Studying social media, saving the Pacific northwest tree octopus and learning about whales in Lake Michigan

This week we spent some of our Wednesday class time reviewing practices in good information literacy.  With so much information available to our students, the ability to evaluate source quality is critical.

Maria gave our students a section by section tour of a published research paper related to Social Media.  We discussed issues surrounding publication dates and how that impacts research on a rapidly changing topic such as social media.  She helped us learn to find the most important details within a scholarly papers and how to use the papers as a foundation for additional research.

We continued our discussion talking about the idea of hoax sites that are either built to intentionally deceive viewers or simply for entertainment.  I specifically pointed out the Lake Michigan Whale Watching Web site.  I personally find the site to be very funny.   The design is very low-end but that is part of what makes the story of Lake Michigan Whale Watching even more amazing.  In 2002 an educational publication ( Studies Weekly ) designed for distribution in 3rd and 4th grade classrooms included a story about the fresh water whales of Lake Michigan (which do not exist).  Apparently the sole source of this information was the Lake Michigan Whale Watching Web site.  (You can see an archived copy of the publication’s retraction article as preserved by Oakland University Library in Michigan and a PDF snapshot of the web site as it looked in 2002.  During our class period I may have incorrectly alluded to Oakland University as the creator of the Studies Weekly publication.  That was incorrect.)

Pacific North West Tree Octopus

Screenshot of Pacific North West Tree Octopus as captured on February 1, 2012

As our discussion about using good judgement in the evaluation of Web resources continued, Maria was able to share her beloved site dedicated to the saving the Pacific North West Tree Octopus.  Additional information about the Pacific North West Tree Octopus hoax was published in a University of Connecticut article.

Maria also shared the site DHMO.org.  This “hoax” site is designed to save us from an important chemical compound that apparently is one of the most dangerous on earth.

One of our students asked about using Wikipedia as a source.  He asked if it is a credible source and why most instructors do not allow the use of Wikipedia when writing papers.  Wikipedia is a great example of a successful Web 2.0 environment.  According to data from comScore, Wikipedia was the 12th most trafficked web site property for US audiences attracting more than 78,000,000 unique US visitors in January of 2012 (comScore’s Top 50 Web Properties for January 2011).  Clearly people value the content but most academician would question its value as a source worthy of inclusion in a research paper.

I am personally leery of Wikipedia content.  I shared the story of  a Muskegon Chronicle (our local newspaper) reporter who posted an article based on a Wikipedia entry.  In June of 2010 the following story was posted on the newspaper’s site:

The Wikipedia article on Muskegon contains the following claim:

“In the 1970s, some Muskegonites unsuccessfully campaigned to secede from both Michigan and the United States, claiming that the city had ‘perfected the American Dream’. This tongue-in-cheek expression was further reinforced by the now-famed ‘Lakeside (A prominent and popular Muskegon neighborhood) Against the World!’”

If you took part in the secession movement, or can verify it happened, please e-mail Megan Hart (published June 17, 2010)

Later in the month after further research revealed this had never happened the paper published another article, Muskegon’s Wikipedia profile: Strange, at best where the entry was explained as a hoax along with local opinions about how Wikipedia entries should be monitored and how Wikipedia was a dubious information source compared to “official” sites.

My illustration was not intended to poke fun at the reporter or the newspaper, but instead to show how careful we need to be as we examine and evaluate Internet content.  The initial inquiry by this reporter and resulting follow up story provided the basis for a story that helped to inform our community about the need to be leery of Wikipedia content (as well as content from other “Web 2.0″ sources.

