As a scholar who thinks about how people make and share knowledge online, I often include assignments where students reflect on their own self-presentation online. In these reflections, I ask them to consider how they present themselves online, who they communicate with, and how they build social connections. Throughout these assignments, I emphasize the important role they, as users, play in shaping online social worlds–as I ask them, just what kind of worlds are they making online, and who ends up being left out of or excluded from these spaces? Social and political inequities cannot emerge on a platform without user participation. Achieving a more socially just world requires not only offline activism, but also social interactions based in individuals’ awareness of their social location and its limitations in relation to the diversity of human experience.
My core pedagogical practices, then, offer students key tools essential to developing this awareness and applying it as media consumers and knowledge producers—particularly in relation to their own diverse backgrounds. Assignments centered on adding to available public knowledge are a cornerstone of my pedagogy. I regularly assign projects where students learn about and edit Wikipedia, leading to the creation of over 50 new Wikipedia pages. You can see some of my students’ pages highlighted by the Wiki Education Foundation here.