Photo courtesy Ally Karsyn, Sioux City Journal
Kristen Perez, chair of the Department of Digital Media at BCU, frequently uses Facebook and Twitter as a teaching tool with her students.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Kristen Perez used to avoid friending her students on Facebook. Only after graduation would they be rewarded with access to their professor’s profile.
It was one way to separate her personal and professional lives, but now, if she gets a Facebook friend request from a familiar face in her class, she’s likely to accept.
Overall, social media has just changed so much. Facebook, for example, my students are friends with their parents and grandparents. There’s not that separation that there used to be.
—Kristen Perez, chair, Department of Digital Media at BCU
She doesn’t see the harm. She posts like a pro. There’s no incriminating information on her end – just a steady stream of photos of her two daughters whose smiling faces also brighten her office at Briar Cliff University.
“Overall, social media has just changed so much. Facebook, for example, my students are friends with their parents and grandparents. There’s not that separation that there used to be. Your ‘friends’ aren’t just your friends anymore. Maybe it’s your boss or, in my case, your professor,” she said. “It’s kind of nonissue for me now.”
At the college level, social media use is largely left up to the preference of each professor.
Perez, who chairs the digital media department at Briar Cliff, can’t get away from it. She frequently relies on Facebook and Twitter as a teaching tool. This school year, she’s hoping to venture into Instagram and Snapchat, going where the students are.
Those ages 18 to 29 have always been the most likely users of social media by a considerable margin. Today, 90 percent of young adults use social media, compared with 12 percent in 2005, according to the Pew Research Center.
Perez’s students might be “digital natives,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean they know how to properly use the technology they’ve grown up with.
Encouraging them to use online platforms more professionally, every year, she assigns a Twitter scavenger hunt in her social media class. Students are given a list of seven to 10 things that they need to write about in 140 characters or less and post to Twitter using #bcumcom407. “They’re graded not only on if they’re posting but the quality of their posts,” she said.
After students posted their content to Twitter, Perez reviewed everything by searching for #bcumcom407 and led class a discussion, talking about what makes a good tweet, covering everything from capitalization and punctuation to typos and blurry photos.