Finding Sanity in the Madness

Exploring Social Media

AA #5: Social Media Perceptions April 26, 2011

I came across this article while searching around for something involving social media adoption/attitude with respects to the Elaboration Likelihood model (so if you have something like that, do share!)

Lewis, B. K. (2010). Social Media and Strategic Communication: Attitudes and Perceptions Among College Students. Public Relations Journal, 4(3).
The purpose:
This particular study had one hypothesis and three research questions:
H1: Public relations and advertising majors will perceive social media more positively than other majors.
RQ1: How will gender affect college students’ attitude toward social media?
RQ2: How does number of years in school impact students’ positive perception of social media as strategic communication tools?
RQ3: How will the beliefs of students who use social media as a primary news source be affected regarding whether corporations should consider employing social media as tools in their communication efforts.
RQ4: How will taking a class on social media affect students’ perceptions of social media as strategic communications tools?
The Findings:
The research questions posed had what I would consider predictable. For RQ1, the study found that females had more positive feelings towards social media. I didn’t think there would be much of a difference, but thinking about our own class demographics and also thinking about people I know who use social media often, it makes sense. RQ2 showed a positive correlation between number of years in school and perception on social media. RQ3 showed differences based on general perceptions as surveyed previously. RQ4 showed a positive correlation as well. Students who were taking a course in social media had a significant correlation and much more positive feelings towards social media as a communication tool.
Thoughts:
I enjoyed this article, especially since it had a RQ that directly dealt with this course. I am happy to have found some information on the topic of social media perception. I can agree with the findings on their RQ4. I find that since the beginning of this course, my perceptions on social media as a whole has increased in a positive light.
The idea that time in school having a positive correlation to perception on social media makes sense to me as well. Throughout the semester, we have touched on the idea that more educated people use Twitter (as seen on infographic, etc). This came as a nice surprise to me, as this is probably the only RQ that I couldn’t pinpoint with utter confidence.
Overall, this seems like the type of article I can directly relate with, and it was an interesting read. Hopefully I can find more research regarding aspects of classes, education, social media, etc. Good stuff!
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AA #4: Twitter, Students, Learning April 23, 2011

Filed under: Article Review,Research,Social Media — karch10k @ 8:45 pm
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This article analysis will be focused on a paper I decided to read into due to it being directly related to our current Tech621 class, as well as a topic we have lightly discussed in the class.

Junco, R., Heiberger, G., & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 119-132. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387.x
The Purpose:

The purpose of this particular paper is to study and determine if Twitter has a significant effect on student interaction, engagement, and achievement (grades). I liked the reasoning they chose for this article, and some of the justifications for choosing Twitter as the channel of choice.
  • The course the researchers chose to use only met once per week for an hour, so Twitter was a good candidate due to being able to quickly and easily be a medium where students could continue the conversation from the single class they had each week
  • More introverted students are able to ask questions outside of class they might not have in front of everyone else. I think this is a true advantage of this technology, as I know many people who have this issue.
  • Helped students become more familiar and comfortable with each other. I feel that during our course this semester, communication on blogs as well as Twitter helped to hasten the familiarity process that happens in any class where you are required to share out loud in front of the class. It is a stress reducer.
These are just a few of the listed reasons, but the ones I felt I most personally could associate with.
The Study:
The study encompassed seven different sections of a first year seminar class for pre-health professional majors. There were 132 students who participated in total, and 125 of them ended up taking the pre-test survey (91% caucasian, 6% latino, 3% native american).  The median age of the participants was about 18 years old. It is also interesting to note that none of the participants had ever used Twitter before.
There was a pre and post test, as well as a control group. After two weeks in the course, the students were divided up. Some of them received a one hour long crash course in Twitter, whereas the others experienced the class as normal. The study lasted for 14 weeks.
The Findings:
There were interesting findings in this article, but many of them I expected (I suppose I have a bit of an insight on using Twitter in the classroom). Some of the more interesting findings were dealing with the participation.
  • In terms of student participation, it was very easy for an instructor to sort of lead the students to begin a study group using Twitter, and after the initial help, students continued to form study groups without the push from the professor.
  • Students scored much higher in engagement while using Twitter than not utilizing it: Tweeting each other, talking online, and continuing conversations.
  • Twitter promoted experience sharing and learning in the classroom. It allowed them to easily discuss and talk about how issues in the course related to their real life experiences.
  • Study also shows a positive correlation on use of Twitter in the classroom and the grades of the students.
Thoughts:
I thought this paper was interesting, but I also feel like it was predictable. Maybe it is simply because we have been using Twitter in the course and I have direct experience with it. It has been a positive experience for me, so I hypothesized a couple of their findings before I even read the paper. I think papers like this are needed. When I tell people what I am interested in for research, and I mention social media, they sort of scoff at me, disregarding any potential use of Facebook or Twitter research. Studies like this has real use and will be important in the evolution of how education works.
A final thought is about future research, or even future implementation. The ideas behind this paper are the backbone of our course. Collaborate, communicate, and engage with fellow students online to further education in a particular field. While we are doing it to “dive into” social media and experience it first hand, you could employ this tactic into almost any subject. I would guess to say that in any major academic field, one could find people in that field Tweeting about their research, and communicating results, articles, findings, etc. I think Twitter has some very real uses and should be encouraged to be used in the classroom, no matter what field or subject area.
I also find it strange to feel about Twitter in the way I do. I was one of “those people” who began this course thinking Twitter was nothing but a stupid means of a status update. Boy was I wrong. I legitimately enjoy using Twitter as a means to touch base and stay in touch with certain individuals. It is to the point where I am all but ignoring Facebook and only being on Twitter. Hopefully in the near future, there will be more professors and other educators waking up to the realization that social media can vastly improve education.
 

