Social Media in Learning Findings for 2013

Using social media in higher education settings is no longer a trend; it is a learning tool for students, a marketing tool for schools, and a teaching tool for faculty.

Pearson Learning Solutions, in conjunction with the Babson Survey Research Group, has conducted an annual social media study since 2010. This fall, Pearson’s study used data from nearly 8,000 faculty across the country, recently releasing this detailed report with findings from their Annual Survey of Social Media Use by Higher Education Faculty, 2013. In it, they measure social media usage as compared to 2012, explain trends, and lay out concerns. A condensed version of the 2013 findings can be found in this infographic.

  • Privacy is a huge concern for faculty. 75% fear risk to their personal privacy, and nearly that many fear risk to their students. Around 90% of faculty believe those outside of class should not be able to participate in class discussions—or even view them
  • More than half of surveyed faculty use social media as a professional staff member, though only 41% actually use social media to teach. It comes as no surprise that the biggest group of professional social media staff is under age 35. Interestingly, though, a pattern that changed in the past year was the use of faculty using social media in class. Teachers aged 35-44 were actually more likely to use social media as part of a project than those staff aged below 35 or above 44.
  • Nearly 80% of faculty say that social media has increased faculty-student communication—an important factor in today’s digital age
  • When it comes to group work, the study found that creating, commenting on, or learning from blogs and wikis placed highest in terms of faculty assignments(70%+). Podcasts were a distant second, with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn far behind (under 20%)
  • Because of the overwhelming amount of content, three-quarters of faculty worry about the integrity of student submissions

While some may still see social media in education as unnecessary, the learning interaction it provides may change minds: While people only retain around 10% of what they read, they tend to retain 50% of what they watch—and YouTube is a great example of that.

Every single teaching age group saw a rise in social media use since 2012. In fact, last year it was found that 100% of colleges and universities were using some form of social media. In 2013, it’s not how many, but how much and how well schools are using it. As we prepare to ring in 2014, more forms of social media will debut, and undoubtedly we’ll create new ways to incorporate emerging technologies into teaching.