Fast and effective communication are distinctly different. During my MBA studies I had access to new communication electronic channels to faculty and students. Rather than making time to meet with a professor or other students I email them. But when I write an email the context of the message is slightly lost. In practice concepts are reduced to short quips. Complex arguments are both true and false at the same time unless care is used to deeply understand nuances; and few writers show both sides of an argument succinctly. Hence interactive technology, social media, would seem to be well positioned to take education by storm.
Alas, the thing makes interaction such a great teaching tool appears to scare administrators. Anything that could be used in an unflattering light is verboten. So very few faculty members are willing to embrace blogs. Fewer still make time for chat rooms, bulletin boards or anything that resembles sharing of ideas. In short very few faculty members TRUST that their good intentions will simply be taken as a good intention.
The ease and speed of electronic communication has led to less access to faculty for me. A typical faculty belief: want to reach me, email me. That way I can respond in my time, when I feel up for it.
Rather than starting from a compromise where two individuals make an effort to communicate we are left with two one-sided discussions.
So, for all the promise of social media, the reality is disappointing. It has disengaged interaction; as the implementation of social media technology saves time for the individual in the short term. Coming from that mindset, it makes sense social media has disengaged civic engagement. This is not the fault of the social media, but the users of media. We don’t let kids drive without teaching them the dangers of speeding. Similarly the dangers and benefits of social media need to be taught so social media becomes a tool rather than liability.