Maria offered a good balanced approach related to the use of Wikipedia in our learning process.  She suggested that while Wikipedia is not suitable as solid source material in academic work, Wikipedia entries can help provide an initial understanding of a topic as a launch pad for further more rigorous research.  We both noted that the citation materials at the bottom of Wikipedia entries could be a good place to start as long as you continue to test the material for credibility using tools and concepts we had covered previously in our class.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/02/01/studying-social-media-saving-the-pacific-northwest-tree-octopus-and-learning-about-whales-in-lake-michigan/


Examining social media and its relation to historical community commons

The week started with Muskegon Community College sociology instructor Nicholas Budimir visiting our classroom.  Nicholas helped provide some context about the origins of early social networks (before the Internet).  As part of his time with our class he discussed the concept of commons and the importance of commons in the development of communities.  He also prompted us to think about how digital commons are being both formed and destroyed as part of current trends in online social media.

  • Where are society’s commons in 2012 and what happens when the digital property of a private company becomes a de-facto commons?
  • Should a society which adopts a digital destination as their commons expect some type of right to continual access?  What if a widely used digital property like Google search or Wikipedia is taken offline.
  • Is the community which uses these resources able to claim a grievance due to lack of access (remember how upset some people where when Wikipedia temporarily limited access to their resources in protest of SOPA legislation)?
(I think it is time to write another post dedicated to the concept and importance of digital commons.)

Nicholas was the first of a series of guest speakers who will be part of our class throughout the rest of the semester.  Watch for more news about who is coming starting next week.

As a continual part of our class students are being asked to increase their social media participation.   For this semester, SproutSocial is the primary tool we are using to measure social media participation.  During Unit 1 we are specifically focusing on Twitter followers.  Maria had previously blogged about how we determined the right goals related to our student’s Twitter accounts.  SproutSocial’s online interface helps us track broad terms like influence and engagement as well as network specific metrics such as follwers, following, retweets, mentions (on Twitter) and likes and friends (on Facebook).  The tool aggregates stats across multiple platforms providing students with summary feedback on their own social media activity.  SproutSocial also provides Maria and me with similar information about each of our students.

As part of our class discussion, Maria displayed current class statistics.   We will likely be doing this during every class going forward so everyone knows where they stand and learn from the efforts of others.  A couple of our students have already reached their Unit 1 goal of 50 new Twitter followers and we still have a week to go before the end of the Unit.

During our Wednesday class time we reviewed practices in good information literacy.  With so much information available to our students, the ability to evaluate source quality is critical. Maria gave our students a section by section tour of a published research paper related to Social Media.  I have posted a separate blog entry titled:  Studying social media, saving the Pacific northwest tree octopus and learning about whales in Lake Michigan outlining that discussion.

We watched the short video Digital Dossier on YouTube as part of homework early in the week and discussed it on Wednesday.  This particular video was an example of effective storytelling.   As I watched the video it was easy to forget that ideas presented were really nothing new.  There were no earth shattering technologies relieved.  It was simply a well narrated reminder about the extent of our digital footprint in this world.  For generations we have recorded the birth, life and death of our family and friends through paper photographs, diaries and governmental documents.  The difference is not that we are recording this data, but that tools now exist to  easily accumulate more data than ever in formats that are quickly copied and potentially moved from one data silo to another.

Screen shot of Eric Whitacre: A virtual choir 2,000 voices strong on YouTube.com

The story of Eric Whitacre’s 2,000 voice YouTube choir prompted discussions about what motivates people to participate in social media.  Without being paid and without prominent recognition for the role of most individual singers, what was the motivation.

Maria highlighted the idea that collaboration brings viral power.  The project was noteworthy on its own, but its viral spread was significantly powered by the 2,000 collaborators who would share “their” work with friends, family and co-workers.  This project instantly had 2,000 promoters at its very grassroots.

Students were reminded that their first in-class presentations take place next Wednesday, February 8.  The first presentation will be given in an Ignite format with 20 slides displayed for 20 seconds each.

Homework assigned Monday for in-class discussion on Wednesday

Assigned Wednesday for discussion next week:

Complete the following posts on your blog:

BLOG #6 Prompt: Reflect on We Live in Public (when finished watching). Submit your thoughts about the issues of community, sharing, and privacy brought up by this documentary (this is not to be a critique of the documentary, but about the issues).

