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The Blog on Emerging Academic Technologies


Social Media in Higher Education

Below is an info-graphic on research done by the Babson Survey Research Group. The numbers suggest that social media permeates the academic working environment, though we should be cautious to extrapolate from these findings simply because we don't know how social media is used much less how effective it is in learning. Even the term "social media" can be a bit meaningless when it includes viewing YouTube videos. In a recent article in InsideHigherEd, and also sponsored by Babson, 73 percent of instructors " said they thought YouTube videos were either somewhat or very valuable for classroom use, regardless of whether they use them currently."

While these are intriguing numbers, we should spend more time investigating the specific uses of social media. The Babson survey reports, "Nearly two-thirds of all faculty have used social media during a class session, and 30% have posted content for students to view or read outside class. Over 40% of faculty have required students to read or view social media as part of a course assignment, and 20% have assigned students to comment on or post to social media sites. Online video is by far the most common type of social media used in class, posted outside class, or assigned to students to view, with 80% of faculty reporting some form of class use of online video."

The survey report further suggests that faculty are concerned about the "lack of integrity of student submissions" to social media, and student privacy issues. This reinforces the importance of helping instructors and students understand the complexity of these issues. This might be challenging since despite the rosy picture the graphic paints, only 19% of faculty disagreed with the statement that "Social networks take more time than they are worth" (p.14).

(Thanks to Christopher Brooks for tweeting the info-graphic.)

Addendum: For a reflective post on one instructor's attempt to use social media in the classroom, see the 3-part series, Using Twitter to Teach.

Reading professors like an open facebook, or how teachers use social media
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