Social media language: creating criticality and creativity in education

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This presentation focuses on new configurations of teacher-student relations in online undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. I will begin by contextualizing the need for new configurations within a broader discussion which focuses on the ideological manipulation of language. And the most obvious ways in which this manipulation is taking place is online, especially in social media. I will argue that, as young people turn to social media sites on their mobiles, there is a danger that the consumerist and transactionalist neoliberal outlook of universities in the global north are conspiring with a zeitgeist of speed in which no real critical reflection or scrutiny is encouraged. This will lead me to a consideration of the differing purpose of universities, globally. Important lessons can be adduced from the orientation of universities both within the global North and South where there are different emphases on how the modern university ought to serve the community and even the country.

The second part of the presentation will ask, what can we do as educators? Teachers firstly, need to critique, initially, the bounded idiolects of their own disciplines and move from that to a quiet questioning of their own hegemonic positioning as passive purveyors of an internalised neoliberalism. Secondly, teachers need to be more imaginative about how online learning can incorporate the ‘real world’ of the students – principally social media. Thirdly, if the implications of the dialogical pedagogy which online learning engenders are further explored, opportunities open up for greater metacognition and reflexivity in learning. This is about encouraging students to critically and creatively examine social media as a learning medium which includes deeper reflection on ‘cyberlect’ and beyond that, the language of political and media discourse.

It was Jonanthan Swift who first ‘modelled’ a computer in his Academy of Lagado in Gulliver’s Travels (1727). I will conclude with the outrageous idea that a new configuration of students and teachers might include a ludic outlook; humour, irony, play; slagging, sconsing, complication in the eyes. I will propose that learning might actually be enjoyable and richly understood; not  as a sufferance, a passport to supine private wealth generation, but, as an expansion and a deepening of what it is to be human, connected and engaged with global justice and citizenry.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 16 Feb 2018
EventSRHE The Digital University, Social Justice and the Public Good - Queen's University, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Feb 201816 Feb 2018


SeminarSRHE The Digital University, Social Justice and the Public Good
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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