Document Type


Publication Date



Political Science



Publication Title

Educause Quarterly


Key Takeaways

  • A new course teaching media, mass communication, and political identities in the Middle East and North Africa explored the use of social media in pursuit of effective learning.
  • Using a variety of social media and other tools encouraged student engagement in and out of the classroom.
  • Student responses varied from discomfort with the technology to enthusiastic adoption and continued use after the course ended.

This article records my experiences teaching a new course in early 2009 at Dickinson College, a four-year liberal arts college in Pennsylvania serving around 2,300 undergraduates. The course emphasized newer and emerging media and technologies such as satellite television, the Internet, and mobile telephony. We particularly studied blogging and the role of social media in self-expression and activism. To better understand the read-write web and social media, students were required to write blogs as well as follow blogs using an aggregator. The course was delivered via a wiki rather than a learning management system, to offer a more open learning environment. I also encouraged students to use Diigo for social bookmarking.

In a class of 21, there was naturally a range of responses to the different technologies used, from enthusiastic embrace through indifference to active resistance. But student feedback, formal and informal, was overall more positive than negative, and in some cases strongly supportive. Several students have continued to use tools introduced in the course. I expect to apply the lessons learned in future iterations of this course and in others, including how to better serve students who do not readily embrace all the techniques and technologies used.


This published version is made available on Dickinson Scholar with the permission of the publisher. For more information on the published version, visit Educause's Website.

© 2009 Edward W.F. Webb. The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license.