BLOG #7 Prompt: Self-Identity and Anonymity

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/02/01/examining-social-media-through-the-lens-of-historical-community-development/


Details, details, details – digging in to the technical how-to’s of social media literacy

After starting this week with a conversation about Google’s proposed privacy policy changes we took time to review Twitter activity among our students.  Some of our students have created some modest Twitter activity and a couple are off to a very good start.   And then there are several that seem hesitant to dive into the TweetStream . . .  and that is understandable.  I think most Twitter users can remember their L.B.T. (life before Twitter) and even remember their awkward first Tweets when we were essentially talking to ourselves (is anyone out there).

Twitter LogoEach of us shared our current number of tweets, current number of followers and the number of users we were following.  The exercise allowed us to talk about why some people were moving ahead in their Twitter stats while others were standing still.  During this time we again discussed our Unit 1 Twitter goal for followers.  The goal for our students is 50 (non-spam) followers each.   Maria’s (my co-instructor for this class) has set her new follower goal at 200 new followers.  My goal is 100 new followers for the same period.  We will keep you informed about our progress as the class moves forward.

Over the next couple of weeks the class will be watching the movie We Live In Public outside of class.   While most of our discuss about the movie will be delayed until after everyone has watched the film, the three people who have read it so far shared a common sediment that the story was both disturbing and important to study of social networks and social media.

We started a basic discussion of RSS with Common Craft video RSS in Plain English.  RSS serves both the consumer and producer channels on social media.  For the content producer it provides a simple standardized format for moving your content to consumers.  For consumers RSS feeds provide an easy way to organize our information so it is more easily managed.  At the end of our discussion students were encouraged to try a RSS reader of their choice or use the favorite of both Maria and myself (Google Reader).

We spent some time talking expanding our knowledge of using images within Blog posts on WordPress.  In addition to a technical how to, we also looked at methods of obtaining suitable images from sites like Flickr and Google Images.  As part of the conversation we talked about the importance of making sure any images used in our blog posts are labeled for reuse.  The easiest way to determine this was to use the Creative Commons search functions built in to both Flickr and Google.  To help our students better understand Creative Commons we watched the video Creative Commons – Shared Culture on YouTube.

This week all of our students signed up to use SproutSocial.  SproutSocial will be the primary tool we will use for tracking and measuring our student’s social media participation as well as our own.  We will update everyone as the semester continues.

Maria has been hard at work lining up a series of fantastic guest speakers for the class.  Our first speaker will visit this coming Monday, January 30.  More information about this will be coming soon.

At home this week:

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/01/27/week-3-summary/


I am not ready to break up with Google

Last week Wednesday’s class conversation began around SOPA . . . this week Google took center-stage as the current news topic of interest.

The release of Google’s proposed privacy policy gave those of us with Google accounts plenty to consider.  The discussion made me think about what it would take to delete my Google account and discontinue my relationship with the Internet giant. (See CNet’s coverage)

A portion of Google's email message to me outlining what they were changing in their privacy policy and why.

The core of today’s privacy controversy seems to be the company’s desire to interconnect data gathered from their wide range of product offerings.  While Google is mostly known as a web search company with strong email and marketing services, their offerings are as diverse as music storage, blogging platforms,VoIP services and dozens of lesser known products.  Data collected independently from any one of these services does not have nearly the value as data combined and cross referenced among all of Google’s offerings.

Google has to be one of the largest data aggregators in the world.  It is no surprise that privacy advocates, consumer watchdogs and individuals are concerned about the amount of accumulated data controlled by Google and how they will use it going forward.  But even with our concerns about how Google may use our data it seems that some of us are not too anxious to break up with Google over their proposed privacy policy.

