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SASA Research Series #1: Social Media (1 of 8)

Updated: May 30, 2023

We are excited to announce the beginning of the SASA Research Series!

The Research Series will present different issues in the field of Ancient Studies, examined by our very own SASA Research Team. This inaugural post is the first of eight posts, all part of Series #1, titled Social Media Utilization for Engagement of Humanities Based Non-Profit Audiences: Opportunities, Models, and Barriers.

The intention of Series #1 was to develop research that may assist evidence-based strategy for non-profit organizations and other audiences intending to maximize their online presence. The researcher has categorized the studies into posters according to subtopics relevant to SASA, from broad introductions to specific approaches such as platform-dependent content. This post covers the first subtopic of the series: Benefits of Social Media Use in Humanities Oriented NonProfits.

With the growth of social media and its platforms, there has been an upward trend in social engagement. As a result, disagreement over the use of social media in the field of humanities has become a topic we cannot ignore. Both popular blogs and scholarly writings suggest that professionals in the field of humanities aim to preserve a certain sacredness or complexity by rejecting the use of social media, which inherently upholds values that at best differ from those in the field. However, the result is that the general population is not sufficiently reached, resulting in a lack of engagement with topics and discussions. In the cases of topics and discussions that require popular support, such as efforts to rescue a heritage site, this lack of engagement can be largely detrimental. A balance is required between existing research forms and new ones in order to successfully reach the current world.

Social media has the capability to capture audiences in a more engaging way than traditional methods. Classic approaches to studying humanities solely rely on absorbing information even though new forms of research exist such as microblogging, discussion forums, and museum iPads. These methods provide individuals with a more hands-on experience to properly comprehend and interact with presented information. Many professors, scholars, and experts have acknowledged the power these methods hold, especially in the case of university libraries and museums that aim to increase or create digital repositories.

There are flaws when bringing humanities to social media, as there is with most everything. It is commonly discussed that social media is working to create a hive mind, where everyone who is engaging with online platforms is being fed the same information and follow one way of thinking. Openness is required in an open-sharing platform. If audiences can utilize this mindset, then they can further their education by being able to question information given at face value.

Our organization, among others, have conducted multiple studies to truly understand who is using social media and what those platforms are being used for. Results show that social media use is still rather limited and restricted. Academics are not inclined to integrate devices into their practices for several reasons. These reasons include cultural resistance, pedagogical issues or institutional constraints.

Many teachers have a positive outlook on the use of social media for educational purposes, but do not have a plan to start the initiative. Our study reports the results of a survey addressed to the Italian academic staff, with the aim of identifying the uses of Social Media in the field of university teaching practices. The response rate was 10.5%, corresponding to 6139. With higher perceived risk and external pressure, there is a lower likelihood of adopting social media usage in an educational context. Analyses of data tested which socio-demographic variables mostly affected frequency of use, and the relationships between motivations, ways of use, barriers to use and the scientific discipline. (elaborate on these risks and pressure)Without a collective beginning to start the move of social media usage for education, traditional academia, particularly the world of Ancient Studies, will struggle to embrace this side to technological advancements.

Social media can serve many purposes not only for research purposes, but as a way to form connections, network, and engage others. It is important to recognize that despite downfalls, a useful approach for the purpose of preservation and strengthening of the humanities can be identified and accepted.

Research performed by Emma Renz, Research Team Spring 2023 Intern

Written and edited by Erin Carlson and Yuna Kim



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