There's an ongoing debate about the role social media should play in K-12 education. As a result, schools have been especially slow to adopt social technologies. Advocates point to the benefits social media offers students, and critics want to remove social media from classrooms, insisting that there be more regulation. Finding a happy medium has become a challenge.
For higher education, the story is different. When used as an educational tool, colleges and universities have found that social media enhances the learning experience by enabling students and teachers to connect and interact in new ways beyond the classroom. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites promote collaboration and discussion, and students have embraced them as a means to ask questions and exchange ideas.
Universities have fully embraced social platforms to recruit athletes and vet students who have applied for admission. (Note to high school students: Clean up your Facebook page before you fill out your college application.) Social sites, especially Facebook, are also used for marketing and branding.
OnlineUniversities.com has done some research about the pros and cons of social media in higher education, and they summarized their results in the infographic below. It examines which platforms work the best and the challenges schools face as they try to learn how to manage their social media presence. Some key takeaways:
- 100% of the schools studied are using some form of social media.
- They use it in the classroom, to enhance school pride, as a professional development tool for teachers, and to reach out to their immediate communities and prospective students.
- Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Columbia make the best use of social media.