According to December 2011 numbers from comScore, Google’s family of web-sites continue to be the most visited destinations on the Web.  During the month of December there were more than 187 million unique United States users on Google sites.  Like most sites on the Internet every visit includes data collection about those visits.  It is important to understand that the default setting for every common web server on the Internet provides for the collection of information such as your operating system, the name of every page, image or file you request on a server, the page you came from before visiting a specific server, your web browser, time and date information and even your specific IP address.  This data collection happens everywhere you go on the Internet and it provides web site operators with a powerful data set for making strategic and tactical organizational decisions.

The concern about Google is not so much about data collection (which everyone does) but it is more about the size of the data set and the mind-boggling potential for cross referencing the data across numerous sources.  Cross referencing this data will take data of high value and convert it to information of exponentially higher value as additional data insights are formed.

With nearly 187 million unique visitors in a month, this means that each one of these people either knowingly or unwittingly contributed to Google’s trove of data.  It is not as if visitors did not get anything in return.  Google users like myself enjoy relatively good search results, excellent email services,  website traffic analytics and collaborative tools at no direct charge.    In addition, we are able to purchase services like cloud storage and online marketing products that have proven themselves to be a good return on our investment.

A recent review of my personal Google account using the Google dashboard revealed that I use more than 100 web sites, devices and applications connected to more than 45 different Google products.  A search of my Gmail account found my original welcome email from November of 2004 (see Gmail is pretty handy).  This means my “log-in relationship” with Google has been going on for 7 years, 2 months and 2 days (but who’s counting).  There is a lot of history there.  Clearly I am fully entangled with this company and not sure under what circumstances I would break things off.

During our class discussion on this topic one of our students tweeted:

The student’s comment resonated with me as a free market advocate.  But Maria’s reply turned out to be even more reflective of my feelings :

As we continue to intertwine our lives with privately provided technology solutions, separation is not easy.  I would like to think that I am willing to disconnect myself from Google in an altruistic protest for what is right, but I am not sure that is the case.  They are still servicing my needs in a form that seems to out weigh the potential downside.  What would Google need to do to break off our long relationship?  I am not exactly sure.

As a company with a motto of “Don’t be evil” I wonder if we may be willing to accept just a little (more) evil from Google in exchange for continual access to some really nice services that we can not seem to live without.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/01/25/this-week-google-takes-center-stage/


SOPA Derails Class Time (as it should)

We have completed our second week of our StudyingSocialMedia class.  The on-campus classes at Muskegon Community College are going great.  We have a good core group of students including two of our fellow-faculty members.

Craigs List as it appeared as part of the SOPA blackout on January 18, 2012. Image courtesy of user: LoveNMoreLove on Flickr

Much of the materials originally planned for this week’s class  were not covered during our time in class because discussions immediately moved toward  the very relevant and current topic of SOPA (see full-text of the bill or view a summary from CNET).

Most of the issues related to SOPA will be covered in more detail during Unit 3 Protect (covered in weeks 10-15 of our class) where we will dive into discussions around privacy, legal issues and ethics.  But there was no avoiding the discussion this week.  The partial blackout of Web 2.0 sites like Wikipedia and Craigs List ignited conversation across our campus and around the country.  In a single day many people who had previously been oblivious to issues surrounding internet piracy, intellectual property and DNS became instant experts after reading well written paragraphs designed to motivate readers into advocates.


Tumblr's effort to move users toward advocacy.

Tumblr's effort to move users toward advocacy.

Maria encouraged our students to consider the power of Internet giants like Google and Wikipedia as they used their site messaging and information blackouts to sway the opinion of web users.  We talked about possibility of web powerhouses to be treated like public utilities that are regulated in the way they provide (or fail to provide) services.

While both Maria and I are in agreement that SOPA is problematic to the future of a free and innovative Internet we cautioned our students to do more than just follow the flood of negative sentiment against the proposed bill.  I a matter of a few hours, masses of US citizens were prompted to take action on an issue they may have never heard of just a day before.

