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Social Media Literacies in the College Classroom: Body

Introduction

Social media has infiltrated the university classroom environment, traditionally reliant on primarly referencing the textbook and relevant journal articles. Students are now staying up-to-date with world news, events, and research through twitter, blogs, and social media accounts and using their social media accounts for these same purposes in classroom environments.

For librarians to remain supportive liasions to many faculty and instructors, it may be necessary for them to provide support to instructors in the form of social media literacy instruction and information sharing. This pilot study proposes to find if this is a vital need in the university community, by surveying a specific population of faculty in the College of Communication (CCI) at Florida State University (FSU).

Research Questions

Given the dearth of literature on this topic, the presenters pose several research questions for this proposal:

  1. What strategies do CCI faculty currently employ in their use of social media as a teaching tool in the classroom?
  2. What views do CCI faculty have about students' ability to find, analyze, and evalutate reliable information for assignments that incorporate social media?
  3. How do CCI faculty currently make use of library instruction for assignments that incorporate social media? If not, why not, and what role do they envision that librarians might play in such instruction?

Method

For this exploratory study, the authors will purposively sample teaching faculty and teaching assistants (TAs) with lead instructor status across the College of Communication and Information (CCI) at Florida State University (FSU). Though the results will not generalizable, the authors' institutional affliliation will allow for relative ease of access. Combined with the prevalance of information communication and technology (ICT) coursework across the College, the authors believe that this sampling strategy will provide useful data that will establish a foundation for larger-scale research on this topic.

Once potential respondents have been identified, the authors will administer an online survey through departmental mailing lists. Along with demographic information, the survey will consist of three sections comprising a combination of open- and closed-ended questions, with an emphasis on the latter. Each section will address one of the authors' research questions. The authors' goal is to encourage respondents to provide as much individualized data about their pedagogy and experiences with library instruction as possible, which is particularly important in this case given the varierty of possible classroom scenarios.

Problem Statement

Studies by teaching faculty exist that indicate the rise of the use of social media as a teaching tool in the classroom (Grossmann, 2011; Kassens-Noor, 2012; Lawrence & Dion, 2010; Powell, Jacob, & Chapman, 2012). However, these studies do not explore the role that librarians play, or could play, to facilitate information literacy, particularly social media literacy.

At the same time, there is an increasing awareness in the library and information science (LIS) literature that social media literacy is a crucial part of information literacy (Bridges, 2012; Godwin, 2009; Kim, Sin, & Yoo-Lee, 2013; Mackey & Jacobson, 2011; MacMillan, 2012; Rheingold, 2010). Nonetheless, despite ongoing revisions (Bell, 2013) to the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (Association of College and Research Libraries, 2000), there is a dearth of empircal research that addresses the role that librarians play, or might play, in social media literacy instruction.

Significance

This study would be used to directly impact the way that librarians approach parternships and collaborations with faculty and instructors. The results of the survey would provide librarians, especially information literacy instructors, with evidence that instructors either do or do not need additional support with social media in the classroom.


As Hicks and Graber suggest, it is important to continue to research the signfiicance of using Web 2.0 technology in academia, to support future instructional decisions (as cited in Kassens-Noor, 2012). If it is found that instructors do need additional support with teaching social media literacy, librarians can begin to evaluate their role in this process through future in-depth study and analysis.

Conclusion

To conclude, this study could potentially be the key to creating more student-centered, supportive learning environments through gaining a stronger understanding of possible effective partnerships/collaborations between faculty and librarians. When we get to the heart of the social media literacy support needs of faculty, we are strengthening our ability to meet their unique needs, and more importantly, helping to better meet the needs of their students.

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