The State of Social Media in Saudi Arabia’s Higher Education

The State of Social Media in Saudi Arabia’s Higher Education

Hend S. Al-Khalifa, Regina A. Garcia
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/ijtem.2013010105
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Social media platforms are designed not only for entertainment but also for exchange of information, collaboration, teaching and learning. With this, Higher Education institutions in Saudi Arabia have started utilizing these platforms for the main reason that many students are embracing this new trend in technology. In this article, a discussion of this media in education in terms of its roles, used in different settings, and its policies and management in accordance with Saudi culture will be covered. Furthermore, the state of this media in Higher Education institutions among the country’s universities and colleges will be highlighted.
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1. Introduction

Social media has been continuously adopted by many universities around the world. It increasingly became common to university departments, employees and students where it has been used mainly for communication and serve as a tool to establish positive impressions not only to individuals but also to Higher Education (HE) institutions. Through this media, these institutions can reach out the students, faculty and staff, parents and potential students through the provision of adequate online social services. These do not just give you information but serve as tools for interaction. Among the types of social media platforms are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogging, YouTube, Flickr and Message Boards.

In Saudi Arabia (SA), statistics show that 47.5% of the Saudi populations are engaged in the internet. The percentage is an equivalent of 13.6 million users in the country (“Q1 2012,” 2012). According to “Digital Media in Saudi Arabia” (n.d.), 82% of these internet users utilize Facebook and 80% of Saudi Arabian YouTube browsers utilize social media tools. While based on “number of Twitter users in Saudi Arabia” (2012), the number of Twitter users in the country has increased to 3000% last June 2012. These figures indicated an effect of technology on today’s generation. This is also the reason why universities in the country have started utilizing social media for teaching and learning purposes. As a matter of fact, Dr. Adbulmajeed Albanyan recommended in “King Saud University (KSU) Student Committee” (2012) Twitter should be utilized in teaching because of the today’s youth are cleaving to social networks, latest trends of gadgets and other forms of technology.

The continued adoption of social media in HE institutions is unstoppable. And this adoption has been used by the country to assist its citizens in order for them to learn, grow, and be more productive. This also leads to compete academically by providing its youths the quality of education they deserve.

The main objective of this chapter is to provide the readers the roles of social media in HE and its usage in different universities/college and even the policies and management formed by the Saudi government in using it. Also, the chapter will include the state of social media in the country’s top universities, the barriers that exist in some universities to integrate this kind of technology, and the solutions in order to overcome those barriers.

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