Social networking utilized by OSU faculty

Social networking and other forms of new media have had an impact on society, including college education. Several departments at Oswego State have begun to integrate new forms of media into their educational approach.

Fritz Messere, the dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts, said the curriculum for communication studies has changed as a result of new forms of media. The communications department is starting a graduate certificate course called Integrated Media and Social Networks.

The course, which starts this year, will look at forms of new media such as Facebook and Twitter to analyze how people use and interact with them, which will help graduate students prepare for the ever-changing landscape of communications.

"I think this graduate program will build over time because it’s brand new," Messere said.

Messere believes that two types of graduate students will want to take this course; communications students already on campus and people already in the community that work in the media and may want to come back to learn more about social networks. Ulises Mejias, an associate professor in the communications department who will be teaching the course, said that it would help students become professionals in the new media environment.

"They’re being asked to become interpreters of all of the changes new media are having on society," Mejias said.

He added that it is hard to predict how new social media will affect society. He also said people need to recognize new trends in social media, how it will change the environment and become "agents of that change."

Mejias also felt that Google would become more social in the future, that questions asked by Google users will be able to be answered by people they know on social networking sites.

"If you have a question, you want it to be answered by people in your community…by people you trust," Mejias said.

Social networks are not the only online tools being integrated into the education process. David Valentino, a professor in the earth science department, teaches a section of Earth’s Fury that is completely online through the school’s ANGEL system. He is also part of a pilot program with iTunes U, which has professors recording lectures and posting them onto iTunes, allowing students to listen to any they may have missed. While the program was started based on the belief that students might be able to remember information from lectures if they had a recording as opposed to taking notes, Valentino was unsure of the program’s effectiveness.

"I’m not exactly sure if it promotes the eagerness of students to be in class," Valentino said. But he also said he was eager to see how many students were using the program.

John Smith, a professor in the communications department, said technology has helped the department expand in many ways, and things such as online courses have changed education in new ways.

"We have an online program in broadcasting, and we have students in other parts of the country who earn their degree via the web and they never set foot in Oswego," Smith said.

Smith said the curriculum of the department would change drastically as a result of new forms of media. He said there are professors in the department who are computer graphic experts and are in touch with the "new media."

"These are people who are on Twitter…who can do any number of things…right in the palm of their hand. That form of communication is going to radically alter a lot of things," Smith said.