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There Goes Everybody: Social Media and Civic Engagement


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Michael Kuhne's presentation to "Engaging Students and Communities through Technology" Minnesota Campus Compact webinar - Friday, February 12, 2010

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There Goes Everybody: Social Media and Civic Engagement

  1. 1. Minnesota Campus Compact Engaging Students and Community through Technology 12 February 2010 There Goes Everybody: Social Media and Civic Engagement Michael Kuhne, Ph. D. Minneapolis Community and Technical College
  2. 2. There Goes Everybody <ul><li>Two meanings: </li></ul><ul><li>Play on title of Clay Shirky’s book </li></ul><ul><li>Sinking feeling of being behind the technology wave </li></ul>
  3. 4. Biographical Information <ul><li>Full-time unlimited (tenured) English instructor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (1995) </li></ul><ul><li>5/5 teaching load with the majority of the courses being writing-intensive </li></ul><ul><li>Have been teaching since 1982 and am 51 years old </li></ul>
  4. 5. Social Media and Civic Engagement <ul><li>Recent reports indicate the size of the wave: </li></ul><ul><li>Kaiser Foundation </li></ul><ul><li>Pew Center for the Internet and American Life </li></ul>
  5. 6. From Kaiser Foundation web site <> Kaiser Family Foundation Accessed 4 February 2010
  6. 7. Pew Center for the Internet and American Life Accessed 4 February 2010
  7. 8. Talking Points <ul><li>Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations – what can we learn, what questions should we raise </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom experiences with Social Media, including wikis, blogs, and MMORPGs </li></ul><ul><li>Making civic engagement/technology connections and asking questions </li></ul>
  8. 10. Clay Shirky Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizing <ul><li>Pot Stirrings from Shirky </li></ul><ul><li>Comment based upon an analysis of Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” – “professionals are often the last ones to see it when that scarcity (the professionals reason for existing) goes away” (58-9). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Much of what gets posted on any given day is in public but not for the public” (40). </li></ul><ul><li>“ [. . .] social tools don’t create collective action – they merely remove the obstacles to it” (159). </li></ul><ul><li>“ Revolution doesn’t happen when society adapts new technologies – it happens when society adapts new behaviors” (160). </li></ul><ul><li>“ As more people adopt simple social tools, and as those tools allow increasingly rapid communication, the speed of group action also increases, and just as more is different, faster is different” (161). </li></ul><ul><li>Shirky also addresses flash mobs, blogs, Twitter, and Open Source </li></ul>
  9. 12. Social Media’s Promise <ul><li>Exploring around the edges (but not diving in) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Wikis </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MMORPGs </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 14. Research Essay Writing Wikis and Wikipedia <ul><li>The “site” for research and writing is Wikipedia. </li></ul><ul><li>Students become members of the Wikipedia community by identifying an entry of interest to them, researching the item, and then editing the entry. </li></ul><ul><li>Drafts of their course writing are shared on the course wiki </li></ul>
  11. 15. Civic Engagement Elements <ul><li>Students collaborate with each other on entries. </li></ul><ul><li>Students reach out to “experts” in the field (most of the time, experts respond) – experts on tap, not on top (Harry Boyte) </li></ul><ul><li>They begin to understand the public dimensions of their writing </li></ul>
  12. 17. Civic Engagement Elements <ul><li>Blogs should allow for a different kind of engagement student-to-student and student-to-instructor </li></ul><ul><li>Ideally, blogs create environments where dialogs rather than monologs occur. </li></ul>
  13. 18. Civic Engagement Limits <ul><li>No student actually registered as a follower  </li></ul><ul><li>The total number of student responses to the blog were disappointingly few (fewer than 50 over the course of the semester) </li></ul>
  14. 20. Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) <ul><li>My first experience as an online student after having taught online for many years. </li></ul><ul><li>INTS 2250 World of Warcraft: Culture, Gender, and Identity (Landon Pirius, instructor – Inver Hills Community College) </li></ul><ul><li>World of Warcraft as a site of interaction (student-to-student, student-to-instructor) and exploration </li></ul>
  15. 21. MMORPGs and Civic Engagement <ul><li>Lenhart, A. (2008). Teens, video games and civics: What the research is telling us. PEW Internet & American Life Project . </li></ul><ul><li>“ Research has shown that teens who play games with others (such as MMORPGs) exhibit more civic participation. They are more likely to be involved in politics and charities. Furthermore, they are more committed to civic engagement and discussions about elections. Lastly, in addition to the above, game players who interact with game discussion boards are more likely to report that they stay informed about current events, are interested in politics, and have attended a march or protest.” </li></ul><ul><li>Email interview with Landon Pirius </li></ul><ul><li>5 February 2010 </li></ul>
  16. 22. MMORPGs and Civic Engagement <ul><li>“ Gaming provides the opportunity to expand the role civics plays in education and can engage more people. Because a wider range of people play video games (including World of Warcraft ), there are tremendous opportunities to encourage participation and increase the diversity of ideas discussed.” </li></ul><ul><li>Email interview with Landon Pirius </li></ul><ul><li>5 February 2010 </li></ul>
  17. 23. Limits of MMORPGs and Civic Engagement <ul><li>“ [. . .] access is unequal. Certain demographics are underrepresented.” </li></ul><ul><li>Email interview with Landon Pirius </li></ul>
  18. 25. Exploring around the edges (but not diving it) <ul><li>Using wikis, blogs, and MMORPGs (and other forms of social media) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Not diving in” – these are tools which could be used for teaching civic engagement, but . . . How much civic engagement is being learned? </li></ul><ul><li>I am interested. I am awed. I also have real questions and concerns. </li></ul>
  19. 26. Resources <ul><li>Please send me your list of 2-3 key resources examining or explaining the connections between civic engagement and social media (subject line: Social Media and Civic Engagement Resource); I’ll email that list to all participants next week, and I’ll also use diigo or ning to create a social bookmarking site that we can use and share. </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>
  20. 27. Questions for Consideration <ul><li>What are some successful uses of social media to teach and encourage civic engagement? </li></ul><ul><li>What are some concerns that we have regarding the connections between social media and civic engagement? </li></ul><ul><li>How does social media change our understanding of civic engagement? </li></ul><ul><li>What are better questions that we should be asking ourselves about the connections between civic engagement and technology? </li></ul>
  21. 28. Works Cited <ul><li>“ Digital Nation .” Frontline. Directors Rachel Dretzin and Douglas Rushkoff. WGBH, Boston. 2 February 2010. Web. 6 February 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-year Olds .” A Kaiser Family Foundation Study. January 2010. Web. 1 February 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Lenhart, A. (2008). Teens, video games and civics: What the research is telling us. PEW Internet & American Life Project . http:// / </li></ul><ul><li>Lenhart, Amanda, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, and Kathryn Zickur. “ Social Media and Young Adults .” Report - Pew Internet and American Life Project. 3 February 2010. Web. 4 February 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Levine, Peter. &quot; Here Comes Everybody ?&quot; Peter Levine: a blog for civic renewal. 11 January 2010. Web. 12 January 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Pirius, Landon. Email interview. 5 February 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations. New York: Penguin, 2005. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Social Media .” Wikipedia. 4 February 2010. Web. </li></ul>