Anatoliy Gruzd (Dalhousie) on “Wired Academia: Why Social Science Scholars Are Using Social Media.”

This term’s Digital Humanities Speaker Series continues on Friday, 1st March, with Professor Anatoliy Gruzd from Dalhousie University!

Anatoliy Gruzd
Director, Social Media Lab, Dalhousie University
“Wired Academia: Why Social Science Scholars Are Using Social Media.”
Friday, March 1st
3:30 PM
Room LH 2270C

 

Anatoliy Gruzd on Scholarship and Social Media

Wondering how and why social media has become an important part of scholarship? This is your chance to find out!

At 4:00 pm 0n Thursday, February 28th, University College 114, Prof. Gruzd will also be holding a tutorial on mining and analysis of social media for research.

As social creatures, our online lives just like our offline lives are intertwined with others within a wide variety of social networks. Each retweet on Twitter, comment on a blog or link to a Youtube video explicitly or implicitly connects one online participant to another and contributes to the formation of various information and social networks. Once discovered, these networks can provide researchers with an effective mechanism for identifying and studying collaborative processes within any online community. However, collecting information about online networks using traditional methods such as surveys can be very time consuming and expensive. This tutorial will explore automated ways to discover and analyze various social networks from social media data.

This workshop, designed for graduate students and faculty, has limited space available. Please respond to kmart5@uwo.ca if you plan on attending.

Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd (http://AnatoliyGruzd.com) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Management and Director of the Social Media Lab (http://SocialMediaLab.ca) at Dalhousie University, Canada. His research initiatives explore how social media and other web 2.0 technologies are changing the ways in which people disseminate knowledge and information and how these changes are impacting social, economic and political norms and structures of our modern society. Dr. Gruzd is also actively developing and testing new web tools and apps for discovering and visualizing information and online social networks. The broad aim of his various research initiatives is to provide decision makers with additional knowledge and insights into the behaviors and relationships of online network members, and to understand how these interpersonal connections influence our personal choices and actions.

(And with thanks to Elika Ortega and Kim Martin for organization and the poster!)

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Digital Humanities Speakers Series

The second instalment of Western’s Digital Humanities Speaker Series is starting on Thursday, January 24th with a talk by Glen Worthey, the Digital Humanities Librarian at Stanford University. Last term’s talks were a great success, with the audience and the interest growing with each speaker. As the IDI in Digital Humanities at Western launches its first two classes, please join us in welcoming this semester’s speakers in raising awareness of the importance of technology in humanities education and research.

DHSS 2013

Research Blogging: Notes from Our Workshop

Here’s some notes from our recent workshop on blogging. “Getting Started with Scholarly Blogging: Blogs as a Research and Teaching Tool in the Humanities,” held Tuesday, 2 October, 2012, 4:00-6:00pm.  These are pretty much directly from my powerpoint presentation. It was good to see so many people at the workshop and lots of fun to talk about academic blogging with Mark and with the workshop participants. I hope we get to do it again.

My experience as an academic blogger: I began by talking about my experience with blogging which dates back to 2006 when I joined the Philosophy, Ethics and Academia Blog, PEA Soup. My main blogging experience though is with the Feminist Philosophers Blog, http://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/ For FP I’ve written more 200 posts of varying length and significance. My most widely read post has 14,000 views. and a typical post has several hundred views. I’ve also written a bit for the Philosophy of Sport blog,  http://philosophyandsports.blogspot.com/ 

Recently I’ve started a more personal blog with my friend and colleague Tracy Isaacs  Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty.

Kinds of research blogs: Next up, we covered the kinds of research blogs out there from pure research blogs (not accessible to the public, could be in specialized academic journals) to blogs that set out to popularize research, talking about research (think of Dollars and Sex, http://bigthink.com/blogs/dollars-and-sex). We also talked about blogs that really just are extensions of journals which focus on discussions of journal papers and book reviews and then for fun we talked about some of the more gossipy blogs about the academic profession. I also shared some of the recent philosophy tumblrs because they’re so much fun: http://looksphilosophical.tumblr.com/, Looks Philosophical and Disabled Philosophers: We Exist, http://disabledphilosophers.wordpress.com/

Why Blog:

•Keep in touch with researchers all over the world, broader research community
•Makes our work accessible to the non-academic world
•Keeps us in touch with current events and things going on in the world
•I get a great charge out of the number of people who read and discuss our blog
I think it’s also especially important for minority scholars or undervalued, marginalized fields:
“Academic blogging: minority scholars cannot afford to be silent”Blogging is a vital tool to make visible work that has been ignored or undervalued. Minority academics must become aware of how important blogging is to articulate their ideashttp://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2012/jul/12/blogging-for-minority-subjects-and-academicsLast but not least, you can get terrific feedback on your work. Blogs often have very generous readers.

