Closing Tabs, Episode 3: Teaching with(out) Social Media

Jesse and I have taught with Twitter for ages, often requiring students to create accounts, tweet about their coursework, even crafting assignments where a single tweet was the assignment. But we don’t anymore.

Why not? What do we do instead? How do we help our students navigate the world of public, digital scholarship in a world increasingly dominated by harassment, abuse, disinformation, and polarization? Well, for that, you’ll have to listen. 🙂

Jesse and I mention a number of tools, platforms, and services that we find useful in different contexts. As promised, here are links!

Jesse’s and Kris’s past class Medium publications can be found here: Introduction to Digital Studies and Modeling Music.

Slack is the online community space that we use regularly for our classes, especially (but not exclusively) online classes.

Kris’s (former) guide for public student writing (including Jesse’s Twitter essay prompt reworked for a music class) can be seen here.

Jesse mentioned Mastadon, a distributed social platform based on GNU Social.

A number of the tools Kris mentions for privacy and security can be found here. Kris also mentioned Keybase, a Slack-like, end-to-end encrypted communication platform that functions similar to Slack (though balancing increased security with less bells and whistles).

2 Responses
  1. I enjoyed listening to this and was glad that I made it a priority to listen to the whole thing, instead of simply hearing the first few minutes. Some of the themes that came out resonated with me in different ways. First the things I loved: I loved the openness and the frank way you both discuss things. I love the discussion of student engagement and the willingness to explore and use different thing/tools/methods. I love the sentiment that students shouldn’t hand assignments in to you (of course the assignment is the box-ticking exercise, but the learning should be of value and much deeper than any measurable ‘thing’.

    I was struck by two things: the clear discomfort with Twitter, which was very aptly expressed when one of you said that you could no longer safely amplify the work of students. Amplify and network, connect and facilitate. I too am completely on side with not requiring students to use it. The second thing that really struck me was the analogy of the roads and how beneficial having an inroads or even a map, can be to connecting. It’s tricky. In truth when we connect, it is on an individual level, and so the lure of broadcast is exciting, but can you really know all 9000 of your followers (or more)? maybe. I’ve never approached that so I don’t know. Is broadcast something we should want? Sharing, yes, but the difference between sharing a link and connection can be a chasm.

    The roads, the amplification, the platform. I was interested when the discussion went on to talk about other platforms and Mastodon came up. It was almost dismissed as ‘another social media’ platform, but I don’t think the intention of the creators is to create it for the sake of social, but in the light of the ethics behind it. I can say that because the developers talk to the users of the platform and there is a genuine collaboration between the users and the developers, so that the very things that bother people about Twitter are not allowed to precipitate. (I’m not sure that’s the right word, but I like the image of not having an almost unnoticed rain of unwanted features slowly introduced into a system and then realising that you don’t control it) Mastodon is not the only way or platform and it is certainly not for everyone; as you say, maybe it’s time to simply not be in the market for another social something. Talking to real people face to face is wonderful. The thing that bothered me was that the criteria for discussion and examination changed. The original complaints about Twitter were not necessarily transferred to the other discussions of Slack, Mastodon… It would help to transfer these niggles into a form of criteria for something new, so comparisons could be made. Also these might then inform a search for the essence of what would be the ideal development might be. There was talk about how new developments are taking into account what people might want, and think-tanks always seek that sort of info. Your voices are important.

    For me personally, it is a struggle to engage in monetised platforms the way I would like to connect, on an individual meeting of minds level, because I am, in essence, the subject of corporate observation. I’m just not comfortable with it. Sometimes I willingly sit in their corporate display window and put my thoughts out there, but it has to be considered and I need to remember I’m not speaking freely in my home, but in someone’s corporate corridor. There’s no easy answer- there are roads paved across the internet and I would never have made many of the international connections I cherish without roads from various platforms.

    Thank you for making the podcast and for asking the questions. You have both made me think and consider my actions, and that is a good thing. We need more discussion about how and what can make it better.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.