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Social Media, Data, and Generative AI: Three-week Online Courses with Thought-provoking Topics in the Communication Field Was Given by an Associate Professor from National University of Singapore

Date : 2024-06-06 Department : International Master's Program in International Communication Studies
【Article by IMICS】
New Media Convergence course in IMICS welcomed another guest lecturer invited by the course instructor, Professor Trisha Lin, the Director of the Master’s Program in Global Communication and Innovative Technology (GCIT). Dr. Lee San Natalie Pang, an Associate Professor and Deputy Head of the Communications and New Media Department at National University of Singapore, gave students three-week lectures filled with insightful real-life examples, via Zoom—addressing social media, data, and generative AI.

The first lecture covered social media and civic engagement. Dr. Pang opened the lecture by throwing one fundamental question to students. “If you think of civic engagement, what is one example that comes to your mind?” Mesti, a doctoral student in Communication College, shared a political action on social media in Indonesia, which fought against injustice and resulted in a governmental action. Referring to her co-authored paper, ‘Social Media and Citizen Engagement: A Meta-analytic Review,’ Dr. Pang explained the concept of civic engagement and its research method and findings. She also introduced transmission and ritual views to understand civic engagement, additionally touching on Collective Action Theories (CATs). In the discussion session, students actively discussed if the civic engagement they observed was successful and viewed it through the lens they acquired during the class.

Dr. Pang’s second lecture dealt with arguably popular topics, data innovations, and privacy and security. The lecture began with a warm-up question about examples of data innovations. Taiwan’s "Instant Mask Map" developed during the COVID-19 pandemic situation was brought up. On top of the example mentioned, Dr. Pang showed students examples of data innovations ranging from healthcare to E-commerce. Especially, her introduction of data innovations in the education sector caught the students’ attention. Demonstrated with the meeting record generated by Zoom, students learned how data could be used effectively in education settings. Students also had opportunities to think about some examples of a privacy framework with a quadrant composed of two dimensions, data dimension and purpose dimension. Furthermore, they discussed the awareness and concerns they have regarding data collection. While many thoughtful examples were shared in the class, one question was raised. “What is the key difference between service and surveillance?” “That’s a great question.” Dr. Pang elaborated on the distinction between the two concepts. She stated that surveillance is usually for the population, while service is for the individual. However, she mentioned that it is also crucial to consider the purpose of data usage when we differentiate them.

Dr. Pang’s last lecture explored generative AI and trust and risks. Exploring the essential concept related to generative AI, she encouraged students to test one of three generative AI tools—Midjourney, Prezo, and Myanima.ai—and share their thoughts about them and the potential risks and issues. During the hands-on activity session, students kept expressing amazement at the tools. Simultaneously, they spotted that there was some inconsistent information about hallucinating users, which is a widely discussed concern and limitation of generative AI. Dr. Pang provided examples of Ogilvy and Balabala, which integrated virtual ambassadors into their advertising.

New Media Convergence, taught by Professor Trisha Lin, is a tailored course for students who want to grab both theoretical knowledge and practical skills regarding emerging media technology research. Throughout the course, students learn the mechanisms by which technologies influence audiences and industries. Subsidized by the Office of International Cooperation (OIC), the course has invited three co-instructors including National University of Singapore’s Associate Professor Natalie Pang, Stanford Social Media Lab’s Dr. Sunny Liu, and Nanyang Technological University’s Professor Edson Tandoc.
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