Social Media in the Community College: Put Your Ear to the Ground

Ear to the GroundJay Choi in his article Put Your Ear to the Ground: Engaging More Directly talks about the importance of engaging directly with the people you manage.

Community college instructors can use new powerful social media tools along with Choi’s management tips to increase  student engagement.

Take opportunities to talk face-to-face with students

Although students love to connect with social media, instructors should still look for opportunities to talk face-to-face with students. This may sound obvious to an outsider, but students are much different than they were twenty or even ten years ago.

Students no longer visit faculty in their offices. They register online, attend orientation online, and contact their instructors online. Faculty should look for opportunities to meet with students face-to-face when possible by attending sporting events, sponsoring clubs, or just hanging around a little longer after class.

Actually experience the good or service you provide

It is easy for faculty to get bogged down with grading papers, preparing lectures, and attending committee meetings. We sometimes forget the importance of our finished product. We need to connect with business owners who have hired our graduates to find out how they are performing on the job. Also, it is important to talk to graduates to see if they feel they have the needed skills to be successful after graduation. Surveying businesses and graduates via social media such as Facebook sometimes gives a higher response rate than mailing out surveys or trying to contact by phone.

Put yourselves in different shoes to solve complex problems

Faculty forget what it is like to be a student. If it has been many years since you have attended school as a student, enroll in a class at the college where you teach. If you don’t want to be stressed out over a grade, audit the class. It helps to look at the college through the eyes of a student.

Go where the water is fresh

Learn something new. Stay up-to-date on trends. Instructors can share excitement with students and colleagues when they are learning and keeping up with new trends and ideas.  It is always better to change before you are forced to change.

According to Eric Stoller (2011), a prevalent trend in education is the use of social media to engage students. Many faculty have been slow to adopt social media in the classroom. Social media can be used to engage students and may improve student learning outcomes and retention.

Social media offers endless ways for faculty to connect with other professionals and stay up-to-date with trends. Professional relationships can be nurtured through interaction and sharing.

You also may be interested in reading:

Put Your Ear to the Ground: Engaging More Directly (Jay Choi)

Are They Listening? Social Media on Campuses of Higher Education (Amy F. Ratliff)

Social Media Unsessions (Eric Stoller)

Social Media: Engage, Engage, Engage (carolhbates)

Is Social Media a Fad or a Fundamental Shift in the Way we Communicate: Why Should you Care?

Students use Social Media to Enhance Education

Image by Royalty-Free/Corbis

All of us are busy at work. We can’t get everything done.

So the thought at the forefront of most everyone’s mind is, “Why should I care about social media.”

It is time consuming. Faculty wonder  if it will positively impact students or simply be another temptation for distraction.

Will the time spent on social media pay off in improved student learning outcomes and retention?

If social media makes a difference, which social media platform should you be on?

Can Social Media Improve Student Learning Outcomes?

Social media is too new to have conclusive research to demonstrate  that these tools will improve student learning outcomes. Yet, there is an abundance of research to suggest that engagement does have a positive impact on student learning.

The richness of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogs, YouTube, and LinkedIn can be used to increase faculty-to-student, student-to-student, and student-to-content engagement.

Engagement is what gives social media tools the power to impact student learning outcomes.

Can Social Media Improve Retention?

Again, the research is not there to demonstrate that social media tools can improve retention. However, social media tools can be used to influence many factors that have been shown to have an impact on retention. These factors include but are not limited to learning communities, faculty mentoring, institutional commitment, social support, and social involvement.

Students are Already Using Social Media to Enhance Their Education

Research suggests that students use social media to enhance their education. Social media are used and loved by both the traditional and non-traditional students. Generation Y, also known as the Millennial generation,  (those born in the 1980s and early 1990s) feel that it is their right to use social media tools.

