Teachable Moments from Facebook

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

For some reason, some college administrators don’t seem to think that Mafia Wars and Farmville are very scholarly activities. “Harrisburg University plans to examine its reliance on social media by taking a bold step,” Steve Infanti of the university wrote in an electronic press release on September 9, 2010. “For a week beginning Sept. 13, 2010, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania will block IP addresses and shut down access to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and IM.”

“The goal: To get students, staff and faculty to think about social media when they are not available. Our goal is to challenge people to think about how they came to rely on it We too have used lots of social media, some successfully, some of it not so successfully. University faculty, in particular, use social media to communicate with colleagues about curriculum ideas, but what if they had to rely on face-to-face meetings? We wondered would the process take longer, or would the outcomes be any different.

“Additionally, the University hopes to move the conversation about social media to a more strategic level. Many organizations use ads on social media sites, for example, but do not recognize how social media can be used for training and education, business innovation, and political advocacy. Part of the weeklong experiment includes the HU Social Media Summit on September 15.  The day-long event (which is sold out) will feature four panel discussions addressing those issues.  You can learn more about it here: www.harrisburgu.edu/academics/professional/socialmedia/index.php As a science and technology focused university with new media design, learning technologies and management and ebusiness among its academic programs, HU looks at social media as a fact of life for millions of people, so the real question we are addressing is not whether we connect, but where and in what ways we should connect to benefit from online networking’s pluses and avoid its minuses.”

That means the ban will go off just in time for these students to read the U. S. Constitution.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org