For the past several years, I’ve explored various ways of incorporating social media into my UNIV 112, Focused Inquiry II classes, offering students the option of maintaining blogs and creating a Facebook page for the course, which students weren’t required to “like,” but were encouraged to post to as an alternative to blogging. I was still uncertain of how I would introduce social media next semester, when one of my former students, Tommy McPhail, sent me an email message, which I include below with his permission.
29 November 2012
I recently underwent a Cultural Discovery Project for my EDUS 476 class (the introductory course to being an RA at VCU). Afterwards, I wrote a blog post comprising my thoughts, and the response was incendiary. Within 24 hours, my post went viral received thousands of hits. To date, the post has received over 40,000 hits on Tumblr alone, and was one of the top posts on Reddit, in addition to being signal-boosted by various Facebook networks, Philadelphia Slutwalk, and my favorite author. I’ve received a plethora of encouragement, criticism, heartfelt praise, objection, and even a marriage proposal from a blogger in New Zealand. The very idea that my writing could reach so many people worldwide, let alone evoke such a response, has been both overwhelming and inspiring. It was only fitting that I forward this along to you. I would not have been able to accomplish something like this without you and your class. It really inspired me, particularly the social media components, to start using my blog for social advocacy purposes. Thank you so much for all that you do. I hope you enjoy the piece.
My essay and the accompanying appendix are attached for your convenience. Here is a link to my original post:
Tommy’s blog post on his Cultural Discovery Project and the overwhelming response it received attest to the value of social media as platforms on which students’ work in the classroom–in Tommy’s case, EDUS 476–can have a life outside of the classroom with an audience of thousands of readers. At last count, Tommy’s Tumblr post had prompted 46,935 notes.
Now I know how I’ll introduce social media next semester: I’ll begin with Tommy’s blog.