Monday, 11 November 2013

Introducing the Web Team Our Contributing Expert: Dr. Chareen Snelson


Greetings from Boise, Idaho, USA. It is my honor and pleasure to join the NSMNSS web team as an contributing expert. In this post I will briefly describe my background as it pertains to this group and the dynamic arena of social media research.

I currently work as an Associate Professor and Associate Department Chair in the Educational Technology Program (EDTECH) at Boise State University. The majority of our EDTECH program is graduate level and completely online. I have been teaching online with this program for over a decade. Prior to my work in higher education I was a middle-school science teacher. I have been enamored with video in education ever since those early years teaching science to teens. Video seemed like the best way to introduce these rural Idaho teens to active volcanoes, deep sea life, or experts on topics we were studying. Of course, back then we relied on the now antiquated VCR technology to play video in the classroom. I never knew if it was going to work or not. What an adventure. Now, as an online educator I find video very valuable in presenting information or communicating with students at a distance. Google Hangout with screenshare has become a favorite application for helping students with technical issues or for communicating with adjunct instructors who live at a distance from campus. When YouTube was initially developed I became intrigued by the possibilities of tapping in to its growing body of content and sharing tools for education. In 2008, I created a course called "YouTube for Educators", which was initially offered as a temporary elective for our EDTECH graduate students. The course became popular and was converted to a permanent elective. Now, we offer the course every year. My syllabus is online if you are curious about the content. I also maintain a related teaching blog called TubeTeaching and an active YouTube channel.

My research has progressively focused on educational applications of YouTube and what people post on YouTube (e.g., videos, comments). My most recent research article, Vlogging About School on YouTube: An Exploratory Study (New Media & Society), used YouTube as a data source. The process of using YouTube, or other social media platforms, as a data source can be a fascinatingly challenging one as I have learned from personal experience. After completing the vlogger study I had the opportunity to delve into a deeper discussion of the methodology in a research case, which has been accepted for the forthcoming SAGE Cases in Research Methodology collection. The rest of my publication list is available on my vitae.

I see a lot of work ahead in the area of YouTube and social media research. My primary interests seem to be converging on online ethnography and qualitative content analysis although other methodologies are quite interesting. A high priority for me right now is gaining a better understanding of how researchers are designing qualitative and mixed-methods social media studies. In the spring of 2014, I will spend my one-semester sabbatical delving deeply into the subject of how people have been conducting qualitative or mixed-methods research on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. This work will involve an examination of both methodology and technologies used to support social media research. I am a rampant NVivo user, but have not yet explored the full gamut of options available for qualitative social media research. My Social Media Research and Technologies blog is where I have begun to document this exploration. This blog will serve as an avenue for discussing my sabbatical project on social media research as it progresses. I have strong interest in this topic and hope to connect with other like-minded researchers. I am looking forward to sharing, learning, and collaborating through my time with NSMNSS and beyond.

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