Social media is changing most of the ways people interact with one another — and it will probably continue to.
The growth of social media as a tool for education has been no exception. A survey published by the Babson Survey Research Group revealed that nearly 80 percent of college faculty are using social media in some way inside the classroom.
With the explosion of online classrooms over the past 10 years, it does not seem surprising that technology has caught on so rapidly in higher education.
However, the gradual accommodation of this new technology seems to not have caught on so rapidly at Knox College.
“I am afraid I don’t tweet,” Associate Professor of Political Science Duane Oldfield said. “While I can see using some sort of e-mail forum to keep discussion going outside of class, I would not want it linked to all the personal information that is on a site like Facebook. I keep in touch with my former students and often share political articles with fellow political science geeks. However, I have a policy of not friending students until they graduate. If I am potentially going to be giving you a grade, I really don’t want to know about your wild keg parties. You probably don’t want to see pictures of my kids.”
However, other members of the Knox faculty have a more optimistic outlook on the potential usage of social networking.
Assistant Professor of German Todd Heidt does use Facebook for some academic purposes, primarily to make announcements on behalf of the department. Heidt has in the past used online chatrooms for his courses, though only at previous institutions. When asked about using Facebook specifically to bring more social networking into the classroom to Knox, he expressed concern over how to best design a grading system.
“It has some advantages as well as some challenges for the professor,” he said. “How do I assess chats among students? While this promotes interaction that is culturally authentic, does it also promote grammatically and culturally correct utterances?”
Freshman Mackenzie Anderson remembers her senior year of high school when a group page was used by her class to keep students connected over deadlines, prompts for English essays and other potentially useful information, handily communicated in a readily accessible manner.
“I think because kids are learning to use this technology now, it can be such an advantage to teachers,” she said.
Professors across the country are using social networking as an academic tool. But at Knox, its future is still unknown.