Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Social Media in (a small part of) the Academy

Speaking to a colleague recently, she mentioned how technology at her Research 1 institution is changing the classroom. Not technology in FRONT of the class, nor technology acknowledged FROM the front of the class, but technology in the back (and middle) rows. Students who don't understand the professor are now putting in their ear phones and Googling the topic, looking for someone or some text that can explain what the instructor does not. They're setting up chat circles and exchanging information and explanations. They're seizing the knowledge in what my friend describes as a reshaping of the "authority of knowledge." When did this happen?
Instructors in smaller courses are retaliating. Ages ago we banned cell phones and texting, but now some are adding laptops to the banned list. No smart phones, no tablets, no laptops. "No knowledge for thee that is not from me." When did this happen?
I can't start my old rant regarding how change will happen with or without us. How society is asking for us to change: students with their ear plugs, parents with their rage, government with their cutbacks in funding, and society with its call for accountability. I can't go there. It makes me too sad. Instead of thumping that drum (again) I'll lead you down a more optimistic road: social media in our own research and scholarship. A significant body of the academy is discovering what their students have long been calling from the back rows: technology is rocking the academy. In a very good way.
But don't believe me. Check out this digital e-resource on the topic:

The (Coming) Social Media Revolution in the Academy