Student and Faculty Perceptions of Social Media Use and Relationships Inside and Outside the Higher Education Classroom

Student and Faculty Perceptions of Social Media Use and Relationships Inside and Outside the Higher Education Classroom

Julie A. Delello, Kouider Mokhtari
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-7123-4.ch063
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This study examined student and faculty perceptions of social media use inside and outside the classroom. Three hundred and ninety-six students and fifty faculty members at a regional university campus in the south central United States voluntarily completed an online survey soliciting quantitative and qualitative data about their perceptions of social media use. Results revealed important findings highlighting similarities, differences, and insights among student and faculty perceptions of social media use in the classroom, their views about whether social media use constitutes a distraction, and how each group views social media relationships in and out of the classroom. These findings are quite consistent with prior and emerging research about social media use and have implications for how institutions of higher education can explore meaningful ways of incorporating social media in the classroom with the goal of strengthening teaching and learning.
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New and emerging advances in social media and mobile technologies have allowed us to communicate with others almost anywhere and at any time. In fact, the New Media Consortium predicted that social media will be used as a platform for continuous sharing of information and collaboration in education over the next five years (Adams Becker, Cummins, Davis, Freeman, Hall Giesinger, & Ananthanarayanan, 2017). According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Americans build connections and share information with one another through the social media technologies Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter (Smith & Anderson, 2018). In 2019, there are predicted to be approximately 221 million Facebook, 200 million You Tube, and 69 million Twitter users in the United States (Clement, 2019). According to Clement (2019), there were also 203 million daily Snapchat users. These social media consumers are predicted to spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day networking socially (GlobalWebIndex, 2019).

Social media have also permeated institutions of higher education. According to the NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education, the use of social media by faculty members and students on campuses is expanding (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2015). Research has suggested that more than half of college students are continuously connected to popular social networking sites (SNS) such as Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter (Smith & Anderson, 2018). Mirroring the general population, researchers reported that 70% of faculty utilized SNS and of those, 55% used social media for managing their professional image (Seaman & Tinti-Kane, 2013). In another study, almost 85% of faculty noted having a Facebook account, two-thirds (67%) were on LinkedIn, and 50% used Twitter (Faculty Focus, 2011). However, other research has highlighted much lower percentages of faculty (50%) utilizing social media for instruction especially among those over age 55 (Kumi-Yeboah & Blankson, 2018).

Heiberger & Junco (2015) suggested that in order to improve educational outcomes, faculty should be using social media like Facebook and Twitter to engage students. But to what extent are faculty and students actually using social media in the classroom? The purpose of this study was to examine student and faculty perceptions regarding the potential benefits or detriments in the classroom. Do they view social media as beneficial for instruction? Or do they see them as a mere distraction? A related purpose of this research was to highlight how faculty and students felt about extending social media relationships outside the classroom. To date, little is known about the effects of teacher-student social media relationships in the higher education setting (Metzger, Finley, Ulbrich, McAuley, 2010; Hershkovitz & Forkosh-Baruch, 2013).



Social media technologies have the capability to change “the nature of the way we communicate, access information, connect with peers and colleagues, learn, and even socialize” (Johnson, Adams Becker, & Cummins, 2012, p. 6). The term social media is defined as “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010, p.61). Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the World Wide Web which promotes greater collaboration and sharing across the Internet through social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram which integrate visual tools with digital technologies (Delello & McWhorter, 2014). The evolution from Web 1.0 to 2.0 has allowed for more user participation and improved interaction and socialization (Eteokleous-Grigoriou & Ktoridou, 2014). Moreover, Web 3.0, combining the features of Web 1.0 and 2.0, will continue to evolve as a more intelligent web poised to allow users to co-construct and share additional information with one another.

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