söndag 7 november 2010

Social Media Technologies

My largest single committment in terms of teaching this term is a course called Social Media Technologies and it started just last week. The course is an "advanced" course, meaning that is open for 3rd year students and master's (4th or 5th year) students.

Much of the one-way day to day communication is done through the course blog. This is really a great way to off-load my mail inbox. Everything that could have been published on a webpage or sent by mail is instead published on the blog. Any student questions that could have been send by (multiple) e-mails by (multiple) students is instead to be posted as comments on blog posts. I'll answer in the form of another comment for the benefit of all students who take the course. This arrangement of course depends on the fact that students actually read the blog and pose questions there. It also hinges on the fact that I have to subscribe to the RRS message flow of the blog and read/answer regularly. I was surprised at the introductory lecture that so few students make use of RSS readers. Well, it's either that or check on the blog at least a couple of times per week throughout the course.

Besides this official course administration blog, there is a companion blog where I invite all students who take the course to become co-authors. The purpose of that blog is to collectively keep our eyes and ears open and post messages to each other about interesting social media-related phenomena (that might relate to lectures or seminar topics) on the Internet.

The participants themselves are a diverse bunch. Perhaps half are Swedish students from our media technology program and another large group are foreign students who study a masters in "media management" that my department gives. These students come from all over; China, Vietnam, Morocco, Turkey, Indonesia and a variety of European countries (especially Germany and the Netherlands). The final group who attends the course are "free agents", often exchange students from different European countries, who come to the Royal Institute of Technology to study for one or two semesters. They might take the course out of personal interest or out of any other reason, including the fact that they might have a limited choice of English-language courses to choose from at KTH.

After the week that just passed (the second week), I know the students a lot better. I used the first seminars for a speed-presentation format called Pecha Kucha. Each student had to put together 8 PowerPoint pictures in order to on the one hand present themselves and on the other hand present their use of, and thoughts about social media. The slides automatically switched after 20 seconds so each students had a little less than 3 minutes to present themselves in front of their seminar groups. I think it was a great success, but hearing 60+ students and seeing 500 PowerPoint pictures sent my mind spinning.

A really good thing I did was to clearly specify that each student had do include a portrait of him- or herself somewhere in the Pecha Kucha presentation. This solves the very difficult problem of connecting the physical person to the name, something that becomes exceedingly difficult in a course with dozens and dozens of students of which some have names that are very unusual for me (and therefore difficult to remember).

I will post more texts based on the course (for example based on the guest lectures) in the coming weeks as this course will take up the majority of my time from now on and until the course ends (mid-december).

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