Throughout the past few weeks, this course, Digital Communication, has put an emphasis on the importance of good storytelling. When creating digital content, it is important to be able to communicate your message in a clear, concise manner which will attract viewers to your post. Studies have shown that people are more likely to trust and follow someone who shares their personal story, as this demonstrates vulnerability. This is especially important when managing a business (whether it is becoming a full-time blogger, Instagramer, or a traditional product selling company), as people will trust and invest more into companies which have a face, and story they can relate too rather than a faceless corporation.
When I’ve started this programme, I wanted to learn more about social media in general, I didn’t really have an exact goal in mind. I just thought that it might be useful knowledge which I could probably apply in my future career. Having a background in film means that I am very familiar with storytelling and its importance. However, I was always studying other people’s stories, and the socio-cultural repercussions of those stories. I have not put a lot of thought into my personal story, and how (should I have a business) I would create content guided by my story, or even what type of stories I wanted to share.
In the past, inserting my experiences into my content was something I avoided at all cost, for two reasons. First, my texts were academic papers and while I did have colleagues who did write about their personal experiences, I felt uncomfortable doing so, and preferred to remain distanced from my writing. Second, adding personal experiences to those texts involved demonstrating vulnerability, which I was not ready to do. However, upon reflection of my learnings in this course, adding personal details into a text, whether it be a story from your past or sharing your favourite ice cream company, allows you to connect with others through shared experiences. While I want to continue to work in film, open dialogues about film, and share the stories told through this medium, I think remembering to open up the discussion through shared experiences will be important, as it will encourage others to share and get involved as well.
Throughout all the assignments and courses related to the social media certificate program at Algonquin College, I’ve had the chance to explore myself as a brand and expand on my writing skills. In most of my blog entries, while I do often write about subjects which I am passionate about, I try to establish a certain distance, as I do not enjoy revealing too much personal information. However, for this “Do People Know Your Story” blog entry, I thought it a good opportunity to be more vulnerable and more personal. Just as John Jantsch writes in his article about storytelling, “personal experiences humanize you, and they help audiences forge emotional connections with you.” As a result, I’ve decided to concentrate on these questions by Jantsch for this post: “Who am I? What do I do?” And “What excites me to get out of bed every morning (related to my business)?”
I am currently unemployed. However I am actively searching for a career in the film industry. Right now, with the pandemic, it has been a very trying time. Finding a job in a field which I am passionate about has been difficult because fewer people are hiring and many productions and film festivals have been either put on hold or have been converted to online formats. I know that I am not the only one to experience difficulty finding employment, so many people are in the same boat as I am. As a result sometimes questions like “what do I do?” and “what excites to get out of bed every morning?” generate a scornful response of “well … currently nothing.” However, I’ve found that concentrating on projects such as completing this course, starting a blog, creating workshops, knitting, painting, and reading are helping with the many overwhelming feelings this pandemic has brought on. These projects make me exited to get out of bed, and make my days feel productive when I need a break from searching and applying for jobs. Some days are harder than others, however, reminding myself that I am not alone in this, and finding ways to be productive and creative in other aspects of life (like arts and crafts) have helped.
For anyone else who might be either in the same situation, here is an article which I found helpful on ideas.ted.com. Guy Winch gives suggestions for finding employment, and I particularly like his last suggestion “take a step back, and reset.” While he says that this is a good time to re-evaluate your objectives, I think it is also good to take the time to do things which you enjoy to be able to manage anxiety and frustration from this situation and take care of yourself.
As someone who is just starting out, I am in the process of building my personal brand. I’ve found that when job hunting, being able to represent oneself as a brand is essential. In this assignment description, it says “What do you do that you are most proud of? It’s okay to brag!” I’ve always found it uncomfortable to brag, as such I’ve found answering questions such as the one above difficult to answer. However, for the purposes of this blog assignment, here is my personal brand:
I am a film enthusiast, feminist, ardent learner and quiet rebel. Some of my personal qualities and characteristics which set me apart from my competitors are my willingness to think outside the box, my love of research, and critical thinking skills. In the past year, I’ve spoken at a conference about my research: The Change in Women’s Writing, A Case Study for English Literature and Film Studies, which is something which I am proud of having done. Being able to contribute to the knowledge making in the fields of film studies and feminism has been a very rewarding experience. I hope to continue to contribute to the field of film in the future and am working towards that goal. As a result to help me with this objective, I am continuing to learn and acquire skills and knowledge, for example by taking a social media certification program.