As much as being a lesson about the power of Internet communication and social networks this week’s SOPA discussion seems to be a cautionary tale about how easily motivated some people can be when threatened with the loss of a Wikipedia reference (or some other web content).   Certainly many people around the country researched SOPA and decided it was a bad deal for us as a society.  But I do wonder how many people read a simple paragraph about possibility of losing some of their favorite web content and were moved into advocacy without a full understanding of the issue.

As our class time continued we talked about our expectations for student participation and goals with social media networks during the class.  For more details about that discussion, be sure to check out Maria’s post on the topic.

Maria took time to give our students a great overview of Twitter terminology and techniques.  Twitter is something that really can be hard to fully conceptualize until you become part of it.  So now is the time for our students to begin immersing themselves in the TweetStream.  Now is the time to dive in.  (If you are becoming discouraged in the early days of your Twitter experience, Maria’s previously mentioned post can help.)

Our class time ended with a brief overview of using images in blog posts and specifically how to insert an image within a WordPress blog.  (The in-class demonstration totally broke the post I was using to demonstrate.  While still not sure exactly what happened, I believe it has something to do with trying to insert both a right and a left aligned image in the same paragraph.  A subsequent attempt to do the same thing outside of class worked fine, but something went wrong during the class demonstration.)

Next week we will continue our discussion of using images within blog posts as well as the best ways to source appropriate legal images.

  • Blog #3 Prompt: Current uses of social media in your focus area (or interesting failed attempts).  Students may also decide they want to develop their posts surrounding current topics of SOPA and intellectual property.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/01/21/sopa-derails-class-time/


What’s the right “first-goal” for Twitter?

Our students now have twitter accounts (here they are in a Twitter List), but are a bit hesitant or tentative to dive in and use them.   When we conceived this course many months ago, we didn’t want to “impose” goals on the students with regards to their social media presence.  We wanted to have a conversation about what kinds of goals they thought were reasonable.  Should you start up a new Twitter presence aiming for a certain number of followers?  Should you aim for a certain number of tweets per day?  Should you reply to everyone who mentions you?  Based on past experience, my expectations were that students would set the bar too high (there is this tendency to thing social media is “easy” … however, after our discussion, we had to intervene and set the bar higher than they might have expected.Nine avatars from student Twitter accounts

What’s reasonable for the number of tweets per week?  “One?” somebody quietly suggested.  “One per day?” was another suggestion.  One.  That was a surprise.  Whether it was just one or one per day, that’s hardly enough to create a digital presence on Twitter (unless you’re already a media or rock star with an instant following of millions).  How many followers should you aim to have on Twitter by the end of this unit?  “Ten?” … hmmm.  Ten they will get from just following each other.

In the end, we (Christopher and I) decided on a goal for the students of 50 non-spam followers by the end of the first unit (three weeks from now).  Then the good questions started to come.  How often will I need to tweet to gather 50 followers? My answer: “As much as it takes.”  While that might seem flip, it really depends on what kinds of things you tweet, who you start following, and how much you get retweeted.  This can really be different for everyone.  This brought us to the topic of what to tweet.  Here’s how I answered that:

  • Tweet about what you are reading, watching, and thinking about as it pertains to your focus area.
  • Tweet about what you’re learning about regarding social media (and include #297SM when you do).  As you read articles for class, watch documentaries, etc – share your thoughts & comments.
  • Reply to people who tweet interesting things, who comment on your tweets, and who retweet you.
  • Actively seek out new people to follow who will provide you with good content in your focus area.  When you follow them, they might go to check you out, and follow you.

