Use and obstacles to social media use in Higher Education

For this blog post, we were asked to find an infographic or article about how faculty (higher education) are using and/or reacting to social media. I chose an article written by Manca S. and Ranieri M. (2016) titled:  “Facebook and the others. The Potentials and obstacles of Social Media for teaching in higher education”. The article used a sample of 6139 faculty across different regions in Italy to analyze whether and how Social Media are used in higher education for teaching purposes. Specifically, the study aimed to investigate the socio-demographic variables (age, gender, academic discipline, number of years of teaching, and academic title) that influence the frequency of use of Social Media in Teaching as well as the obstacles that prevent faculty from using them.

Results showed that 64% of the survey respondents declared using at least one out of the 8 Social Media presented to them. The most used social media was YouTube-Vimeo (39.3%) followed by Blog-Wiki (28.7%), and ResearchGate-Academia.edu (25.6%). Out of 5833 respondents, only 38.6% admitted finding Social Media useful for educational purposes, while 37.4% of them found it useless. 24% of them were undecided.

As far as the influence of socio-demographic characteristics, the results showed that gender predicted the frequency of use of Twitter. Respondents with ages that range from 25-54 tended to use Twitter more than those with age 55+. Also, people with more years of experience were found to use Twitter more than other Social Media.

Regarding obstacles to faculty use of Social Media, three main categories were discussed:

  • Cultural and socio-relational dimension, which includes “items related to students’ distraction
  • Pedagogical and teaching dimension, which refers to “workload, pedagogical effectiveness and diffusion among students” and,
  • Administrative and managerial dimension, which relates to administrative and institutional issues.

This was a very interesting article, which shows that although some Social Media outlets have been adopted in academia (YouTube and Research Gate), they are still facing quite a few obstacles to become very popular in the school environment. The study also shows that most faculty admitted not finding the use of Social Media useful for teaching purposes. Given their popularity and considering the fact that most students have at least social media account, their use for educational purposes could prove to be effective. At the same time, tackling the above-mentioned obstacles will could also improve the effectiveness of use of Social Media in Higher education.