Social Media in Higher Education
Richard Harper, Chicketta Jackson, and Terrance Youngblood
University of Arkansas-Little Rock
February 24, 2012
• We live in a population of Digital Natives: We have spent their entire lives
surrounded by and “using computers, videogames, digital music players,
video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age.” 1
• The digital culture and environment in which we have grown up has
changed the way they think. Consequently, “today’s students think and
process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors.” 2
• Supporting literature also suggests digital natives prefer receiving
information quickly; are adept at processing information rapidly; prefer
multi-tasking and non-linear access to information; have a low tolerance for
lectures; prefer active rather than passive learning, and rely heavily on
communications technologies to access information and to carry out social
and professional interactions3.
As a Result…..
• We are living in a brave New
World of New Technology.
• We are living in a brave New
World of Facebook, Twitter,
As a result, we posit this question:
Can we, student affairs
professionals, effectively utilize
this New Technology for our
Yes, We Can: The Positive Uses of Social Media for Student Learning and Co-
SM for the purpose of increasing our enrollment
• In a longitudinal study of 536 four year universities, 61% of the admissions departments (n=536) in 2008
utilized social networking applications in order to interact with prospective students.4
SM for the purpose of helping students get involved with campus issues
• The ‘group’ and ‘event’ applications in social media applications enable the creation of an accessible, easily
maintained and highly interactive online forum, which is available 24/7 accommodating the ‘anytime-
anywhere’ work attitude of the students.
SM for the purpose of helping our students get involved in civic and international issues
• Some institutions are utilizing social media to have students engage in social advocacy and justice issues to
broaden their world perspectives and enhance their life experiences. 5
• Looking from a civic perspective, the use of social media can give us the opportunity for our institution to
strengthen old ties and build new relationships with our local community. We must understand the social
media for ALL people not just young people.
SM for the purpose of enhancing the classroom experience
• In a teaching environment which utilizes online learning, students are able to communicate at their own pace,
and consider comments and responses, rather than being ‘put on the spot’ in the physical classroom.
• Blogs and wikis are be utilized for student to express personal identity and discover a sense of communal
• Students were able to develop academic relationships freed from the constraints of the classroom and their
own inhibitions, and over the semester discussions evolved from formal academic critiques to informal social
Proposal: Integration of Social Media Uses and
Consequences in First-Year Experience Curriculum
Despite the positives that social media can bring, there can be some negative
consequences if utilized in an unprofessional manner.
Social Media Tips for New and Current Students and Alumni:
• Negative uses of social media will not be tolerated
Individuals who are found cyber-bullying will be disciplined accordingly and
may be suspended without access to university internet resources.
• Whatever you place online does not go away and can potentially be
viewed by potential job employers.6
• Develop a personal and professional account7 for each social network
site you utilize.
• Understand the privacy policies of your site.
Four Dumb Social Media Posts
Students, here are four examples of dumb social posts which resulted in negative
1. Politics: “I can’t believe how unprofessional liberal professors can be. I’m sitting here, cleaning my gun,
thinking…this is a classroom!” – tweets from Blake Schritter, grad student and congressional staffer for Rep.
Paul Gosar, who resigned.8
2. Education: Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy for allegedly ranking 50 female classmates by their facial
features, body types and reported sexual exploits on Facebook.9
3. Sports: Gilbert Arenas, suspended for 50 games reportedly bringing guns into a locker-room to settle a petty
gambling dispute with a teammate on the Washington Wizards. What most don't know, is this was primarily
brought to the attention of the NBA commissioner David Stern due to tweets by Arenas, commenting on the
incident, and posting pictures of himself waving his index fingers like pistols. Otherwise, the incident would
have most likely gone unreported.
After an investigation, Arenas was convicted for the incident, and received two years probation along with a
thirty day sentence in a half-way house. He was later traded by the Wizards, and has struggled with his image
ever since the event.10
4. Politics: Roland Martin (a political contributor to CNN) was suspended after tweets he sent during the Super
Bowl sparked complaints from GLAAD and other groups that claimed the tweets promoted anti-LGBTQ
violence. After three days of “careful consideration” and increasing pressure, CNN suspended political
contributor Roland Martin for a series of Super Bowl tweets that GLAAD and other groups condemned as
homophobic and said promoted anti-LGBT violence.11
• Social media technology is here for the long haul.
• It can be used for positive purposes to build relationships and communities.
• Unfortunately, social media can be used for divisive purposes.
• For social media to be utilized effectively at our institutions, we must
continue to invest in the most important asset of this equation--the people.
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Young, Jeffrey (2011, June 19). Academics and Colleges Split Their Personalities for Social Media. Chronicle of Higher Education.
Retrieved from http://chronicle.com/article/AcademicsColleges-Split/127936/
Background picture. Retrieved from http://drivingtraffic.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/socialmedia1.jpg
Video. (2011, Aug 19). Great Scott. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0o4W1BBEiQ&feature=player_embedded