Social media has evolved into much, much more than a simple tool to stay in touch with friends or to share pictures from your most recent trip. It has become a powerful tool that has important applications for business, research, and education.
Though social media is being used throughout all levels of education, it has had a particularly strong influence on higher education. Here are 10 ways that social media is influencing higher education:
Social media is playing a bigger role in the admissions process at colleges and universities throughout the country. Students are using social media to learn more about colleges before applying, as well as to connect with admissions officials in order to get their questions answered. In turn, college admissions officials have been using social media to learn more about their applicants.
#2 Classroom Curriculum
More and more classrooms are making use of social media as a tool for learning. Twitter is used as a micro blogging platform for everything from writing lessons to learning how to do research. Blogs are commonly used for classroom discussions and personal responses. More professors are recognizing the value of these tools to teach skills in the classroom or to illustrate core information.
#3 Curriculum Development
Outside the classroom, more professors are using social media to help them develop their curriculum. They are doing so by connecting with other educators on social media and exchanging ideas and best practices. There is a large and active contingent of educators on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social media writing about what works for them in the classroom and sharing lesson plans, worksheets, and other materials.
#4 Online Study
Students are also using social media as a tool for connecting with other students to enhance their study. Students can form online study groups or can connect with classmates or even students at other universities in order to get their questions answered about classroom material. Social media offers students many opportunities for learning outside the relationships they form in the classroom.
#5 Student-Professor Relationships
Many professors use social media in the classroom to help them connect with their students. Even when they don’t, many students reach out to professors on social media channels to ask questions or share concerns. Students and professors can open a dialogue on social media, helping them to deepen their relationships, which can facilitate learning.
#6 Parent Communication
Though there is less need for communication between parents and professors in higher education, there are many students who still live at home, and some parent communication may be necessary. Social media facilitates this, just as it does for students and professors.
#7 Professional Development for Professors
In addition to collaborating with other educators, professors have been using social media more frequently as a tool for professional development. They can use it to find mentors, get continuing education, learn about the latest studies, and much more. When funding is getting cut for professional development, social media is able to fill the gap (at least partially).
#8 Professional Development for Students
As more and more of our lives are online, learning how to develop a public persona and how to maintain appropriate behavior online is very important. Students must learn this skill as part of their professional development. Using social media throughout college and as a part of their classroom education can help them learn appropriate boundaries, which will be a needed skill in their professional careers.
Because of the power it offers to connect with others, more students are using social media as a tool for activism. They are using it to get the word out about their cause, to recruit volunteers, and to organize protests. College is a time that many students become budding activists as they learn more about the world around them and develop their own personal values.
The downside of social media is its potential for use in cyber-bullying. This becomes a big problem especially in the high school and college years. Educators can use social media to teach students how to recognize and combat cyberbullying. Social media can start a dialogue that can help to end the problem and to teach students appropriate online behavior.
Social media is only growing in influence. Over the next several years, there are likely to be many more ways that social media is used in all levels of education, influencing everything from the curriculum to relationships between students and educators.
In what ways do you see social media influencing higher education? Share your thoughts in the comments!