Social Media, Cyberculture, Blockchains, and Education: A New Strategy for Brazilian Higher Education

Social Media, Cyberculture, Blockchains, and Education: A New Strategy for Brazilian Higher Education

Matheus Batalha Moreira Nery (Uninassau, Brazil), Magno Oliveira Macambira (Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana, Brazil), Marlton Fontes Mota (Universidade Tiradentes, Brazil) and Izabella Cristine Oliveira Rezende (Uninassau, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9478-9.ch012

Abstract

A new world is emerging to higher education worldwide. In Brazil, higher education took a significant turn in the last years with the substantial reductions of government investments in social justice policies. To compensate for the downturn of enrollment of new students in on-campus programs, universities started to invest heavily in distance education online programs and social media strategies. This new trend brought to the core of their strategy the necessity to develop new information and communication technologies to make the students' experience more enjoyable, to facilitate the learning process, and to increase enrollments. This process will enable professors and educators to create inspiring links with their students and within the cyberculture environment. The main objective of this chapter is to contribute to the debate of the uses of social media, cyberculture, and blockchain technology for the development of educational strategies. Therefore, it will review the existing scientific literature on social networking, social media, cyberculture, and blockchains related to Brazil.
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Introduction

Brazilian Higher Education has evolved significantly in the past decade. However, it still encounters numerous challenges, especially regarding increasing enrollments and also developing strategies for quality in education. The goal set up for the last administration, President Dilma Rousseff's terms (2011-2016), was to achieve 33% higher education enrollment in the 18-24-year-old age group by 2024 (IBGE, 2016). Nevertheless, the new government has already indicated in their rhetoric that it is in their plans to diminish the public funding for private universities, which nowadays concentrates the majority of enrollments in Brazilian HEI (MEC, 2017).

This scenario started to change in 2015 when the Brazilian government created new rules for the students to have access to government student loans. This new set of rules pumped a crisis in private HEI and forced them to reorganize their strategy to attain a market that is still suffering from the Brazilian economic constraints (MEC, 2017). Facing such adversities, the strategy of Brazilian private institutions shifted from mostly been focus on undergraduate programs funded mostly by government student loans to develop strategies to try scaling up the enrollments in new online distance learning programs, which are not supported by public funds. This new strategy is in compass with new Brazilian government officials’ vision to the future of Brazilian higher education, and strategy to scale up enrollments in online graduate programs has already started to be implemented by some institutions in Brazil (Nery, 2018a).

Beyond the new ideas and initiatives by the government, Brazilian HEI is still facing a lot of challenges to develop themselves as institutions that can provide a good service to Brazil’s society. Competing in the education global scenario is a distant dream for most institutions of the country. Most of them are still facing problems with the Brazilian government's decision to defund students' loan programs and, at the same time, due to this crisis, are trying to attract students to enroll in their programs using aggressive commercial strategies. The necessary technology to perform in outstanding quality online undergraduate and graduate programs to students still needs to be implemented in most institutions. However, around the world, new technology is assisting universities to achieve a new level o development and increasing the quality of education (Nery, 2018b). Among them, it is the development of strategies in social media and blockchains technology for education, which has already indicated that can change the sector's ways of interacting with knowledge.

The Internet has become a powerful environment for today’s enterprises to market their products and services. Universities and colleges are no exception in this trend, as they are continually looking forward to maintaining or expanding their students’ enrollments. In Brazil, a new strategy has arisen in this scenario. Led by the necessity of lower the marketing cost of their operation and at the same time creating an online narrative that can help them attract more students, universities, and colleges started to create hashtags to stimulated their stakeholders to actively share information and knowledge about the institution to other users. These hashtags have created a massive block of information about academic programs, research initiatives, and enrollment opportunities.

The research on social media has already advanced in this scenario worldwide. There is a complex body of research work being formed by researches that are using hashtags to analyze important areas, such as political context (Bruns & Burgess, 2011). Others focused on social justice problems such as the uses of racialized hashtags, knew as “blacktags”, which implies the uses of social media to do a harmful, racist, humor online (Sharma, 2013). Social media is also a linguistic marketplace and hashtags are used to bolster the visibility of the online content published by its users. Page (2012) has argued that self-branding practices can reinforce the hierarchies that are part o the offline social contexts, as also are being used by large corporations to create a synthetic personalization that can enable new narratives and broadcast talks about products or services.

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