarship, evolves.  Matthew Kirschenbaum, for example, is one DH scholar whose work has been influential in unpacking the term while tracing both its evolution and its future in certain disciplines, particularly in English departments (his 2010 article on the topic is quite interesting).  Even after reading such an informative piece, however, I often surface as similarly puzzled as when I began; I find myself lingering on the same question:  so, what is digital humanities?

Image from http://johansenquijano.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/

Continue reading Demystifying the Digital Humanities

Staff Calendar – find us more easily

You may have noticed over the past few weeks some changes to our WIC staff page. Anu blogged recently about new faces. Each desk intern has listed the programs, tools, and computer languages we are most comfortable with. Though we all like to think of ourselves as well-rounded in our tech skills, each intern has their own unique strengths in web and software topics. We welcome you to consult the page to see which of us might be best to ask about a particular topic.

We have just added to the page our desk intern calendar. Consult this to check when the “Excel Intern”, or the “Prezi Intern” is next staffing the desk.

WIC Desk Intern Calendar