Tag Archives: Social Media

Thanksgiving at College, 2010

I’ve been in academia for all of my adult life, first as a student, then as a professor.  I’ve experienced many, many Thanksgiving holidays.  Here are a few thoughts.

By Thanksgiving week (November in the USA), students and faculty are worn out.  Classes began in late August.  Students had orientation before that, faculty started preparation activities in anticipation.  Naps, once a luxury, have now become a necessity.

At my college, classes are in session on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.  Students are expected to be in class through Wednesday afternoon.  Hah!  Either my freshman students have a lot to learn, or they have uncommon wisdom.  Starting the week before, one after another informed me of approaching absence.   I’ve heard the tone before, “This is the way it is going to be.  Deal with it.”

In my opinion, they have it figured out.  At this time of the term, a four day holiday weekend isn’t enough.  Why?  There is a need to deal with sleep deprivation.  Then, there’s that professor dump thing going on.  Professor dump?  That’s when professors dump end of semester projects and papers on students, all at the last minute.  They have an inordinate impact on the course grade.  If students were to spend all of Thanksgiving break on their projects and papers, they simply would not have enough time to get everything done.  I am not the only person to be working on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day is a time for binge eating!  Meat eaters and vegetarians alike look forward to this day.  If a student doesn’t pick up five of the freshman fifteen here, then that student simply isn’t trying.  Tales of pigging out instantly become legend.

Thanksgiving is a day for reflecting on life’s blessings.  You know, a stop and smell the flowers type of thing.  At a time of collegiate upheaval, I am grateful to have a job in academia.  That my position is at a well regarded liberal arts college is a true blessing.  I’m grateful for my students.   They are smart, study a lot, and seem to care about the course they are taking from me.  Moreover, I like them as people.  I was never that cool as an undergrad, and I’ve not been that cool since.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.  Throughout the day, I’ll be able to communicate my love and affection.  The curse is addictive behavior.  Why, on a day that I should be home with family, am I alone on my computer?  I’ll be Skyping back to Ohio where they’ve set a place for me.  1,000 miles away, it is pumpkin pie for one.

I’m grateful for being a professor.  It is the only way for me to live.

– – David Albrecht

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Filed under College Life

The Allure of Social Media in Academia

It is the number one topic heard when college faculty congregate.  Shouldn’t cell phones and laptops be banned from classrooms? [Must be phrased this way for the professor to get an affirmative answer.]

Just a couple of years ago, technology and web 2.0 were to be the saviors of higher education.  Now they are the roots of all evil.  How did this happen?

It is easy to see why students use whatever tool is close at hand to access their fave social media app.  Mine is Youtube.  However, Facebook, Tweeting, or texting might be yours.

Many social media apps are extremely appealing and addictive.  Just how alluring?  Watch this Youtube clip with the sound turned up.  It is sure to yank you into a singing and dancing fit.  Students will follow the beat of this song anywhere, right away from the classroom (and so would I).   [ To view the clip, click on the following image.  You will be taken offsite to Youtube.  When done watching the clip, please hit your browser’s “back” button to return here and read the rest of this post.]

Lynn Rose tweeting during "Everybody Tweet Tweet"

I found a comment on Facebook.  College_girl1 writes on College_girl2’s wall, “I just love how you update your status during class.”  College_girl1’s post also is timestamped during class.

Killer social media apps are SEXY!  There is a time and place for social media–college students use social media anytime and anyplace.

Professors talking away in class are not sexy.  I’ve never heard of a professor showing up in lingerie (doubt the old flabby bodies would be considered sexy).  It is a rare professor who will receive a red hot chili pepper on Ratemyprofessors.com.  Much of the time, students award these in jest.

Bucking the trend, I encourage students to bring a laptop to class.  In one course, 22 out of 22 bring it.  I queried them as to what percentage of a class period they used social media for non-class purposes.  The median response was 45%, and it’s safe to surmise that many underreported their percentage.  Is 45% too much?   How should I act on that knowledge?

Student use of laptops in class as reported by Professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University

It is safe to say that when a professor runs a teacher-centered class (lecture-test), students actually tune out the professor for a sizable percentage of a class period.  Student recall, comprehension and application of a professor’s lecture content is pitifully low.  Professors don’t get upset because students appear to be listening.  Daydreaming with eyes open looks OK.

However, it is another thing when students obviously tune out by using a computer or cell phone.  Professors are offended.  They call it disrespect and disgrace.  Actually, their pride is hurt.  How dare students do that to them?  The obvious response is to ban laptops and blackberries/smart phones/cell phones from class.  Good riddance!

To be sure, my pride was hurt when I saw the 45% number.  In response, I simply asked students to scale it back to a lower percentage.  Is that the best response?

I don’t know how to solve the problem of students disengaging from class through using their laptops or phones.  I know, though, that the horse has left the barn and professors will simply need to learn to deal with it.  Banning is not an option, because it prevents students from receiving the many good benefits of using a computer during class.

