Academic Exchange Quarterly     Summer 2016     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 20, Issue 2

Guest Editorial

Social media as a subject of classroom inquiry ….. As a college student in the late 1990s, email, and online education were minimal and experimental. I remember my university sending a memo about the use of email on campus and the access to library materials online. Suffice to say; online communication was an on-going experiment in education environments. Teaching in today's world means something different than it did fifteen years ago when I started teaching college communication courses. In that time significant changes have happened in how we communicate: most colleges have adopted online learning management systems, and email has become a preferred mode of communication between students and teachers. More importantly, the millennial generation has grown up communicating online, whereas the teachers of millennials have grown into communicating online. For example, the former sees social media as the primary mode of public communication, whereas the latter sees traditional media as primary, and social media as a new mode.

The best scholars and teachers in the communication discipline have long argued that is indicated by effectiveness and appropriateness be indicators of communication competence. Such a sentiment is reflected in pedagogical competence as well. For teachers to remain effective, we must consider what modes of communication are appropriate for today’s learning environments. Also, we must assess what pedagogical tools are no longer effective or appropriate for our students. The use of social media is pervasive in our students' lives. Hashtag activism, personal blogging, and having a camera in your back pocket are relevant tools for the millennial generation. Effective educators apply pedagogical goals and objectives to today’s modes of communication. Today's online culture is a whack-a-mole of games, apps, and social media presences. In the current student-centered classroom, it is increasingly important to bring course content into the most used and accessible modes of communication. Gone are the days of experimenting with online pedagogical methods, as student learning has become the focus. As a result, teachers from all levels of learning realize that teaching concepts are not something that is rigid and bound by the way we learned them. Instead, striving for continual competence with evolving communication tools is critical to meet the needs of students of today.

This AEQ Summer issue is a compilation of 20 articles for teachers to make a difference in our ever-evolving world. In what follows readers will find helpful examples for educators who want to generate knowledge that is applicable in our contemporary society. Educators from a range of disciplines provide what has worked in their classrooms. The reflections, best practices, case studies, and experiments demonstrate how education is adapting to the demands of today’s world. Today there are changing demands from students and administrators. There are also new resources and tools. Being able to adapt to the ever-changing demands, and being willing to incorporate new tools into one's teaching repertoire is a sign of an excellent educator.

For discussion of social media as a subject of classroom inquiry read my article “Occupy: Social Media in Social Movement Pedagogy” in the upcoming Academic Exchange Quarterly Fall 2016 issue.

Alison Fisher Bodkin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Studies
James Madison University, VA

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