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How college students find and use information [Infographic]

Posted by reyjunco on November 26, 2012 in Infographic |

My friends over at Project Information Literacy have just released this infographic to summarize their recent research on how college students find and use information. Data in this infographic come from PIL’s publications Balancing Act: How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library during Crunch Time and Truth Be Told: How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital AgeIf you are interested in college students and information literacy, check out PIL’s other reports here.

Project Information Literacy Research Infographic

This infographic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license so feel free to share on your own website by linking back to Project Information Literacy.

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Don’t shame youth who post racist tweets, educate them

Posted by reyjunco on November 19, 2012 in Commentary |

Shaming teens who post racist tweetsRecently, Jezebel engaged in the public shaming of teens who posted racist tweets after the election. The doxxing began on the comment thread to the original “racist teens” post and then the Jezebel writer ran with the mob mentality.

Now, I’m not trying to give those teens who posted the racist tweets a “pass;” however, the way Jezebel handled this was completely inappropriate. It’s especially disconcerting because they are focused on shaming minors. There are a number of reasons why shaming these teens is ill-considered:

  1. Shaming does not work as a teaching method especially for teens. In fact, shaming teens for racist tweets might actually solidify their racist attitudes.
  2. The Jezebel writer and the commenters have no knowledge of youth development and they are making assumptions about these children from their own frame of reference. They are treating them as if they were at the same level of moral and ethnic identity development as they are. In other words, they are assuming that because they would never say such a thing in public, that teens shouldn’t either.
  3. Evaluating teen behavior through the value system of an adult doesn’t take into account the vast number of reasons why these children posted such things in the first place. We hold adults responsible for their racist actions and words because we have a pretty good sense those are being driven by internal motivation; however, the cause of teen racist behaviors is much more multifaceted (for instance, environment, parental attitudes, and developmental issues).

In addition to shaming, Jezebel is using their considerable power and influence to ruin a teenager’s future college and job prospects. I’m not being alarmist when I say this: It’s already the case that top hits from a Google search of the names of some of the teens shows the article labeling them as racist. Unfortunately, potential employers and colleges will view this not as a mistake of youth but from their own framework (well-developed moral and ethnic identity development) and pass judgment on these students in a way that may no longer be appropriate since these kids still have a lot of growing and development to do. As I have argued before, denying an applicant admissions to college because of some of their mistakes an admissions officer found online is unethical and completely against the mission of colleges and universities.

In this story at Forbes, the editor of Jezebel was quoted as saying “And I think there’s something larger at play here, and we’re going to see this kind of story over and over again until it’s innately understood that the line between ‘online’ and ‘in real life’ is basically nonexistent.” Not only does this speak to a lack of journalistic ethics, but highlights the worldview that Jezebel has chosen to espouse: That young people have no right to make any mistakes; nor do they have the right for their online mistakes to be forgotten. This has the potential to cross the line into institutionalized bullying. Something that, in this case, actually happened.

Chris Menning over at Modern Primate found that at least one of the teenagers identified in the header image posted by Jezebel had not actually posted a racist tweet. Instead, a troll used the picture of a teenage girl who had been harassed online for a long time. So in this instance, you have a major blog “feeding the troll” supporting their behavior and also shaming a teen who never posted a racist tweet and who has been the subject of long-term harassment. A real “win” for the troll – encouraging more of such behavior.

What can be done? 

We should be teaching kids to have ethical boundaries on Twitter and other online social spaces. Part of the problem is that educators have really shied away from interacting with social media in educational settings. Primary and secondary educators believe the hype propagated by traditional media sources that “social media are bad” and that using, teaching with, and talking about them can only lead to negative consequences for their students (i.e., inappropriate relationships with them). If high school educators ever do talk about social media, it’s from a very paternalistic and abstinent framework (i.e., don’t post things online that you wouldn’t want others to see or stay off of these sites). Sure, that’s fine to talk about; however, teachers need to go further and teach civil discourse in online spaces, discuss the benefits and pitfalls of living our lives online, and explore how mistakes can be interpreted by others.

I am left to wonder how big of a story this would have been if the schools of the teens involved would have done a better job of integrating teaching about social media into their curriculum.

Image credit: royalconstantine http://www.flickr.com/photos/royalconstantine/4319316557/

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6

The ethics of Facebook-stalking university applicants

Posted by reyjunco on November 8, 2012 in Commentary, Research |

Recently, Kaplan Test Prep released data from a survey showing how college admissions officers check applicant profiles in order to make admissions decisions. This isn’t a new phenomenon: since 2008, I’ve been answering questions about whether residence life, judicial affairs, and other university departments should monitor their students’ Facebook accounts. Here are some reasons why I think such evaluations of applicant Facebook profiles is unethical:

Discrimination in admissions decisions: There is absolutely no way that admissions officers can evaluate student Facebook profiles fairly. First, there is a lack of resources: admissions offices barely have enough staff to keep the machinery of recruitment and the traditional evaluation process going, let alone devote a staff of 10, 100, or 1,000 people to review the Facebook profiles of all entering students.

