Higher Education Administration with Social Media: Volume 2

Cover of Higher Education Administration with Social Media

Table of contents

(21 chapters)

Since the advent of the digital campus, numerous changes have occurred. In early developments, we were able to improve efficiencies and eliminate the need for human intervention to conduct routine activities. The power of processing massive amounts of data moved from mainframes to desktops and mobile computers. The transition to a ubiquitous computing environment was a relatively quick transition and one that has had a profound impact on the work we do and the way we do it. The presence of information technology has actually transformed the teaching, learning, and administrative environment in post-secondary education world-wide.

The social integration of students within a campus community is vital in enhancing their college experiences. Researchers have sought to determine how best to promote successful social integration for university students. Traditionally, on-campus orientations and residence hall activities have been used to foster student social integration. However, Facebook and other social networking sites (SNSs) can be used for social integration among students in ways that were never before possible. It is important that student-affairs professionals explore the supportive roles for this that SNSs like Facebook might play, since successful student adjustment within a campus is positively correlated with student retention rates.

College students are already using Facebook to bolster their social networks within the university, but it is worth considering the advantages and disadvantages of promoting the use of SNSs for social integration. Facebook is favored because it offers low levels of self-disclosure in social interactions, it increases the social capital of the university, and it offers students with a unique means of acquiring academic support from both their professors and their peers. Unfortunately, extensive Facebook use can also create a social skills deficit in students, lead students to experience information overload, and cause them to shirk their academic responsibilities.

Facebook is neither a panacea for student engagement nor a signal of the end of meaningful interpersonal connections on campus. Student-affairs professionals should become aware of the ways that students engage with SNSs to leverage opportunities for furthering student integration while remaining aware of the limitations for community building that SNSs present.

Social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being integrated into recruiting and outreach activities across the US universities. Despite their popularity among staff, resources on best practices in higher education remain sparse. As new communication tools evolve and transform higher education, researchers must adapt their approaches to understand these tools and collect relevant data. This study presents and tests new methods for conducting research in higher education communications. The author presents digital ethnography as a relevant methodological approach for researching and understanding online communities in higher education. Using an exploratory online survey distributed through online social networks as an example, the author gathers data on the use of social media in international higher education recruiting and outreach. The exploratory survey sought information on which social media tools were being used by university staff, the perceived benefits and drawbacks of social media use in international recruiting and outreach, and how universities measured social media for international recruiting purposes. Using a digital ethnographic approach, the author gathered relevant, timely data from international higher education professionals and gained insight into the norms, rules, and workings of social networking communities. Results point to new methods for understanding the evolution of higher education communications for researchers and university staff alike. Data from the exploratory study of international higher education communications are presented as an example of the rich amount of data obtained through the approach.

This chapter investigates two different uses of social networking sites (SNSs) within the same higher education institution. One was used as a means of communicating with students while they were still making their study choices, whereas the other aimed to create a medium for student interaction before they arrived at university. While both attempts had some degree of success in the setting up of the SNSs, dissemination, and control of content were not without their difficulties. Having outlined the theory behind SNSs, the chapter then highlights both the rationale behind the decision to use them and the experience of both users. It then describes how lessons learnt led to changes being made in the following year, before concluding by providing some recommendations for others looking to try similar techniques.

Participation in online courses in both traditional universities and newer for-profit organizations is burgeoning. Indeed, students entering higher education increasingly have experienced online education at the secondary and even primary levels. Students have immense wherewithal with digital media use through messaging, gaming and mobile platforms. Reference librarians in the epoch of Wikipedia and Google are experiencing a steady decline in the number of in-person reference questions. However, disruptive innovations in teaching technologies such as multiuser-virtual-environments (MUVEs) now enable quasi-face-to-face consultations by librarians with students. The use of virtual environments might well be bolstered by the unsustainability of the traditional brick-and-mortar based educational facility grounded interaction due to the new financial strictures on many educational institutions and their stakeholders. In many ways libraries and other elements of higher education are evolving away from physical onsite usage to an online interface that in many ways reflects gaming interfaces. That is, geographically separated learners can meet with librarians together as teams to get informational and technical support through a variety of platforms and interfaces. This chapter is a report on providing the support of an experienced reference librarian through the Second Life virtual world interface. Included are descriptions of Second Life sites and resources and how they might be utilized for library functions. Educational venues in Second Life are describes and explained, as are learner avatar use and Second Life educational experiences. Second Life is a technology that invites experimentation and growth for those in higher education.

