Video: Academic uses of social media

Often it helps to look beyond the field of Emergency Medicine to appreciate new perspectives on academics, education, and technology. This time I've looked completely outside of Medicine. This video is an interesting panel discussion by Harvard business, economics, government, and computer science professors on "Academic Uses of Social Media: Exploring 21st Century Communications".

Social media are a new means by which scholars communicate, collaborate, and teach. The panelists discuss how they are adapting to new communication and networking tools.

This is a bit of a long video (1 hr, 2 min) but it's worth listening to. Every once in a while a panelist busts out with a nugget of wisdom:

  • "Technology is outstripping our learning models" in higher education.
  • "We're going to need to do rapid-firing of smart experimentation."
  • "There are good things and bad things about blogging."
  • "See whether we can encourage [online] discussion"... from different societies and cultures
  • "Why should [we] even publish in closed-access journals? We now have the ability to set the stage." Right on! Open-access dissemination of knowledge and information is the future. Listen to the 59:00 min mark when they hit on this controversial topic. In our outdated promotions system, you need to publish in a reputable journal with a high impact factor. However, for the more noble goal of open-access dissemination, we should be looking at completely redefining "success" in the academic promotions process.

Panelists include:

Nancy Koehn
James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration
Harvard Business School

So much of the information we receive and send on the overflowing river ways of social media is immediate and detached from a historical frame or often, from any kind of larger frame or context whatsoever. What does it mean for a society to increasingly default into reliance on immediacy and brevity and widespread access as the ne plus ultra in knowledge creation? Knowledge is more than access to information, and wisdom is more than knowledge accumulation. How can we use social networks to create strong foundations for right action and sound choices?

N. Gregory Mankiw
Professor of Economics
Harvard University

Over the past several years, Professor Mankiw has maintained a blog, originally aimed at students in his undergraduate course Ec 10, but eventually reaching a much larger audience. He will talk about the pros and cons of such academic blogging.

Michael Sandel
Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government
Harvard University

Professor Sandel's course "Justice" is the first Harvard course to be made freely available online and on public television. A website including lecture videos, discussion guides, poll questions, and other resources has generated discussion among students and other viewers around the world. The website is currently being updated to make greater use of social media tools.

Harry R. Lewis
Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University

John Palfrey
Faculty co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, moderator.

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