Is the Founder of The Veritas Forum Behind an Anti-Muslim Facebook Campaign?

Jullberg

What is going on with Kelly Monroe Kullberg, the founder of the Veritas Forum?  Here is a taste of Asysha Kahn’s piece at Religion News Service:

Fact-checking website Snopes linked the network to Kelly Monroe Kullberg, the founder and president of The America Conservancy, whose aims, as Kullberg has described online, are “advancing Biblical wisdom as the highest love for people and for culture.” All 24 Facebook pages had financial ties to Kullberg directly or organizations she helps lead.

Posts on the network decry “Islamist Privilege and Sharia Supremacy” and claim that Islam is “not a religion”; that Islam promotes rape, murder and deception; that Muslims hate Christians and Jews; that Muslims have an agenda to “spread Sharia law and Islam through migration and reproduction”; and that resettling Muslim refugees is “cultural destruction and subjugation.”

The tactics seem to mirror the playbook of Russian troll farms, with page titles purporting to originate with diverse demographic groups like “Blacks for Trump,” “Catholics for Trump,” “Teachers for Trump” and “Seniors for America.”

Snopes found that Kullberg and her associates’ agenda appeared, at least in part, to be working to re-elect President Donald Trump in 2020. The “astroturfing” campaign — referring to efforts made to look as if they come from legitimate grassroots supporters — was at least in part funded by right-wing political donors, including a prominent GOP donor who served as a fundraiser and campaign board member for 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson.

I was happy to contribute to the Khan’s report:

“If you would have told me about this investigation 20 years ago I would have been very surprised,” said John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College and author of the book “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.” But given Kullberg’s more recent politics, he said, it’s hardly shocking.

Once a mainstream evangelical Christian figure, Kullberg is the founder of the The Veritas Forum, a prominent non-profit organization that partners with Christian college students to host discussions on campus about faith. The discussions attract non-evangelical, non-Christian and secular speakers as well as leading mainstream evangelical voices.

Her 1996 book “Finding God at Harvard: Spiritual Journeys of Thinking Christians” topped bestseller lists. Now based in Columbus, Ohio, she has served as a chaplain to the Harvard Graduate School Christian Fellowship and spent time as a missionary in Russia and several Latin American countries.

Most recently, Kullberg appears to have shifted further right politically, taking what Fea described as a “pro-Trump, Christian Right, culture war posture” laced with anti-social justice rhetoric. The American Association of Evangelicals, for which Kullberg is the founder and spokeswoman, is “essentially a Christian Right organization whose supporters read like a list of evangelical leaders who have thrown their support behind Donald Trump as a savior of the country and the church,” he said.

“She seems obsessed with the influence of George Soros on progressive evangelicals and believes that social justice warriors have hijacked the Gospel,” Fea noted.

Read the entire piece here.

While running the Veritas Forum, Kullberg worked with Christian speakers such as Francis Collins, Robert George, Os Guinness, Tim Keller, Peter Kreeft, Madeleine L’Engle, George Marsden, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Alister McGrath, Richard John Neuhaus, Alvin Plantinga, John Polkinghorne, Dallas Willard, Lauren Winner, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and N.T. Wright.  She put some of these speakers into dialogue with the likes of Anthony Flew, Christopher Hitchens, Nicholas Kristof, Steven Pinker, and Peter Singer.

In her new role with the “The American Association of Evangelicals” she works with court evangelicals and pro-Trump evangelicals such as Eric Metaxas, James Garlow,  Everett Piper, Tim Wildmon, Wayne Grudem, Steve Strang, David Barton, and Lance Wallnau (the Trump prayer coin guy).

The divisions in American evangelicalism are widening.   The American Association of Evangelicals (AAE) is now the conservative, Christian Right alternative to The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Here is how it understands its relationship to the NAE:

Kullberg is also a leader with Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration (EBI) a more conservative evangelical immigration group that appears to be an alternative to the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT).  While the EBI includes many of the culture warriors I mentioned above, the EIT includes people like Leith Anderson (President of the NAE), Shirley Hoogstra (President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities), and Russell Moore (President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission).

