Saturday, October 18, 2014

5 Steps to Get the Most Out of Your Twitter Account for Students (& Faculty!)


How to Get the Most out of Your Twitter Account and Assignment
 
So you’ve created an account, followed your professor and perhaps a few classmates, and maybe even uploaded an image of yourself or one that represents you to your Twitter account. You read and respond to the “Tweets for this Week.”  
 
“Now what?” you ask.  “Twitter isn’t so great.  I don’t get what the big deal is.”  Like many things in life, you will get out of this assignment what you put into it.  Furthermore, the more you use Twitter, the more robust it becomes.  Here are some ways to help make that happen.


  1. Follow Interesting People, Important Organizations, & Reputable News Sources

Think of who you follow as a giant dinner party; the conversation at the dinner party will be as interesting as the people you invite.  If you don’t know where to start, follow some of the people your professor follows, or an agency you would love to work for, or a local (or national or international) politician or activist.  

Follow reputable news organizations that post content.  That way when you check your Twitter, you will be exposed to what is going on in the world.  You will start to discover that many use Twitter to post links.  In this way, you can catch up on the news while accomplishing an assignment for class.  This also helps you become more involved in the world around you, which will inevitably help you in your future career and lives as change agents.


  1. Retweet & Favorite

When reading your newly robust Twitter feed (thanks to completing #1 above), you will come across Tweets that you think are interesting or funny or important or….  You get the idea.  You can Retweet or Favorite those Tweets.  A “Retweet” puts the Tweet on your feed so that your followers will see it.  A “Favorite” gets a star; I think of that as akin to the “Thumbs Up” on Facebook.  I will often favorite a student Tweet, but I only Retweet those I want my followers to see.  

Remember that your Twitter Feed is a representation of you, and so what you chose to Retweet will, in turn, show the world the issues that are important to you. Because I will look at your content and learn from you, I often Retweet things you have Tweeted.  In this way, we share sharing information, and that can become infectious.  In a good way. How you decide to use the two is up to you, but remember Retweeting adds content to your Twitter Feed.  


  1. # versus @

Getting down the differences between # and @ will help you Tweet like a pro.  You may have seen some Tweets that look like Newspeak from George Orwell’s 1984.  Usually those writers are using lots of # and @ signs.

The # is known as a Trending Topic.   The @ is a Twitter account.  So when you Tweet to #CritThinkWrite, you are connecting your Tweet to other people interested in that topic, and also Tweeting to that # or Trending Topic.  When you Tweet to @CritThinkWrite, you are connecting your Tweet to my Feed, as that is the address of my Twitter account.  The @ is a great way to connect ideas to people, and people to ideas.


  1. Use Those Trending Topics (#)!

The Trending Topic connects you to other people interested in the same thing.   If you write a post ,for instance, about concepts from Plato’s Allegory of the Cave that you saw in The Matrix, you might add a hashtag #funassignment.  That way you are connecting your Tweet to any other people who also had a #funassignment.  

You can follow major issues or cutting edge news in this way, too, by searching for a hashtag. During Hurricane Sandy, I often used Twitter to find up-to-date information since the news usually lags behind at least a few hours.  New York Times Magazine or Atlantic articles can take months to write, but people are Tweeting their experiences all the time.  Of course we have to assess that information, as not everything we see on Twitter is true or comes from a reputable source, but Twitter provides us with of-the-moment connections to real people and real issues throughout the world.


  1. Use Twitter to Document Your Research & Development of Ideas

If you are doing a research project for a class, or you are trying to figure out, say, how to use Twitter, then document your research process through Twitter.  The links to articles and your ideas are there.  Your Twitter feed will serve as a log of your involvement with that project or idea.  You can also use Twitter as a partial log for fieldwork, or to document your progression in school over a long term period.  In this way, Twitter can serve as a mini journal.  

