Social media’s impact in the higher-ed classroom

Higher-ed’s use of social media tools such as Twitter is changing rapidly.

Higher education’s use of social media in the classroom is expanding and changing, with younger faculty members leading the way and influencing how tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and video are used, according to an October 2012 survey.

“Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Facebook: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media” surveyed of nearly 4,000 teaching faculty from all disciplines in higher education. The third annual survey represents U.S. higher education professors and examined both the personal and professional impacts of social media. The report comes from the Babson Survey Research Group and Pearson.

“Faculty are clearly becoming more comfortable leveraging social media in their personal, professional and instructional lives,” said Jeff Seaman, Ph.D., co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group. “Social media is no longer seen as time-consuming to learn and use, which shows that faculty are more proficient and better acquainted with the social media tools available to them.”

More than one-quarter of all faculty said that they use social media for personal use daily, and nearly all of them use Facebook.  More than half of faculty (52.5 percent) use Facebook at least monthly, 23.9 percent use LinkedIn at least monthly, and 21.6 percent use blogs and wikis at least monthly.

“The number of teaching faculty that report that they check in with Facebook on a daily basis is the same one-quarter who mention daily use of any site,” according to the report.

Younger faculty members appear to use social media more than older faculty members, and use is different depending on what subject areas faculty teach.

“There is a relationship between the rate of personal social media use and the discipline of the faculty member,” the report notes. “Faculty who teach in Humanities and Arts have the highest rates of use (72 percent) while those in the Natural Sciences the lowest (57 percent). The impact of discipline, while clear, is not nearly as great as that seen for age.”

Laura Ascione