New alignments are forming.  Evangelicalism is changing and fracturing.

Facebook as a Source of Civil Dialogue

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Everyone uses Facebook in different ways.  I initially tried to use my Facebook page as a place to share photos and stories about my kids and family, but in the last year or so it has become more of a site for conversation about history, religion, politics, and other things I write about here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  That is fine.  I welcome the conversation.  I even enjoy it and learn a great deal from it.  I will probably just form a new FB page at some point where I will share about more personal matters.

(I should also add that not everything I write on the blog makes it to the FB page. I only post selective highlights from the daily posts at the blog).

At the current moment my FB page includes all kinds of people with opinions.  Some of those opinions are quite strong.  There are people who contribute to the conversation who did not go to college. There are people with Ph.Ds.  There are working-class people and white collar workers.  There are people who represent all religious faiths and no religious faith at all.   There are pastors and laypeople and academics and students. There are men and women and people of all races and ethnic groups.  There are liberals and conservatives.  You get the idea.

With this in mind, let me say a couple of things about the discourse that happens at the FB page:

First, keep it civil. Remember, it is my Facebook page.  If you can’t argue in a civil way I will “unfriend” you.  If you don’t like the community I am trying to create at the page and through the blog you are more than welcome to find an online community you like better.  I am not interested in growing my number of FB friends.  I am interested in engaging with thoughtful people who can teach me things, challenge me, and make me consider different ways to think about the world.  If that community is small, so be it.

Second, if you are part of my tribe of evangelical Christians, I want to encourage you to understand the community of people you are entering when you write on the page. Please do not write as if you are speaking to people in the church.  You are not.  Don’t assume that the people who participate on the page share your religious and theological convictions.  If you are going to argue based on Christian ideals or the Bible (which is perfectly acceptable), identify yourself in that way, but also realize that others who do not share your presuppositions may also want to contribute to the debate.  Be careful about getting too preachy.  Let me encourage you to use the page as a place to work on how to bring your faith to bear on public life and to strengthen your ability to dialogue in a respectable way in a forum where not everyone shares your view of the world.  We evangelicals need to get better at doing this.

Third, if you are an intellectual, an academic, a Ph.D, a self-professed cosmopolitan, etc… please use this site as a place where you can sharpen your skills at speaking to public audiences and people who may not share your view of the world.  In other words, the same thing I just said to the members of my evangelical tribe apply to you.  Try not to be condescending.  If your ideas are indeed true, then you should be able to communicate them in a way that makes sense to all kinds of people without deriding them.

Of course I need to take all of this into consideration as well.  Let me also add that I am not trying to stymie good argument and conversation.  Rather, I am hoping to encourage dialogue among the diverse range of people who read the feed.  I should also say that I have a lot of specific people in mind here, but I am not writing this in response to any one specific incident.  I have been pondering a post like this for a long time.

I should also say that most people–the overwhelming majority– who write on this page are very thoughtful and respectful. What I am writing here does not apply to them.  I am very pleased with the conversation that takes place, but lately there have been a few cases that have caused me to worry that such good conversation might be derailed.

Thanks for reading.

Should Young Academics Be On Twitter?

f91dc-twitterOliver Bateman, a historian and journalist, explores this question over at The Atlantic.

Here is a taste:

Scholarly research has lent credence to anecdotal claims about social media’s growing importance as a networking tool for academics at all stages of their careers. In a 2012 paper that represented one of the first systematic studies of social media’s impact on academia, George Veletsianos, a professor at Royal Roads University in British Columbia, analyzed the usage patterns of academics. He concluded that “the participation observed on Twitter presents opportunities for … scholarly growth and reflection,” though it was still too early to make a definitive statement about what that might entail. (He also noted, rather tellingly, that “online practices may not be valued or understood by peers and academic institutions even though scholars themselves may have found scholarly value in participating in online spaces.”)

