Why Not Social Media?

Survey sheds light on how faculty are using social media.
Why Not Social Media?

SOME PROFESSORS VIEW social media platforms as excellent tools for teaching; others, as distractions to be avoided in the classroom. What makes one side embrace social media for teaching and the other shy away?

Seventy economics professors from different institutions recently took part in a survey on just that question.

Among the professors surveyed, 55 reported that they use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube frequently, and 29 share podcasts with their students. Frequent users turned to social media primarily to share videos or articles with students, and most valued social media as an additional tool for communicating with students.

"Most of the use of social media is in the form of passive instruction," write the researchers who conducted the survey. They include Abdullah Al-Bahrani, assistant professor at Northern Kentucky University's Haile/ US Bank College of Business in Highland Heights; Darshak Patel, a lecturer at the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics in Lexington; and Brandon Sheridan, assistant professor at Elon University's Martha and Spencer Love School of Business in North Carolina. They point out that many professors have "no specific assignments or grading associated with the content that is shared" via social media.

Survey respondents who did not use social media for teaching brought up several concerns- particularly the desire to protect the personal privacy of both their students and themselves. Interestingly, few among the 70 respondents believed that social media had no impact on learning-but most were simply uncertain of what that impact might be.

As today's digital natives become tomorrow's professors, it's likely that social media will become used more often for teaching, the authors note. Given that, professors "would benefit from more empirical evidence on the effectiveness of social media in enhancing student learning before adopting their own approaches."
"Have economic educators embraced social media as a teaching tool?" was published online December 16, 2016, by the Journal of Economic Education.