Even if admissions offices had the necessary resources to evaluate every applicant’s Facebook profile, it would still be incredibly unfair. Not all students are sophisticated enough to hide their profiles from admissions officers (or to create ideal-self profiles). Those who aren’t sophisticated enough are at the mercy of admissions officers looking for an easy way to make their applicant pool smaller. Furthermore, research shows that Internet skills (in this case, sophistication in knowing how to or why you should hide your profile) are related to race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Facebook-stalking applicants then is also a discriminatory admissions practice in the way that we have outlawed other types of discriminatory practices.

Let’s posit, if you will, that there was a way to evaluate all students fairly: why would admissions officers want to evaluate Facebook profiles anyway? If an admissions officer is going to spend time to evaluate a student’s profile, shouldn’t he or she instead spend that time reviewing the student’s criminal record? Or perhaps reviewing how they can place the applicant in a series of courses to help them academically? Or even ensuring that the student will easily integrate into a social support network? Oh yeah, those things would be too hard to do.

Frame of reference: When admissions officers evaluate student profiles they are doing so from their own frame of reference. Oftentimes, admissions officers are typically much older than applicants. Therefore, they evaluate Facebook profiles based on what they would or wouldn’t post with total disregard for what is developmentally appropriate for youth. In my experiences, I have never met an admissions officer with profound knowledge of youth psychological and identity development, let alone how new media affect such processes.

In the Kaplan study, 35% of admissions officers said that they have “discovered something online about an applicant that negatively impacted their application.” Again, this evaluation is more than likely applied unfairly. What might rise to the level of concern for one admissions officer, might not for another. Further, an admissions officer might see something considered Facebook fashionable for youth as inappropriate.  Let’s say for example that what the admissions officer sees is indeed “inappropriate” (i.e., distasteful), wouldn’t that be exactly the kind of student you’d want to admit to your university? Colleges and universities have as their primary purpose the mission to educate and help youth develop and therefore, such a student would benefit greatly from further opportunities for growth.

The right to be forgotten: Some of what the 35% of admissions officers have seen on applicant Facebook profiles are, to put it bluntly, mistakes. They may not be seen as mistakes to the applicant at that time. Again, a normal part of the learning and psychological developmental processes of youth is making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. Consider some of the mistakes that you’ve made when you were younger and pick the most embarrassing one. Now imagine that there is a permanent public record of that mistake available for all to see and to evaluate from their own frame. Seen years later or by people who are older or have already navigated the same developmental stages, such behavior is interpreted much more negatively than it should be. With real-name policies on sites like Facebook and a dearth of laws to allow online mistakes to be forgotten, youth are at a great risk of being misunderstood and discriminated against in the application process.

In summary, the practice of Facebook-stalking university applicants must come to an end. If a university admissions office is serious about evaluating a student’s social media presence, then they must first prove why reviewing Facebook profiles is a more effective use of their time than reviewing other data. Furthermore, the admissions office should be prepared to show how they would fairly evaluate Facebook profiles in a manner equal to how they review materials in the traditional evaluation process. I suspect that if the former can ever be rationalized, the latter would be impossible.


Thanks to Annie Shreffler (@annieshreff) for her feedback on a draft of this post.

Image credit: escapedtowisconsin http://www.flickr.com/photos/69805768@N00/3292899689/

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How today’s higher education faculty use social media infographic

Posted by reyjunco on October 23, 2012 in Commentary, Infographic, Research |

Last week, Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group released the results of their latest survey of how higher education faculty use social media. The results are quite interesting. For instance, they found that almost 34% of the sample used some form of social media (defined as blogs/wikis, Facebook, LinkedIn, podcasts, or Twitter) for teaching purposes.

It’s worth noting that the survey had a response rate of 6% and it’s impossible to tell how generalizable these results are to the greater population of “all university faculty.” In other words, it’s wholly possible that the survey sample contained a greater proportion of faculty who were more likely to use social media (and who were more likely to use social media in their courses).

The sample was also stratified based on Carnegie classification and the results weighted to adjust for differences in response rates by these classifications. I would have liked to have seen stratification by gender, race/ethnicity (of which no data about the sample are provided), and discipline. Perhaps a weighting by age may have been in order given that almost 42% of the sample was aged 55 or over.

