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Document Type

Praxis

Abstract

Social researchers Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa recently reported that nearly half of undergraduates today “showed almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college.” Two sources of the problem emerged in the study: “instructors…more focused on their own faculty research than teaching younger students, who in turn are more tuned in to their social lives.” While few would argue that the social dimension is not an important element of the student's learning experience, students‟ absorption in social media too often reflects a mere frittering and twittering away of their time. Why not meet students where they socialize and encourage them to explore the deeper implications of such social media? This essay seeks to bridge this divide by applying such “killer apps” as St. Ignatius‟ discernment and the examen. Facebook already offers a “platform” for such apps. Often consulting their Facebook pages several times a day, students already practice, pro forma at least, a ritualized set of behaviors. Loyola's Examen (examination of conscience), can be employed by asking students to inventory how they use Facebook in their daily lives. The concept of “status updates” can be enlarged here as well: What is the nature of the on-line personae or avatars that they exhibit? In what ways do they differ from their off-line selves? How does Facebook shape (and limit) their identity? What potentials for growth are there?

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