Facebook in the classroom: How can we effectively use social media to teach?

I’ve talked about facebook in the classroom before, as a way to provide funny snipets of history from historical figures.  I wanted to try to find a way to integrate the social media that students (and myself!) use on an almost every day basis into the classroom as a teaching/learning tool.

As an optional extra credit homework assignment (full assignment and rubric available here) I challenged students to think creatively as an historical figure.  Their assignment was:

1. Chose a historical figure that we have studied or a person from one of the civilizations we have covered in this class.

not an accurate representation of me

2. Create a profile page for this character.

3. The next page has a checklist of all the information that must be included.  Use this sheet to complete your research before you begin constructing the page and finding pictures. Make sure you check off each item as you do it to get full credit!

4. This page does not literally have to be an online account.  You can produce a mock-up through Word, Photoshop, Powerpoint, or with magic markers or colored pencils depending on your level of creativity.

5. This assignment does require research.  You may use your textbook or other academic books.  You may go online to find information, but please remember that WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A VALID SOURCE.  NEITHER ARE NON-ACADEMIC WEBPAGES.  If you are unclear on what an “academic webpage” is email me.  Use websites with .edu or.gov for valid information.

6. You must, as always, properly cite your sources and include a works cited page.  I prefer footnotes for this assignment since it needs to be aesthetically pleasing.  Since this assignment requires more research I expect your citations to be correct.  If you have questions, email me or visit the writing center.

7. To get full credit you must have information for every category listed below.  This may require you to be creative but also be historically accurate.

8. Extra extra credit (1 point each):

  • Prepare a presentation for the class on your historical figure, your page, and your process of creating this page for an extra point.
  • Create an actual facebook page published using the information you have compiled here.
Students then had to fill in the worksheet with the following information:

Since this was an optional homework assignment for extra credit it did involve a lot more work and research than previous projects.  I wasn’t sure how students would react, or how many would take the time  and effort to fully develop the assignment.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have as many students participate in this as I would have liked!  In the future I hope to make this a required homework assignment instead of extra credit.

One creative idea was to do a page for Cleopatra using the Shakespearean play for the wall facts and conversations among the Pharaoh and her lovers.

I also had another Cleopatra, Achilles, and Jesus. Surprisingly, they all love watching Ancient Aliens!  Clever, students. Very clever.

Achilles’ page was great.  He has some pretty awesome lines; his last status update was, “taking a dip in the Styx River!”  This was after he met with Homer to give him some info on the Illiad and complained that Lycomedes made him dress like a girl.  His interests include working out, sailing, and traveling, while his favorite movies are 300 and Antigone.  Also, for all you Achilles stalkers, he lives at 1345 Hellenistic Drive, Athens, Greece.

My second Cleopatra got very creative, as well.  Her last status was, “…will not let Rome control me!  My Antony is dead and I can not live without him!” dated 30 B.C.E.   Her relationship is “It’s complicated” with Julius Caesar.  Her statuses also complain about having to marry her brother Ptolemy XIII, but she is quite happy to take the throne and rule Egypt.

She also talks about running off to learn Egyptian language and culture to try to gain respect of Egyptians.  Her favorite music includes the sistrum and Walk Like an Egyptian, and she enjoys watching the Style network.  And for any Cleopatra stalkers, you can email her at isislover@ptolemy.com   Her political view is divine rule, and she included several pictures of herself on her facebook page.  She included photos from Egyptian papyrus, Renaissance paintings, 1920s film, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, Kim Kardashian as Cleopatra, Angelina Jolie as Cleopatra, and also a Greek bust and a coin that may show the “real” Cleopatra.   Another album was also posted of herself and her Ptolemy family members.

My students used (for the most part) valid educational websites or books for this research project.  It seems that they enjoyed themselves and the opportunity to be creative in a history class, which may not always be the case.

It also seems that the students learned quite a bit from this project.  Not only did students learn a lot about a specific person from history (or mythology), but they also learned a lot about creative thinking, the historical context and the world of that person, and how to do proper research and citations.

Have any of you used Facebook in the classroom, or other social media?  How can it be used effectively?  I encourage you to try this with your students either as an extra credit assignment or as an alternative homework assignment.  I believe in my future classes it will be a very beneficial learning tool.

Helpful links and information

Since I’ve been on vacation the past week and am in the process of moving, this post will be rather short but hopefully informative and helpful!

I compiled this list  of links for museum professionals over the summer, and I hope it helps others out there like me!  This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but there is still some great information listed here.

If you have any comments or additions to the list, please comment or email me.

