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The article below was featured in Campus Technology Magazine and online on May 15, 2013.
Tiny Radio in Class: Podcasting Returns to Campus
By Dian Schaffhauser
When 99% Invisible blew through its fundraising goal on Kickstarter by four times, the “tiny radio show about design” brought renewed attention to the lost art of audio podcasting. It also piqued the attention of Associate Professor John McArthur, director of undergraduate programs for the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. McArthur had been seeking out a topic to try in a pilot seminar he was holding this spring as part of a department exploration to figure out how faculty and students might interact in a more collaborative way on campus.
And that’s exactly what happened. In the course of the seminar McArthur’s students used podcasting as a mechanism to learn how to compose arguments in the form of telling a story. Plus, it gave them a chance to interact with faculty in a mode that put them in the role of “producer.”
How a Podcast Report is Put Together
In an era of quickly produced videos that go viral on YouTube, the concept of producing a podcast may seem a bit antiquated. Why go audio when visual rules the day?
Exploring the Relationship Between Student-Instructor Interaction on Twitter and Student Perceptions of Teacher Behaviors
The latest issue of International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education features a research article by Dr. John A. McArthur and Kristen Bostedo-Conway. The article – “Exploring the Relationship Between Student-Instructor Interaction on Twitter and Student Perceptions of Teacher Behaviors” – examines the use of Twitter as a classroom tool. The abstract reads:
With much attention being placed on the use of Twitter and other social media in the classroom, educators are grappling with the question, “Is Twitter a valid tool to increase classroom effectiveness?” Yet, many responses to this question come from anecdotal and case-study-based information. The present study offers a preliminary quantitative analysis of Twitter in the classroom. A survey-based experiment (n = 144) was conducted to measure student perceptions of teacher credibility, immediacy, and content relevance alongside instructor Twitter-use. Results indicate significant, positive correlations between student Twitter-use and positive perceptions of teacher behaviors. These results indicate that Twitter may serve as a valuable tool to supplement more traditional forms of course instruction.
Dr. McArthur is an associate professor of communication in the James L. Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. Ms. Bostedo-Conway is an alumna of Queens University of Charlotte, graduating in 2012 with a Master of Arts in Communication. The pair are working on a follow-up study on the relationship between Twitter use and non-verbal communication measures.
The following column was featured on
the national blog of the Social Media Club on May 4, 2013
University professors hear a lot of commencement speeches. But one I heard this weekend was unlike any other I’ve ever experienced.
By combining the power of digital media, passion for philanthropy, and mobile technology,graduating students at Queens University of Charlotte helped the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation give away $100,000 on the spot during their commencement speech. The experiment was the brainchild of graduation speaker Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of Knight Foundation.
During Newton’s address, the audience watched three videos from Communities in Schools, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, and Loaves and Fishes. In the videos, representatives from each Charlotte-area organization explained how they would use a $50,000 grant from Knight Foundation. Graduates were then invited to text in their votes to decide which organization would receive the grant.
Graduates awarded the grant to Communities in Schools, and the other two organizations were awarded $25,000 grants by the foundation.
For the campus community, the event demonstrated the ability of individuals to make a difference in their communities through digital technology. “Remember the night that your lives were both noble and digital,” Newton remarked to the graduates. Even on a night of celebration of their own successes, the Class of 2013 were reminded to give back to their community.
Queens and Knight Foundation have a partnership established in 2010 with the naming of the James L. Knight School of Communication at the university. The school has a special endowed mission for strengthening digital and media literacy in the Charlotte community. The partnership has created the website digitalcharlotte.org and launched the new online Journal of Digital and Media Literacy.
Entrepreneur Magazine’s latest issue featured a Q & A column about corporate use of Pinterest. I was featured in the column, written by Kim Lachance Shandrow. Here’s an excerpt:
3. What types of images will best showcase my brand without being spammy?
Choose brightly colored, interesting pictures that show your followers how they can use your products and services in interesting, non-promotional situations.
“Images tell the story of your clientele and their relationship to your brand,” says John A. McArthur, an assistant professor of communication at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, who integrates Pinterest into his curriculum. “Consider how your customers would use your product or service and provide images that would speak to their experience.”
Instead of pinning promotional pictures of paint cans, Benjamin Moore highlights its products Pinterest in unexpected ways. For example, the paint maker’s popular “chalk it up!” board showcases its Chalkboard Paint in dozens of creative DIY projects, including chalkboard paint-dipped wine glasses and chalkboard-painted motorcycle helmets.
To read the full article, visit Entrepreneur magazine online.
