College Faculty Use Social Media More Than Workplace Employees
Faculty in the collegiate space, typically thought of by the corporate world as slow moving and behind the times, use social media platforms more than workplace employees. An April 2011 survey shows that college faculty use social media in myriad ways both professionally and personally, outpacing their corporate counterparts 2-1. While faculty reported that they were aware of most of the social platforms, Facebook, YouTube, and Blogs were noted as those that were most frequently visited and used, some out of necessity and not out of desire. Interestingly, faculty who have been in the professoriate for more than 20 years showed the same level of awareness of social media as those who have been in the field for fewer than 5.
Faculty Opinions of Social Media
While faculty are indeed using social media, many feel lackluster about many of the components of the medium. Over 80% of faculty surveyed believed that social media takes more time than its worth, and most worry deeply about lack of privacy and integrity. This worry deepens with sites like Facebook and Twitter. Faculty feel that those particular platforms, while necessary, have negative value for use in the classroom. There is less concern about blogs, wikipedia, and the use of videos from a site like YouTube. Faculty see the value of using those tools inside the classroom to promote a collaborative learning environment. A small subset of faculty who primarily teach online utilize these tools in their interactive classrooms at a higher rate than those that teach on-site, and tended to have a higher awareness of less popular sites like SlideShare, and Flickr.
Recommendations for Faculty
Faculty are sophisticated users of social media and can easily increase the frequency of their usage by building posting and social media research time in their course planning. Faculty can connect in a more intentional way to their students by spending an hour a week on blogging and lurking/posting in the social space. Asking students to engage by creating content, commenting on content, and reading/watching/listening to content allows for learning to occur outside of the classroom and for students to stay engaged in learning. Students who feel connected to their faculty and peers are more likely to stay at an institution. As a free and often under-appreciated retention tool, college faculty can use social media to aid in student retention.