Perhaps I should just learn how to engage students with computer use.

Students, what do you think about unrelated use of laptops or phones during class.  I hope you leave a comment to this post.

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Filed under Faculty issues, Social Media

Youtube Commentary on Social Media

In two previous blog posts (Bailout and Popular Culture (1) and Bailout and Popular Culture (2)) I shared several Youtube examples of a populist outcry against (1) the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, (2) those shouldering the blame for causing the crisis, and (3) unpopular government responses.  These Youtube videos featured songs or humorous skits that skewered culprits with biting satire.  Many in the U.S. populace were unhappy, and their videos reflected it.

In this blog post I present the results of a Youtube search focused on identifying music or humor videos about social media.  My goal is to use this evidence to form a conclusion about how our society feels about social media.

The first collection of videos shows affection and respect for social media in general, and Twitter and Facebook in particular.  All three artists–Peter Codella, Justine Ezarik, and RhettandLink–featured make a living in social media.

Crazy Little Thing the Web, written and sung by Pete Codella and produced by MultiMediaWise is a slick piece of entertainment.  It does not contain a message of anger or dissatisfaction with the new wave of social media.  The fast pace of the upbeat melody leaves the listener with a feeling of happiness.

The Twitter Song, written and sung by iJustine (Justine Ezarik) is also a fun piece of entertainment.  Ezarik is an Internet personality, with over one million followers on Twitter and whose videos have received over 100 million views.  She likes Twitter, and the song was written to have fun with it.  It fits in with her brand, she portrays herself as a cute girl having fun.   This video was filmed in her kitchen!


Facebook Song, written and sung by Rhett & Link (Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal) takes an affectionate look at Facebook.  Rhett and Link sing that they begin to live when they log in to Facebook.


The second collection of Youtube videos is characterized by satirical humor directed at something unliked.  Satirical humor can be biting and stinging, or mild.  I characterize all four of these videos as mild.  They are poking fun, as opposed to completely trashing, social media.


Tweet This, is a stand-up comedy skit by Bob Hirschfeld presented at a 2010 conference in Seattle Washington.  In this video, Hirschfeld lampoons social media including Facebook, Twitter and online “friends”.

The Facebook Song, provides invaluable marital advice:  it’s OK to tease your wife by saying, “I have more Facebook friends than you.”  Yeah, right.   The Facebook Song is tangy satire about the many are fixated on having hundreds of Facebook friends, who aren’t really friends at all.


I really like Facebook Manners and You because it takes a facetious look at the practice Facebook dating.


Addicted to Facebook is a cute homemade song written by a college student who identifies himself as CarloT.


In conclusion, it seems to me that our culture is still fascinated and entertained by social media.  I see no undercurrent of populist anger towards it.


I hope you enjoyed this little trip through Facebook files.


Filed under Social Media

Singular or Plural?

I am teaching a freshman class in applied writing:   Social Media, Blogging, and Business.   My students have identified a problem, one with which I’ve struggled with in recent months.  Is the term social media singular or plural?  It matters to a careful writer who wants to follow correctly with singular or plural verb.

Technically, media is the plural of medium.  Following with a plural verb seems correct.  Many Internet writers treat social media as a singular noun, probably because it does not end with the letter S.  So many have done it, our ears now are trained.  But are these writers ever correct?  Yes.

The guiding principle is whether the noun refers to something countable, or uncountable.

When the noun is countable, it is correct to accompany social media with a plural form of a verb.  This occurs when referring to the group of applications described collectively as media.  For example, recently a student wrote:

Social media plays such a big role in our everyday lives that many of us wouldn’t know what to do without it.  Just over the course of this blog post I will repeatedly check my phone, and look at Facebook multiple times to see what is going on with my friends.

This student is referring to two applications:  cell phone texting and Facebook.  A common trick for figuring out the correct form of verb is to replace the plural noun (social media) with two or more applications (texting and Facebook).  It is now obvious as to the correct form of verb:

Texting and Facebook play such a big role in our everyday lives that many of us wouldn’t know what to do without them.

When the noun is uncountable, a singular verb should always be used.  Such is the case when referring to the concept of social media.  The term social media is sometimes used to describe the population of online or networked applications.  It is a phenomenon, a movement.  An example of this uncountable noun with singular verb is:

Social media is attracting much attention from anthropologists.

On a related note, the students in my Social Media, Blogging, and Business class have adopted an inclusive definition of social media.  It describes the population of applications that enable online (or networked) discussion, participation and sharing.  Each social media application enables interactive dialog, as opposed to traditional online applications that are essentially one way broadcasts.  Connectivity and community are key aspects.  If members aren’t always on, they are mostly on.

Professional and amateur videos uploaded to Youtube are examples of social media, but Hollywood movies stamped on dvds are not.  Cell phone texting is a type of social media, but a mobile GPS is not.

I hope this discussion is useful to you.


Filed under Social Media, Writing