In the last decade, the growth of Social Media is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the history of Information and Communication Technologies. Social Media provide professional and academic networking services such as LinkedIn and ResearchGate, tools to write and discuss such as Blog, tools to archive, retrieve, and distribute materials for lectures such as YouTube and SlideShare, and tools for social network such as Twitter and Facebook.
Higher educators adopt Social Media as an educational tool to social network, to share, and promote discussion. Besides a teaching assistant tool, Social Media are also used for personal usage and professional purposes. Studies showed that globally, scholars are using Social Media mainly for personal and professional purposes rather than teaching tools. Studies showed that even majority of faculty have a positive feedback about using Social Media as a teaching tool, only minority of them were using or planning to use these.
There are several factors, which may influence the adoption and application of Social Media, including prior experience, gender, age, scientific discipline, academic title, and years of teaching. Age is an important factor, younger faculty (under age 35) tend to use Social Media in their teaching, personal, and professional purposes at a much higher rate than older faculty do. Junior faculty are likely to use Social Media in their personal life more than senior faculty, which makes them more familiar to these tools. Furthermore, junior faculty also have more motivations to develop their professional networks and they might benefit more from social network sites than senior faculty. However, the results from seniority showed a different picture. Faculty with higher numbers of years of teaching are generally using Social Media more than junior faculty. Possible explanations include (1) experienced teaching scholars might have more confidence to try new teaching approaches and (2) they have already had a good professional position, they have less pressure on research and have more time to invest in new teaching methods. Academic title also influences the usage of Social Media. Full professors in their position and consequently their reputation, are using professional social networks such as LinkedIn more than their colleagues. Meanwhile, assistant professors are more involved in Social Media such as Blog, YouTube, Facebook, and Podcast for different purposes than other colleagues. Besides, disciplines also affect the adoption of Social Media due to their difference in the availability of relevant content on Social Media sites. In fact, faculty in the humanities and arts, professions and applied sciences, and the social sciences use Social Media more than those in natural sciences. Faculty of humanities and arts have the highest percentage of using Social Media, including Twitter, Facebook, Podcast, Blog, and YouTube for all purposes. In the meanwhile, faculty of Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Professions and Applied Sciences tend to use professional tools such as LinkedIn and ResearchGate. Compared to seniority or discipline, gender has a minor influence to the usage of Social Media. Compared to females, males are much more active Twitter for personal, professional, and teaching purposes. Males also use LinkedIn and YouTube more frequently than females for personal purposes. However, females are more active users of ResearchGate, SlideShare, Podcast, and Youtube for all purposes.