Radian6: Awesome April 10, 2011

Filed under: Research,Social Media — karch10k @ 5:49 pm
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For the Tech 621 course this year, our final project tasks us with utilizing Radian6 to conduct research with social media. What is Radian6, you might wonder. I’ll tell you what Radian6 is: awesome. Doing research with and about social media isn’t exactly a new concept, nor is it completely easy. Radian6 is an interface that runs in your browser that allows you to become a social media researching master! Radian6 is described as:

Radian6 gives you a complete platform to listen, measure and engage with your customers across the entire social web”.


For the purpose of this course, we aren’t doing any engaging, or at least not what I would call engaging, but we are definitely listening, and measuring data on our various topics. We also have access to this tool for free during this semester, which is quite the discount from the normal going price (around $600 per month for the lowest setup). To have access to this tool is amazing.

So far, using the tool with very limited direction has proven to be like any other new interface/program. Frustrating in the very beginning due to not getting the results I thought I should be getting (bias?) to sheer excitement when I finally started narrowing down my topic, reading into some of the trends/timelines/etc. The interface as a whole is relatively simple, and once I got used to it, I felt it was quite intuitive. I can search and sort by media types, I can gather timelines, I can see top influencers on a topic, and even slice and dice my data until my hearts content. Once I narrow everything down, I can then also choose individual posts, comments, or Tweets, and read them for further detail if I wish. The power of a tool such as this seems vast, if not limitless. I have a shot of the interface to give a glimpse of what I have been working on for my project:

If you are looking for more information on Radian6, I would suggest checking out their website or read this post by Jason Falls at social media explorer for some comparative (but mostly talking up Radian6, detailing some interesting features).

 

Research Area of Interest February 27, 2011

Filed under: Politics,Research,Social Media — karch10k @ 11:08 pm
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Recently I made a post regarding “Politics 2.0”. I am heavily leaning towards Government 2.0 as my area of research. This is fortunately a growing area of research and it combines two of my major interests. I have begun looking for articles and trying to narrow my focus here. The issue I am currently having is that this is relatively a new concept (utilizing web 2.0 tools with government).

A couple of the articles I have been reviewing sort of give an overview of some of the research questions I have about Government 2.0, as well as it’s implications.

http://www.newparadigm.com/media/gov_transforminggovernment.pdf

ftp://ftp.jrc.es/pub/EURdoc/EURdoc/JRC45269.pdf

I am going to attempt to narrow my research soon and make an additional blog post regarding how I intend to do so. I would be open to suggestions in this as well. Currently, much of the research I have found is about the channels used and how effective they were/are in measuring public opinion. As said, I am in the process of narrowing down and looking for future research suggestions.

 

Social Media Research Design

Filed under: Research,Social Media — karch10k @ 8:44 pm
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In reading a little recently, I came upon an article that was  discussing social media research. Typically in this course, we are talking about how social media can be used, and how it can be very beneficial. In this article, however, the author seems to discount research using social media.

While the author acknowledges the fact that social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook can contain vast amount of information that deems investigation, she seems to also note that information being considered highly reliable from social media research is “pure nonsense”.

Interestingly enough, she refers to research on social media as “eavesdropping”.

This is a different point of view I have yet to read much about. The general feelings I read about social media research is exciting and very positive. It would be interesting to see the authors response in light of some of the research projects done with crowd sourcing, knowledge of crowds, etc, etc.

Could the author simply be caught in the past, or does she have some weight on her opinion?