Social Media in Academia

cup and tableAnnounced this week, the ETNA (Enhanced Training Needs Analysis) 2012 survey has found that “nearly three quarters of academics in further education agree that social media tools enhance the quality of the learning experience.”

The JISC news release – “Survey shows that social media has graduated to academia” – continues by saying that “YouTube is by far the most popular tool, while Facebook and particularly Twitter, lag well behind. However, the survey also identifies a strong need for staff training in the use of social media.”

Of those surveyed:

  • Academic staff seemed most in favour of social media: 70% agreed that its use enhances the quality of the learning experience and 69% agreed that students were at ease using it.
  • Some academic staff felt that social media is a distraction to learning.
  • Around half of all middle managers said their department uses social media tools for learning and teaching.
  • Fewer than 10% of staff, in any category, had received training in social media.
  • More than a third of staff identified a need for staff training.

Celeste McLaughlin, advis0r: staff development at JISC RSC Scotland said: “It’s clear from the survey that social media is now here to stay in colleges as learning tools. They offer a familiar environment for students and, at the same time, teaching staff clearly like them. In particular, the ability to share videos online has made YouTube a clear favourite. But training is patchy, so JISC RSC Scotland aims to help college staff improve their social media skills.”

Here is a link to the 2012 ETNA survey: “Growth and Development – an analysis of skills and attitudes to technology in Scottish further education”

What I’ve got from the report so far is, as always, a careful and appropriate use of social media (or technology) can enhance (not necessarily improve) the “learning experience”. So, read the report, absorb it, take from it what you will; some will matter, some won’t. But keep an open mind and see what can ‘enhance’ your learning materials or assessment strategy.

Image source: Kings Hedges by Kevin Steinhardt (CC BY-SA 2.0)