Faculty Usage of Social Media and Mobile Devices: Analysis of Advantages and Concerns

By Roebuck, Deborah Britt; Siha, Samia et al. | Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning, Annual 2013 | Go to article overview

Faculty Usage of Social Media and Mobile Devices: Analysis of Advantages and Concerns


Roebuck, Deborah Britt, Siha, Samia, Bell, Reginald L., Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning


Introduction

The rapid advance of technology is driving educators to implement tools they may have just learned. Students, otherwise known as Digital Natives, Gen Y, Net Gen, and Millennials (Zimerman, 2012) are far ahead in the usage of technology and are demanding technology be used within the classroom. According to Prensky, this younger generation of students have "spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age" (Prensky, 2001, p.9). These Digital Natives have created their own communities of interest on Facebook and Twitter as well as chosen to be there virtually even during class time (Akhras, 2012). However, some other research showed that not all the Digital natives are the same when it comes to the active use of social media tools (Kilian, Hennigs, & Langner, 2012).

In today's classroom, the reality is that laptops have started to take the second row to allow space for smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Most of the new applications "apps", which are created for mobile devices, social media or web 2.0 tools, are accessed easily from mobile devices.

Literature Review

A recent survey conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group in collaboration with New Marketing Labs and the education-consulting group Pearson Learning Solutions, drew from almost 1,000-college and university faculty nationwide and revealed that more than 80 percent of professors are using social media in some capacity and more than half use these tools as part of their teaching. The survey noted that 30 percent are using social networks to communicate with students (trading posts on blogs, for instance) while more than 52 percent are using online videos, podcasts, blogs, and wikis (group authored websites) during class time. They also found that older faculty (those teaching 20 years or more) use social media at almost the same level as their younger peers (Blankenship, 2011). Rank also subsumes age differences that exist among faculty: older people normally occupy the rank of associate and full professors.

O'Shea (2013) argues the distinctions for adopting technologies are blurring among the traditional dichotomies that characterizes five groups of individuals: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. At least one study finds that age is a poor predictor of social media usage within a research context (Rowlands, Nicholas, Russell, Canty, & Watkinson, 2011). Obviously, the use of social media is increasing rapidly in the classroom (Dabbagh & Kitsantas, 2012).

Educators do not want to integrate these tools into their curriculum just for the sake of technology (McCarthy, 2010). However, the Millennials (also known as Gen Yers) are the first generation to grow up with the internet--they do not remember a time when it did not exist. They are technologically savvy and dependent upon it. Therefore, educators must reach out and engage the Millennials with social media and even join their communities or create similar ones (Aviles & Eastman, 2012; Jacques 2009). It seems that the use of new technology and social media for teaching is no longer an option. Therefore, this review of literature will discuss the use of technology and mobile devices in higher education, the advantages and concerns of using social media tools in higher education, and the role of gender and academic rank in the use of social media by college and university faculty.

Use of Technology and Mobile Devices in Higher Education

Web 2.0 tools and mobile devices are relatively recent phenomena. The use of social media and mobile devices in the classroom to improve student engagement and to increase interactivity has been reported to be useful (Aviles & Eastman, 2012; Bansavich, 2011; Chao, Parker, & Fontana, 2011; Crews & Wilkinson, 2010; Enriquez, 2010). …

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