Professor Roger PielkeJr from the University of Colorado pointed out in his speech to the Lowy Institute last week, blogging has had a directly beneficial impact on his research:  (Blogging) is a remarkably powerful tool for refining ideas, for collecting intelligence, for making contacts. I get routinely better feedback critique from ideas, arguments, I put out on my blog than I do in the peer review process….”

from Why academics should blog by Sam Roggevee, http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2012/02/16/Why-academics-should-blog.aspx

Tricky Issues:

•Anonymity versus getting credit
•Managing online identities
•Dealing with colleagues who don’t read blogs, don’t view them as important
•Trolls, sexism, and dealing with comments

Can I Hear a Third Option, Please? Diane Rasmussen Neal on Change in the Classroom

Last week’s edition of The Western News (for September 20, 2012) featured a story that, while not specifically “about” the digital humanities at Western, is certainly relevant to it and its concerns. Diane Rasmussen Neal’s “Evolve or die: Modern Classrooms Need to Change with Times” addresses the changing technological landscape inhabited by our students, and implies (more explicitly in the title, in fact, than in the text of the article itself) that we run the risk of losing connection with our classes if we fail to take up the challenges posed by new modes of communication and learning:

So, with all these online modalities present in their lives, how can professors increase student engagement and learning success? Is it unrealistic to expect them to listen to our linear lectures twice a week when Facebook photos are beckoning?

Social Media for Academics: A Practical GuideRasmussen Neal’s response, and that of Robert Foster, co-author with her of an article on the subject in her new edited collection, Social Media for Academics: A Practical Guide (Woodhead Publishing), is to turn to the very social media that threatens to usurp student attention, and to employ it in our own arsenal of pedagogical tools.  This,  she suggests, means using “today’s technological tools such as Facebook, Twitter and smartphones” in teaching, to the exclusion even of the Learning Management Systems (LMS) supplied by our institutions (in the case of Western, Sakai), which she characterizes as “technologically dated, cumbersome, expensive, time-consuming and generally frustrating.”

In the place of this latter, she specifically recommends Edmodo (edmodo.com) a tool used widely in online teaching:

The site appears similar in design and function to Facebook, but also includes many of the traditional online classroom tools that we have grown to expect from WebCT-like applications. It’s free, secure, does not require ITS administration and students find it easier – and more fun – to use than traditional, university-sanctioned tools.

The implied focus of much of this article is upon online courses, but not to the exclusion of on-site teaching. As Foster, in the book article he co-wrote with Rasmussen Neal, puts it: “a strong argument can be made that professors delivering programmes in a regular classroom setting would benefit themselves and their students by making use of several of the social media tools that are already available.”

I would tend to agree. I’ve been using Facebook for one of my classes, a large first year course, since 2007, and have found that it is not merely a good way to engage and communicate with students, but that it also helps build a sense of “community” in a course that was otherwise too large to really allow for that sort of connection between students. This year, in the same course (which is now, by design, much smaller), I will additionally be using student blogs for the first time: my hope is that this will enable another kind of student “conversation” online, as students follow each other’s blogs.

Rasmussen Neal teaches in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western: it is perhaps unsurprising that she is such a strong advocate of pedagogical technologies. And given a student body that is probably, by virtue of the nature of that faculty, more open to technology and social media than many, it seems likely that such approaches would succeed admirably.

Are they translatable, or adaptable, to the setting of a more traditional “humanities” classroom? Experience at other institutions would seem to suggest that they can be: the related notions of “hybrid pedagogy” (mixing traditional and digital teaching methodologies) and the “flipped classroom” (in which much lecture material is delivered online, and “lecture” hours devoted instead to in-class group work) have become very popular in humanities courses elsewhere in recent years.

As Rasmussen Neal’s title intimates, however, there is still resistance to such ideas. I have colleagues who refuse to allow laptops into their classrooms at all, so strong is their faith in, and adherence to, a more traditional lecture, or lecture-discussion format. Are they wrong? It seems to me that the real key lies not in a stubborn advocacy of one approach over another, be it traditional or digital, but rather in an ability to adapt to particular courses, kinds of students, and classroom contexts.

There should, perhaps, be a third way, the way of using whatever modality — traditional or new — seems best suited to the very particular circumstances within which we, as teachers, will continue to find ourselves. One size, as we have all surely discovered over our time as pedagogues, seldom fits all.