In this post I summarize a blog entitled “Social Media Is Scholarship” from The Chronicle of Higher Education (Link). The author, Mark Carrigan, is a Digital Sociologist at the University of Cambridge and a digital fellow at The Sociological Review Foundation. The author of Social Media for Academics, he is internationally recognized as a leading expert on the role of social media within higher education.
He starts with an important question: How do you find the time to use social media? While Carrigan acknowledges that social media can potentially be a Black Hole into which time and energy vanishes, there are useful tools to managing online time, such as Freedom, RescueTime, and Be Focused. The author emphasizes that social media is not extrinsic to scholarship, neither a distinct from legitimate academic work. In fact, many faculty members use these online tools for expanding professional network, exploring publications and nourishing their ideas.
Next, Carrigan provides a case study through which his research blog is compared to his series of notebooks which he used to carry for recording his ideas and sketching out plans:
“Inevitably I forgot them [notebooks] at the most inopportune moments, reducing me to scribbling notes on scraps of paper, only to fail to transcribe them at a later date. In contrast, my research blog is accessible to me wherever I have a mobile phone or computer. The expectation that others might read my notes forces me to work out what I am trying to say, rather than scribbling down in shorthand ideas that might feel meaningful to me at the time but are often confusing later.”
More than accessibility, he addresses the productive conversations that is shaped when he shares those blog post through his social media feeds. Furthermore, through online tools users can easily categorize, tag and highlight their notes which are substantially helpful for future retrieval. On the other hand, the author argues that research blog might not be suitable for those who (1) do not have smartphones, (2) are big fan of writing by hand and (3) are not comfortable wit sharing in-progress projects.
Altogether, I believe social media provides a vast platform for higher education community. Depending on the way we use it, it can either be a perfect assistant who saves our time, promotes our released works and connects us to the research community OR it can just be a waste of time! If you want to make sure that you are using these platform efficiently rather than being used by them, it is a good idea to write a list of the scholarly activities you engage per week. Then determine how many of them have you tried using social media to support. Apparently, the more you use social media to support your existing activities, the easier it becomes to be actively engaged with audiences.