Your Twitter account also shows potential future employers the types of issues you are concerned with, and the ways that you are thinking critically about course material and the world.  This is Purpose Centered Education in action, as Twitter allows you to connect what you do in the classroom to the real world.  In this way, Twitter can be robust tool for you to complete your Constructive Actions.  Social Media is not always used productively, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to help you accomplish your goals in school and in your life.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

CFP: Theatre & Performance Studies, SWTX PCA/ACA


CFP:  Theatre & Performance Studies
Abstracts Due November 1, 2014

36th Annual Southwest PCA/ACA Conference
February 11-14, 2015, Albuquerque, NM
www.southwestpca.org
Conference Theme, Many Faces, Many Voices: Intersecting Borders in Popular and American Culture”

Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
300 Tijeras Avenue NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Submission Deadline:   11/1/14

This Area encourages dialogue between varied fields of performance scholarship (i.e., performance studies; theatre, dance, and cultural studies; as well as queer and post-colonial theory), and exploration of critiques of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, technology, and nation.  Papers across performance modes, cultural contexts, and historical periods are welcome. Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • Performativity and theatricality
  • Traditional and nontraditional modes of performance
  • Rituals and the everyday as performance
  • Commodification of culture and the culture of commodification in local and global contexts
  • New technologies and social media as performance
  • Mainstream popular dance and music:  fan culture, pop culture, etc.
  • Explorations of highbrow, midbrow, and lowbrow culture(s)
  • Gender Performativity
  • Performance of the body, real and imagined
  • The Explicit Body on Stage
  • Performing Burlesque
  • The relationship between food, the body, and performance
  • Performance for and in protest movements
  • Rehabilitation through theatre and other art forms
  • Limits, failures, and the impossibility of performance
  • Contested boundaries between performance, theatre and other art forms
  • Historical approaches and theoretical analyses of musical theatre, Broadway, and other mainstream theatrical forms
  • Popular representations of performance in film, television, and media
  • Popular and avant garde approaches to theatre
  • Papers on this year’s theme, Many Faces, Many Voices: Intersecting Borders in Popular and American Culture” 
Panel and presentation proposals from graduate students, artists, and independent scholars are welcome, as are proposals for non-traditional presentations and roundtables.  Abstracts for paper proposals should be submitted to the database.

Please visit the Southwest PCA/ACA website for complete information about the organization, areas of study, conference information, exhibitors, affiliated organizations, and graduate student awards.  And check out the organization's new, peer-reviewed journal, Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy.  Feel free to share this CFP with friends and colleagues engaged in all aspects of Theatre and Performance Studies.

Lynn Sally
Theatre & Performance Studies Area Chair
Metropolitan College of New York
Department of American Urban Studies
lsally@mcny.edu

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Social Media as Panacea: Resources for Presentation at PCA/ACA (2014)

These resources can be used and adapted for classroom purposes.

Community of Inquiry (CoI) Visual [from https://coi.athabascau.ca/]

Getting Started with Twitter [Directions to Students]

Using Twitter in the Classroom:  Sample "Tweets This Week" Prompts [Prompts for Students]

References
Aghili, Mahdieh, Palaniappan, Aranda K., Kamali, Khosrow, Aghabozorgi, Saeed, & Sardareh, Sedigheh Abbassasab.   “Unifying Informal and Formal Learning Environment:  Education Use of Social Network Sites through Implementing Community of Inquiry Framework.”  International Journal of e-Education, e-Business, e-Management, and e-Learning 4.3 (June 2014):  191-196.
Badge, Joanne, Johnson, Stuart, Moseley, Alex, & Cann, Alan. (2011).  “Observing Emerging Student Networks on a Microblogging Service.”  MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 7.1 (2011):  90-98.
Chickering, Arthur W. & Gamson, Zelda, F. Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.”  AAHE Bulletin 40.7 (1987):  1-13.
Dunlap, Joanna, Lowenthal, Patrick, “Tweeting the Night Away:  Using Twitter to Enhance Social Presence.”  Journal of Information Systems Education 20.2, (2009):  129-135.
Hunter, Jevon D. and Caraway, Heide Jean.  “Urban Youth Use Twitter to Transform Learning and Engagement.”  English Journal 103,4 (2014):  76-82.

Jones, Christopher & Shao, Binhui, “The Net Generation and Digital Natives:  Implications for Higher Education.  A Literature Review Commissioned by the Higher Education Academy.”  The Open University, 2011.
 
Junco, Reynol, Heiberger, Greg, & Loken, Eric. “The Effect of Twitter on College Student Engagement and Grades.  Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 27 (2011):  119-132.

Lambert, Judy L. & Fisher, Juenethia L.  “Community of Inquiry Framework: Establishing Community in an Online Course.”  Journal of Interactive Online Learning 12.1  (Spring 2013):  1-15.
 
