Teaching the New Paradigm
Social Media Inside and Outside the Classroom
Keywords:education, busness writing, technical writing, social media, digital humanities, distance learning, pedagogy, collaboration
This article is addressed to those interested in integrating social media, as a collaborative component, into Business and Technical Writing courses. Educators find themselves under the false impression that digital natives’ familiarity with these tools will result in their embracing them as part and parcel of coursework. The reality is that today’s students need help in moving beyond the familiar applications of these virtual spaces in their personal lives and toward their uses as dynamic components of the educational experience. Relearning Facebook to do more than “friending” people, “liking” activities, and announcing one’s status involves an emphasis on the professional role of this developing medium of communication. These professional applications, therefore, must be fully integrated into the academic experience. Most Business and Technical Writing courses at Rutgers University culminate with each student submitting a research proposal, developed throughout the course of a 15-week semester. The justification for the plan of action in each proposal is based upon scholarly research. In our Collaborative Writing Practices course, the students develop their proposals in teams and are instructed to use various social networking platforms to communicate with each other, as well as with their instructor, as a supplement to the face-to-face classroom environment. In addition, each researched plan is required to advance a solution that utilizes social media. Our “triangulated” approach to instruction immerses students into social networking and helps them understand that, to be successful, collaborative writing must occur on a variety of levels. We also integrate social media into several of our online classes, where it is used to replace key elements of face-to-face courses, such as formal presentations. We have found that implementing a social media project instead of the traditional PowerPoint presentation encourages a greater level of interaction and participation among students.
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