Before ending this post, I’d like to share Amanda Miller’s article entitled “How to blow your own horn, without embarrassment or apology,” which I found helpful when starting to think of my personal brand and how to write about my accomplishments. I hope that anyone reading this, who might have trouble writing and talking about their successful achievements, will also find it helpful.
East Van Jam is a local Vancouver (BC) jam company which was launched in 2013 by Natalie Ferrari-Morton. She creates delicious low sugar jams, which can be bought online, in person or at local Vancouver retailers. I thought I’d take the time to analyze this company because
I love East Van Jam, the jams are so good and I always love sharing with others local products to support local businesses,
East Van Jam does engage with its audience online. However I think that they could do more to take advantage of their social media platforms. This is what I’ll be exploring today.
East Van Jam has a website where you can contact them on their “get in touch” page, you can also sign up for their newsletter to receive alerts on promotions, new products, recipes, announcements, etc. They also share recipes on their website and have an Instagram page.
Their Instagram, @eastvanjam, is lovely. Ferrari-Morton takes the time to showcase new products, other local businesses, local farmers, and shows where she procures her ingredients. I think one of the reasons East Van Jam is successful is because the company embodies the same values as its community; supporting local businesses, using sustainable and ethical work ethics and methods, recycling, and using organic in-season products. Additionally, @eastvanjam takes the time to reply to comments, demonstrating that they are listening to their audience and care about their customer feedback.
I have noticed that due to the format of Instagram, the interactions between business and costumer remains positive and limited to likes (❤️). This is great for this platform and for the business. However, I think East Van Jam could engage in different ways with their customers such as
Expand their recipes pages on their website to a full blog, where they also share the recipes from their customers. They could ask customers to send their favourite recipes which uses East Van Jams through their newsletter and Instagram page.
Actively engage with their Instagram audience by asking questions such as which in season flavour would they like to see next, or a poll on their favourite jam flavour.
There are many great features on Instagram, including stories and video sharing, East Van Jam could use these features to demonstrate how to bake/cook certain recipes, show small clips of working with other local businesses (such as farmers).
I love East Van Jam because they offer a great product, and whenever I go to a local market where they have a station it is nice to interact with them in person. They are kind and knowledgable about their product. While their current social media approach is working, especially for a small local business, I believe that they could grow their online presence and as a result their company by putting into practice alternative engagement methods like the examples I gave above.
For the past year, I have been developing a workshop for teachers titled, “Film 101 for Teachers: Developing Global Competencies.” This is a project which combines two of my passions; film studies and education. I have realized (and then confirmed through research) that most teachers only use film in the classroom as support material or as a reward (i.e., it was a good week and its Friday before the March break). My workshop shows teachers how to use film as an educational tool to develop global competencies which the Council Ministry of Education of Canada is encouraging teachers to develop with students. These include critical thinking, creativity, communication, learning to learn and sustainability. As such, through the creation and marketing of this workshop I need to constantly think about my target audience, intermediate and secondary level teachers.
Teachers at the intermediate and secondary levels already have a strong background in education as it is part of their profession, and are very familiar with the curriculum and pedagogic strategies. As a result it was important for me (someone who is not a teacher) to also become familiar with educational methods and school curriculums. I’ve also asked the help of a teacher who has been in the profession for over 30 years. This has allowed me to ensure that my workshop is tailored to the needs of my target audience.
To communicate with my target audience, there are many educational organizations such as IDELLO who are looking for workshops for teachers, which I can contact to pitch my workshop. I can also directly communicate with specific school boards to see whether their teachers would be interested in Film 101 for Teachers. Many school boards and educational programs have newsletters which are sent regularly to teachers detailing upcoming workshops and events, and by contacting them I can get in touch with teachers through the newsletter. There are also film organizations such as the NFB, TIFF, and VIFF who offer educational programs to teachers as well. I can contact their educational department to set up a meeting to present my workshop. They also have contact with school boards and teachers where they send news of upcoming events.
