Discovering Interdisciplinary Uses of Online Technologies in Higher Education
Mary Caton-Rosser, Barbara Looney, Kaitlin Schneider
Recent research shows both students and professors rushing to adapt learning and teaching activities accessing ever-upgrading digital and social media formats like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Prezi. Many institutions of higher education are embracing social media as viable, student-centered-classroom communication tools in a full range of subject disciplines, as well as in emerging interdisciplinary activities that prepare students for current trends in the job force. The new communication channels offer students a direct voice in discussion of topics of subject matter and current events, avenues for expedited exchange of information, and also introduction to skills needed to operate mobile computing devices, such as tablets and portable hand-held devices.
The advancing tools of online technology are also being used creatively in general communication across college campuses in higher education following standardized-use policies. The use of social media, for example, is effective in recruiting and interacting with prospective students and their parents or in expedited sharing of news or updated policies and procedures.
The current endorsement of new technologies in various higher-education settings aligns with historical enthusiasm in education for interactive classroom dialogue. Over the years, progressive and pragmatic educators, such as John Dewey, Paulo Freire, Elliot Eisner and Larry Cuban have promoted interactive, inclusive pedagogical communication and experiential education since the early 1900s to the present.
For the past year-and-a-half, three faculty members at Black Hills State University have been conducting qualitative and quantitative research on the use of digital and social media in higher education. Since the beginning, the central goal has been to create awareness of digital technologies and social media as inter-subjective tools. More recently, the focus has become measurement of the learning experience and the development of curricula and policies that result in improved learning and teacher-learner communication.