The following article was featured on
the Social Media Club’s national Social Media Education blog
on February 19, 2013:
As a professor who studies digital media, many people often ask me how I stay current in the field. Studying social media and digital media can be a tricky business in that new things are always being added to the market and new strategies proliferate for employing tools that exist.
In my practice, staying current is about three different components: Keeping up with the newest developments, experimenting with digital tools, and innovating in the classroom.
Keeping up with the latest tools
Keeping up with the latest tools is about finding a tool that will curate information so that I can most easily access and process it. You might be surprised that, for me, this tool is the (relatively old) standby, RSS. RSS, or real simple syndication, was developed to deliver information from the web to people who subscribe to that information. For example, most blog sites are equipped with RSS feeds which allow a user to subscribe to the blog and have the blog material delivered in a variety of formats.
I use the RSS reader in Google Reader to manage my subscriptions so that I am staying up to date with the most current research and trends in digital media. For me, though there’s a catch. I find the process of logging to access the content to be a little clumsy on my mobile devices. Instead, I need a more convenient way to digest this information on the go. I found two tools that make that simple. First, I often read blogs in between other things that I’m doing during my day when I have my phone available. On the iPhone, the Feeddler appbecame a great resource for me to manage the blogs and podcasts that I plans to read or listen to. The app alerts me when there’s new posts to read and I can quickly scan through the titles of the posts to see which ones capture my interest or relate to my learning. Second, sometimes I prefer to read posts in a more magazine-like style, especially on my iPad. In that case, I turn to Flipboard. Flipboard takes the RSS information puts it into a visual display like a magazine that you can scroll through by turning pages and clicking on articles to read the most recent updates.
Both Flipboard and Feeddler use Google Reader as their source of information, so all of the material that you read on any of these three tools syncs with the others. Therefore, when I mark items that I’ve read in Feeddler, they are also marked as “read” inside Google Reader and Flipboard. I also find it valuable to be able to share an article using Feeddler or Flipboard through Twitter, email, or other vehicles that allow me to connect these articles to my students and colleagues.
Experimenting with digital tools
When I read about a new digital tool that looks interesting, I usually try it. Often, this classifies me as an “early adopter” of technology among my colleagues. But through this willingness to experiment, I’ve tried out a variety of social media tools (as well as other digital media tools) in the classroom. My students have experimented with Facebook,Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Storify, MindMeister, Goanimate, Audacity, and a variety of iPad and iPhone apps, to name a few, that allow them to connect to me and to each other in the classroom setting. Some of the links embedded above will take your articles I’ve written about these specific experiments.
Innovating in the classroom
For me the leap from experimenting in the classroom to innovating in the classroom comes at a point of confidence with the digital tool that I’m using. In a classroom experiment, I’ll try out the digital tool to see what might work what might happen and how students respond to the tool and its uses. Then, innovating with the tool in the classroom is about taking a tool and applying it to the course work in a way that generates learning for students. This is a widely unstudied body of knowledge in research literature mainly because the tools and practices are so new. As we move forward into an age of digital teaching and learning, researchers of instructional design should be able to consider the ways that innovations in digital technology can shape classroom learning.
In our graduate program in communication at Queens University of Charlotte for example, our faculty are innovating with the ways that media technologies can be used in the graduate classroom. Sometimes our students knew more than the professors about these technologies but other times the professors are introducing students to technologies being used in ways that they had not envisioned. And students are constantly making the connections between the major theories and concepts presented in the program, and the application of digital tools to those concept. This is the kind of work that will enhance and create opportunities for better and more sophisticated research into technology innovation in a variety of settings.
These three strategies are my way of keeping current with the changes in digital media technology and the ways they affect my classroom. We are all learners and, as a mutual learner with you, I’d love to hear about the ways that you stay current. You can contact me by leaving a comment here, by tweeting me at @JAMcArthur, or by going to my website and contacting me through one of the other channels there.
Thank you to the faculty members at the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico for being excellent hosts. This week, I facilitated two faculty development workshops at the university. The workshops focused on (1) integrating technology into the classroom and (2) digital and media literacy.
The slides and resources for workshop participants are below:
Resources mentioned during the session:
- Putting Pinterest to the Test
- Sample student projects in digital and media literacy:
- Building a Class Twitterfall
- Community 2.0
Queens University of Charlotte and Dr. John A. McArthur were featured on CampusTechnology.com in a story about experimenting with Pinterest in the college classroom. The article highlights the COMM 360: Charlotte and the Convention course and its use of Pinterest as an archive tool.