Lin, Meng-fen Grace, Hoffman, Ellen S. & Borengasser, Claire.  “Is Social Media Too Social for Class? A Case Study of Twitter Use.” TechTrends 57.2 (Feb 2013): 39-45.
 
Oblinger, Diana, Obligner, James Eds.  “Educating the Net Generation. “ Brockport Bookshelf, The College at Brockport:  State University of New York (2005).
Prensky, Mark.  “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.” On the Horizon 9(5) (2001a): 1-6.
Prensky, Mark.  “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part 2: Do They Really Think Differently?” On the Horizon 9(6) (2001b): 1-9.
Prensky, Mark.  Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Education.  Thousand Oaks, California:  Corwin, 2012.
Rinaldo, Shannon B., Tapp, Suzanne, and Laverie, Debra A.  “Learning by Tweeting: Using Twitter as a Pedagogical Tool .”  Journal of Marketing Education 33 (August 2011): 193-203.

Smith, Aaron., & Brenner, Joanna.  Twitter Use. 2012. Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project. (2012).  Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Twitter-Use-2012.aspx.
Tapscott, Don.  Growing up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw-Hill., 1998.
Veletsianos, George. “Higher Education Scholars’ Participation and Practices on Twitter.” Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 28.4 (August 2012):  336-349.

Ware, Paige & Ramos, Jose.  “First-generation college students:  Mentoring through Social Media,” International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education 2.2 (2013):  149-162.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Using Blogs to Promote Purpose Centered Education

I assign blogs in some of my classes, and believe that blogs fill some of the goals of this college's mission of Purpose Centered Education.  Blogging invites students to form their own opinions, reflect on their experiences and the material, and craft responses that are then published in a public forum.  Recent scholarship shows that blogging promotes active learning and accountability.  Ellison and Wu found that students “attend more carefully to online writing opportunities (as opposed to papers submitted to an instructor),” and that they “read these texts [assigned] more carefully when they know their interpretations will be online and therefore accountable to a larger audience.”  In their study, Ellison and Wu identify some of the positive outcomes of student-generated, new media enhanced assignments such as blogs and E-portfolios, including:  increase student engagement, enhance informational technology skills, harness intrinsic student interest and involvement, promote ubiquitous and asynchronistic learning, provide evidence of student progress and teaching effectiveness. 

Scholarship shows that blogs help students become better writers and more invested in their work both inside and outside the classroom.  Further, it has been suggested that writing a blog can become a productive, life-long process, one that helps students to develop a voice as they express issues of concern to them in a public forum.  Some students who are introduced to blogging in my class continue to do it outside of the classroom setting.  One of these student blogs received the attention of the college and eventually local media as he was featured in an ad campaign promoting the college's Purpose-Centered Education model.  Blogs, and social media more generally, can lead to "Education that Works," as they invite students to become citizens who actively participate in a democratic society.  I have written more fully on this here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

CFP: Theatre & Performance Studies Area (Southwest PCA/ACA)


CFP:  Theatre & Performance Studies
Abstracts Due November 15, 2013

35th Annual Southwest PCA/ACA Conference
February 19-21, 2014, Albuquerque, NM
http://www.southwestpca.or
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
300 Tijeras Avenue NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Conference Theme, "Popular and American Culture Studies: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow"
 
Panels are now being formed on topics related to Theatre & Performance Studies in its various forms and approaches.  This Special Topics Area encourages dialogue between varied fields of performance scholarship (i.e., performance studies; theatre, dance, and cultural studies; as well as queer and post-colonial theory), and exploration of critiques of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, technology, and nation.  Papers across performance modes, cultural contexts, and historical periods are welcome.
 
Topics might include but are not limited to:
  • Performativity and theatricality
  • Traditional and nontraditional modes of performance
  • Rituals and the everyday as performance
  • The globalization of culture
  • Commodification of culture and the culture of commodification in local and global contexts
  • New technologies and social media as performance
  • Mainstream popular dance and music:  fan culture, pop culture, etc.
  • Explorations of highbrow, midbrow, and lowbrow culture(s)
  • The relationship between food, the body, and performance
  • Performance for and in protest movements
  • Rehabilitation through theatre and other art forms
  • Limits, failures, and the impossibility of theatre
  • Gender Performativity
  • Performance of the body, real and imagined
  • Contested boundaries between performance, theatre and other art forms
  • Historical approaches and theoretical analyses of musical theatre, Broadway, and other mainstream theatrical forms
  • Popular representations of performance in film, television, and media
  • Popular and avant garde approaches to theatre
Special consideration will be given to papers that address this year’s theme, "Popular and American Culture Studies: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow."  Panels and presentation proposals from graduate students, artists, and independent scholars are welcome, as are non-traditional presentations, roundtables, and performances.  Southwest PCA/ACA awards a number of prizes for outstanding graduate student papers.  Abstracts for proposals should be submitted to the database system at http://conference2014.southwestpca.org/. Questions should me emailed to the Area Chair, lsally@mcny.edu.

