Social media in higher education: Pros, cons, and overall impact

A new infograph illustrates social media’s surge in popularity in the last three academic years.

Once regarded as a passing fad, social media is now an essential language that today’s college students—and officials—must learn in order to remain relevant and well-informed.

The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research recently surveyed numerous four-year accredited U.S. colleges and universities to assess the use of social media in higher education.

The study’s findings are based on 456 interviews conducted between November to May of the 2010-11 academic year. UMass Dartmouth previously assessed social media findings for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years.

This type of comparative data effectively illustrates a major upswing in the use of social media in higher education, the study’s authors note—something that administrators can benefit from understanding. UMass Dartmouth found that 100 percent of surveyed colleges and universities now are using some form of social media.

The survey infograph illustrates how universities use social media in multiple ways: in the classroom to inform students of announcements, in recruitment efforts, to reflect school pride, to improve professional development, and in general outreach efforts such as connecting alumni or informing students’ parents about university activities.

(Next page: How Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogging use have changed over time; plus, view the infograph)