Online Behavior of the Social Media Student

Online Behavior of the Social Media Student

Alan J. Reid, Kate Prudchenko
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2670-6.ch010
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A survey of 100 undergraduates and 30 post-secondary faculty members was conducted in order to examine the current attitudes and perceptions of both groups toward the integration of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in education. Results indicate that both parties are willing to incorporate these social media sites into academics but caution that digital identities are not necessarily representative of face-to-face behavior, thus suggesting the need for an awareness of social presence for online interaction between students and faculty. Social cognitive theories are applied to the use of social media as an instructional tool and a set of best practices for implementing social media in academics is proposed.
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Educators are teaching a new generation of students. Unlike generations X, Y, or Z, the Social Media Generation is not determined by the year in which a person is born but by the amount that person interacts with others through social media tools. As a result, the Social Media Generation includes all ages and backgrounds. Kindergartens, elementary schools, the Queen of England and the Pope have Facebook pages. This year, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, beat out the President of the United States, thirty-three Chilean miners, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, and the Tea Party for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. This speaks volumes to the relevance social media has in our society and suggests that social media is much more than a temporary fad. This all-encompassing Social Media Generation lives in an environment where communication is instant, connectivity is expected, and digital identities and relationships mimic real world actualizations. As a result, more and more educators and educational institutions are integrating social media with academics in the hopes that doing so will relate to students and keep them engaged in learning, but are these two worlds compatible?

The mission of this chapter is to survey current post-secondary undergraduates and faculty located throughout the country in order to take a pulse on the attitudes and perceptions of social media in education, and to reconcile these attitudes with common and acceptable online behaviors. Through the lens of social learning theories, the authors explore how students construct and maintain multiple digital identities in order to interact with social, business, and academic networks. Accordingly, a set of guidelines and recommendations for the use of social media in education is drafted.

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