New course integrates social media into classroom learning

In “Power, Politics & New Media” (SOC 237), a new sociology course, Prof. Cassie Hays never tells her Gettysburg College students to get off of Twitter or put the iPads down. In fact, students are not only encouraged, but expected to use new media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and iPad apps regularly in their coursework. All class readings are on iPads, provided for students to use throughout the semester by a Mellon Foundation grant, and group essay assignments are collected virtually on a class Wiki page.

“I’ve never taught anything like this before—it was a pilot class both for me and for the College,” Hays said (pictured above, left). “The administration wanted to integrate iPads into the classroom as way of using new technology and this class fit the bill since the content is all about new media.”

Although students get to use new media platforms in class, the course has a considerable learning objective—to discover the crucial role new media plays in shaping national identities, global assemblages, international information flows, legal structures, and socio-political change. Each week, the class examines a different topic, from “hacktivism” and “cyberwarfare” to Iran’s Green Revolution and the global Occupy movement.

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