Four years later, the researchers Charles Knight and Linda Kaye evaluated the social-media practices of academics at a large university, determining that these academics’ “use of the [Twitter] platform for enhancing reputation is an implied acknowledgement of the importance of research within higher education and the increasingly public engagement agenda.” Professors on the campus they studied were far more likely to use Twitter for this purpose than they were for pedagogical reasons: “Academics want to use Twitter to inform the wider community of their activities rather than engage their students.” Networking, it seems, is one of social media’s principal purposes for those in academia.  

“Twitter is great for academic networking, because it can be an awesome way for introverts and people who aren’t already in close proximity with the people they want to talk with to start building genuine relationships,” said Jennifer Polk, a friend and academic and career coach who runs the From PhD to Life website. “Of course, it’s all public [unless you adjust your security settings], so you should be professional—whatever that means in your field. And I recognize that in this context, ‘professional’ is a loaded term.”

Read the rest here.

I think Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other social media sites are great resources for networking, sharing ideas, and raising questions.  (Perhaps this is simply stating the obvious at this point in my career). Graduate students and young academics should be using them for these purposes.

But I also think graduate students and young academics should always remember that while social media is a very democratic space, academia is not.  Academic life, in order to function properly, must have some degree of hierarchy based on expertise and experience.  In other words, a young scholar who submits a journal article or book for review will inevitably have a senior scholar evaluate the manuscript and make a decision on it.  Senior scholars at colleges universities will often have a lot to say about who gets hired in their departments.  In the course of searches for academic appointments and fellowships that have residency requirements, the search committee will often contact outside scholars who might be familiar with the candidate’s work and sense of collegiality.  And yes, I have been asked about a job or fellowship candidate’s sense of collegiality based on their social media presence.  It has actually happened more than once.

I entertain several of these requests a month.  I have even been in a position where a person argued with me on Twitter in a very unprofessional way and then applied for a job in my history department.  When I saw the application I went back to review the series of tweets this person had written, but they were deleted.  This person did not get the job.  There were stronger applicants in the pool that better served the needs of our department.  But I would be lying if I said that this Twitter exchange did not influence the way I thought about this person’s application. And I can tell a host of other stories like this from other committees on which I have served.

In the best of all possible worlds, decisions about publishing and teaching jobs should be made entirely on the merits of a candidate’s scholarship or teaching, but we do not live in the best of all possible worlds.  Young academics should have this in mind whenever they tweet or post.  I am often amazed when I see graduate students picking fights on Twitter or Facebook with senior people who one day might have to make a decision about the course of their future career.  Hopefully, for the sake of the candidate, that senior scholar will lay aside their memory of these social media exchanges and judge the candidate on the merits of their work.  But to do so requires a superior degree of discipline and professionalism.

Who Do You Hang Out With? (On Facebook)

f15c5-facebookshirtI was recently a guest on a Messiah College web show called “Breaks.” (The show will drop in a couple of weeks). The topic was technology and politics.  One of the things we discussed on the program was how we tend to only “follow” and “friend” people on social media who share our political convictions.  I argued that such political silos are not good for our democracy since they are not conducive to understanding those with whom we differ.

I thought about my appearance on this show when I read my friend Scott Huelin’s proposed social experiment for Facebook users.

Here it is:

Go to Donald Trump’s page and see how many friends like it, go to Hillary Clinton’s page and see how many friends like it, and then go to Gary Johnson’s page and see how many friends like it. Then, copy and share.

I decided to play along. (I also added Jill Stein and Evan McMullin to my list).  The results:

Hillary Clinton: 44

Gary Johnson: 25

Donald Trump: 20

Jill Stein: 9

Evan McMullin: 9

How politically diverse is your Facebook feed?

