We’ve been having lots of seminars here at Lafayette this month. It’s been super fun to read my students’ tweets as they go along, so here again, I’ve storified last week’s seminar for you all, this time by Michael Clark of Trinity College. This time, we were lucky to have my colleague Chris Ruebeck tweeting alongside the students. I think he enjoyed it, too.
My twitter assignment for my econometrics classes has garnered a bit of attention over the last few weeks. As we had our first assignment, reading Charles Wheelan‘s Naked Statistics, along with the regular assignments, my students interacted with each other,
with Lafayette College communications and library accounts,
with Alison Byerly, president of Lafayette College,
with some of my colleagues, and even with Stata. My favorite post of the week came when a student tweeted at me to ask whether a follow from Stata earned him extra points.
— (@saessafo) January 29, 2014
I’ll let you guess what the answer was.
Lafayette College has a social media working group, a relatively informal gathering of social media practitioners on campus, who asked me and another professor to come by and give a short presentation on how we were using twitter in the classroom. Last semester, Chris Phillips had students live-tweet his seminar on Moby Dick, while my assignments are mostly out of class, at least at this point.
A few days later, a colleague tweeted an article on a new psychology paper showing that students process information better, and get more nuance, when they take longhand notes as opposed to typing verbatim a professor’s lecture. While this justifies my reluctance to give out class notes, it also got me thinking about whether live-tweeting would be more like longhand notes or like typing notes. One of the participants in our twitter in the classroom discussion asked Chris whether the students who live-tweeted did better or worse than the others. He didn’t feel he could really make a statement either way (he already knew one of the students, not to mention the statistical power issue with a small sample size), but it’s a question worth asking. Assuming we take the study at face value, does the power of note-taking come with the physical process of writing out letters? Or is there something particularly damaging about typing verbatim that limits processing? And which process does live-tweeting, where you are typing, but have to process and condense information fairly quickly, mimic more closely?
The past few months have been full of new research projects and new ideas for me. I’m exploring sexualized violence among Colombian ex-combatants, obesity during pregnancy, and female labor force participation in the American South. I just got a small grant from Lafayette’s Digital Humanities Mellon Foundation Grant to study the last of these and I couldn’t be more excited.
Teaching-wise, I’m also ramping up the innovation. In particular, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to have my students read and interact more next semester. I’ve settled on twitter. In the past, I’ve asked them to blog, and it’s been fantastic, though I think it works better with smaller classes. This Spring, I’m trying out tweeting to see if I can’t engender some networking skills while focusing on brevity.
Here is Professor Fletcher’s Guide to Twitter for my students, specific to this semester. It includes some assignments and some general guidelines, assuming they either know the basics or can figure them out fairly quickly. Comments, thoughts, ideas, are much appreciated.
Happy New Year!
I’m in Bangkok this week for the SVRI Forum. I was promised a lively event full researchers, practitioners and those generally interested sexualized violence and gender-based violence, and it’s turned out to be awesome. The Forum has expanded this year to include trafficking and child protection; the latter topic brought me here.
I’m tweeting much of it (when I’m not too tired to think), as are several others at the conference. If you’re interested, I suggest checking out the hashtags #SVRI and #SVRIForum. @TheSVRI is retweeting many of the best tweets and a fellow conference-goer, @prabudeepan, has storified yesterday’s tweets. So, even if you’re sleeping as I hear about stats and interventions, you can get all caught up.
For just a taste of my first day’s reflection, I’ll say that it’s wonderful to be at a conference of like-minded people. It’s rare to look at a conference program and think, “I want to attend every one of those sessions,” but that’s the case here. It’s also wonderful to reconnect with the folks I’m working with in Zimbabwe, as well as many individuals I met last year in London at the Nike/DFID conference on adolescent girls. And new people! There are so many smart, wonderful people doing work in this field.
I’ll leave my more somber notes for a longer post after it’s over.