Social media expands to classrooms
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 17:01
While social media has steadily become more common as a method of interpersonal communication, some students and faculty are apprehensive about using social networking sites for professor-to-student interaction. Some students feel Facebook or Twitter would be a more effective means of communicating with their professors, but other students desire a level of separation between their school and private lives.
Ethan Lewellen, a sophomore public relations major of Ashdown, would not prefer for his professors to contact him via social media. “It would just be weird, you know?” Lewellen said. “I don’t want my professors to see me like that.”
Keandra Gross, a freshman RTV major of Memphis, Tenn., agrees. “We already have blackboard and email for that. Facebook is for contacting friends and people you haven’t seen in a while.”
Haley Henderson, a sophomore business major of Jonesboro, said she feels the classroom should stay in the classroom, not the public. “You are not supposed to bring the personal world into business. I feel that’s a little inappropriate,” Henderson said.
On the other side, some students would be fine contacting their instructors in ways other than the more common Internet tools such as student email or BlackBoard Learn.
“I use Facebook way more than my email,” Crystal Cummings, a junior journalism major of Pine Bluff, said.
However, email is still the preferred professor-to-class communication method for most students.
“Just send me a general email with a general ‘what’s up’ with a general subject line,” Ethan Lewellen said.
Jacob Yates, a junior business major of Jonesboro, also prefers email for school-related communications. “I have email on my phone, so email works better for me,” Yates said.
Professors also express some reservations to interacting with their students using the much more informal social networking sites.
Mary Jackson Pitts, a professor for the college of communications, points out that a college professor’s role is still primarily one of authority.
“We want to be [students’] mentor, advisor, and we might want to be their friend; but there is a fine line,” Pitts said.
Amy Hitt, an adjunct professor for the college of communications, anticipates a bright future for social media, but believes direct communication is essential to a healthy student-to-professor relationship.
“I don’t believe instructors should let the desire to use technology get in the way of the face-to-face, sometimes one-on-one, communication,” Hitt said.
However, faculty and students have also found social networking can be used for the benefit of the academic environment.
Anna Hudson, a freshman chemistry major of Cabot, said her first semester honors chemistry class created a Facebook study group to help each other prepare for their final exam. Hudson values the community-building aspect of social media. “It helps link students together outside of the classroom,” Hudson said.
Lewellen also makes use of social media within his major of public relations. “My teachers encourage us to use it to keep up with things, that’s how news people find news now,” Lewellen said.
Some professors are making use of popular social media sites as part of the in-class learning experience. “I had a teacher last semester who used Twitter for a study-guide review game,” Gross said.
Tiesha Bagwell, a freshman RTV major of Cave City, appreciates the time professors invest in social media. “I do believe it is important to be in the know with social networking. In today’s society many professions depend on social media,” Bagwell said.