Lynn Sally
Theatre & Performance Studies Area Chair
Metropolitan College of New York
Assistant Professor, American Urban Studies
lsally@mcny.edu

Please visit the Southwest PCA/ACA website for complete information about the organization, areas of study, conference information, exhibitors, affiliated organizations, and graduate student awards.  Feel free to share this CFP with friends and colleagues engaged in all aspects of theatre and performance studies.




Sunday, March 17, 2013

Promoting the Democratic Classroom: Students Write their Midterm


In class midterms and finals have never been an assumed component of my syllabi.  I have always questioned whether tests allow students to demonstrate integrative knowledge and the ability to apply concepts.  Students can sink their teeth into an experiential fieldtrip or a reflective essay – tests simply measure a student’s ability to regurgitate information.  Furthermore, quantitative assessment of qualitative methodologies seems at odds, almost an oxymoron. 

But this semester I assigned a midterm in a class called “Everyday Life in Urban Settings,” a class that introduces the students to qualitative methodologies and asks them to explore, through experiential field experiences, neighborhoods in the city through the lens of theories about New York City’s changing urban landscape.  In addition to a midterm, students are also asked to keep a weekly blog where they post their responses to the readings and fieldtrips.  For their final, students are asked to create a “walking tour” of their neighborhood, or of the “cultural scene” they have chosen for their Constructive Action class. 

The fact is, students take a test more “seriously” than they do some of the more qualitative methodologies that may better represent course content.  Though the midterm was only worth 20% of their grade, all the students came to class, on time, with the readings and notes from the class semester.  All had prepared.  All stayed and worked for the majority of the 2 and ½ hour class.  What made this test “different” was that I asked students to write the midterm (and post their ideas on a Moodle Forum):  “Imagine you were writing the test for this class.  What questions would you include?”  I explained to the students that the purpose of this was two-fold: 1) it would allow them to review the material, and to identify the most important ideas; and 2) particularly good questions would become part of the midterm.  If they wrote the question, they would know the answer to the question; furthermore, if they read each other’s posts, they could prepare answers ahead of time. 

Almost all of the students posted questions by the Sunday deadline even though the class wasn’t until the following Thursday.  One wrote in all caps:  “PAY ATTENTION CLASSMATES!” as her forum post title.  She introduced her questions with an excellent reminder:  she hoped the test would be more an “overview”, a best hits of sorts, than a “boring midterm.”  Many of her questions, as well as those of others, ended up on the midterm.  The questions overall showed innovation as well as knowledge of the major concepts we had covered.  Before handing out the test, I congratulated them on the questions they came up with.  They said they really enjoyed the process, and that all tests should be like this.  It allowed them to study and reflect, to contribute to the assessment tool in real ways.  They were excited to see their questions on the test, empowering the students and helping put them in charge of their own learning. 

This represents the notion of a “democratic classroom” where “classroom engagement techniques are designed to help students take personal responsibility for their learning appreciate the value of participating in the life of a community, while also developing a sense of self-confidence, empowerment, and efficacy” (Spiezio in Jacob, Civic Engagement in Higher Education, 91)  Asking the students to write questions for the midterm provided them “with authentic opportunities to participate collectively in decision-making processes relating to the administration of a course, including syllabus construction, assessment procedures, and the specification of classroom protocols that both students and faculty are expected to observe (Spiezio, 90).  According to Spiezio, the democratic classroom is a central feature of the democratic academy.  (For more on the democratic classroom, see Kim Zpiezio, “Engaging General Education” in Barbara Jacobi’s Civic Engagement in Higher Education (2009)).

Because students were part of the test-making process, they had a higher investment in the course material.  They knew what to expect.  There were no major “surprises.”  And in my eyes, students had already passed, as they took the time to review the material and apply their inductive reasoning skills to identify the main points of the semester overall.  If in class midterms and tests do make it into my syallbi in the future, so will this democratic test-writing activity.

