It seems likely that many students at MIT spend quite a bit of time on Reddit, but next spring a select few of those students will actually receive credit for their browsing.
As spotted by Jason Koebler at Motherboard, the MIT class CMS.400 Media Systems and Texts, aka “Credit for Reddit,” first hit campus about 10 months ago, and while it will not be offered in the fall, it will resume come spring.
The class invites students to explore why the site works and compare it to other social media networks. The class’s co-instructor Chris Peterson thought of starting the course during his own research on Reddit.
Along with his co-instructor Ed Schiappa, the head of MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing, Peterson built the course’s curriculum, in part with help from other Reddit users. In a Reddit post, Peterson asked users to help him come up with ideas for the class.
“I’ve been doing (limited) research on Reddit the last few years and had lots of undergraduate interest in my projects,” Peterson wrote in the post. “As one student put it, “I already Reddit instead of homework, so I might as well Reddit for homework.”
The post received 121 comments from users eager to contribute to the class material.
And according to Peterson’s LinkedIn page, the final product wound up introducing “students to central topics and mixed methods such that they can better investigate and understand emerging web ecologies.” The course went beyond just Reddit to look at all social media research and methods.
Or as Peterson told Motherboard, “One of the things we try to do in this class is make sure people understand that the technology they use in their daily lives is rooted very deeply in important social issues.”
During Credit for Reddit’s first iteration last spring, students studied more specific ideas like cryptocurrency and Dogecoin, why Tinder is addictive, and what sorts of headlines did best on Reddit.
“I had to explain to faculty who didn’t use Reddit why it was important,” Peterson told Motherboard. “Well, nobody disputes that something’s important if it’s on the front page of the New York Times.
“If something is on the front page of Reddit, now it matters,” he said. “It tells you something about that community and what they find important.”
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