Teaching and Learning with Social Media
It is a human tragedy that we can live only one life within ourselves. We can mitigate this limitation by going inside the mind of others via books and movies or by talking closely with friends. Social media is popular because it allows us to have relationships in a new way. We can have ongoing conversations with numerous others simultaneously and spontaneously in a web application like Facebook. For most people more than 100 friends are difficult to follow without chaos ensuing. By reading friends' short cumulative posts and watching the webpage or video content they repost, we get a sense of living many other types of lives. The variety of interests and small incidents add up to lives being lived that one can match and compare to one's own. Although it may look to denigrators as if Facebook content is shallow, derivative, and inconsequential, the sharing of one's life is based on trivia, that taken all together over time adds up to the consequential. It is up to the viewer of this type of social media to assimilate and relate all the posts and content sharing of a friend or acquaintance to form a complete picture of the other. Over time, the changes and development of another's online personality becomes evident, which may or may not match their face-to-face personality. That potential dissonance between online and in-person has meaning as well about individuals, some revealing themselves easily online while others take on a completely different persona. Since teaching is still fundamentally about relationships (or should be at its best) in spite of current socio/economic movements to commercialize and industrialize all facets of higher education, social media should have great value for teaching and learning. Since a majority of college students spend an average of more than 30 minutes a day on Facebook1, it would seem that social media has great potential for engagement. Contrary to common criticism of social media as a dangerous, frivolous time-waster, technology allows people to connect in meaningful ways or they would not be using it. (original abstract)
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