Academic journal article Global Media Journal

The Digital Bridge: Enacting the Global Impact of Social Media Course

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

The Digital Bridge: Enacting the Global Impact of Social Media Course

Article excerpt


Developing and teaching a course that involves the use of digital technologies, such as mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and iPods, can be a daunting task. The additional requirements of constant in-class activation of these devices for in-depth research on the widespread application of global social media could be a difficult challenge. However, the promise of this innovative technology when linked with a solid pedagogical approach can provide multiple beneficial outcomes. First, the study of global social media permits a deeper view of world cultures as well as a concise understanding of one's place in the world. Second, the active learning and discovery methods employed through research opportunities reflect current best practices of teaching and learning. Third, individual and group course assignments allow students to effectively work with new digital literacy tools, such as social media sites and weblogs. Finally, the planning, implementation and assessment processes required to implement a globally oriented social media course into a collegiate environment can be integrated across numerous disciplines.


The purpose of this paper is to present and to discuss the implementation of a college course designed to assist students in understanding the global influences and regional uses of social media. It provides an overview of course design elements, teaching aspects and student online research techniques. The paper is intended to suggest an approach that can be considered for other college courses that use social media tools to examine the impact of Web 2.0 technologies.

College classrooms abound with students who have always known the Internet in their lives. Labeled as Digital Natives (Prensky, 2001), they seek rapid access to entertainment, engage in mediated communication and search for information with new technologies, such as mobile phones, tablet computers and iPods. They appear to seemingly multi-task and master new software with apparent ease even in educational settings (Junco, 2012). As a digitally literate generation, they see technology as commonplace and a central part of their environment and lifestyle (Oblinger and Oblinger, 2005) and prefer challenging opportunities to discover information (Howe and Strauss, 2000; Tucker and Courts, 2010). As part of their connected lifestyle, Digital Natives join and enjoy social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

More specifically, their academic needs and learning styles are wide-ranging and increasingly changing. Digital Native students prefer technological learning opportunities that feature both individual (Kraus and Sears, 2008; Lambert and Cuper, 2008) and collaborative experiences (Tsay and Brady, 2010; Lo, Johnson and Tenorio, 2011).

To some degree there has been, however, an historic disconnection when Digital Native students are faced with the systematic, non-technology infused, teacher-centered pedagogy of Digital Immigrant faculty (Schmidt, 2012). While more than 90 percent of surveyed collegiate faculty (Moran, Seaman, and Tinti-Kane, 2012) claim that they are aware of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogger, some instructors are, at first, fearful of introducing a technology-based exercise in which they have scant expertise. Yet, Digital Native students hold high expectations that colleges offer courses infused with technology and provide multi-media savvy instructors who can relate to them, inspire them and integrate new technologies into meaningful instruction (Sheperd and Mullane, 2010). Kvavik and Caruso (2005) reported that 40 percent of students in an EDUCAUSE survey listed they preferred instructors to make at least moderate use of information technology as a course requirement while 27 percent wanted extensive use.

An increasing amount of recent studies on student expectations reveal significant interest in the employment of social media as class assignments. …

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