  1. CT Humanities Council
  2. Musematic – museums and technology
  3. National Trust Historic Sites – news, activities and ideas
  4. Preservation Nation
  5. Gozaic
  6. The Attic – The virtual home of the School of Museum Studies’ research students, University of Leicester, UK
  7. Electronic museum
  8. Global museum twitter
  9. Global museum on facebook
  10. Global museum
  11. Museum 2.0– Nina Simon’s blog
  12. Dan Zarrella – Social media specialist
  13. Museum Audience Insights
  14. Sustainable Museums Blog
  15. Archaeology, Museums, and Outreach
  16. Museum Employment Resource Center
  17. Museum Professionals.org
  18. Museum Market
  19. Museum Job Resources Online
  20. Mountain-Plains Museums Association – museums in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming
  21. Left Coast Presspublisher of academic and professional materials in the humanities, social sciences, and related professional discipline
  22. Musejobs on Yahoo
  23. TN Association of Museums
  24. American Association for State and Local History
  25. Association of Science – Technology Centers
  26. The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums
  27. National Council on Public History
  28. Southeastern Museums Conference
  29. American Association of Museums
  30. AAM Professional Development
  31. University of Leicester Jobs Desk
  32. Smithsonian’s Museum Studies Resource Page – excellent!
  33. Museum Blogs
  34. Tenement Museum’s Blog – excellent examples of community involvement and participatory education
  35. MuseumsWiki
  36. Museum Blog Directory
  37. Museum Strategy – cultural communication
  38. The Uncatalogued Museum
  39. Museum Virtual Worlds
  40. Exhibit Files
  41. Museopunk
  42. Center for the Future of Museums
  43. National Park Service

Musing on Chucalissa

Today was my last day at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa

Having spent the last year at the museum, I’ve had really strong feelings about leaving it.  I started as an intern last summer, ended up accepting a position as a graduate assistant there, then continued this summer after my graduation as a temporary employee.  As I prepare to leave Memphis for Murfreesboro and the PhD program, I’m leaving behind this great museum and taking with me so many awesome memories, great experiences, and incredible lessons.

After a year of hard work at the museum, I actually feel like I have accomplished something.  Some of you who work in museums may not often get to experience that feeling.  Chucalissa is definitely moving in the right directions under the supervision of Dr. Robert Connolly and

Rachael and I make a stop at Lambert's while on our museum field trip

Rachael South, and I feel like I was very lucky to be a part of those changes.

In addition to general daily museum operations, I spent most of my time at the museum working on educational programming using artifacts with no known provenience and working to improve our teacher information packets.   I definitely benefited from these experiences, and I like to think that the museum did as well.

There was also a fair amount of time spent promoting the museum with videos, such as the one about our musical instruments that Sam and I improvised on a cold, slow, January day, as well as the Relic Run documentary, and the video featuring Sonny Bell and the pow wow drum.  Now I’m just getting nostaligic!

Even though I did accomplish a lot in my time at Chucalissa, I can’t help but feel like there is still so much to do.  I hope to return to the museum to complete my PhD Residency, as soon as I finish my coursework at MTSU.  I left just an hour ago, and I already can’t wait to get back to the museum, the projects, and the people who work there!

I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now without the help of all of the employees, especially my professor/advisor/boss and the director of the museum, Dr. Connolly (insert shameless promotion of his blog here).  He has been a great mentor to me, and I look forward to working with him more in the future. Rachael,the administrative assistant, has also been an essential part of life the past year, and I would probably have lost my mind by now without her.

Not just wolves, but all manner of critters!

The day ended appropriately enough with Natalye buying me the obligatory Chucalissa wolf shirt (much appreciated!).

I also bought myself Nina Simon’s Participatory Museum, which I hope to read before classes start, and post more about here.

So long for now, Chucalissa, with your “hut”-less earthworks complex and NAGPRA compliant exhibits!  I’ll miss you, but I’ll be back to visit and see the improvements as they occur!

Beginning the process…

Well, the time has come for me to launch my very own professional blog and website!

I realized that once I am no longer a temporary employee of the University of Memphis (next month), I won’t have the ability to host my portfolio on their network anymore.  Additionally, I have a lot to say about museums, public history, informal learning, and so many other topics that having a blog where I can express my ideas was the next logical step.

On this website, you will find information about my work in museums, historical organizations, the museum studies program at the University of Memphis as well as samples of my work from these institutions.

Please feel free to comment on my blogs or pages, and if you have any questions, you can email me at mkatestringer@gmail.com or through this webpage.

I plan to update regularly as my portfolio grows and as I learn more about public history as a PhD student at Middle Tennessee State University beginning this fall!

Happy Reading!