Using Social Media as a Tool for Learning in Higher Education

Using Social Media as a Tool for Learning in Higher Education

Kathryn Woods, Melissa Gomez, Michelle Gadson Arnold
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2019070101
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The use of social media has become ubiquitous in many industries, including higher education. Emerging research shows that incorporating various social media platforms into course instruction can increase student interest, participation, and engagement as well as provide instructors and students with multiple platforms for communication and research that can be used to enhance the sense of community in an online group. This study determined whether various groups of students had differing attitudes toward using social media for class assignments. The recommendations provided are intended to help instructors interested in using social media for class assignments to learn more about how various student groups perceive this practice.
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The Impact of Social Media

Social media began as a way to keep people connected by providing a way to efficiently share photos, videos, text, and web links, often in real time, and has developed into a force that has impacted and continues to impact – or in some cases, revolutionize – organizations. Marketing processes and strategies have embraced social media channels as a way to communicate with customers through relationship building and retargeting. Personally, social media has changed the way many people keep up with family or friends, so naturally it has changed the way users “keep up” with their favorite organizations. News media has also been significantly impacted by the rise of social media. Newspaper subscriptions, etc. are on the decline, and many turn to various social media platforms to keep up with the latest information. Fifty-four percent of Millennials report that their primary source for news is social media (YPulse, 2017).

Social media has also impacted the way job seekers market themselves for employment. Increasingly, undergraduate and graduate students are expected to engage in some sort of personal branding with an online presence. In many cases, job recruiters expect students to go beyond creating a great resume, and be able to prove themselves as active members of their discipline by following and creating industry-related content online, especially via social media accounts (Harris, 2015). Social media has also created a new way of influencing the public. These platforms connect users with celebrities, political leaders, industry experts, etc. in a new, more direct way. In recent years, some users have utilized these platforms to create social media “campaigns” to raise money or make changes in the world via crowdfunding. Perhaps the most well-known is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014, in which donors were encouraged to video themselves pouring a bucket of ice on their heads, and then post the video on social media and challenge other friends to complete the dare and make a donation to the fund. In total, more than 115 million dollars was raised, and the funds were used to help fight the disease through research, care services, and public policy programs (ALS, 2014).

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