Even still, these are interesting findings especially when compared to previous Pearson surveys. The trend suggests that faculty are becoming more comfortable incorporating social media into the classroom. Of particular interest to me is how Facebook is used more for teaching purposes than Twitter although the second most reported barrier to using social media in the classroom was “concerns about privacy” (presumably primarily related to Facebook as Twitter tends to be a more pubic medium).

You can download the full report and the infographic here.

Pearson How Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media Infographic

Infographic credit: Pearson Learning Solutions (2012). Available online here.

Disclosure: I provided feedback on drafts of the survey instrument.

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16

New appointment at the Berkman Center

Posted by reyjunco on August 31, 2012 in Commentary |

I am thrilled to announce that I will be a Faculty Associate at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society for the academic year. I will continue my work with the Youth and Media Team and look forward to working with other faculty, fellows, and associates. I am especially thankful to Urs Gasser and Sandra Cortesi for their support of my work and my association with the Center. For me, the Berkman Center has been my research home for the last few years. It’s a place where new ideas and innovations in research are highly valued and encouraged. The Berkman community is a passionate group of individuals all interested in one common goal– furthering the understanding of cyberspace.

I always feel like I’m on a high bristling with new ideas after every visit to the Center. Indeed, Doc Searles, a Berkman fellow suggested software I’d never heard of to try to help me answer a research question – and in fact, I ended up using that application for my latest round of data collection. Following the same thread, the Youth and Media Team provided invaluable input on the preliminary results of the study using the application Doc suggested. These are two examples of what makes the place great: passionate people with diverse backgrounds collaborating on the common goal of understanding why and how we do what we do online.

I am really looking forward to the new discoveries that this next year will bring. Stay tuned!

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3

Social Media Research & Practice in Higher Ed #sxswEDU podcast

Posted by reyjunco on June 22, 2012 in Presentations |

Social Media Research and Practice in Higher Education #sxswEDU logo

Back in March I served on a panel along with Liz Gross, Ed Cabellon, and Greg Heiberger at the #sxswEDU conference. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Greg and I talk about our latest research on using Twitter to support students throughout their first year of college.
  2. I summarize my recent research on using Facebook in education.
  3. Greg explores the future of higher education and how new technologies can be used to effectively improve student success.
  4. Liz discusses how to use Facebook to market your institution and programs.
  5. Ed explains how to frame productive social media use to administrators.
  6. I get snarky about EdTech startups and how they don’t communicate with educators.

Listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download the file by right-clicking here and selecting “Save As.” Here are the slides for the presentation portion:

 

I’d love to hear what you think. Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

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2

Why I don’t trust that Facebook will keep your child’s information private

Posted by reyjunco on June 14, 2012 in Commentary |

Child Surfing Facebook - Facebook, Children, and PrivacyLast week, I wrote an opinion piece for NBCLatino entitled Don’t trust Facebook with your children in response to Facebook’s announcement that they are considering allowing children younger than 13 to join the site. In that post, I discussed four reasons why you would want to be wary of allowing your children under 13 to join Facebook. Due to space limitations, I didn’t include a fifth that I wanted to elaborate on here:

Privacy: Time and time again, Facebook has been notorious for tricking users into sharing more of their personal information. And yes, I mean tricking and no, I’m not being overly dramatic here as I’ll point out below. Since the Internet has a short memory, let’s briefly review some of these issues:

  • Beacon: In 2007, Facebook launched a system named Beacon that allowed non-Facebook websites to include a script that would send user information back to Facebook. A user didn’t have to be logged in to Facebook for their information to be collected from a third-party site, nor were the users even informed it was happening. Imagine making a purchase on Zappo’s and then having it automatically posted to your Facebook wall. Facebook shut down the service in 2009 just before they settled a class action lawsuit over Beacon.
  • News feed: In 2007, Facebook introduced the News feed and Mini feed that published all of a user’s Facebook activity without allowing users to opt-out. Because of user outcry, Facebook implemented privacy controls for the feeds. Then in 2009, they removed those privacy controls. Again after user outcry, they added more privacy controls and “simplified” their privacy settings. Even though they have been “simplified,” I don’t believe that Facebook privacy controls are “simple” and easy to understand.
  • Inability to delete accounts: This one didn’t affect many users, only those trying to delete their accounts so most people don’t remember it. Even when users deactivated their accounts, Facebook kept copies of their information indefinitely. To this day, you have to submit a request to completely delete your account. If you merely deactivate your account, Facebook still keeps all of your information indefinitely.
I could go on and on, but you get my point– Facebook has done a lousy job at protecting user privacy and they have received great criticism about their deceptive practices. All of this should come as no surprise to anyone who keeps up with Facebook-related news because Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe in privacy and he insists that our notion of privacy is changing (not for the better). Interestingly enough, while Zuckerberg pushes to make what you share on Facebook public, he does not share much of his own personal life. This contradiction that has led to further outcries including this bounty by Gizmodo for public pictures of Mark that they will then share on their own site.