Why Historians Should Consider Facebook and Twitter

Every now and then a post like this appears somewhere on-line.  Here are a few examples:

All of these posts (and others like them) provide very solid reasons for why academic and professional historians should use Facebook and Twitter.  I recommend reading them whenever they appear.
But let me offer a slightly different perspective.
When academic historians write and talk about using social media the conversation is always limited by the boundaries of the profession.  Social media can help historians network.  Social media can help historians share their work.  Social media can help historians share resources (usually in the form of links) with other historians.  All of this assumes that the people we follow or “friend,” and the people who follow and friend us, are all academic or professional historians.
My approach to social media has been different in the sense that I have not separated my professional life from certain aspects of my personal life.  Yes, there should be boundaries between the two and I have tried to keep them.  But people who follow me on Facebook or Twitter will also have to deal with the occasional (or not so occasional) photo of my family, a post on the New York Mets, or the latest fan-boy commentary on Bruce Springsteen.  I tend to approach life in an integrated fashion–perhaps to a fault.
The people who follow me on social media are very diverse.  I have conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, evangelical Christians and atheists, academics and aunts and uncles, Mets fans and Yankee fans, and everyone in-between.  I like it this way.  
Sometimes we argue on Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes my liberal friends are shocked by the comments that appear on my feed.  Sometimes my conservative friends feel the same way. I prefer such diversity over the posts I read on many Facebook or Twitter accounts where all of those contributing to the conversation are of one ideological bent.  
Are you on social media?  How diverse is your following or list of “friends?”  Or do you find yourself preaching to the choir with every post or tweet?  
OK–back to historians.  As someone who wants to write for public audiences through blogging and other popular outlets, I love social media because I get to see what a diverse group of people are thinking about and how they are responding to the ever-changing world around them. The conversations that happen on social media–either on my sites or the sites of others–fuel my writing and provide me with ideas.   Sometimes it is less about posting and more about sitting back and reading the posts of others.
So join the conversation at Facebook or @johnfea1. Or perhaps open a Twitter or Facebook account of your own.

One more thing:  Those of us trying to provide bring solid content to social media outlets always prefer “retweets” over “favorites” on Twitter and “shares” to “likes” on Facebook

Raul Pacheco-Vega on Social Media in the Academy

Check out Melonie Fullick’s interview with Raul Pacheco-Vega, a political scientist who teaches in both Mexico and Canada, on his use of social media.  Here is a taste:

Melonie Fullick: You’re part of a relatively small but growing group of academics who have been very successful at integrating social media use into professional activities, while maintaining well-rounded academic careers. Could you discuss how you started out on this path, how you began using these media/technologies as a part of your scholarly engagement and career development? 

Raul Pacheco-Vega: Before I started using social media, I thought the one and only goal of academic life was to produce papers where I documented my research. I come from a pretty traditional family of academics (two of my brothers, as well as my mom, have PhDs and we are all professors). As it turns out, I straddled two countries (Canada and Mexico) back and forth for so long that I decided to start writing a personal blog as a way to communicate friends from one country what I was up to in the other one. I ended up with a pretty popular personal blog within a year, and by then I had already joined Twitter. So, during the course of the past six years, I have experimented with, tested and consulted on implementing social media tools. Admittedly, I started by serendipity, but I now realize how useful using social media has been for my academic progress. 

Melonie Fullick: Do you have a “philosophy” of social media use or for engagement/communication overall, particularly in the university/academic context? How does this inform your practice? 

Raul Pacheco-Vega: I’m an old-fashioned guy when it comes to social media (and yes I know social media is very new). By old-fashioned I mean, I prefer to use the “old school” way of thinking: I believe that Web 2.0 and social media are intended for interaction, so I refuse to use social media just for broadcasting. I engage with my followers, and try to respond to every @ mention I receive. This is extremely time consuming, admittedly, but I book time for social media the same way I book time for writing.

I have extensively used social media in the classroom and managed to convert some of my students to “the ways of social media” by demonstrating how useful it was to engage on social platforms, to discuss issues with me and with the larger public, to learn from others, etc.

I have given many talks, led many workshops on how academics should use social media, and the biggest challenge I face is answering the question “how will I find time to engage in social media if I don’t even have time to write academic papers”? I have found that even for my own research, social media (my followers on all of my social platforms) has been useful, in finding new scholarship, in discussing new ideas, in sharing my own research output, etc. So I created a handy guide on how academics should use social media. It’s not the “end of it all,” but it provides some guidelines on why and how to use it for academia.