I am lucky as I already have contacts (friends) who are teachers. This has allowed me to gauge whether my workshop appeals to them and whether it would be useful. I am looking forward to completing my workshop and to start communicating with my target audience.
This week’s module, Becoming a Digital Storyteller, has presented multiple communication style methods and techniques. However, in this blog entry I’d like to concentrate on active and passive voices. As mentioned in the module, when writing, many people use a passive voice. While this is not a grammar mistake, using a passive voice can lead to an unclear sentence and a miscommunication between the author and their readers. I, myself, often use a passive voice in my writing. So I thought I’d take the time to explore these two voices in this blog.
To start what is the difference between an active and passive voice?
On aje.com, Mariel Wolfson explains “the active voice emphasizes the person or agent who performs an action, in short, the ‘actor.’ The passive voice emphasizes the recipient of the action or sometimes the action itself” (2020). Here is an example:
Active: “The dog chased the cat.”
Passive: “The cat was chased by the dog.”
As explained by Wolfson, in this example, the active voice is better in this case. It communicates the message well, it is short, direct and strong. However the passive voice is unnecessarily long and clunky (2020). When telling stories, it is often better to use an active voice to communicate clearly with your audience.
You want to be vague about who is responsible. (This is common in bureaucratic writing.)
You are talking about a general truth.
You want to emphasize the person or thing acted on.
You are writing in a scientific genre. This genre usually uses a passive voice.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve often used a passive voice in my writing, especially when voicing my opinions because, for me, it felt safer (less vulnerable) to do so. I have noticed in the past that this has led to some miscommunications between me and my audience. However, I am learning to use a more active voice in my writing, as it is more easily understood by readers. If you are interested in learning more about Active and Passive voices here are some great resources:
As a recent graduate trying to get into the field of film, I am keeping up to date and following as many film sites as possible. However, I am still unfamiliar with social media monitoring (or listening) tools. As such, I would like to share with you today film resources which I have enjoyed for a long time, as they have helped me keep up to date with what is happening in the world of film, as well as some social media monitoring tools which I am familiarizing myself with, in the hopes that you might also find these sites useful.
There is so much to keep up with in film! Everything from new camera and lighting technologies, upcoming films, new talent, and new film theories. As a result, there are many blogs and sites which I make sure to regularly visit so I can get the latest film news. Here are two of my favourites:
Rotten Tomatoes. This site is widely known and used by over 7 million readers each month. It is known to be a dependable resource for the reporting of movies, which includes over 250,000 titles and 850,000 links to reviews. Rotten Tomatoes summarizes the critical reaction of films for its readers. This is a useful tool for me, especially when writing an article about a film. Knowing how it was received by both critics and fans is helpful to know, and useful to add context surrounding the film’s reception.
Film School Rejects. I love Film School Rejects. It is a blog devoted to film reviews, interviews, film industry news, and feature commentary. I personally love the articles which are more academic in nature, where they show a different way of seeing a certain character or film scene. These have definitely helped me in my film studies. Moreover, their film industry news is a practical way to stay up to date. Film School Rejects has gained a good reputation, and has been named as one of the 50 best blogs for filmmakers by MovieMaker magazine, and best news blog by Total Film.
As mentioned above, when it comes to social media listening tools, I am more apprehensive. These sites are something which I’ve only started using in the last few weeks as part of a social media course. As a result, this is something I’ve only recently learned how to do, so I am still in the process of learning how to navigate these tools. Here are the tools that I’ve started using, which I am finding beneficial to keep track of topics and trends in film:
Google Alerts. I quite like Google Alerts because I find it easy to use and navigate. Receiving an e-mail every time Google finds results which are relevant to my search criteria is great. I also like that I can customize my criteria to specific regions and languages. For example, if I want to know what is happening with British Film and how it is received in other countries I can do so.
