The Impacts of Social Media

The Globe with Social Media logos around it.

Chancellor Carey, in light of the historic events of January 6th, has asked UAS’s CELT team for programs that focus on a couple of key areas of our current lives.

My FLC today will touch on the impacts of social media, while next week we will talk about “difficult conversations.”  My hope is that these two weeks can help jump-start this dialog, as CELT prepares a more thorough look at these topics at a later date. 

Why Social Media

Why is social media used?

Here are the most popular reasons for internet users worldwide to use social media as of the 4th quarter 2018:

Reasons why users use social media.  click for accessible graph

Social media has been gaining traction over the last 15 to 20 years. In 2005, just 5% of adults in the US were on at least one social media platform, where as today that number is closer to 70% (and over 80% for teens).

Social media is a place where you can keep in touch with long distance relations, and even make new friends. It’s a place that can be an outlet for creativity.

Are there Negatives to Social Media?

Yes, there are negatives to social media. It is reported that 20% of the population gets all their news from social media, a place where it’s often hard to know fact from opinion. It can also be employed to disseminate information quickly, whether the information is factual or not. Social Media has also created a situation where marginal views can be quickly brought to the main-stream by grouping with others that are like minded.

Not only is it difficult to know what is “real” (It must be true, I found it on the internet) but it’s not even clear if individuals are real. They might be presenting their true-self, or they might be creating a false-self, as Brad Paisley shows us in the video below.

Social Media at the University – Opportunities and Challenges

Here at UAS we use social media in some very good ways. It helps us to brand the university and helps us get the UAS message out in a very personalized way. It allows students, faculty, staff, and the general public to connect and see what we are up to.

Opportunities in the Classroom

The University of Washington has identified the following opportunities for Faculty:

  • Students would like to see more opportunities to use social media in the classroom, because research shows that “social media assists students with acquiring new information, facilitates connections with course material and peers, and improves productivity.”
  • Students would like an increase in their ability to use their mobile devices. Mobile device ownership has risen with social media access and students see a benefit in mobile device usage as a tool for peer to peer and student/teacher interaction.
  • Students build connections with peers, faculty, and make campus connections via social media. “In 2015, 31% of UW students said they felt they would be more effective if better skilled at using social media as a learning tool.” In 2015 56% of UW students said that they were using social media as a learning tool.

Challenges in the Classroom

Here are challenges identified at the University of Washington:

  • Students want to keep their academic life separate from their social life. Many are wary of the use of social media in academics and how it might impact their privacy.
  • Behaviorally “the intensity of social media use contributes to … unproductive behaviors, including behaviors that may distract from the task at hand.”
  • Both students and faculty are concerned about the distracting nature of social media. A majority of students find that “technology devices and services, including social media, sometimes prevents them from concentrating.” Instructors think of social media as a source of entertainment and 63% of instructors found the use of mobile devices in the classroom distracting to students.

UW Recommendations

University of Washington’s IT Department has come up with recommendations for Using Social Media in the Classroom. These recommendations help with preparing, applying, and managing social media in the classroom.

UW Recommendation chart - accessible by the link Using Social Media in the Classroom

Final Thoughts

This is really the tip of a rather large iceberg, and I am sure CELT will be offering training on this subject this semester. There is a lot to cover, including cyberbullying, FERPA issues and sharing information, and even social media friendships. Social media is not going away, so it’s best to know all you can!

Two men sitting at a table.  First one says "How was your vacation?" and second one says, "I'm analyzing it now.  The photo only got 8 likes but one of them was from someone really influential."

Have a great weekend and thank you for reading the FLC!! Next week we’ll discuss having difficult conversations.