Academic Perspectives and Approaches to Social Media Use in Higher Education: A Pilot Study

Karen Sutherland
University of the Sunshine Coast

Uwe Terton
University of the Sunshine Coast

Cindy Davis
University of the Sunshine Coast

Christina Driver
University of the Sunshine Coast

Irene Visser
University of the Sunshine Coast

Previous studies have confirmed the prevalence of social media adoption by university students. However, research has focused predominantly on student perspectives of social media’s impact on learning and teaching, student engagement, and recruitment. This pilot study explores the methods, attitudes, and perceptions of academics regarding social media use in their teaching while investigating strategies used to navigate perceived challenges posed by social media technology. The survey of 53 academics from an Australian university found that 49% used social media in their teaching and did so due to its speed and accessibility in communicating with students. Yet, this communication was largely to broadcast information, neglecting social media’s two-way functionality. Concerns regarding privacy, bullying, and time scarcity in relation to social media were key themes present in the data. Setting rules with students at the beginning of social media use was a common strategy employed by academics to address these challenges.

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