Sociology Students turn to Social Media for Answers

21 May 2012

For most students, starting out at university means getting used to writing essays - and lots of them. But hundreds of Sociology students have taken a different approach to learning, by connecting with social media.

As part of the first year course 'Introduction to Sociology 1', students created video pieces of 'Sociology in action', posting them to YouTube in an innovative learning project.

The 900 students enrolled in the course were instructed to form groups and go out and film sociology happening around Sydney.

Some projects focus on inequality across different suburbs, while others investigate education issues or even the public transport system.

So far, more than 200 short films have been submitted for the project. Students will now join Twitter and promote their videos across several social media platforms.

The project is the brainchild of new unit coordinator in the Department of Sociology, Dr Salvatore Babones.

Exchange student Laura Böttcher, 23, says she chose the subject because she wanted to learn more about both Australian society and sociology in general.

"I was very interested in learning about sociology through the analysis of Australian society," she says.

Laura, who is on exchange from Amsterdam University College, says Dr Babones' passion and enthusiasm has made the subject incredibly engaging.

"Dr Babones encourages dialogue between students and lecturer and designs his classes in such a varied, engaging and enthusiastic way," she explains.

She admits that the project has been challenging, as she was previously unfamiliar with Twitter, and had not used the site for university tasks. But she says it's been an enlightening experience.

"I really liked making the YouTube video," she says.

Dr Babones considers the novel project a logical part of teaching in today's digital age.

"Sociology is the study of society," Dr Babones explains. "If we limit our students to writing papers as a way to get them to think about society, we're using 19th century means to study 21st century society.

"In-depth engagement with written work is still central to education, but it can't be all we do."

Dr Babones says the university experience offers a chance to engage with society in a way that students may not have considered before.

"The first lesson university sociology students learn is 'I am not ordinary.' Most people take a 'common-sense' approach to understanding society based on their own experience," he says.

"Systematic university study - not just in sociology, but in literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, economics, you name it - teaches students to understand their worlds from the perspective of others as well."

Visit the 'Sydney Sociology' YouTube channel to check out the video projects.

Follow the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences on Facebook here

Contact: Emily Jones

Phone: 02 9114 1961

Email: 2d5c2b1d171a2027001f0b113b49090a172a4f142e0f643847