Students can approach professors about incorporating social media into their classes, but Vorvoreanu cautioned that students should take care when doing so.
“There is a power dynamic in the student-teacher relationship, and not all teachers enjoy being challenged by their students,” although many teachers welcome students’ knowledge about such topics, she said.
Vorvoreanu said students also can look for resources on how to educate themselves about establishing a professional social media presence and using those tools to help find job opportunities and create a dialog with professionals in their chosen career path.
And professors who search for resources on incorporating social media into their lessons will find no shortage of information.
“There are so many resources out there—as educators we figure out quickly which ones are credible, which ones make sense, and which ones don’t,” she said. YouTube tutorials could be one valuable resource for professors, she added.
Although social media can be a great help to students, these tools also raise security and privacy issues.
“In terms of security and privacy, it’s a big risk for students, and I’m not sure it’s ethical to force students to expose themselves online,” Vorvoreanu said, adding that she presents students with the advantages and disadvantages of having a professional online identity.
One solution is to let students make their blogs public but write under a pseudonym, and use that pseudonym to comment on other professional blogs.
Vorvoreanu said she cites Microsoft research of human-resources professionals in which HR employees who Google job applicants’ names said a poor online presence or total lack of online presence hurts applicants, and that out of two equally qualified job candidates, hiring employees are likely to choose the candidate who has a positive professional online presence.
If one of her students posts something inappropriate on any of the social media tools she uses in her class, Vorvoreanu said, she will send a direct message asking the student to reevaluate that particular post.
The study did not include LinkedIn or Facebook. LinkedIn did not seem to be something students actively used, Vorvoreanu said.
“I didn’t include Facebook in the classroom, and I don’t believe we should,” Vorvoreanu said. Using students’ Facebook accounts to create a professional online presence would be like “bursting into a college student’s dorm … and starting a PowerPoint presentation while they’re still in their pajamas. Students are really protective of it, and they perceive it as their own space. I do teach about Facebook and how to use it for a public relations campaign for a client, but I didn’t use it as a tool to teach my students.”
As with any integration of technology, Vorvoreanu said that injecting social media into the classroom for the purpose of helping students create professional online identities is something that should be dome strategically and thoughtfully, with a clear goal in mind.
Those interested in receiving a copy of Vorvoreanu’s study when it is released can visit http://bit.ly/smEdStudy.