The students, overall, did well on the midterm.  (Interestingly, the students who posted the most thorough questions on the Moodle forum also earned the highest grades on the midterm.)  When I handed back the midterm, I asked students to reflect on the process.  They said many things that surprised me.  They said they still had to work and prepare, but that they knew what to expect, and that this helped alleviate test-taking anxieties.  They helped each other:  If one student posted a question that another did not know the answer to, they could get the answer ahead of time; in this way, the midterm promoted collaboration and students as “information sources”.  Students actually enjoyed the midterm (yes, you read that right!) because they felt they were part of the process.  I invite you to try this technique with your next midterm or quiz, and post your (and your students’) experiences with this process here.

Review of Civic Engagement & Higher Eduation


Jacoby, Barbara & Associates. Civic Engagement in Higher Education. Jossey-Bass, 2009

This collection of essays focuses on the increased role that civic engagement takes in modern colleges/universities.  The authors spend considerable effort proving how new models of education are necessary to prepare students for the new demands of the 21st century, such as interdisciplinary approaches, integration between classes, and connection between the real world and the classroom.  Many of these ideas have been forwarded by Purpose Centered Education for decades.  

That said, it is important to understand and contextualize that advancements being made in higher education to promote civic engagement are not counter to what is being done here at MCNY.  Instead, this volume will help place our college’s unique approach to education in the context of a larger conversation. Lionizing one approach while vilifying another serves no one; I believe the purpose should e quite simple: create better classes, empower students to make changes in their lives and communities, and engage them to become better students and citizens.  We are not alone in this mission.  We can maintain Purpose Centered Education while educating ourselves about the innovative pedagogy occurring across the country.

This brief overview cuts to some of the highlights of the text.  The Introduction (Chapter 1) provides excellent overview, history of service learning/civic engagement in higher education, as well as substantial resources. (This chapter can be found online, and the full text is now available in the MCNY library)  

Points of interest, particularly for our emerging “First Year Experience” program, include the descriptions of innovative first year programming at colleges in “Civic Engagement in the First College Year” by Mary Stuart Hunter and Blaire L. Moody, especially pages 74-78,   The “Chapter on Engaging General Education” provides illuminating descriptions and applications of the “Democratic Academy” – “premised on a theory of civic education that can be combined with service-learning and other pedagogies of engagement to support an evolutionary process of character and education” (Spiezio, 85) -- which represents quite closely the goals of MCNY’s Purpose Centered Education.  This chapter includes both practical steps and an empirical case study.  In “Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility,” the authors show how three intersecting education reform movements have laid the groundwork for the exponential growth of programs geared towards civic engagement:  U.S. diversity, global learning, and civic engagement.

“Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility” provides perhaps the most compelling evidence that Audrey Cohen’s model of education has in fact become a major component of higher education in the 21st century, though no one in the literature credits her for such.  (Do a quick database search on one of the major academic databases for “Purpose Centered Education” and then “Service Learning.”  You’ll see what I mean.)  This chapter outlines the work Part of AAC&U’s 5-year initiative, “Greater Expectations:  Goals for Learning as a Nation Goes to College”, a working group whose task was to identify possible “arc” from elementary to college of cumulative civic learning.  Their findings were published in Purposeful Pathways:  Helping Students Achieve Key Learning Outcomes.  The article shows how the working group developed a “new model of civic learning that could be applied from elementary school through college and, in the process, establish the habit of lifelong engagement as an empowered, informed, and socially responsible citizen” (Musil [in Jacoby], 59).  The “six elements (or “braids”)” of Civic Learning Spiral bear a striking resemblance to Cohen’s 5 Dimensions:  1) Self; 2) Communication & cultures; 3) Knowledge; 4) Skills; 5) Values; and 6) Public Action.  Though Cohen is not credited in such models, we can instantly recognize the connection between the six braids and the 5 dimensions in Purpose Centered Education.

Jacoby is one of the leading scholars on the progress classroom, and her collection represents the best of the best of educators doing work that would make Audrey Cohen proud.  As we move forward, I think the greatest tribute we can make to Cohen and her innovative approach to education is to let it live, and I think part of that life depends on understanding the many intersections between Purpose Centered Education and other models of education.  I invite you to peruse the offerings in Civic Engagement and Higher Education.  I think you will be as blown away as I am.