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What is the impact of social media on your college?

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What is the impact of social media on your college?

In today’s society, social media has penetrated almost all types of organisations. Not excluding higher education institutions, such as colleges and Universities, which have been eager adopters of this global phenomenon. The rapid rise and immense scale of social media provides endless opportunities and benefits for higher education institutions, forcing them to fully invest and embrace it in their educational endeavours. The widespread “fixation” with social media, across all generations, makes it a fitting instrument for administrators, managers, learners, teachers and students alike.

Social media can benefit colleges in a number of ways, from engaging with students inside the classroom, outside the classroom, helping students to stay aware and informed of offerings at their universities, or even supporting back-end staff to pitching to stakeholders and recruiting new staff. The opportunities are boundless, given the extent of social media in today’s digitalised eco-system.

Social media, especially the core platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, can enable educational institutions to provide stakeholders with updates and important information about new research programs, changes to policies, events, job vacancies, alumni engagement and institutional news. In the past, this may have been routinely e-mailed or printed, but these platforms – thanks to the immense amount of active users and widespread adoption across all industries – provides the chance for colleges to extend their reach beyond what would have been possible prior to social media.

Some colleges and universities also use social media as a tool for recruiting students. Social media provides a perfect platform to highlight in-demand courses, top teaching staff, and state of the art campus facilities, in an attempt to attract, and also retain, more students. This occurs frequently on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, through college groups and events, and even Instagram, where unique visuals and videos of colleges and universities’ campuses are posted daily to capture attention and to attract students. These platforms can also be used to recruit staff. However, it is important to use the social platform that is relevant for your target audience i.e. the type of staff you wish to attract. Therefore, if you are looking for young teachers, Instagram provide successful given the young demographic of users it attracts.  The same goes for the type of students i.e. young students vs mature students.

The emergence of social media also has the capacity to significantly influence the academic life of students, including tools to excite critical thinking skills, collaboration, and knowledge construction.

Social networks are able to generate new interactions among members of an educational community, such as facilitating sharing of information through online learning environments, involving recaps of topics studied in the classroom, group study, distribution of information, sharing of resources (Documents, presentations, links, and videos) etc. It can even be used to share ideas with other teachers; and to establish a moral and dynamic relation between members of departments and schools.

However, despite the deluge of advantages social media offers colleges, guidance and support are required for the appropriate use of social media channels. The use of social media in higher education is not without some inherent limitations. Its limitations include technological and privacy concerns, not only for the educators, but also for the students, potential loss of dominance of academics, passive behaviour of students, and absence of academic language usage. Therefore, training and guidance on how to use social media in this manner for educational institutions should be delivered not just to students, but to staff too.

Going forward, given the immense possibilities for social media to positively impact educational institutions’ core business functions, what needs to be worked out is how they can exploit, embrace and capitalise on social media to their institutions benefit.

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