I also have blogged extensively about best practices. It’s sometimes a bit tempting to continue writing about this, but the truth is: I’m a specialist in comparative public policy. I’m not a scholar of higher education nor of social media. So, I sometimes refrain from writing too much about social media on my blog. Still, here is one of my most popular posts: “Best practices using Twitter and Facebook in teaching and higher education.”
I also use my blog to engage with my students, not only by providing them with guidelines on how to use social media successfully, but also to discuss academic issues. My guidelines are here: “An undergraduate student’s guide to Twitter in higher education.”

And an example of how we discuss issues is here: “The challenge of thinking comparatively in cross-national public policy analysis.”

Are You on the Job Market? Think Hard About Your Web Presence

In this day and age many academic job seekers are wondering how much of a web or social media presence they should have when they are on the market.

As someone who has served on several search committees, I would advise job seekers to think about having a presence online, but to do so with caution.  Ramp up the privacy controls on your Facebook account.  Enhance your Linkedin page to highlight your academic connections.  Be very careful about what you write on your blog so that your opinions do not alienate anyone on the search committee. 

If you do have a website or a blog, it should focus on scholarship and teaching.  Stay away from politics, your favorite music groups, your desire for a writing shed in your backyard, or your pets.  A blog or website can be a great place to display your vita and give a committee a sense of your research.

Jentery Sayers, writing at ProfHacker, wonders why more job candidates don’t have websites.  She weighs the pros and cons of having a web presence while on the market.  Here, according to Sayers, are some of the pros:

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had my own website since 2003, about a year or so before I started graduate school in 2004. As I was preparing for the job market, I decided to revise the content of my site from its status as an occasionally updated blog to a more professional academic site, including my bio, CV, teaching philosophy, and portfolio. As such, many of the perks mentioned below emerge from my own experiences and biases in the humanities. I should also mention that I have never served on an academic job search committee.

When people ask me why bother with a dedicated site, my first response is usually that it allows me to document and exhibit the work—or better yet, the processes—involved in what’s ultimately presented as my CV. That is, a website is not only less formal (or less standardized) than a CV; it can also be a portfolio for “middle-state publishing,” described by The New EverydayKari Kraus, for drawing my attention to this term.) For example, you may be working on a digital project, a static glimpse of which you want to share without offering audiences full access. In your portfolio, you could provide a screenshot of the project, together with an abstract and/or a development timeline. As another example, you might wish to include photos, videos, or audio recordings of you teaching a course or a workshop. Such use of evidence could reinforce claims made in the teaching philosophy you send to search committees… MediaCommons project as “a web publication that exists ‘between a blog and a journal.’” (Thank you,

 Some other perks to having your own site during the job search include:

  • Sharing your work with audiences you may not expect (e.g., those who stumble upon your site through Google or Bing),
  • Constructing a well-organized database of your work that exceeds your own memory, or a database that can be searched when you cannot recall dates, titles, locations, and other details,
  • Learning enough about e-portfolios and websites that you can help students and colleagues do the same,
  • Sending a URL (instead of DVD or CD) when a portfolio or evidence of digital research is requested, and
  • Letting the site grow with your career, or adding material after the job search is finished, in order to keep colleagues up-to-date about your work.

Conversation in an Age of Online Chat

When I was writing The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America, I spent a lot of time reading about the eighteenth-century idea of “conversation.” Philip Vickers Fithian spent a lot of time conversing with his various friends and relations.  Such conversation usually focused on the latest popular novel, some aspect of moral philosophy, or a theological topic.  The ultimate end of conversation was the self-improvement of the participants. What struck me most was that this kind of conversation was happening in the remote and rural confines of eighteenth-century New Jersey.  It was indeed a “rural Enlightenment.”

The editors of the web magazine N+1 describe early modern conversation as “an exchange of ideas, a free play of wit.”  It was “a vehicle of Enligthenment, fundamental to the self-improvement of civilization.”  They then ask: “If talking is one thing, and conversation another, then what is a chat?”

Read the rest of the piece to find out.

