Social Media and Higher Education


A bit of background: I belong to the “Pro Faculty Use of Social Media” camp. I have established a presence on various social media platforms over the years, and seen my use of these channels change as my career has taken shape. Six years ago, things looked a lot different. I was in the “anti-social media” camp and had actually deactivated my own personal Facebook profile for several months. However, in 2011 I came to realize the large impact appropriate use of social media could have on the dissemination of reliable and evidence-backed nutrition and exercise-related information. So – I started a blog (formerly Dine, Dash, and Deadlift, which is now in the process of being moved over to my new webpage Then I started writing a nutrition column for a running blog. Then I got on Twitter. And so on and so on. Cut to more recently and I am: encouraging my students to interact with course content via our course hashtag on Twitter; presenting on social media to dietitians and college educators; and even collecting data on social media use and perceptions in higher education. Clearly I became an enthusiastic convert!

Twitter example

In 2009, recognizing the growth of digital technologies and online and mobile communications, Pearson Learning Solutions and the Babson Survey Research Group began to survey faculty members about their awareness, use, and perceptions of social media. An infographic of the results from their most recent survey are displayed below. The full report goes in to greater detail on faculty perceptions of social media in general, personal & professional use of social media (broken down by age, discipline, and specific social media platforms), and barriers to social media use.


Faculty tend to use social media as a teaching tool less often that they use social media in their personal or professional lives. However, the percentage of faculty reporting use of social media in the classroom is steadily increasing. While concerns are noted, and should be addressed appropriately, incorporation of social media may enhance the learning environment, increase engagement with course content, and facilitate student-faculty interactions.

Interested in learning more about social media and higher education? Check out a joint blog post a colleague and I wrote to accompany a poster presentation at the 2015 NACTA conference. Another resource to consider is the Pearson Education blog which has case study examples for incorporating social media in to your courses.

Where on the social media in HigherEd spectrum (100% for <——> 100% against) would you place yourself and why?


About tanyamh

A PhD Student at Virginia Tech. This blog was created as a class requirement for Contemporary Pedagogy - Spring 2013.


  1. Thank you for this information. I am not sure of my camp on this issue. I believe that the use of social media for classrooms and certainly for communication in higher education is important, but I haven’t yet reconciled the time input that is needed to maintain such an endeavor to the positive (or possibly not) output worth. I feel that I still don’t know enough about the use of many types of social media to use them effectively either. I guess I am still on the out camp but would maybe be interested in becoming part of the in camp.

    1. Hi Lindy,

      You make a great point in explaining your hesitation – effectiveness. Like any educational tool, activity, strategy, etc. that we incorporate in to our courses, it needs to have a purpose. It needs to be justified. It needs to be tied to course objectives. Forcing students to blog, tweet, join a Facebook group, or whatever, just because it’s ‘novel’ is not helpful. That’s just noise and is unnecessary. My recommendation would be to examine the objectives of your course and see when, where, and how social media fits in to achieving those objectives. Another way to look at this, is what social media skills do students need in their future careers? Tying in those ‘meta-skills’ to your course specifically in relation to your course content could be valuable to their training. However, there are only so many hours in the day, and we can all only do so much. So, continue to consider it – but obviously I would never push someone to include it over more valuable portions of the course!

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