Because of all this, one can infer that Facebook has had a deliberate disregard for privacy of its users. Now imagine similar privacy bait-and-switches with children – who are less equipped to understand what is happening and to protect themselves from having their information shared with more people than they intended. And while in my original piece I wrote about how I’m not as concerned about a stranger taking advantage of a child on Facebook as I am about other things, such privacy breeches certainly increase the chances that a person with ill intentions will use the information for their own benefit at the expense of the child.

For these reasons, I don’t trust that Facebook has my best interest in mind and I certainly don’t trust that they’ll have the best interest of children under 13 in mind… and neither should you.

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3

Web Connected Minds talk outline

Posted by reyjunco on May 6, 2012 in Presentations |

Today I’m giving a talk at the Web Connected Minds Conference about my research on social media, student engagement, and learning. I’ll be talking about my published research on how Facebook use is related to student engagement and student academic performance. I’ll also be talking about some of my published research on improving educational outcomes by using Twitter as part of college courses. The best part (in my opinion) will be the unpublished data I’ll discuss showing how Twitter can be used to help improve student persistence into the second year of college. Lastly, I’m discussing interviews with students from these studies and *gasp* making inferences based on qualitative data analyses.

You can download a PDF copy of my talk outline by clicking here or just check out the embedded PDF below. Also, if you have any questions about the talk or the outline please ask them in the comments section of this post and I’ll make sure to answer each one.

Rey Junco Improving Student Engagement and Learning Using Social Media

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0

Facebook frequency of use and activities survey questions

Posted by reyjunco on April 5, 2012 in Survey Design |

Facebook frequency and activity survey questionsI’ve had a lot of requests for permission to use my Facebook frequency of use and activities survey questions. I am happy to share these survey questions as long as they are cited as coming from :

Junco, R. (2012). The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement. Computers & Education, 58(1), 162-171.

Facebook frequency – I use two different ways to measure frequency of use: 1) Average time spent on Facebook per day and 2) Number of times Facebook is checked per day. Note that if you are relating these to outcome measures, you will probably get different results for time and checking (there is more detail about this in this paper and this one). My reason for using a continuous measure of time spent on Facebook is simple. Using categorical measures (i.e., 1-2 hours, 3-4 hours, etc.) presupposes an underlying distribution in your data that may not actually exist. Plus, you can always convert a continuous variable to a categorical, but not vice-versa. I recognize that using such fine-grained options could be problematic; however, survey methods are the most efficient in collecting these data (stay tuned for one of my future projects that seeks to remedy the problems inherent in employing surveys to collect usage data). You might have noticed that the “time spent on” question is worded in a way to include more stems than just Facebook– I used a few additional stems (i.e., searching for information, email, etc.). Feel free to add your own.

Facebook activities - Because the types of Facebook activities change with the addition or deletion of features, I used a novel method to come up with these 14 items. I posted a public status update stating: ‘‘I need your help for my next research project. What are the things you do on Facebook?’’ The items submitted by 39 of my Facebook friends were collated and compiled into a non-overlapping list of 14 items. These 14 items were shared with two separate groups of undergraduate students for input, revised and posted on Facebook for further comments. All of the items from the original list were kept, and most of them were edited for clarity and relevance.

You can download a pdf of the questions here. If you end up using these questions in your own research, please send me an email and let me know. You may also be interested in my colleague, Nicole Ellison’s Facebook Intensity Scale.

Junco Facebook Survey 2012

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1

Twitter 101: Best Practices in Using Twitter in the Classroom Infographic

Posted by reyjunco on March 21, 2012 in Infographic, Research |

Twitter 101 Best Practices InfographicAlmost a year ago, I posted a call to collaborate with graphic designers interested in creating research-based infographics. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of graphic designers who have converted my research into infographics.

Here is yet another one in this series. This one is based on our paper, Putting Twitter to the test: assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement, and success. In the paper, we compared two ways to use Twitter in the classroom: as an unguided back channel or integrating it into a course in educationally-relevant ways (ways that made sense based on the course goals). The results gave us comparative data in order to be able to make recommendations about best practices in using Twitter in the classroom.

I’d like to point out that I’m a real stickler about using the term “best practices.” It’s a concept we toss around a lot in higher education. To me, a “best practice” is only something that has been supported by research. Alas, most of the time that we talk about “best practices” in higher ed, we’re focusing on what someone thinks is a “good idea.” So here you go… some data to support best practices in using Twitter in the college classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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