Professors and Multiple On-Line Identities

I can relate to this article in The Chronicle of Education.  It seems that professors around the country are pursuing multiple online identities.  It is not easy trying to separate one’s personal use of social media from one’s professional or academic use.  Many professors have decided to go with multiple Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Jeffrey Young offers academics some tips about how to navigate the world of social media.  I have summarized them below:

1.   Having a split social media identity is not schizophrenic.

2.  Accept friend requests from students, but never make the first move.

3.  If you are an administrator at a campus with multiple Facebook accounts, try not to overregulate.

4.  Keep college or university related Facebook pages active.

5.  Fight Twitter rumors.

I Want to be a More Shallow Person…On Facebook.

Over at ProfHacker, Ryan Cordell explains why he cut his Facebook friends in half:

I realize that, for many people, a Facebook friend differs substantially from a “real” friend. Indeed, I’ve heard my students use the term “Facebook friend” as a rough synonym for “acquaintance”: e.g. “She’s a friend of mine—well, she’s at least a Facebook friend.” Many people maintain a wide circle of acquaintance on Facebook, and tailor their use of the service accordingly. Many of my colleagues foster deep, ongoing professional relationships through Facebook, which is a wonderful use of the service.

I wasn’t doing that, however. I was using Facebook as a personal network, despite the fact that my network extended far beyond the personal. When I thought carefully about how I was using social networks, I realized—or, perhaps, I reasserted—two things:

  1. I don’t have to friend everyone who asks. This might seem self-evident, but I realized that I was friending everyone who sent me a request, even if I barely knew them or wasn’t genuinely interested in (re)connecting with them. I was doing this, mostly, to avoid insulting anyone or appearing aloof. However, I would often end up hiding these people’s updates, which means I wasn’t actually networking with them. I decided to remove these faux friends, and to make real decisions about friend requests in the future. From now on, I will not feel compelled to friend someone because I took a class with them in high school. Some people use Facebook for class reunions, but I’m not interested in doing  
  2. I can separate my personal and professional worlds. This one is, I will admit, a little tricky. I have colleagues whom I consider friends, and so those relationships bridge these two worlds. However, I realized that I use Twitter primarily for professional communication, and Facebook almost exclusively to post personal updates, including pictures and video of my family. Frankly, I can’t imagine that many of the people who were on my Facebook friends list would care about what I post there. What’s more, I realized that I was hesitant to post certain things—a lament, say, about a bad day at work—for fear of who might see it. I decided to remove purely professional contacts from my Facebook friends.

Ultimately, I cut my Facebook friends list by half. Doing so has slowed my Facebook news feed drastically—a change I’ve appreciated. If any of my distant acquaintances noticed the change—which, if they were ignoring my updates as I was theirs, is unlikely—they haven’t written any angry emails letting me know. Honestly, this change has allowed me to spend less time on Facebook; I go there to post pictures of my kids, or to post the occasional personal update. In my case the time saved probably isn’t too significant—I’ve never been a heavy Facebook user—but I’ve been surprised how much mental space this purging has created.

Cordell has put into words something I have been thinking about for some time.  How does one separate the professional and the personal on Facebook?  I am friends on Facebook with family members and friends who do not have much interest in the kind of musings we do here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.   On the other hand, I am also friends with colleagues at work, fellow historians and academics, and readers of the blog and my books who may not care about family photos and other personal stuff.  (And, in some cases, I may not necessarily want them to see personal stuff).  Some of these people I have never met face-to-face. Of course a lot of my Facebook friends, if not most of them, either fall somewhere in between these two extremes or else find themselves in both groups.

I largely use Facebook for professional purposes.  As some of my current Facebook friends know, the posts from this blog go automatically to my Facebook wall (and yours!) and some of the best discussion of my blog posts appear on that wall. 

Frankly, I do not have a whole lot of interest in using my Facebook account for personal reasons and I rarely “update” my status with personal comments (i.e.  “I just love my new Chrysler minivan” or “Wow, I am feeling really tired today”).

