List names Top 10 most influential campuses on Twitter

About half of faculty members say they don't know how to use Twitter.

Stanford University was named the most influential Twitter feed in higher education, according to a ranking of campuses’ Twitter activity that shows which schools best use the microblogging website considered a key component to college outreach.

Klout, a website that tracks the popularity of tweets, released the top-10 rankings Jan. 17, unveiling scores for each college or university based on how often a Twitter message is re-tweeted, number of followers, and how a school’s tweets are used by influential people in higher education.

Stanford finished with a top score of 70, followed by three schools that scored 64 in Klout’s ranking: Harvard University, Syracuse University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Others on Klout’s list were the University of California-Berkeley, Tufts University, Butler University, Temple University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Texas at Austin, Indiana University-Bloomington, and Marquette University.

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Klout’s Top-10 lists reach beyond higher education, including the site’s “Top 10 Most Retweeted Twitter Users” (Justin Bieber leads that list) and a ranking of mommy blogger Twitter feeds. The site uses more than 35 indicators to calculate a Twitter user’s presence, and generates scores from 1-100.

Klout’s amplification score indicates the likelihood that a Twitter user’s content will “be acted upon” – retweeted, for example. Stanford’s amplification score is 45, slightly below Harvard’s score of 47. Near the bottom of the top 10, Marquette’s amplification score is 34.

Klout’s list is the second recent measure of colleges’ impact on the web. In December, the Global Language Monitor released a ranking of schools with the best online brands, with the University of Wisconsin-Madison leading the way.

The University of Chicago ranked second in the Global Language Monitor ranking, and former No. 1-ranked Harvard fell to No. 3. Using the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s classifications, the ranking includes perceptions of colleges and universities on billions of web pages.

“The savvy consumer of the education marketplace appears centered on the price-sensitive ‘public Ivies’ and technology-centered schools, as well as online alternatives,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor. “The solidly performing ‘little Ivies’ are now fairly well distributed across the country– and are holding their own.”

Higher education’s involvement in Twitter has grown in recent years, but according to a 2009 survey, only three in 10 college faculty members use the microblogging site for educational purposes.

Faculty Focus, a company that distributes electronic newsletters to higher-education professionals, surveyed about 2,000 college and university faculty this summer and found that 69.3 percent of respondents don’t use Twitter in any capacity.

About 50 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know how to use the website, 63 percent said they didn’t have time to use Twitter, and 62 percent questioned the site’s educational value.

Almost 13 percent surveyed by Faculty Focus said they used to tweet, but did not find the website useful.

“A lot of times, professors want a certain amount of distance between them and their students,” said Jeremy Hyman, a part-time faculty member at the University of Arkansas and co-author of Professors’ Guide to Getting Good Grades, a self-help book for new college students. “[Some faculty] feel uncomfortable with penetrating that social sphere … and many professors would not like the constant contact of a Twitter interchange.”

Twitter, which has 100 million users, has not attracted college students en masse, but a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report showed that 9 percent of those with some college experience used the platform, equaling the same percentage of tweeters who had completed college or moved on to post-graduate education.

Pew’s Dec. 9 Twitter research was released just weeks before a similar survey conducted last year by Digital Surgeons, an online marketing firm with expertise in social media use.

The Digital Surgeons survey analyzed the various groups of regular tweeters, and found that 28 percent of Twitter users are college graduates, and nearly half are currently in college.

Seven percent of tweeters are in high school, according to the findings.

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