In the past five years, Vicki Coleman says she’s seen the social media presence grow at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University.
Even the library, she says, has graduated from old fashioned data bases to the realm of social media.
“It plays a huge role in terms of students’ research, there’s lots of information they can access immediately,” says Coleman, Dean of Library Services at F. D. Bluford Library. “Faculty members can share ideas with each other and point students to LinkedIn and Facebook. They’re incorporating it in the classroom.”
Aside from accumulating followers and friends, Coleman says that college students are using social media to collaborate on projects and prepare for assignments.
“Our School Of Journalism offers courses on how to use social media,” she says. “Our journalism students know to go out and speak directly with people, and use YouTube for audio clips to do research on someone” they are going to interview.
Liz Sheets, Senior Consultant of Digital Strategy at Tunheim says that students’ motives for using social media have become more sophisticated over the past few years.
Did You Know:
Some colleges let students submit 1-minute long videos as a substitute for traditional college essay.
“Social media has impacted colleges and universities a lot,” she says. “We’re all connected to our devices. It impacts where we spend our time, and how students interact with each other and their institutions.”
Sheets says that colleges are utilizing social media to connect with prospective and current students.
“Social media is allowing colleges and universities to learn more about students and engage deeply with them,” she says. “Undergrads have lots of choices, and are looking for a college or university that they feel at home with. They are utilizing social media for decision making. There are lots of ways for students to find out about them and get excited about them.
“It allows colleges and universities to be more relevant in ways they are not normally thought of.”
Sheets also says that social media is lightening the classroom atmosphere, and is following the relaxed work-world model.
“It provides a different academic experience,” she says. “Like today’s work environment, where it’s flexible for you to come and go as long as you get your work done, this will come through with colleges and universities.”
However, some college students get too comfortable in their relationship with social media and their college.
Chuck Wilson, CEO and Executive Director of the National Systems Contractors Association, says social media has its risks, especially when students’ usage of it casts their colleges in a negative light.
“College officials are scared to death about unofficial tweets,” he says. “The downside [with social media] is that bad behavior can be amplified by social media. If you do something stupid, it doesn’t go away.”