Hootsuite RSS Syndicator. I’ve just recently been starting to use Hootsuite RSS syndicator. Being able to monitor blogs and websites in one space which are relevant to my field is definitely advantageous. It also saves some time because all the information I want from different sources is in one place, and I don’t have to check various websites individually. I’m still not 100% comfortable with it, I keep feeling as though there is something I am missing. However I think with practice I’ll become more familiar with this platform and be able to use it with more ease and be able to take advantage of all of its features.
I find these sources and tools helpful to keep up to date in the film industry because I find that they are reliable, and offer good information which complement the news I get from other sources. Furthermore, the sources that I use are also used by industry professionals, film enthusiasts and casual film fans alike. Getting the feel of how different film audiences react to certain films, getting insight on what they enjoy watching is valuable information, especially when writing about film whether it be a review or an analysis.
In the past few years I’ve been busy, concentrating on my post-secondary studies. As a result, not only have I not had the time for a vacation, but also had a lack of funds. Vacations are expensive! Then, of course, after I’ve received my degree last year there still wasn’t any time for travelling. I had to find a job, which is a full-time job in itself. So today I’d like to talk to you about my mini-staycations! A staycation (or holistay) is like a vacation but where you stay home and participate in leisure activities within walking/biking/driving distance of your home and which do not require overnight accommodation. I’ve added mini because my staycations where small one-day affairs which I’ve planned ahead of time. A day with no essays to write and no studying, or readings to do. A day where I can refresh my mind so that the next day I can hop back into my studies with renewed vigour.
So, what do I enjoy doing on these days? Visiting a museum! I know, I know. As a student I’ve been spending so much time absorbing and analyzing information, so why would I want to continue to do that at a museum? What can I say? I enjoy learning! Also, being able to learn without the pressure of having to remember all the details for class is relaxing. I’ve been studying in Vancouver, BC and they have lovely museums. It has also been nice to be able to take advantage of student discount Tuesdays or free evening Thursdays. The Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at UBC has been the best one so far and is the one I’d like to tell you about today.
MOA is known for its support of the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which includes First Nations’ rights to “maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expression” (United Nations, March 2008). This means that MOA is committed to develop close working relationships with Indigenous peoples, groups and organizations. This close relationship MOA has developed with Indigenous peoples has also allowed them to learn about, categorize and name the objects within the museum correctly and with respect. This partnership means that the museum exhibits the objects. However, the object is still the property of the Indigenous people. If an Indigenous person, group or organization revokes their permission (or rescinds the partnership), that item is given back. Moreover, they have access to these items at all times, if they need the items for a traditional ceremony or teachings there are multiple way to access the collection. I’ve been to many museums, such as the Canadian Museum of History (it used to be called the Museum of Civilization) in Ottawa, the British Museum, and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, where it was clear that the items showcased were stolen, and they have also been mislabeled. For example, traditional ceremonial regalia was tagged as “Indian costume” or “costume for Pow wow.” 😳 Every time I’ve seen this, it has been disappointing on so many levels. Especially when traditional regalia from other cultures are labelled correctly.
I have great admiration for UBC’s Museum of Anthropology. Every time I’ve been for a visit, part of my one-day staycations, has been educational, interesting, and fun. They have so much to see and offer, from their permanent collection or new exhibitions. I hope that one day, other museums will follow MOA’s lead, and develop better relationships with the communities of which they have objects displayed. Even if the museum demonstrate an ethical responsibility towards the communities it represents, it doesn’t remove the fun, educational, touristy aspect. It is possible for a museum to be both fun and ethically responsible. I’d encourage anyone who is in or visiting Vancouver to take the time to see the Museum of Anthropology, it truly is one of a kind in the best way possible.
As a closing thought about museums, I’d like to leave you with a clip of one of my favourite comedians, James Acaster, while he talks about the British Museum, it definitely also applies to museums in Canada.
Do you enjoy visiting museums during your vacation or staycation? Why? How do you think museums should reconcile with the communities of which they showcase stolen items?
