The Impact of Social Media on Policy Decisions in International Higher Education

The Impact of Social Media on Policy Decisions in International Higher Education

Pamela A. Lemoine, P. Thomas Hackett, Michael D. Richardson
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0672-0.ch009
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The infusion of technology is one of the major ironies of modern education because technology has changed delivery techniques for higher education. The technological revolution of the past two decades has changed communication in contemporary educational settings, particularly higher education. Educators are teaching how to live successfully in a future that is increasingly ambiguous and fast-paced. That is a formidable task in the quickly changing world of technology where educators must prepare students to be able to find the information they need and the knowledge of how to analyze appropriately, not just to regurgitate facts. Technology offers college students an array of options to socialize, network, stay informed and connected, but they come 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 and are shifting from the acquisition of skills so prevalent in today's colleges to a true learning design focused on technology.
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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 constant online discussions (Brady, Holcomb, & Smith, 2010; Lee & McLoughlin, 2010; Webb, 2009). Social media is commonly defined as any media used to integrate technology into the lives of people to facilitate communication (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 in students (Bayne, 2008; 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 (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 and to post personal information profiles (Connell, 2009; Junco, 2011; Junco, Heibergert, & Loken, 2010).

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)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mobile Learning (or mLearning): Learning anytime/anywhere’’ capacity which creates access to content regardless of time or place.

Media Overload: Faculty overwhelmed by the complexities of trying to learn media literacy while at the same time trying to teach it in their classrooms.

Organizational Flexibility: Focus on flexibility, learning and development of new knowledge instead of specific solutions.

Network Theory of Learning: Encompasses theories from learning, education, philosophy of knowledge, and knowledge management, situated within a discourse of change in education and related to the transformative possibilities offered by emerging technologies.

Cyberinfrastructure (CI): Cyberinfrastructure facilitates students and faculty in sharing methods, tools, and experiences to enhance learning; meaning the merger of human resources, data and technology into one.

Social Learning: Building skills to predict and control outcomes to the ability to recognize patterns and adapt quickly.

Disruptive Innovation: Is innovations which make complicated, costly items simpler and cheaper which attracts new sets of customers.

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