Social Media: What is it good for?

Like many departments in higher education today, a few of us in DePaul’s School for New Learning Graduate Programs have decided to jump on the Social Media bandwagon.  Here we are!  

Over the years the issue of providing networking and engagement opportunities for our graduate students while respecting their extremely busy schedules has come up again and again. Often students express a desire for department-initiated networking events but the momentum typically fizzles and dies soon after.  Graduate students, typically working full-time and juggling multiple obligations, have difficulty finding the time or the means to engage in an ongoing conversation with their colleagues.  This can cause a disconnect from their academic community that may lead to withdrawing from a graduate program.   Some believe Social Media is the answer to this issue.

Earlier this year McGraw-Hill sponsored a panel discussion about the future of Social Media in higher education:   Topics addressed the benefits of social media in what they are calling the “student engagement crisis”.  The experts on the panel believe Social Media is a key medium for engaging both traditional and non-traditional students.  They argue that students need to engage with faculty and colleagues in a manner similar to how they engage with their peers.  Social Media has become a part of everyday life and other means of interaction may become irrelevant to our students.

One of our biggest concerns when brainstorming the premise of this blog was to find a way engage our students and colleagues in conversation that is relevant and interesting to them. We are all aware of the fine line between using social media effectively and allowing it to add to the already overwhelming chatter in our lives.  Rather than focusing on what is happening in higher ed or SNL specifically, we would prefer to have a broad discussion about the serious challenges facing our adult students and colleagues.  And there are plenty of challenges to discuss at the moment! We hope you will find the blog articles posted to be thought-provoking and engaging, and the beginning of a relevant dialogue. 

Please share your thoughts- what do you think about the idea of student ‘engagement’ being important to degree completion? Do you agree? 

Could Social Media be the future of student engagement in higher education?


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