Below are two excerpts from the article, which can be read in its entirety on CampusTechnology.com
Faculty wanted a way to archive the student experience; so as part of the assignment, participants were asked to chronicle their experiences on Pinterest. According to John McArthur, an assistant professor in the Knight School of Communication at Queens, the faculty are always on the lookout “for what’s next.” …
(S)tudents began to view Pinterest as an “online photo gallery as opposed to a real-time updateable site like Twitter or Instagram.” From that perspective, he adds, “it became more of an archive than a timeline.”
With experience, McArthur now believes that Pinterest is best suited for “very niche courses” because it provides a “great opportunity for instructors to create student-generated archives of information related to class material,” less a digital portfolio than a tool students use to share things they come across in the news or online.
For example, he’s currently using it in a class on proxemics to study how space and technology combine. When students come across a particular story that might relate to the topic, they’ll pin it to the class Pinterest board…
McArthur encourages others to just try out the site. “Experimentation is the pathway to innovation with social media in the classroom,” he says. “Explain to [your] students that it’s an experiment we’re trying together, and we’re going to see how it works. Part of the outcome is to learn a social media platform you’re not familiar with–have a good time with it.”
Thanks to Dian Schaffhauser for her interest in our classrooms in the Knight School and thorough reporting. Read more about our Pinterest experiment here.
I was privileged to present a paper – “Digital Cities: Urban community development through information design” – at the annual conference of the National Communication Association in Orlando, Florida.
The paper is an extension of my work on space, technology, and user-experience. The theoretical argument sits at the intersection of information design, city planning, and placemaking. The presentation slides and examples of case studies are included below:
The following article was featured on
the Social Media Club’s national Social Media Education blog
on Election Day, November 6, 2012:
If you’re like me, your friends on Facebook have been talking about the election.
I’m friends with supporters of President Obama and Governor Romney, and even a few who are advocating for Governor Johnson. But, I’ve been surprised by the variety of Facebook arguments that I’ve witnessed in the weeks leading up to the election. Most are heated debates championed by friends of friends who write passionately and with varying levels of grammatical prowess.
In my courses in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte, we’ve been discussing the role of Facebook as a gathering spot – not necessarily of like-minded individuals, but rather of friends, acquaintances, and peers. In our discussions, I’ve been thinking about the role of Facebook as a space.
Some argue that Facebook is a podium for expressing opinions. They liken it to a microphone that can be turned up to share ideas with people, or to try to persuade anyone who will listen. Thereby, users on Facebook could and should advocate for selected issues.
Others believe that Facebook is a dinner table around which friends are invited to gather. These folks suggest that dinner table conversations should avoid politics, sex, and money. Therefore, the socially aware Facebook user would refrain from discussing these topics.
Still others might argue that Facebook shouldn’t look like an podium or a dinner table, but something else all together.
As educators who are researching, reflecting on, and teaching about social media use, perhaps our job is to ask others to do the same. To pause. To reflect. To consider the messages we send, when we choose to use social media, and for what purpose. Our role is to lead the discussion about the power of social media and to harness that power for the good.
I’m happy to report that the banter on Facebook on Election day appears to have changed. My friends and acquaintances are posting pictures of their “I Voted” stickers. This kind of civic encouragement might demonstrate the actual power of the platform: to encourage each other to act as citizens.
John A. McArthur is an assistant professor of communication in the Knight School of Communication at Queens University of Charlotte. Connect with him online athttp://jamcarthur.com or on Twitter @JAMcArthur
Students in my communication seminar on proxemics in the Knight School conducted a wheelchair accessibility audit of campus. The audit helped students to better understand how people different from themselves understand and use built space.
The following story was featured on the Queens University of Charlotte website about the project:
Navigating the campus with new eyes
Students in a senior seminar in the Knight School of Communication are studying the field of proxemics and how it can improve the way people interact with the space around them.
As a part of the seminar, students recently devoted a sunny, fall afternoon to conducting a handicapped accessibility audit of their campus. Their goal was to simulate for themselves how people in wheelchairs experience the environment. The class borrowed wheelchairs, divided into two teams, explored the campus and recorded their experiences.
“My interest in proxemics is in how to design spaces so they can be best used by the people who inhabit them,” says Dr. John McArthur, assistant professor of communication and Director of Undergraduate Programs, who leads the seminar.
Raulston Boger, a student in the seminar, says the exercise opened her eyes to the challenges of individuals with disabilities. “We’re having to go out of our way to get into a specific building because there’s only one on-ramp – just the little stuff we take advantage of everyday.”
An accessibility audit reveals how individuals with different needs negotiate their way through a particular environment, McArthur says, and identifies a location’s strengths and weaknesses. Often, an audit reveals simple solutions that make a big impact on a user experience – such as moving a potted plant away from a narrow entrance.