We figure there are four main components of successfully managing a social media presence:

  1. Extending reach (increasing the number of people who follow you and whom you follow).
  2. Consistent participation (sharing daily, often several times a day)
  3. Direct engagement (replying to questions and comments, engaging with the people you follow)
  4. Achievement of goals (setting social media goals and working actively to meet them)

Getting to that first 50 followers may seem like a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem.  You have to be saying and sharing interesting things to get followed, but it’s hard to stay motivated to share interesting things if nobody is listening to or reading what you say.  The first month on Twitter is the hardest.  It’s the month where you have to have a little faith and a little coaching.  The first few months I spent on Twitter, I made a tweet for every hour I spent working on my dissertation.  It turned out to be a great way to both find and share resources, develop a personal learning network, and get that pesky dissertation finished.  You can read a catalog of those 500+ dissertation tweets here.

Next week we’ll be setting up your SproutSocial accounts to begin monitoring your social media progress a little more closely, so make sure to get a good start on your presence this weekend!

HOME: Make sure your Twitter bio is complete, that you link to your blog as your “website”,  and that you put up an avatar (picture) for your account.  You don’t want to be that easy-to-identify Twitter newbie (the unhatched “egg”).

HOME: Immerse yourself in the tweetstream. Find people to follow. Share (via tweet) everyday about what you’re reading, watching, and finding.  Use the hashtag #297SM if you’re sharing something to do with Social Media.  Aim to tweet at least four good resources to your followers every day.  That will be a good start!

HOME: Check out the Tweet Chat Schedule and see if there are any global chats that might interest you.  Participating in a chat is a great way to find and connect with new followers.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/01/21/whats-the-right-first-goal-for-twitter/


Studying Social Media: Class 2 – Week One Is Complete

The first week of our on-campus class is complete.

Today’s class included three new students (along with additional participants following online).   It appears we have a great group of students including two fellow faculty members.  I am already looking forward to meeting with them again during our next scheduled class on Wednesday (our campus is closed for the Martin Luther King holiday on Monday) as we continue our social media journey together.

Martin Luther - Image courtesy of http://oldschool.davidwesterfield.net/

We started today’s class with Maria leading a discussion of the reading and video homework of How Luther Went Viral from The Economist.  The conversation included a discussion about how Luther’s message spread without an intentional plan to make it happen.  It also made us think about how the things we communicate can take on a life of their own far beyond what we would imagine.  It gives us further reason to be cautious about what we say on social media.  Maria pulled out the quote from Luther saying that he “should have spoken far differently and more distinctly had I known what was going to happen.”  How many times have we wished that we could have a second chance at communicating our message (but once it is out there, it is difficult to retract).Several students grabbed on to the idea that Luther’s accusers claimed he needed to excommunicated because of a need to stop the spread of the “disease” of Luther’s message.  The reading talked about the warning that the spread of Luther’s message had to be prevented, otherwise “the whole German nation, and later all other nations, will be infected by this same disorder.”  His message was going viral.

Michael Wesch creator of the Anthropological View of Youtube

Michael Wesch Image courtesy of Flickr user: kk+

Next we spent some time talking about Michael Wesch’s An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube.  We talked about how people can become very attached to and protective of their social communities.  There was a discussion of YouTube contributor who produced a video plea ( No Fraud, Fakes or Liars ) to save the integrity of YouTube by imploring other YouTube contributors to only produce honest materials.  We also discussed how YouTube is not simply a video broadcasting site but there is actually two way communication going on through a combination of video posts, comments and video responses.

We expanded on our earlier conversations about the history of social networks and the definition of the phrase social media.  by playing the game So You Think You Know Social Media?.  I offered up a series of real and made up names.  The class needed to decide if the names were real and if they were about how long they had been in existence.  Some of the names we discussed included: Facemash, Yammer, Orkut, LifeSwap, ImagiMeet, LifeSwap and SmugMug (we had others, but ran out of time).  The variety of social media represented allowed us to at least briefly introduce concepts such as international social media sites, defunct sites and closed social networks (more about all of these ideas in future sessions).  If you do not know which are real and which we made up, pull up your search engine and do a little research of your own right now.  We also used this time to introduce The Conversation Prism, and see the social media is more than just Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
We spent part of our time during today’s class talking about the technology we will be using as part of our collective social media experience.  This included an very brief introduction to Word Press.  Students that do not already have a blog set up a free account at WordPress.com.  This included discussions about the importance of blog names and user names and the difficulties of finding that perfect name (that is not already taken).  We demonstrated the process of starting, saving and publishing posts.  Students will make their first post before we meet again next Wednesday.