Web 2.0 technologies are resulting in great shifts: “from institutions to networks, from vertical structures to horizontal systems, from hierarchies to heterarchies, from bureaucracies to individuals, from centre to periphery, from bordered territories to virtual cyberspace” (Fraser & Dutta, 2008, p. 2). When we think about how these shifts apply to our experiences advising and mentoring our students in higher education, we do not think it is a stretch to say that when these technologies are employed thoughtfully, these eruptions likely do occur in particular ways that can, in fact, facilitate student support, development, and learning in new ways. Though we use a variety of social media applications to facilitate our practice as mentors and advisors, we acknowledge Daloz's (1999) concern about technology: “More, faster, and farther seem to be the driving values. Thus entangled in the Internet, spun about at hyperspeed, drowning in information, starved by virtual reality, should we wonder that we hunger for real reality? Can such technology nourish our need for community, intimacy, contemplative time, wisdom?” (p. xxv). Daloz sincerely questioned if technology could in fact support “good mentoring.” A mere eleven years later, we two advisors/mentors (one from a large public university in the East; one from a small private university in the West) answer with a resounding “Yes!” In fact, in our experiences, social media technologies can extend the possibilities of good educational mentoring and advising in higher education.

This chapter focuses on how social media tools can be used to enhance collaboration in higher education and the benefits and challenges that this can bring. We investigate how two social media tools, social bookmarking, and microblogging, can be utilized to foster collaboration and determine why this is important in contemporary higher education. Case studies of social media use at Bournemouth University show how social bookmarking and microblogging have already yielded benefits.The case studies are grounded in the challenges facing higher education in 2010. We explore how social media has been used in the context of a need to enhance academic excellence and drive efficiencies in the face of funding constraints and changing demographics.

The case studies illustrate, first, how social bookmarking has been used to foster group cohesion, reflective practice, and evaluative skills in students, as well as being used at an institutional level to drive professional and administrative efficiencies; and second, how microblogging has made a difference in promoting reflective learning, group cohesion, and professional awareness in students and how this style of social networking has contributed to enhancing academic and professional networks.

Whilst the tools, uses, and stakeholders vary, the case studies show how social media has enabled collaboration between, students, academics, librarians, learning technologists, and even professional groups beyond the institution. We conclude that, when used appropriately, social media can facilitate the collaboration that will be essential to overcome the challenges facing higher education.

In November 2009 NAFSA conducted an online survey, the results analyzed by the Education Abroad Technology Task Force. Respondents included associate colleges, baccalaureate colleges, research universities, program providers, and specialized institutions of all sizes. It examined the current use of communication technologies such as social networking sites, within the Education Abroad field, as tools for marketing programs, orientation, advising, community building, and alumni networking. The survey also examined staffing and the training needs of education abroad professionals to identify and use appropriate forms of social networking technology that are available.

This chapter describes how higher education professionals and college students can use social networking sites and technology to manage their careers. Individuals can expect to change careers several times in a lifetime making the importance and role of social networks past and present central to the career management process. The way individuals communicate and interact through the use of social networking sites for the purpose of career development is discussed. The role of social networking sites in exploring career options, learning, making connections, searching for jobs, developing professionally, making decisions, and maintaining a professional image online is examined. A model is presented on using social networking sites to gather information and feedback during the career management process. Scenarios and examples are provided from higher educational professionals, hiring managers, college students, job seekers, and career changers. The chapter envisions the future of career management specific to higher education and addresses how higher education career advisors can respond to social networking sites and technology.

