People in 1985 and later have never lived in a world without personal computers. These are the students that have been described as “digital natives.” Most faculty are what would call “digital immigrants.” They have had to learn the use of personal computers and the internet as they went along. As faculty, we are now faced with the challenge of how to cope with these digital natives. There are many digital technologies used by younger students, and social media is probably the most common. Tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp are just a few of over 90 social media sites. Now the pressure is on as to how to use social media, which these students know well, as an effective tool in the classroom. The challenge to teachers and to universities is how best to integrate social media into online teaching. There are both advantages and disadvantages to doing so.
One stated purpose for the use of social media at traditional universities (on ground) is the belief that students engaged socially will be more likely to return. Retention is a driving force behind some social media applications being introduced at on-ground colleges and universities.
My question to my colleagues is whether social media in an online environment can be used effectively in teaching and whether such a tool engenders any sense of “commitment” to the university, thereby enhancing student retention. The competition for online students is intense as virtually all universities and colleges are now offering online programs. Is social media an effective to enhance student retention?
There is a meeting June 21-22, 2018 in Limerick, Ireland. It is the 5th European Conference on Social Media. I will be leading a mini-track on social media in education, and I plan to also present (assuming I pass peer review) a paper on the use of social media in online education. If there are colleagues who wish to join with me on this paper, that would be terrific. If there are colleagues who want to work on a different paper to present at the ECSM meeting, that would be wonderful as well. I look forward to hearing from you all.