September 13, 2015 by Kathryn Kuttis
Last year my niece sent me an Instagram directly. She said thanks for the birthday gift we sent and posted a photo of it sitting on her kitchen counter. At the time, I had no idea how she did this. Turns out Instagram Direct launched back in 2013. I still haven’t figured out how to use it. Sure I could look here but I still haven’t.
My social media knowledge is incomplete but it works. Yours can be too. Most students at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication are considered digital natives but not all of them use social media. When I ask why here’s what they say:
- It’s a waste of time.
- I’m afraid to put myself out there.
- I don’t know how it works.
My best students use social media to broaden their learning experience. Many of them have found internships and career paths by following industry leaders and becoming part of the conversation. They read links, favorite and retweet. They have LinkedIn profiles and find ways to connect with other students on Twitter and Instagram with #LifeAsAJStudent and @UOSOJC. They are curious and willing to share ideas. Like me, they often do it imperfectly but the social media landscape for those who are still learning is a welcoming and forgiving place. Social media is like speaking broken French in Paris. Native speakers just love you for trying.
As a communications instructor, I encourage every student to try Twitter. In my public relations classes, we create a class hashtag and talk about how to use it. We know that a robust digital footprint can help define a student after graduation when employers are looking to measure them against other applicants. Twitter is networking tool. It is also an excellent place to think broadly and be wise in unexpected ways.
For some, large lectures can be an invitation to check out or take a nap. In my Media Professions class, I invite all 300 students to tweet during the lectures. We project a live feed so everyone can see the tweets in real time. It is, as one student put it, “hella chill.”
These in-class tweets aren’t like live tweeting for a broader audience. They are really just for the class. I think it makes class more interesting if there is a real chance to participate in the conversation. Student attendance is always high. People enjoy the class. Tweets typically fall into a few categories: hilarious (here’s a photo of the guy next to me sleeping), insightful (here’s a link to the guest speaker’s first novel), helpful (can we turn up the microphone?) and personal (this commercial about babies in Taiwan is making me cry). Once in a while I’ll create a list of Top Tweets and show my favorites to the class. Honestly, it’s hard to choose they are all so good.
300 students can generate more creative ideas, personal viewpoints, questions and relevant associations in one hour than a social media pro could generate in month.
Twitter keeps us all talking to each other and expanding on what we learn. If you are taking my J100 Media Professions or J452 Strategic Communication for PR this term or if you want to feel more connected at the @UOSOJC get on Twitter this term. Watch how others broadcast their thoughts and try it yourself. Post an Instagram of yourself in Allen Hall with #LifeAsAJStudent. Tweet a hello to your professor before class starts. Follow your class guest speakers.
This is school. It’s a good place to try things.