Social media tools are in increasing use across higher education and Twitter hashtags, live blogs, Facebook events, and Flickr groups are becoming a regular feature of academic conferences and event. In this chapter the author reflects on the experience of planning, moderating, and analyzing social media amplification of the 2009 Beyond the Repository Fringe event. Based upon this experience several important issues regarding social media usage are considered and a series of practical guidelines for planning amplification of higher education events are proposed.

Many of the largest athletics programs in the United States today are dependent upon revenue streams to sustain their teams. While still in the earliest stages, athletic professionals are finding ways to deepen the engagement with potential and current fans and donors with their department's mission and values. Social media is being used to put fans in the seats as well as create new paid content. No longer limited to the column inches in a newspaper or 30 seconds of highlights on the local news, athletics programs are breaking new grounds in the world of social media.

Social media provides institutions an opportunity for a new level of engagement with prospective students, alumni, donors and community members. This chapter begins with an overview of social media in higher education, who is using it and for what, then provides a few talking points to consider with others before beginning a push into social media. The remainder of the chapter includes a few examples of ways in which social media are used to engage alumni and prospective students, including utilizing Twitter as a free SMS service to provide updates to prospective students during their recruitment, creating an iPhone application for alumni weekend as both an information and engagement tool, and using live tweets from alumni during homecoming to provide an authentic look at the day's events.

The alumni event everyone needs to be at. “Am I Invited?” will focus on the initial implementation of social media as it pertains to alumni relations, along with the relevance it plays within the advancement world. Social media strategies are a creative and powerful way to connect, educate, and energize those interested in the university. This technology and change in interpersonal behavior allows us the capabilities to create a complex, tightly woven, and diverse university community – a hotbed for innovative ideas, energetic conversation and practical networking.

As the world connects in new ways, so does our student body, so do our graduates and therefore, so do our alumni. We must be able to be part of the conversations because they are happening whether we know about them or not. We need to want to be where our constituencies are getting their information if we want to be productive when trying to reach out to them. The internet has taken over newspapers as a source for world news, especially with the younger generations, and it is quickly approaching the impact of the television. “Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television” states the Pew Research Center. The study was done with 1,489 adults over the age of 18 in December 2008.

Why a university engages with SNS is an important question. The justification of investment must be met, and a comprehensive plan for implementation of social media initiatives must be created. Delving deeper into the societal norms and beliefs that need to be institutionalized before one can be truly successful in implementing a strategic investment of time, money, and brainpower. Then looking at key examples on how others were able to be successful at using SNS for alumni relations will prove to be helpful in weaving a practical web of social media initiatives that are effective at creating a virtual community ready to share thoughts, questions and resources. The impact of the experimental uses of SNS within the context of a diverse alumni community – which connects seamlessly to emerging campus-wide initiatives, is a complex and exciting realm to participate in. Challenging one to think out-of-the-box when it comes to finding an answer that suits their specific institutional goals will hopefully inspire a creative, fun, innovative, and interactive flow of ideas, along with the courage to try new things. Be bold. Be brave. Be here. Yes, you are definitely invited!

In four years, Twitter has grown from a fledgling text message-based start-up company to a powerful communication tool embraced by companies worldwide as a mandatory marketing tool. This chapter outlines the growth of the service, how it has changed communication, and the basic knowledge needed to use the service. The chapter expands on that basic knowledge to demonstrate how the service can be used in a higher education setting. Based on the overarching principle that all social media should involve two-way communication, this chapter provides a basic strategy for departments in all colleges and universities – admissions, media relations, career center, alumni, and more – to Act and Interact on social media to boost school pride, develop relationships, and build brand equity. Finally, because social media is an ever-evolving medium, this chapter outlines some of the cutting edge uses of Twitter that are likely to develop over the next five years.

Jill Beard is a Library and Learning Support Manager at Bournemouth University, a service which includes libraries, learning technology, and academic skills development. She has written extensively over many years on a wide range of subjects and is currently co-editing a book on Digital Library Environments in Higher Education (Ashgate, 2010).

Cover of Higher Education Administration with Social Media
Publication date
Book series
Cutting-Edge Technologies in Higher Education
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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