Online social networking is here to stay. It is astounding the number of creative ways it is being used by all walks of life, and so fast! As a somewhat old-fashioned educator (especially for my age!), I struggle with the short attention spans of my students and the new ways they like to learn. A colleague sent me this YouTube video and blog article that you might find interesting as well.
That’s not all. Entrepreneurs are using social media too. I have some friends who have come up with a new concept of the online daily coupon, where they exclusively use social media to spread the word about their new company, MooLaLa, and the money they would spend on advertising goes to pay the members (sign up is free) for telling their friends about it. It combines Groupon, Facebook and multi-level marketing in an innovative way.*
I’ve mentioned previously how I refuse to have a Facebook page because I want to keep a personal/professional barrier between me and my students. I try to be vigilant in what I say in emails, for, as another colleague states, “Don’t put into email anything you don’t want on the front page of the newspaper.” I do have a Twitter account that you will never find. Educators are finding ways to use these venues to aid in their teaching, and I don’t see how they have the time. Twitter is so transient, I’d feel like I was repeating myself to answer the same question over and over. I have a hard enough time keeping my extensive Blackboard sites reasonably up to date.
In light of this, I am trying to reexamine how I teach my labs to see if there is a way to incorporate this new way of life and learning. Our Christian faculty group will explore the idea this semester to see how we can use it both for ministry and more effective teaching. One faculty ministry has developed a somewhat primitive version of Facebook for Christian faculty to share their testimony, and you can find my page in one of the weblinks in the right hand column of this page.
Students are also increasingly challenging why they need to learn certain things, and want to know how to integrate what they learn from us with their online world—how to mix chemistry and social media into a profitable entrepreneurial venture, for instance. When we tell them that Facebook is what you have when you fall asleep studying, we lose credibility.
The early church, as it expanded to new cultures and new areas of the globe, took full advantage of the things around them that pointed to the Gospel. Think about Paul in the Areopagus, and St. Patrick and the shamrock. I know of a missionary in the South Pacific that, when translating the Bible into the native tongue had to change the wording of Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” In the culture in which he was immersed, they lived in huts, and only a thief would go to the door and knock to see if anyone was home. A friend would stand in the street and holler out to the inhabitants. Thus, his translation was, “Behold, I stand in the street and shout…”
As Christian faculty in a rapidly changing world, we are continually finding ourselves in a new culture of students, and need to learn how they learn, communicate and find value, adjusting our teaching methods (and ministry methods) to match. All of this on top of research, service, family, ministry, etc…
*Disclosure—If you click on the MooLaLa link and join, I have the potential of benefitting financially from it, as you and your friends who join would be part of my group. Please feel free too! But it is appropriate for me to be upfront about it.