I enjoy writing. Wow… I can’t believe I just wrote that. This is definitely something new. In the past (even up to last year), writing has always been difficult for me. Nothing was more intimidating than an upcoming assignment and a blank piece of paper. (Image reflects some of my panic about writing, and is from giphy.com)
While I love doing research (I mean, I really love doing research; it’s something I also do when I’m bored. I just pick a topic and look for peer-reviewed academic texts, primary and secondary sources, and articles on the subject). However, the next step, the organizing my research and thoughts to create a coherent text in written word was trying. It was only in my last year at university I’ve finally started to grow more confident in the academic argumentative essay format, which helped me grow more confident in my own writing. This brings me to now, I’m writing my fourth and final blog in a four blog assignment for a social media class … and while reflecting on this exercise I’ve found that I’ve actually enjoyed the writing process. My other three blog entries follow a clear structure, the research I have done for each piece takes centre stage and my opinion/personal experience is secondary. In consequence, I thought for my last blog entry I want to push myself out of my comfort zone; put my experience first and my research second. I think this is fitting considering I will be looking more into personal diary blogs.
Just the words in “personal diary blogs” are in opposition to each other. When one thinks of a personal journal or diary, it is usually something that is kept private. However blogging is a public space contradicting the personal nature of a diary. To understand more of the shift between writing personal experiences, feelings and thoughts on paper to writing them online, I found “On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the Blogging Bloggers Who Blog Them” by Catherine O’Sullivan (2005). If anyone is interested in the history of diary keeping I would definitely suggest this text, it is so good! It gives a great background on the keeping of diaries and their value to historians.
O’Sullivan explains how diaries first started in the 18th century, it was an activity encouraged by Christian churches. Diaries were to keep a written account of an individual’s spiritual progress. They were to write their reflections on God’s lessons and note if they deviated from God’s path (2005, p. 56).
Then in the 19th century, with the rise of the Romanticist movement, diarist started to record, “reveries as part of an exploration (or construction) of one’s own identity” (2005, p. 61). Diaries were kept by explorers, scientists, philosophers, artists detailing not only their findings but also their reflections on their work and personal life. Additionally, adolescents (especially girls) were urged to keep diaries, as it was thought that this activity enforced self-discipline and prevented laziness (2005, p. 61). What I found especially interesting is that many diaries were not private, nor were they meant to be. Often they were shared with a spouse, or written with the goal to share one’s story, sometimes women would gather together and read passages of their diaries (2005, p. 62) … like a book club I guess.
With the rise of the Internet, diaries started to appear online. Between 1999 and 2000, there were 136,000 blogs recorded. Then in 2001, 958,000 (2005, p. 66)!! And they’ve continued to increase. These large numbers at just the beginning of online blogging surprised me a bit. I didn’t think that it increased in popularity that fast. Though, when looking at how quickly other social media platforms became popular I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. It makes a lot of sense when I’ve reasoned that:
Today more people have a formal education than in the 18th and 19th centuries … more people read and write;
Storytelling has always been a huge part of the human experience, even if it’s sharing our own mundane story.
This made me realize that today, online diarists are doing the same as the 19th-century diarist, but on a much bigger scale.
Furthermore, blogging allows a dialogue to form between the blogger and the reader. This exchange between the original poster and readers has proven to be important not only for bloggers, and social media stars who post about their life, but also for companies and business owners.
I’ve personally really enjoyed the feedback, and conversations I’ve had with my past few blog entries and also my interaction with the blogs I’ve read. There were some things I’ve agreed with, others which I’ve disagreed and some of the comments on my blog made me realize that I’ve either had unintended messages in my writing or that I haven’t been able to communicate my ideas clearly. Moreover, logging on to find a new comment on my blog was exciting. Though I have to say that all of my blogs, while they were on subjects which I am passionate about, haven’t showcased my personal day-to-day life and/or reflections as a diary blog does. Putting myself out there on that level is extremely intimidating, and I’m not sure I would be able to do it even if I chose to remain anonymous AND dis-activate all comments. What is incredible about the people that do is their courage at showing vulnerability on such a large (global) scale. What really made me think about online blogging in a new way is O’Sullivan’s view on these blogs; just as diaries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries served “as an invaluable witness to the social, cultural, and economic transformations” of those eras, online diaries serve the same purpose (2005, p. 60, p. 69). I think that this might be difficult to realize because we currently live in this era of social media where sharing pieces of your day, emotions, thoughts, etc. is common and can be easily dismissed as trivial.
