Social Media & Higher Education

About a week ago, I joined fellow UCI Online Extension professors for eggs and coffee at the annual thank you breakfast. And while the predicted beards, glasses and tweedy jackets made their rounds, the topic of discussion – social media – provided a skosh more relevance. Tweed and social media combined? Oh, say it to me slow…

Social media was discussed as not just a tool but THE tool that will transform education in the classroom. This goes well beyond voice-over PPTs and Webinars, thank God.

Nothing replaces face-time in a classroom, but think about how this may revolutionize the learning environment for the new student, the “millenial” who prefers an on-demand mode of info-gathering. Could they possibly participate MORE in class knowing they can scribble notes later? Hell, they may even quote you. Term papers might even explode in quality *GASP. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. With innovation comes distraction. Oh, hello Twitter.

So what kind of innovation could we see w/in the next year or so?

Automatic captioning and automatic timing on the ubiquitous YouTube, for example, instantly opens doors for students from all corners of the world, but also for students with disabilities. Need to fast-forward to a particular lecture about Rembrant’s most famous works? What if you could keyword search your prof’s 2-hour lecture in a matter of seconds. Just like Google, a quick search and bam, there’s your factoid for tomorrow’s final. At min. 1:23.

Professors must familiarize themselves with the most popular social media tools and channels if they want to stay relevant. Birmingham City University offers a social media master’s program, but also demonstrates that it’s got the chops through a robust Web site and highly engaged faculty and student blog. Will this replace Moodle?

Makes you want to go back to school, doesn’t it?

Check out AriWriter’s perspective on this topic and more.

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College 2.0 Social Media Wants You

Great piece here from the New York Times on colleges using social media as a recruitment tool.  The concept of using technology to recruit students isnt new (believe it or not, online registration used to not be the standard, kiddos), but innovation we’re seeing on Web sites themselves is quite inspiring and in some cases, kinda pretty

This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a friend who said how cool it was to be able to connect with her classmates before meeting them face-to-face in two months. I should mention she’s headed to grad school in Barcelona, Spain in two months.  Through Facebook, email and other social media channels, she’s already been invited to parties and mixers, found an apartment and roommates.

I can’t help but think back to my study abroad prep. We had to snail mail checks and paperwork and email wasn’t always reliable.

Web site innovation is key, but the secret sauce will lie in the use of other social media channels. Think about how effective Twitter would be as a recruitment tool, troubleshooting/FAQ tool or once you become a student, a hotline in the case of emergencies. Schools are already using emails and texts to reach their student body. Twitter is a natural (perhaps more effective) next step.

Colleges must earmark time and money though, and track their must successful channels and above all, keep using them.