We finished the afternoon with Maria focusing on getting Twitter accounts set up.  This included a basic primer on things like following, direct messaging, replying and retweeting.  Maria also talked about the importance of a well thought out digital bio and how to find other Twitter users with similar interests.

We had a lot more content than we had time today so we will continue on during our next class.

Here are some things you should be doing at home before we meet again:

Blog #2 Prompt (to be posted directly to your blog along with your first Blog post): Historical overview of social media in your focus area and/or who are the big players in social media in your area

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/01/12/studying-social-media-class-2-week-one-is-complete/


Social Media Course: Ready, Set, Go!

If you’ve decided to ride along, today was the first day of BUS/COM297SM at Muskegon Community College. As I told the class today, they are, in some sense, guinea pigs. We haven’t ever taught together. There’s no textbook. There aren’t many classes to model this after. There are privacy issues to deal with (and it’s an educational setting). Oh, and the subject matter is constantly changing at a rapid pace.

So, first day: Standard review of the SyllabusScheduleRubrics (something of a work-in-progress), and our general expectations.  We’ve asked students to choose a particular focus to blog and tweet about (music, sports, business, politics, etc.) so we’re looking forward to seeing what they choose.  Then they’ll have to find a good blog name and twitter handle, which is getting harder by the minute.  Most of our students have a Facebook page (one deactivated – can’t wait to hear the story behind that one) but very few had a Facebook fan page.  Only one student already had a Twitter account (though it was by accident).  I’m not sure (I forgot to ask) if anyone had ever kept a blog.

We spent considerable time talking about the importance of choosing a good handle and blog title.  For example, when I began blogging professionally, I chose TeachingCollegeMath as my blog, and that was fine – as long as I was blogging about math.  But then I started futuring and writing about all sorts of general education issues.  Now I wish I had chosen something like Dangerously Irrelevant or CogDogBlog (blog titles that are nicely unclear about what the topic is to be). Unfortunately, the word “math” turns away readers and I didn’t have that insight when I was a newbie blogger many years ago.   [Come to think of it, maybe I should just re-occupy Busynessgirl as a professional (instead of personal) blog. Hmmmm.]

We showed the great Derek Sivers video called  “A Real Person Just Like You” to open a discussion about Civility and unfortunate issues like discussion board trolls.  The students don’t know about things like comment and Twitter spam yet [mostly just an annoyance], but we will do our best to teach them to navigate these waters with minimum trouble.

Image of Christopher's LinkedIn network showing an example of nodes and edges.

An example of a social network map visually illustrating the concepts of nodes and edges as discussed in class. This map is a representation of Christopher's LinkedIn network. Click the image to see a larger version of this network map.

Christopher (my partner/sidekick in teaching this class) thought it was important to bring up the issue of distribution and duplication from the first day.  What he means by this is that once you distribute something online, you may completely lose control of it.

As an example, consider the case of the woman who was texting and fell into a fountain at the shopping mall. The guards shared a video (taken with a cell phone) from security footage online, and then it snowballed from there. Deleting the video didn’t matter – multiple copies sprang up all over YouTube.  Did you know she sued?

Finally, we discussed the difference between social networks and social media.The main thrust of this discussion was that a social network describes the relationships (the edges) between individuals or groups (the nodes) and social media is the technology that might be leveraged to connect them, be it digital or other [in “The Information” Gleick discusses “Drums that Talk” – how African drums are used by tribes to pass information quickly about deaths, marriages, and other events].  We meant to get to The Conversation Prism, but perhaps it’s better left to next class.