In my other three blog assignments, I’ve mainly focused on the positive aspects of social media. I felt that there are already so many negative views, that having a post concentrating of the good parts would be encouraging … even if it was just encouraging for myself. In high school, I’ve had so many workshops and lectures on the scary parts of social media, constantly warned about posting personal information, about online bullying, about false information … this definitely shaped how I use social media today; I don’t. Though at the same time, having studied in both Fine Arts and Film at the college and university levels, I’ve seen and studied how social media can also be used for amazing things, and how certain people use it to create safe spaces so that people can talk about their shared experiences and feel less alone. I’ve mostly been studying social media on a theoretical level, not practical and this is something I want to change. Even if I don’t want to share my day to day life, learning how to integrate my experiences with the content I’m writing has been constructive to my writing style. What I’ve found the most useful is constantly using phrases such as “I think,” “In my experience,” and “In my opinion.” This helps me on multiple levels:
to differentiate what I am saying from the sources I am using;
makes it clear that these are not fact nor common knowledge, but my thoughts and opinions;
highlighting this makes it easier for my readers to disagree and share their own thoughts.
To conclude, this experience has made me love writing, when I was so sure that it would be something that I would always struggle with and dislike. It has made it possible for me to share the things I find so great about social media, while simultaneously giving me the opportunity to actively engage in social media on a blogging platform and learn through practice. To be honest, taking the time to write about my writing experiences, and social media experiences is a bit daunting (the part of this entry which I’m most confident in and happy with is the research). Additionally, I definitely did not take a social media course with the goal of revealing my vulnerabilities, but here I am…. And I’m proud of myself!
Is there a something about social media that you’ve struggled with and have had to overcome? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences!
O’Sullivan, C. (2005). Diaries, On-Line Diaries, and the Future Loss to Archives; Or, Blogs and the BloggingBloggers Who Blog Them. The American Archivist, 68(1), 53–73.
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Personal Blog Diaries … what a contradictory term. Here is my experience with blogging: https://bit.ly/3eaNglD #DearDiary #InMyExperience #SliceofLife
When I decided to take an introduction to social media class, it was with the specific goal of learning more about the basics of social media. When signing up I wasn’t too sure what I should be expecting. However I wasn’t expecting to having to practise blogging throughout the length of the course. Blogging as an assignment has forced me to think of my audience when writing. I have experience writing academic papers for past classes, where the target audience for those texts were very small and very niche: my professor and other classmates. (Image from giphy.com)
The language I used was common in my field of study within the academic world. Having four blogs to write for my social media class (even though it is a small number) has made me have to rethink my writing style to appeal to a wider audience. In retrospect, I would have loved to learn more about social media in the classroom, at the high school level. This is what prompted the research I have done for this week when I asked myself: Can social media be used in the classroom for subjects such as French or History? Moreover, is this a good way to teach students and is it beneficial for the students?
So how does adding social media projects in the classroom achieve these global competencies? “The Impact of Blog Style Writing on Student Learning Outcomes, A Pilot Study,” by Holly E. Hansen and “Harnessing the Power of Social Media in the Classroom: Challenging Students to Create Content to Share on Social Media Sites to Improve Learning Outcomes” by Tracy Sohoni are both great articles which demonstrate the effectiveness of social media projects in learning environments through studies with students. While both of these studies have been conducted at the university level, I’ve chosen them as examples because they demonstrate the students development of all six global competencies, and I believe that these projects could also be done at the high school level.
First, critical thinking. Both in Hansen’s and Sohoni’s studies having the students create a social media project instead of a traditional academic research paper has improved the students’ relationship with reference materials (Hanson, 2016, p. 87; Sohoni, 2019, p. 391). Sohoni mentions that her students have gained the ability to assess the credibility of information sources (2019, p. 391). She says “When professors actively engage with students with new media, it gives them the opportunity to teach critical thinking in terms of assessing how arguments are made, as well as the credibility of the sources” (2019, p. 391). She has done this by asking her students to present their social media project to the class, then having the class answer these questions:
What is the argument that is being made? Who is the intended audience?
