COMM notes

Keeping up with Drury's Department of Communication

Faculty Spotlight: Jonathan Groves

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004 JGrovesTwitter-savvy journalism professor Dr. Jonathan Groves uses the social network in his media classes. But is Twitter really all its cracked up to be?

To demonstrate the power of the social network, Dr. Groves has his multimedia writing class participate in a multi-university event called the Twitter Scavenger Hunt.

The official rules are simple. Students send out 10 tweets about 10 topics that vary from school spirit to little known facts about their university.

Each tweet issued for this assignment has the hashtag #JRLWeb attached to it. Some professors also include a hashtag dedicated to their class; Dr. Groves used #221writers.

After students have completed their tweets, they begin to interact with students from other universities using #JRLWeb with questions and replies. Once the students complete the scavenger hunt, they take to Storify to compile their tweets on a single webpage.

Storify, a free online tool, allows students to search for hashtags and to drag and drop them to embed them into their story. (Check out the compilation from Drury students Danielle and Sean.)

Using #JRLWeb and #221writers, Dr. Groves’ students took to the Web interacting and socializing with student from as close as Memphis and as far away as Cairo, Egypt.

But the question still remains: Why Twitter?

Dr. Groves (@grovesprof) is an avid Twitter user. Describing it as the Wild West of social networking, he argues that Twitter has developed itself into a league of its own. Being used for business, advertising, connecting both professionally and personally, and empowering social movements, Twitter is quickly become a platform for journalism and writing, Dr. Groves says.

He adds:

Today’s content creators must understand Twitter and its place in the media landscape. It’s a critical piece of the today’s mass-communication puzzle.

Twitter allows information to emerge from the mass of tweets, a phenomenon researcher Alfred Hermida (@hermidacalls “ambient journalism.”  Tweeting spreads on-the-ground reports quickly from journalists and nonjournalists alike. Dr. Groves points to the 2009 Iranian protests where local tweets from nonjournalists using the #iranelection hashtag helped give the rest of the world a view of what was happening in the closed society. The more individuals tweeting about a certain situation and providing information allows for on-the-fly verification and validation of information.

Dr. Groves’ love for Twitter and all things tech pushes him to bring the social network into his classroom. Learning how to use social sites such as Twitter  allow students the chance to connect with others in their neighborhood and across the world.

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