Social media in higher education is now an integral part of almost every institution’s program. Why? There’s a lot of value for schools that can be found on social media. Universities now take to social to promote school spirit, recruit budding scholars, or raise fundraiser dollars.
But there’s more to social media than just marketing. These platforms are also used as essential communications channels. Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are used by almost everyone. Social media is about networking, collaborating, and generating and sharing knowledge, and all of these features offer great value in higher education.
Professors use Twitter to offer off-hours support for students, host live lectures, or even host student debates. Social media helps professors to stay connected to their students off campus, as well as with their former students. Professors use social media platforms as a means of teaching by creating groups for students where they can access information.
Universities and professors are also branding themselves professionally on social media, creating a name for themselves. Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, various blogs, and YouTube channels are some of the examples.
Social Media for Community Building can be used for Enrollment Management departments, Admissions departments, Student Services, and Public Relations departments that want to engage their audiences on social media.
For teaching and learning, social media is used in various contexts – language learning, after-class discussion, writing development, synchronous and asynchronous communication, and curricular tool and community building. Social media provides a unique platform for interaction amongst students themselves and between students and teachers. Through social media, students can easily communicate, provide, and access information.
Studies have indicated that the use of social media platforms in higher education has improved learning, increased engagement and participation, and improved content dissemination.
Aside from the use of social media for teaching and learning, it is also being used for advertising and creating awareness. Social media enables universities to provide stakeholders with information about new changes to policies, events, research programs, alumni engagement, job vacancies, and institutional news. Some universities and colleges also use social media to recruit students. Social media provides a perfect platform to promote new courses, new research, and staff and campus facilities in order to attract more students.
However, the use of social media has some inherent limitations. These include data privacy and technological concerns, lack of academic language usage, and passive behavior of students. And to add to the list, there is a lack of awareness of the options that the social media platforms can even offer.
Since everyone uses social media differently, universities need to keep different approaches to the use of social media in mind while integrating social media into their teaching and learning activities. The creation of Facebook groups is recommended to address privacy concerns. Adequate training and encouragement for passive students should also be provided. Proper guidance and training needs to be provided not only to students but to staff members as well.