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Take Two: Looking Ahead at Social Media & Higher Education

As a new academic year gets underway, it is hard not to feel the ubiquitous buzz on a college campus.  All of the hype of “back to school” season has finally come to fruition and we are all getting ourselves in gear for what’s sure to be another blink-and-they’re-gone set of semesters.

Though I often think of planning for the future when I reach the end of a previous chapter, I find myself thinking forward these past few days at the start of this academic year.  Particularly, I am meditating on what’s next for social media in higher education.  How are the two going to intersect this year?  I’m no soothsayer, but here’s a little bit of what I’m looking forward to given the trends I’m noticing on my campus and across the country.

Moving From “How Do We Begin” to “How Do We Succeed”

I am already seeing this happen, and I am excited about it.  Across universities, colleagues are continuing their meetings to discuss the use of social media.  Now more so than before, the discussions are turning evaluative; to how exactly it’s working.  To some degree, there seems to be a push for campus-wide social media education for faculty and stuff.  At many colleges & universities, there are social media committees or working groups that meet regularly to discuss issues and trends on campus.  The conversation is moving beyond the introductions, beyond experimental.  I’m looking forward to digging in to this conversation and focusing the conversation more on how we can succeed together, and a little less on how we can begin together.

Examining Learning On Social Media

sm-in-the-classroom1-300x224-8059814

“Social Media in the Classroom” – a presentation given at the University of Denver and found on their blog. Click the image to be taken to the page where you can view the presentation.

When using social media for business, it’s critical to measure if your efforts on the networks lead to conversions of some sort.  Is my Twitter account driving traffic to my website?  Are my Facebook posts creating opportunities for sales of my product or service?  Is my Pinterest page getting people to physically visit my boutique?  These are examples of business goals, and they make sense.  For business.  In higher education, there are instances where we want and can track similar conversions: driving traffic to our websites, creating opportunities for donations, and encouraging people to apply for admission.  But, what about learning – our biggest goal?  How are social media helping students learn?  What are the best ways to promote learning on social media?  I know this discussion has already gotten started.  I know there’s even a social network whose stated purpose is for learning.  This is all great progress, and I am looking forward to continuing the move beyond the numbers of Likes, Retweets, Pins, +1s, etc. as we dive into studying the possible educational benefits of social media use for faculty, staff, and administration at colleges and universities.

When it comes to social media and higher education, what are you looking forward to this year?  An innovative project or idea?  A new way to examine how your efforts are working?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

By Kevin

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