Social Media & Higher Education: What’s Next?

In the first decade of social media’s existence, who would have guessed that it would have a surprising effect on higher education? Advances in social media programming and the launch of communication tools such as Skype have made it possible for students to heighten their learning experiences and expand their job hunts.

Social media dominates the internet as the #1 web activity, and professors have taken note.  Twitter has become an educational outlet in classrooms at Leicester University in England. Instructors encourage students to tweet about their curriculum rather than use traditional message boards. The goal of each tweet is to encourage students to strike up a social conversation about a topic learned in class and potentially receive outside views from other tweeters.

At Marquette University in Wisconsin, Spanish students forego the use of textbooks in lieu of Skype-ing with pen-pals in Spain to immerse themselves in the language without traveling to the country.

Social Media has proven to be helpful in students’ job searches as well.  Not just a “professional Facebook”, LinkedIn packs a powerful punch when it comes to getting graduates hired.

In 2010, they launched “Career Explorer” in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers. This application allows students to browse career paths they have set out for themselves. They are able to see what kind of promotions they could get as well as potential salary levels.  These career paths are “mapped out for students based on aggregate paths that LinkedIn’s 80 million members have taken before them.”

With these following statistics, it’s hard not to believe that higher education and social media won’t collaborate on something big in the future:

  • By a ratio of over four to one, faculty members report that social media have value for teaching.
  • More than four out of every five professors use social media. And more than half of professors use tools like video, blogs, podcasts, and wikis in their classes.

- Andrea

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