So I guess I am taking a different approach to Facebook than the one Cordell has chosen to take.  In the past several months I have scaled back the number of personal items I have on my page and have actually, for the first time ever, solicited new friends.  While I still hope that Facebook will allow me to connect with people, I definitely see it more as a way to connect with friends, my blog and book readers, the people I meet on speaking engagements, and other acquaintances in an informal, but professional (as opposed to deeply personal) way.  I guess I want to be more shallow on Facebook.

So feel free to be my friend!! Or don’t be surprised if you get a friend request from me!

Now I am going to go mow the lawn and take the dog for a walk. 🙂

Professors Prefer YouTube over Facebook and Twitter

I have never used Facebook or Twitter to teach American history.   I am sure that there are creative and effective ways of using these social media tools in the classroom, but I have not found them yet. 

I have, however, used YouTube.  I find it to be a valuable source, especially in my U.S. Immigrant course. 

According to this article in Inside Higher Ed, most professors agree with me.  Here is a snippet:

This according to a study released Monday by the Babson Survey Research Group and the e-learning giant Pearson. The study — which garnered responses from 1,920 faculty (tenure-track and otherwise) at various types of institutions — was designed and carried out by Babson, which says it ceded no editorial discretion to the education company that commissioned it. The collaborators presented some of the findings here during a session at Pearson’s annual user conference.

Probing the uses of nine different types of social media among professors, the study found that professors consider YouTube the most useful tool by far — for both teaching and non-classroom professional use. Nearly a third of respondents said they instructed students to watch online videos as homework, and about 73 percent said they thought YouTube videos were either somewhat or very valuable for classroom use, regardless of whether they use them currently.

Other Web 2.0 tools fared less well among the professors — particularly the tools with the most currency in broader culture. Only 2 percent of the professors said they used Twitter in class, and another 2 percent said they used it for professional purposes outside the classroom. Slightly more said they could see at least some value in the microblogging site, but those long-sellers still amounted to less than a tenth of all respondents.

Facebook, too, is tapped in class or for homework assignments only rarely, even if many professors use the site for personal or professional networking. Faculty rate the site’s long-term prospects in the classroom only slightly above Twitter’s, with 15 percent submitting that it is at least somewhat valuable.

Many professors — 53 percent and 46 percent, respectively — think that Twitter and Facebook not only lack pedagogical value but in fact harm classroom learning. (They did not say why.)….

Archiving Your Facebook Page

This is really interesting–at least from the perspective of a history geek (or dork) like myself.  It is now possible for Facebook users to download everything they have ever posted to Facebook, including pictures.  The implications of this for future historians are great.

Learn how to do backup your Facebook page here.

Hijacking the Founding Fathers on Facebook

Attention Facebook users!  Be careful the next time you “friend” or “like” one of the founding fathers.

From “Hatewatch,” the blog of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Do a Facebook page search of the name Thomas Jefferson, and the very first listing that will appear is Thomas Jefferson – American. You can click to join 11,753 people who “like” the page.

Well, congratulations. You just signed onto fan pages sponsored by the racist National Policy Institute (NPI), a think tank dedicated to the preservation of America as a nation of, for and dominated by white people. NPI has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group since publishing heir William H. Regnery founded it in 2005.

NPI has hijacked many of America’s Founding Fathers. 12,835 Facebook users “like” the group’s General George Washington page. Another 5,617 network users like the page for Benjamin Franklin – American, and 2,630 like James Monroe – American. While it is unclear how many of those who add their names to NPI’s Facebook pages are aware of NPI’s mission of preserving a culturally white America, without question, the Facebook fan pages are driving thousands of clicks worth of traffic to a racist hate group’s website.

After being contacted by Hatewatch, Facebook’s management has launched an investigation of NPI’s pages. As a largely self-regulated service, Facebook relies heavily on readers to report objectionable content. “Direct statements of hate against particular communities violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and are removed when reported to us,” Simon Axten, Facebook’s manager of public policy, told Hatewatch by E-mail. “We also remove content that supports hateful or violent organizations.”

