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Social media incorporated into course work at Ohio State

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While many students are forced to cut back on their social media usage in the fall to concentrate on class, some have the opposite requirement: it is part of their course curriculum. There is even an entire class dedicated to social media.
A new course focusing on the study of social media is now offered in the School of Communication, but instructors in departments such as English, accounting and women’s studies have also implemented aspects of social media into their courses.
Assistant professor Roselyn Lee teaches Communication 4554, also known as Social Media, which focuses on the history of SNS, or social networking sites.
Throughout the semester, students enrolled in the course will explore topics ranging from the death of Myspace to the challenges of future generations with regards to SNS.
Lee said students will also engage in a “Facebook fasting” for three days prior to their midterm and maintain journals documenting their experience.
Lee’s main goal, however, is for the students to find “something they could take away from the course into the real world for their internships, for their job interviews and for their positions that they will be taking after they graduate.”
Graduate student Erika Strandjord and Ph.D. candidate Will Kurlinkus, instructors for English 2269: Introduction to Digital Media Studies, have each implemented Twitter into their classes, but for different reasons.
Strandjord plans to have her students follow the Twitter accounts of politicians or people associated with this year’s presidential campaigns in the hopes of making them more informed citizens.
She believes, however, that the introduction to social media in an educational setting can sometimes receive an unwelcome response.
“Students, I think, tend to be sometimes a little taken aback by it because it’s something that’s just part of your everyday life,” Strandjord said. “Then when you’re asked to use it in an academic context, it can sometimes, I think, feel like academy’s intruding on your own personal space.”
While not all students have had significant experience with social media in a course, many have expressed approval of the idea.
Julianna Hofmann, a first-year in English, said the use of social media in her English 2269 class has changed the way she thinks about it.
“I’ve never really thought of social media as anything more than a place to stay connected with friends and family, but because of our discussions in class and some of the articles we’ve read, I’ve started to think about it in a completely different way,” Hofmann said.
Dajzsa McDaniel, a first-year in exploration, is not enrolled in a course that uses social media but said she would be open to the possibility.
“I think it’s kind of a cool idea,” McDaniel said. “It gets everyone’s attention. We don’t all remember assignments, but we remember tweets.”
Kurlinkus requires his students to tweet four times a week related to course activities and readings, but lets them use their class time to do so.
“My goal is to get them to go beyond that and see that the stuff we’re talking about in class applies to other areas of the world,” Kurlinkus said.
In Tzachi Zach’s Accounting 2200 honors class, students also have course material relayed through Twitter. Articles related to the course’s subject are shared with the class account and students are expected to read them.
Zach said while some students have expressed disapproval of the requirement simply because it means more material (some of which is used on exams), he thinks it gets them used to reading publications related to the field.
Social media can take many other forms, and professor Sharon Collingwood uses a different approach in her Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies 1110 class.
Collingwood said students in this course participate solely in a virtual classroom through the program Second Life, with the ability to create avatars, give presentations, visit other classrooms and more.
“For me, social media replaces what they lose from not being able to get together and look each other in the eye,” Collingwood said.

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