The Impact of Social Media on Instruction in Higher Education

The Impact of Social Media on Instruction in Higher Education

Pamela A. Lemoine (Columbus State University, USA), Paul Thomas Hackett (Columbus State University, USA) and Michael D. Richardson (Columbus State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0256-2.ch016
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Abstract

The technological revolution of the past two decades has changed communication in contemporary educational settings. Consequently, there is now a wide gulf between the unlimited use of technology and higher education, particularly with respect to digital communications between professors and students. Technology offers college students an array of options to socialize, network, stay informed and connected, but with risks and consequences. As social media use by students becomes more established, educators in higher education are pursuing methods to continue significant and appropriate contact with their audience. Web 2.0 digital technologies convey information and permit interaction with distance participants. Personal use of digital technologies for social media communication is one thing; social media use by professors for communication with students is another. Can social media be used in higher education to improve learning through student and faculty collaboration and are there less than desirable results in the interaction of social media and higher education?
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Introduction

Educators in higher education have begun exploring alternative means of instruction including social communication tools designed for easy use, ease of use, instructional freedom, and online discussions (Brady, Holcomb, & Smith, 2010; Lee & McLoughlin, 2010; Martinez-Aleman, 2014; Webb, 2009). Social media is commonly defined as any media used to integrate technology into the lives of people to facilitate communication (Cao, Ajjan, & Hong, 2013; DeAndrea, Ellison, LaRose, Steinfield, & Fiore, 2012; Veletsianos, 2011). As social media has proliferated in society, more higher education institutions are using social media tools such as social networking, wikis, blogs, or video, to interact with or engage students (Al-Rahmi, Shaizan, & Usuf, 2015; Bayne, 2008; Piotrowski, 2015; Veletsianos, 2010). There is compelling evidence that social media can be a prized instrument for increasing student engagement (Martínez-Alemán, & Wartman, 2009). Increased engagement would also improve student academic performance (Al-Rahmi, Shaizan, & Usuf, 2015; Chen & Bryer, 2012; Kirschner & Karpinski, 2010; Mastrodicasa & Metellus, 2013). Social media has the potential enhance student participation and learning outcomes (Buzzetto-More, 2012). Some researchers speculate that the use of technology intensifies engagement and generates innovation that could make students more attentive (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie & Gonyea, 2008; Records, Pritchard, & Behling, 2011). The uses of social networks have increased exponentially in recent years although there is some controversy over the use of social mediums in educational settings (Chu & Meulemans, 2008; Connell, 2009; Dron & Anderson, 2007; Schneier, 2010).

Colleges and university common areas once served as locations for social interaction between students (Tess, 2013). However, in a 21st century technology-based world, virtual meeting areas such as Facebook provide a venue for college students to make connections (Murray, 2008; Rambe, 2012). Social media sites provide connections enabling users to link to others, to send messages, to link to social networking sites enabling users to connect with friends and colleagues, to send mails and instant messages, to blog, to meet new people, to share pictures and information on common interests, post personal information profiles, and in the higher education setting, establish formal and informal learning groups (Connell, 2009; Junco, 2011; Junco, Heibergert, & Loken, 2010; Subramani, 2015).

Social media is changing the way people interact, present ideas and information, and judge the quality of content and contributions. More than one billion people use Facebook regularly; other social media platforms extend those numbers to nearly one third of all people on the planet. Educators, students, alumni, … routinely use social media to share news about scientific and other developments. The impact of these changes in scholarly communication and on the credibility of information remains to be seen, but it is clear that social media has found significant traction in almost every education sector. (New Media Consortium Horizon, 2013, p. 1)

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