NPI proudly identifies all of its 42 sponsored Facebook pages that make up the “National Policy Institute Facebook Project,” but there is little evidence of NPI’s philosophies on the pages it devotes to iconic American historical figures. There are pages for Founding Fathers Washington, Franklin, Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock and John Jay; patriots of the American Revolution Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and Nathan Hale, and presidents James Polk and Theodore Roosevelt. NPI also sponsors other noteworthy figures including Mark Twain, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Kit Carson, Lewis and Clark, Thomas Edison, Norman Rockwell and Walt Disney.

A Week Without Social Media

A few miles down the road from me at Harrisburg University, a new university of science and technology, the students are about to learn what life is like without social media. On Monday, students at the university will not have access to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, or AOL Instant Messenger for an entire week and they will be required to write essays about the experience. It is all part of an experiment by the university’s provost, Eric Darr.

Here is a taste from the coverage at Inside Higher Ed:

“It’s not that, as an institution, we hate Facebook,” says Darr. Rather, it is about pausing to evaluate the extent to which social media are woven into the professional and personal lives of the people on the Harrisburg campus, and contemplating what has been gained and what has been sacrificed, he says. That colleagues with offices 300 yards apart communicate predominantly via the Web is interesting, Darr says, and merely talking about it does not dig deeply enough. “I wanted to make it real for people — not to make it an intellectual exercise,” he says.

What Did We Do Before Facebook?

Are we slaves to Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail? Barbara Brown Taylor raises some important questions:

How did I keep up with my friends when all I had was a land line? How did I work away from home without a wireless connection and a laptop? What did I do with all the hours I now spend in front of computers? My answers are bound to be laced with nostalgia, but if I do not write them down now I may forget them altogether.

I remember listening to music while driving the car and looking forward to long airline flights as extended downtime. I worked less because the tools of my work were not always at hand. I read maps to get where I wanted to go, took wrong turns that required me to recalculate my position on my own, and discovered things while I was lost that I would never have found by staying on course.

When I needed to know something I went to the library, sitting for hours on the hard floor in the stacks pulling books off the shelves. Some of them were so old their covers were hanging by strings, with dedications written in the faded brown ink of a fountain pen. When I could not find what I wanted, I filled out a request for interlibrary loan or accepted the fact that there were things I could not presently know. I learned to work within such limits, which often led me to create things I might otherwise have copied from someone else.

I wrote letters with nice pens on thick paper, which I occasionally decorated with watercolors. I was in touch with fewer people, with whom I shared things of more substance. I put colorful stamps on envelopes and walked them to the mailbox. When I bought things, I bought them from people whose hands touched mine when they gave me my change. PayPal never showed up on my bank statement.

I made lunch dates with people I cared about, practicing the art of conversation. When they lived too far away for that, I longed for their physical presence—their smell, their touch, the sound of their voices—acknowledging no adequate substitute for that. I accepted a certain level of longing as belonging to the human condition. I brushed my dogs, went for long walks with my partner, did volunteer work in my community.

I could go on, but if you are old enough, perhaps you have begun making your own list. Who knows? Maybe it will be in a museum some day: Things People Did Before Computers. Or you could rescue the things on your list from obscurity right now by continuing to do them. This is your God-given freedom—even in the age of Twitter.

Membership Drive at The Way of Improvement Leads Home

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Professors and Facebook: A Cautionary Tale

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Whether it’s avoiding bars frequented by students or politely declining the occasional social invitation, professors often make an extra effort to establish boundaries with their pupils. But social networking sites, which are often more public than they may appear, are lifting the veil on the private lives of professors in ways they may not have expected.

Gloria Gadsden said she thought she was talking only to close friends and family as she vented on Facebook about her students, but the East Stroudsburg University sociology professor has since learned the hard way that her frustrated musings were viewable by some of the very students she had consciously declined to “friend” in the past. A small change to the settings for Gadsden’s online profile allowed the “friends” of Gadsden’s own “friends” to read her updates, and in so doing created a controversy that the professor now feels could damage her career and her chances at tenure…

Read the the rest