What is the evidence being used to support the argument? What is the quality/strength of the evidence?
What relevant information or evidence might be missing?
What strategies of persuasion are being used? How does the author attempt to establish credibility, and do you find the author to be credible? (2019, p. 393)
This type of critical thinking allows the students to engage with and questions the sources they read on social media, something which is also useful outside of the classroom.
Secondly, projects which involve social media allows the students to develop creativity. In Hansen’s study, she specifically asked students to blog, which allowed them to experiment and be creative with their writing style. On the other hand, Sohoni left it up to the students to decide what medium they preferred using to convey the information they’ve learned during the course. Some students have decided on creating videos, others have created websites, Facebook Stories, and Wikipedia pages, etc. In each case the students were able to develop their creativity as they made choices on how to best present their information.
Third, self-awareness, according to Sohoni, asking her students to use social media for their final project instead of a traditional academic research paper has “Empower (ed) students to see themselves as effective conveyors of information” (2019, p. 392). When students gain the confidence to share information and feel as they can contribute to topics and discussions it encourages them to keep learning, and sharing their knowledge. The medium of social media allows them to do this on a global scale and interact with others outside of their community, thus also accomplishing the sixth global competency, global citizenship.
Fourth, Hansen has found that social media allows students to collaborate together effectively. For group projects, such has a blog with multiple authors, a wiki page and even a forum, it allows the students to problem solve as a team (2016, p. 87). I think that this can be seen in the content they decide to post, and in the technical aspects of using social media as well. Furthermore, it was found that other students were supportive in the comment section, offering advice, and help to add to the original poster’s entry and a gain in confidence and feelings of camaraderie from the students who felt that they were getting help with a problem through the comments (2016, p. 87).
Last, but not least, communication. In both studies, students have learned to communicate with not only their peers, but also their audience. As their social media projects were available to the public, the students had to consider their audience … everyone. In consequence they had to develop the skills to effectively communicate their information to anyone who would read, or view their social media projects (Sohoni, 2019, p. 392).
To answer my original question, can social media be used in the classroom and is it beneficial for the students? The short answer is … Yes! However it is important to take note that in this entry I have specifically focused on the positive aspects of using social media in a learning environment, and have linked those to the goals set by CMEC. This is not to say that social media projects should completely replace traditional academic writing, I think that there should be a balance between the two. After all, learning to write formal academic texts is also important and beneficial for students, they just develop different skills than with writing for social media. Additionally, Henson mentions that writing for social media highlights a writing style which is shorter, more conversational and more informal than formal academic papers. This style of writing can “appeal to students as it represents a form they are comfortable engaging” (2016, p. 86). Moreover, I think that teachers should have proper training to learn how to effectively use social media as an educational tool. As said by deNoyelles, another scholar who has explored the use of social media in the classroom: “Although popular among learners’ lives, personal use does not automatically guarantee being prepared to use them for educational purposes (deNoyelles, 2012, p. 3). In fact, Thierry Karsenti, who holds the Canada Research Chair on Technologies in Education, and is a professor at the University of Montreal holds an international conference each year dedicated to the training and use of technology in the classroom! Just as Hansen and Sohoni say, Karsenti also agrees that technology and social media in the classroom is only useful when it elevates and is beneficial to the learning experience of students.
I’ve mentioned in my introduction that I’ve felt the need to adjust my writing style for blogging purposes, has anyone else had the same experience? Do you feel as though writing for social media has made you develop different skills (such as critical thinking, creativity, and communication) and how? I look forward to reading your answers in the comments below!
Sohoni, T. (2019). Harnessing the Power of Social Media in the Classroom: Challenging Students to Create Content to Share on Social Media Sites to Improve Learning Outcomes. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 30(3), 389–406. doi: 10.1080/10511253.2018.1538420
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