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On Facebook, Video and Attention
March 31, 2010 - 8:51pm

The News Feed on my Facebook account just popped up a notice: "On Leadership: Dartmouth College president and public-health leader Dr. Jim Yong Kim on discovering his own identity while bringing health care to the poor."

You can see the video here, or go check out the Dartmouth Facebook page.

The thing is, I clicked on the video. In a typical day we all receive way too many invitations for our attention than we can accept. The amount of media and text vying for attention, delivered to us by our social media channels, e-mail, RSS readers and twitter is truly overwhelming. And yet, I almost immediately decided to watch this video.

You should check it out also - as Dr. Kim has some very insightful and surprising things to say about leadership.

But I'm mostly interested in how this video got my attention, and what this says about the power of social media and video. I watched this video because I was interested in the speaker and the topic - but also because I knew I could digest this in a 5 minute chunk. A link away from my Facebook feed made it very easy to watch.

One of the trends that I've been grappling with is the degree to which we need to and should be competing for our students' attention. If I'm wrong that the burden is on us as educators to compete for their brain space than I'd like to hear about it. We want our students to get as excited as us about the academic topics and knowledge that we are passionate about. If I'm teaching a course about the sociology of social media my hope is that I can find ways to continually engage the students on the topic.

Perhaps we can learn from the video above as one way to extend our reach. How much more work would it be for faculty to regularly record short, 5 minute videos on particular topics, facts, or theories. To tell some good academic stories. A webcam and a YouTube account is all one would need. The videos can be posted to a class twitter hashtag and appear in the Facebook newsfeed for all of our students. Some would watch, some would not - but this would be another way to share our ideas and academic excitement. The end goal, I'd think, is to have our students create their own 5 minute academic videos and share them with the class and the world.

Are you experimenting with video and social media to find new ways to reach your students?


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