This past week, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in a She’s the First-sponsored Google Hangout, titled “The New College Experience: Social Media’s Surprising Effects.” The hangout was scheduled as part of NYC Social Media Week 2013, “a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media” (http://socialmediaweek.org/). Over the next few weeks, Social Media Week will act as a global movement to explore the impact of social media through in-person conferences and speaking engagements as well as online Google Hangouts and live broadcasts.
“Change is happening everywhere. Startups are disrupting entire industries and scaling their businesses globally. Tyranny, injustice and unethical behavior are being exposed around the world. Groups are self organizing to take positive action. Transparency, accountability, information sharing, and collaboration are accelerating progress to levels never before seen.”
This Hangout, hosted by She’s the First’s Director of International Operations—Christen Brandt—invited two She’s the First campus chapter presidents (from Ithaca College and the University of Michigan) to speak with two college students in Bangalore, India who were the first in their families to make it through primary school with She’s the First-sponsored scholarships. In our hangout we discussed popular uses of social media and how it relates to our “college experience” as a whole. We talked about how some professors are using Facebook as a discussion tool, so students can learn from and interact with one another outside the classroom. We also discussed how some students are even turning in their homework assignments through Facebook or a related blogging platform. Lastly, we talked about utilizing social media for career and networking opportunities.
One of the most valuable aspects of the Hangout was actually getting to interact with the students in India, and learning that they too are just starting to uncover the power and potential of new media in an academic environment. The ability to host these “get togethers” online opens up a wealth of opportunity for global conversations and learning that I believe will have beneficial and far-reaching effects in the years to come.
A few questions to consider: Do you think social media has the potential to change the way we think about education? Do you think that it can offer something beyond the “distraction” that many people claim to be its primary usage? What are the most redeeming qualities of social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) that may potentially be harnessed for use in an educational environment?
If you’re interested in watching the hangout, you can view it captured on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RPU1gwzMfXY