Social Media Can Be Used to Break Down the Walls of the Classroom

Facebook and Google+ are great tools to help build community and institutional commitment. Twitter, Blogs, and YouTube can be used to build learning communities and strengthen writing skills. All of these tools can help students collaborate on projects.

Faculty know that students are more likely to communicate with them using social media than they are to visit them in their closet/office. If you haven’t noticed, young people do not use the phone or email as their preferred method of communication.

Social media is not a fad, but a fundamental shift in the way we communicate.

Thank you for your comments.

You may also be interested in reading:

Faculty Should be on Facebook

Will LinkedIn Replace the Resume?

The Hazards of Being too Public in the Age of Social Media (Steve Tobak)

Faculty in the Community College Should be on Facebook

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
Mark Twain

Why Should I Care?

The question that may be front and center on the minds of busy faculty members is, “Why should I care?” Why should faculty members take time out of their busy schedules to learn to use Facebook?

This short video demonstrates that Facebook and other forms of social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are not a fad but a fundamental shift in the way students communicate.

When I say Facebook Page, most faculty members are thinking of their personal profile. But this blog will discuss the benefits of having a Page in Facebook separate from your personal profile.

To create a page, you must have a personal profile in Facebook.

What is the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook personal profile?

The Facebook page that you have is a personal profile and you use this for sharing with your friends and family. You may also engage with students on your personal profile.

The Business or Fan Page allows other people to become Fans. Business Pages do not give you the ability to add friends like your personal profile page.

Business or Fan Page

Personal Profile

Maintains a fan list Maintains a friend list
Open Pages Open Profiles
People Like your Page Must ask people to be your “friend” and they must “accept.”
Update your status which gets shared with your Fans Update your status which gets shared with your friends
Can represent an individual, group, or company Meant to represent a single person

Why? Why should I care?

It is beneficial to you and to your college to have a strong web presence.

Why?

  • Optimal way to communicate with students.
  • Great way to distribute information to students. Just in case you have noticed, they are not nearly as likely to be on Blackboard as they are on Facebook
  • Possible to capture the attention of new audiences. Others will see our pages, and we might stir up some outside interest in what we are doing on campus.
  • Besides boasting over 800 million participants, people from virtually every demographic are on Facebook.
  • Your Facebook page is a way to engage students. We all know what the research has to say about engaging students. Students who are engaged are more likely to be successful and complete their education
  • According to a survey conducted in June by Educause, a majority of students (58%) felt that Facebook is “valuable” or “extremely valuable” to their college success.
  • Social media tools give a new energy to social learning.
  •   Millennials (born 1977 – 1998) thrive on social learning.

Will Social Media Replace LMSs in Higher Education?

Engaged College Students. Photo by Fotolio

More and more students use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube to collaborate with their peers and instructors. Social media is reshaping the lives of students and faculty both inside and outside the classroom.

Students use Facebook to connect with each other to discuss homework, projects, and exams.

The lines between social lives and academic lives are becoming blurred. The classroom walls are crumbling and students expect educational opportunities to expand traditional time and space.

According to a survey conducted in June by Educause, a majority of students (58%) felt that Facebook is “valuable” or “extremely valuable” to their college success.  Social media tools give a new energy to social learning.  Millennials (born 1977 – 1998) thrive on social learning.

Most colleges use Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Blackboard, Edu 2.0, or Moodle. But students are more likely to use Facebook because it is a natural part of their lives. Faculty report that while it is hard to contact students through school email or LMS, students respond almost immediately when contacted via Facebook.

So will social media replace the LMS?

LMSs are beneficial in tracking student learning. The gradebook feature, attendance feature, and assignment sections provide the formal documentation that is necessary.

The social media networks give the informal communication and collaboration that young people love. Social networks are an extremely important addition to the LMS but not a replacement.

LMSs will continue to be enhanced to look more and more like a social network, but the LMSs will not replace the informal networks that students use outside of the classroom.

Instructors need to know how to engage students by combining the best features of the LMS with powerful social media platforms.