Pedagogy and Facebook

I was pretty chuffed to receive an Outstanding GSI (read – Teaching Assistant) award for teaching Introduction to Archaeology last year.  There isn’t a prize awarded initially, but you can enter a one-page essay describing a teaching problem you have encountered and what you did about it to get an additional prize.  Sorry about the citations–I don’t usually like to use them on blogs, but, y’know.

For your perusal:

You have a friend request.”  This email notification has become a standard occurrence in my email in-box. I had been on the social networking site Facebook for about six months, networking with my fellow graduate students and professors, joining groups related to my profession, and even planning a conference event using the popular site. At first I did not recognize the profile photograph of the person requesting my friendship, as his face was obscured by a beer keg, but I instantly recognized the name: it was a student from one of my sections. Was this request an invasion of my privacy, or an honest attempt at extending the open, informal attitude I valued in my classroom to an online venue? Where were the boundaries between personal and public in the technologically enhanced social realm of the university? Further, could we use these potentially invasive technologies to help teach our students?

After experiencing this odd disconnect between a more traditional teacher-student relationship in the classroom and becoming “friends” online, I wanted to identify the exact dimensions and repercussions of this new challenge in teaching. A critical pedagogical engagement in archaeology offers the potential to serve as an emancipatory practice, in that dominant political and historical narratives are challenged with the material record, providing a way for students to examine these narratives within their specific historical context and provide their own interpretations (Conkey and Tringham 1996; Hamilakis 2004). Would connecting online help foster a community of practice within the discipline (Lave and Wenger 1991) and offer reciprocal relationships in place of the traditional banking model of education? While there is already an element of self-disclosure in the classroom on the part of instructors trying to communicate concepts regarding a discipline that is largely based on field work, research has shown that students who interact with instructors on websites (O’Sullivan, et al. 2004) and social networking sites (Mazer, et al. 2007) attain higher levels of affective learning, but this needs to be accompanied by an active process of privacy management (Mazer, et al. 2007: 4-5).

Given the potential for an enhanced engagement with students, I chose to address social networks on three fronts: in my section syllabus, in the maintenance of my online presence, and as a research topic for students. In a single line, crafted to avoid insulting students or to exclude all possible future interaction, I stated, “As a rule, I do not accept Facebook or Myspace friend requests from current students.” In class I elaborated upon the importance of maintaining privacy and professionalism, emphasizing this necessity to an audience who might have not thought about current and future ramification of complete self-disclosure. On the social networks I went through the security options, allowing students a certain amount of access to my profile while keeping other, personal interactions private. I was able to capitalize on my detailed knowledge of these sites by giving students the option of creating a Facebook profile for a 19th century resident of the former Zeta Psi fraternity house on campus. The fraternity was the subject of research by anthropology faculty and is used as an object lesson in Introduction to Archaeology. Students who made a profile had to form a narrative around a research question, using excavation data, photos and other evidence. Designing a mock profile made the students ask questions about the day-to-day life of individuals in the past, a primary goal of the course.

Unlike last year, I have not had any friend requests from current students. The process of evaluating and maintaining these boundaries caused me to critically assess my own presence online, and to emphasize the potential of destructive self-disclosure with my students.  Integrating social networks into assignments fostered a level of enthusiasm, creativity, and engagement with archaeological topics absent in the more traditional essay format. The potential to establish communities of practice in broader academic life through social networks is an enticing venue of research, provided that boundaries are maintained.

Conkey, M. W. and R. Tringham
1996    Cultivating thinking/challenging authority: some experiments in feminist pedagogy in archaeology. In Gender and Archaeology, edited by R. P. Wright, pp. 224-50. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.

Hamilakis, Y.
2004    Archaeology and the politics of pedagogy. World Archaeology 36(2):287-309.

Lave, J. and E. Wenger
1991    Situated learning : legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge England ; New York.


Mazer, J. P., R. E. Murphy and C. J. Simonds
2007    I’ll See You On “Facebook”: The Effects of Computer-Mediated Teacher Self-Disclosure on Student Motivation, Affective Learning, and Classroom Climate. Communication Education 56(1):1-17.

O’Sullivan, P. B., S. K. Hunt and L. R. Lippert
2004    Mediated Immediacy: A Language of Affiliation in a Technological Age. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 23(4):464-490.

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Remixing Çatalhöyük Day – Nov 28

Remixing Çatalhöyük Day
9am – 5pm PST
November 28, 2007

http://okapi.wordpress.com/2007/11/06/remixing-catalhoyuk-day/

Join us for Remixing Çatalhöyük Day, a public program sponsored by OKAPI and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük. Visit OKAPI Island in the 3-D virtual environment of Second Life (see Getting Started below) and explore the past and present of Çatalhöyük, a 9000-year-old village located in present-day Turkey. OKAPI Island features virtual reconstructions of the excavation site and multimedia exhibits of research data. The Island was constructed by a team of undegraduate research apprentices during the Spring and Fall 2007 semester. The Remixing Çatalhöyük program includes lectures, guided tours, games, and much more. Mark your calendars!

Activities Include:

(10-10:30 AM, 3-3:30 PM PST)
Guided Tours of OKAPI Island. Tours will be conducted by Ruth Tringham (Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük) and the Remixing Çatalhöyük team.

(1 – 2 PM PST)
Lecture: “Cultural Heritage Interpretive Videowalks: Moving Through Present Past Places Physically and Virtually” Presented by Ruth Tringham to the UC Berkeley Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Colloquium and simulcast in Second Life.

(2 – 4 PM PST)
Turkish Music Mix. Visit OKAPI Island, learn about Çatalhöyük and build your own remixes in the OKAPI Island Sandbox while listening to DJ (and UCB Anthro grad) Burcu’s eclectic mix of classical and contemporary Turkish music.

(4-5 PM PST)
Remixing Çatalhöyük Video Festival. Nine video producers will share videos about Çatalhöyük. The Video Festival will be hosted by VJ (and UCB Anthro grad) Colleen Morgan.

(5 – 5:30 PM PST)
Remix Competition. The public is invited to use the OKAPI Island Sandbox or Graffiti Cube to build and share reconstructions of Çatalhöyük or “remixes” of archaeological research data. At 5pm PST, the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük team will review and select top entries for virtual awards and exhibition on OKAPI Island.

For more information on the event and how to enter Second Life, visit:

http://okapi.wordpress.com/2007/11/06/remixing-catalhoyuk-day/

We hope to see you there!