Hamad’s 3 Project Abstracts

  1. Sociology Inter-textbook: In an effort to diminish the power of heavy and pricy textbooks in an intro class, I propose an online ‘inter-textbook’. Students will use the Internet’s many ‘texts’ (written, pictures, videos, audio, games) to create their own chapters on a very large online cork board-type space (pinterest?). As the professor, I would provide lots of structure, like taking the main concepts found in one textbook chapter and setting them up on the board in a logical manner, and guiding the students to figure out what is a good source and what is an unreliable source of information. The students will then post (under their assigned concept) any relevant texts that provide the definition of the concept, examples of the concept, people associated with the concept, etc, with a brief explanation of what the post is and how it relates to the concept. Students will also be required to comment upon and question the postings of other students and thereby engage in a dialogue about their interpretation of the concepts. To make this as close to a traditional textbook as possible, the questions on any quizzes or tests will relate directly back to the boards they create. In short, I envision this as a space for students to create their own chapters, still working with the concepts that any traditional textbook would contain, but making it their own by posting texts that make sense of the ideas to them and engaging with other students about the validity of their sources and the level of understanding they have about the concepts. Class time would be used to go over the board the students have created during the week and fill in any gaps or correct any inaccurate information.
  2. Culture-jamming/Meme-building: Applying sociological concepts to everyday activities and messages is one of the hardest skills to instill in intro level students. I’ve been thinking about how students can use the everyday material that is presented to them online and remix it to create sociologically relevant messages. ‘Culture-jamming’ is a a technique used by activists who engage with mainstream messages (especially advertisements), point out the fallacies inherent in those messages, and sometimes change the script of those messages to relay the truth about a specific product or service – a popular example is when Adbusters took existing tobacco and alcohol ads and remixed them to convey messages about the deleterious health consequences of using those products. ‘Memes’ are continuously reproduced cultural messages, usually visual in nature with some changeable text, that are usually found on social media sites. Memes are also a highly effective way of learning and reproducing the transient cultural norms of the time. Students in an intro level sociology class will learn how to build memes, and produce sociologically relevant memes to spread on social media sites. Each week, students (working in teams) will look for memes relevant to the topic of the week and tweak (jam) it to convey a sociological message instead. In class, teams will present their memes, and the class will vote for the ‘Best Meme’ prize. The winning team’s meme will then be spread around by all students on their social media networks. At the next class, students will reflect on any feedback or responses they receive about the meme from their social networks, and how they responded to those reactions.
  3. What Would Marx Tweet?: In an effort to include students in the ongoing online cultural conversations on topics like race, gender, inequality, education, etc., I want to scaffold intro students into such conversations as informed and engaged participants with a defined perspective. The aim of this project is to have students use Twitter to tweet a series of messages they think their assigned social thinker would say about the world today. Since this will be for an intro class, students will use the topic they are reading about that week and create a series of tweets (4-5 per week) that uses the concepts learned that week to their everyday life. To give the students a sense of perspective, the instructor will assign prominent social theorists to students, and the students will combine their knowledge of the work of the assigned social theorist/perspective and the concepts of the week to come up with appropriate tweets. Later on in the semester, students will also be required to engage with other students’ tweets and start a conversation or debate on the topic (which will inevitable be based on the perspective they are assigned). Toward the end of the semester, students will also be required to engage in ongoing Twitter conversations that is also connected to the topic they would study during that week (the instructor will identify and assign these conversations to groups of students). Students will be required to use class-specific hashtags (#marx, #introsoc, #race) to track conversations between themselves as well as make it easier for the instructor to track the work students are doing.

2 thoughts on “Hamad’s 3 Project Abstracts

  1. Hamad Sindhi Post author

    @Maura A. Smale – Hi Maura, for #1 – this was partly the reason I went to the OER talk, and though I got a lot out of the presentations, I did not notice any examples for building a student-led OER resource. I’ve been looking into Pinterest and Mural.ly, which seem promising, but am not sure they can support all the features I would need (especially commenting on posts made by fellow students). In terms of adding users, Mural.ly seems better, as they let you have 50 ‘collaborators’ on a project. So at this point, I’m wondering if it would be better to go with an already existing platform or think about making my own.

    And, thanks for suggesting that I look for how other instructors have used Twitter and other social media in class. I’ve already googled this and am reading about some amazing experiences with these technologies.

  2. Maura A. Smale (she/her)

    Hi Hamad, for your #1 idea, have you thought about platforms yet? In some ways introducing students into this project adds another technical dimension, as there’s now a group of users to consider when figuring out how content will be added (as opposed to just you or other professors).

    Your #2 and #3 are definitely of the moment, and I wonder whether there are examples you can draw from to guide your planning? Twitter can sometimes be difficult to search, but often when instructors try new pedagogical uses of technology like this they’ll blog about it, so an internet search might help turn up useful models.

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