How Today's Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media for Work and for Play

Pearson has just released some new research on the social media habits of higher education faculty called Teaching, Learning, and Sharing: How Today’s Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media for Work and for Play.

The impressive stat that pops out in the executive summary is the statement that “over 90% of all faculty are using social media in courses they’re teaching or for their professional careers outside the classroom”. Wow. 90%. That’s an awful lot of tweeting, status updates, blog posts and user videos being created and consumed in academia.

As part of the research, Pearson decided to do a social media contest among respondents, where they asked respondents who said they were using social media in teaching to submit a video via YouTube. The winning video is from Krista Jackman from the University of New Hampshire who explains how she uses Twitter in her class.

While there is a lot of interesting stuff about using social media in the classroom (no surprise that the ability to consume video on YouTube is seen by most faculty as the killer pedagogical app of the educational social media world) , the piece I am interested in in the context of my thesis is the professional development piece. According to the study, 78% of faculty have reported using at least one social media site for professional development (which was something I was beginning to witness at my previous institution just before I left). YouTube  (57%) was the most common,  followed by Facebook (45%), Blogs (38%), LinkedIn (33%), wikis (28%), Twitter (13%), Flickr (11%), SlideShare (7%) and MySpace (6%).

If we dig deeper into that YouTube number, I suspect that the high percentage reflects a consumption, and not a participatory, model of YouTube use among faculty. The study did not ask the faculty to discriminate between posting or visiting only with the professional development use section of the study. However, they do ask faculty to make that distinction with regard to their personal (not classroom or professional development) use of social media sites. When asked to differentiate between visiting a site and posting to a site, only 8% of faculty reported having posted something on YouTube. The study didn’t say whether the term “posted” referred to posting a video, or posting a comment to a video.

I want to write more about this (like where are the more grassroots social media sites that are not mentioned in with the 800 pound gorillas? Where are the Ning’s, the SCoPE’s and the Skype for the Classroom’s?), but I am tired and am using this blog post as a way to procrastinate writing what I really should be writing right now. So I’ll leave it to you to dig in a see if you agree that there seems to be a lot of social media consumption and much less participating happening by faculty on social media sites, which is probably in line with the participation rate of the general population.


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out

%d bloggers like this: