Social Media in Higher Education

Social Media in Colleges and UniversitiesThere’s an ongoing debate about the role social media should play in K-12 education. As a result, schools have been especially slow to adopt social technologies. Advocates point to the benefits social media offers students, and critics want to remove social media from classrooms, insisting that there be more regulation. Finding a happy medium has become a challenge.

For higher education, the story is different. When used as an educational tool, colleges and universities have found that social media enhances the learning experience by enabling students and teachers to connect and interact in new ways beyond the classroom. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social sites promote collaboration and discussion, and students have embraced them as a means to ask questions and exchange ideas.

Universities have fully embraced social platforms to recruit athletes and vet students who have applied for admission. (Note to high school students: Clean up your Facebook page before you fill out your college application.) Social sites, especially Facebook, are also used for marketing and branding. has done some research about the pros and cons of social media in higher education, and they summarized their results in the infographic below. It examines which platforms work the best and the challenges schools face as they try to learn how to manage their social media presence. Some key takeaways:

  • 100% of the schools studied are using some form of social media.
  • They use it in the classroom, to enhance school pride, as a professional development tool for teachers, and to reach out to their immediate communities and prospective students.
  • