In the history of the United States, the media have always played a large role in shaping opinions, influencing beliefs, and creating both actual and virtual communities. Benjamin Franklin’s humorous aphorisms in Poor Richard’s Almanack reflected the social morays of the time and, thus, influenced the formation of social norms. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in 1776 earned him the title of “Father of the American Revolution”. Newspapers and local radio reflect community values and influence on the creation of local communities. Network television enlarged these communities, formed national character and developed a global view. However, none of these has the potential reach of the internet and its social networking sites. The social networks have created large global communities. Within these communities, followers often receive information before official government announcements have even been made. Contemporary social media are such an important societal force that they are of great interest to contemporary social scientists. Assistant Professor Cassie M. Hays teaches Sociology 237, Power, Politics, and New Media. In this course students study the effect of social media on “the formation of national identities, global assemblages, international information flows, legal structures, and social change.” Her class actively uses Twitter, for example, to actively research cyber warfare, construct debating points about Wiki Leaks and learn more about the use of new media in US elections and social movements such as Islamic Awakening (Arab Spring). They also use Twitter to share their thoughts with their colleagues. Anyone can follow the class Tweets at the Twitter search Page and typing the hash tag #Soc237 in the Search box.
Professor Hays joined the Gettysburg College Faculty in the Fall of 2011 after obtaining a Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University and two years of post-doctoral study at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. At Gettysburg she teaches courses on introductory sociology, race and ethnicity, the HBO television series The Wire, and social science research methods.
One of the unique features of #Soc237 is that all of the students are using iPads to conduct their investigations and communicate their findings. The iPads were purchased with a grant from the Mellon Foundation and are on loan from the Provost’s office. The ITT department deployed the iPads and will manage the hardware. Professor Hays believes that using the latest technology increases the students’ excitement in doing social science research. The students also learn that even with the best technology, there are limitations. For example, the WiFi port in their present classroom does not currently have enough band width to support active student research, tweeting and other electronic communication and networking in class. Thus, for each class an assigned three or four of the students are tweeting class notes and observations. In April the class is moving to the newly renovated McCreary Hall where they will utilize rooms 109 on Mondays and 115 on Wednesdays. Despite the need to make mid-semester adjustments, the media project is highly successful. Students are seeing that keeping connected can also mean that they are in contact with communities and issues central to contemporary social science research.
#Soc237 is in the process of recruiting participants for flash mob(s) that will erupt somewhere on campus during the week of April 15. It is also preparing a video for the college YouTube channel and, possibly, on the college’s landing page.
From March 6 - 8, the Leadership Board for CIOs in Higher Education held their spring meeting at Gettysburg College. Rod Tosten, Vice President for IT and a member of the Leadership Board, served as host CIO for the meeting. His responsibilities as host were shared by Gavin Foster, Associate Vice President for IT. The purpose of the Board is to provide insights and strategies and personal relationships that can help IT leaders in higher education plan for and manage technologies and resources. Topics at the Board’s face-to-face meetings and on-line webinars include comparing best or common business practices, discussing major issues pertaining to member functions and constructing benchmarking data and key metrics to support both tactical and strategic planning. In order to facilitate good and productive interaction, the size of the Board is limited to no more than 50 members. The Board was formed in 2009 by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Dr. Michael Zastrocky, recently retired from Gartner Corporation. It currently has 26 CIO member institutions, including two from Australia. Vice President Tosten represents Gettysburg College on the Board.
The March meeting was the first LBCIO Meeting to be held at a liberal arts college. Previous meetings have been held on the campuses of larger land grant institutions. The board was interested in Gettysburg because of its distinctive programs such as its Public Policy Major and the Eisenhower Institute, and also by its outstanding student/faculty interactions. Another factor in the choice of Gettysburg was the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. Using Gettysburg College vans driven by Rod and Gavin the group toured the battlefield on a snowy day preceding its meeting.
During its meeting the attendees held round table discussions on issues such as IT Budgeting, Emerging Technologies, Massively Open On-line Courses, Project Management, and the Emerging Role of the CIO.
Thanks to the efforts of Rod and Gavin coupled with those of Facilities Services, the Dining Hall, Gettysburg Hotel and the Gettysburg Battlefield Park Office, the meeting was judged to be a huge success.