If you’re still with us, here’s what you should be doing at home …

And a prompt for your first blog post:

Blog #1 Prompt: Summarize your personal experiences with social networks and social media.  What knowledge do you have of your chosen focus area?

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/01/09/ready-set-go/


Muskegon Community College Social Media Class Article

Originally published by Muskegon Community College Office of Community Relations on December 22, 2011

New “Social Media” class starts Jan. 9

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MCC instructors Christopher VanOosterhout and Maria AndresenStudents who take the area’s first-ever, college-level Social Media class, which begins at Muskegon Community College on Jan. 9, will come away with marketable skills desired by a majority of today’s employers.

“If your resume looks exactly like someone else’s, but you have experience in social media, can show that you’ve taken a course in it, and understand more than just making a Facebook post but concepts like analytics, copyright and ownership, that will give you an edge,” said MCC Instructor Maria Andersen, who co-developed and will co-teach the class with MCC Instructor Christopher VanOosterhout.

“This is a course not only designed to help you understand the issues around social media but to establish yourself as someone who can use social media well. You’ll have a portfolio of your own work, in an area of your own interest, at the end of the class to show off your skills.”

“Social Media” is a three-credit course being held on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 3:30-5 p.m. It is cross listed in communications (COM 297) and business (BUS 297). No previous experience with social media is required. Those who have used social media will gain experience and an understanding of how to use its strengths and minimize its weaknesses. Visit www.muskegoncc.edu/register to register for the course.

VanOosterhout, an e-commerce consultant and speaker with 17 years of experience assisting organizations build e-Business operations, recently surveyed West Michigan job descriptions. He discovered that social media knowledge was among the most requested qualifications.

“I am not sure there’s any other skill set that employers are looking for more frequently,” he said. “Our students will be able to say they have a broad understanding of the tools and implications of social media.”

The course will cover social media from three perspectives, explained Andersen.

“The first is the human perspective – the sociological, psychological and community aspects of social media,” she said. “Why is it human beings gravitate toward social networks? The second component looks at how to share and promote your ideas. Any kind of organization, and not just a business, needs to share information and messages internally and externally. How do you analyze the results of that? How do you analyze your tweet stream? How do you mine for the kinds of products you should be selling? How do you get things to go viral? The third component looks at the legal and ethical implications, privacy and ownership rights.”

Students will write blogs and tweet in a subject area of their own choosing. They have to learn tools, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, as well as analytical tools like Klout, said Andersen, who has 2,600 followers internationally on her Twitter account.

“If you hire somebody to do social media at your business, how do you know they are doing a good job?” she asked. “What kind of measurements do you use to analyze them? How can you tell if your links are being followed?”

Andersen praises MCC’s ability to offer its students cutting-edge courses that will help them in the job market.

“It’s the strength of a community college that we are able to quickly develop courses that meet the needs of the community and employers and that students can use in the workplace,” she concluded.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2012/01/08/253/


Welcome to Social Media @MCC

Welcome to Social Media (BUS 297SM and COM 297SM) for Winter semester 2012 at Muskegon Community College.  Since our course does not require a specific textbook, we will use this site as a resource repository.

No matter what your field of study, social media has the the potential to impact your chosen profession, relationships and learning.

In this hands-on course, learn how to leverage social media appropriately on a personal and professional level.

In this course, we will explore topics such as:

  • Legal and ethical issues surrounding privacy and copyright
  • History and development of social networks
  • Psychology of social media and social mob mentality
  • Influence of social networks on political and social movements
  • Integrated marketing plans that include social media
  • Developing and leveraging a professional network to get ahead in your field
  • Life cycle of information and digital trails

Your instructors,

Maria Andersen

Christopher VanOosterhout

Permanent link to this article: http://www.studyingsocialmedia.com/2011/12/27/welcome-to-social-media-mcc/