Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
The use of social media by higher education students has been found to improve communication resulting in increased involvement and engagement (Lacka et al., 2021). Some of the reasons for students engaging in social media are; social interaction and integration (Neier & Zayer, 2015), future career building and professional networking (Josefsson et al., 2016) and reducing loneliness when on an international placement (Sleeman et al., 2020). Although studies have shown a positive attitude towards the use of social media in higher education (Romero-Hall, 2017; Cooke, 2017), there have also been apprehensions against its implementation and mainstream use. Lacka et al (2021) discuss how social media was not created in an educational context and that its suitability raises ethical concerns including social exclusion and digital division.
Other concerns regarding social media use by higher education students are also surrounding distraction from educational work ‘blurring’ the distinction between personal and academic online spaces (Sleeman et al., 2020). However, it has been argued that social media is an effective tool for developing network connections, finding placement opportunities, and improving employability skills (Lacka et al., 2021; Romero-Hall, 2017). Questions are also raised around the ‘professional presence’ on social media, and which platforms can be kept strictly professional (Josefsson et al., 2016).
Many institutions and professional bodies have released guidelines on social media use for anyone who is affiliated with their name, including universities. These social media guidelines typically include themes such as information governance, online behaviours and risk mitigation (Lees, 2018). These sets of rules and recommendations are to protect the account holder, as well as the affiliated institution and must be abided by to ensure a safe and civil online presence. It is interesting how opinions on social media use differs, depending on perspective and perceived purpose, as well as how organisations have had to adapt their policies to include social media usage and ensuring individuals maintain a good digital footprint.
From personal experience, social media has been very beneficial and looking forward to discussing, debating and learning about your views and experiences! Join us on Wednesday 1st March between 20:00-21:00 for the next #LTHEchat.
Cooke, S. (2017). Social teaching: Student perspectives on the inclusion of social media in higher education. Education and Information Technologies, 22, 255-269. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-015-9444-y
Josefsson, P., Hrastinski, S., Pargman, D. & Pargman, T. C. (2016). The student, the private and the professional role: Students’ social media use. Education and Information Technologies, 21, 1583-1594. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-015-9403-7
Lacka, E., Wong, T. C. & Haddoud, M. Y. (2021). Can digital technologies improve students’ efficiency? Exploring the role of Virtual Learning Environment and Social Media use in Higher Education. Computers and Education, 163, Article 104099. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2020.104099
Lees, R. (2018). Social media policies in UK Higher Education Institutions – An overview. [conference paper]. International Conference on Social Computing and Social Media, Copenhagen, Denmark. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91521-0_34
Neier, S. & Zayer, L. T. (2015). Students’ perceptions and experiences of Social Media in Higher Education. Journal of Marketing Education, 37(3), 133-143. https://doi.org/10.1177/0273475315583748
Romero-Hall, E. (2017). Posting, sharing, networking and connecting: Use of social media content by graduate students. TechTrends, 61, 580-588. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-017-0173-5
Sleeman, J., Lang, C. & Dakich, E. (2020). Social media, learning and connections for international students: The disconnect between what students use and the tools learning management systems offer. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 36(4), 44-56. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.4384
Karolina Staniecka is a final year Student Nurse at the University of Salford with interests in digital skills and social media for students in Higher Education. @karolinaviolet
Neil Withnell is Associate Dean academic Student Experience at the University of Salford with a passion for digital education and social media. @neilwithnell
Wakelet from the chat is here: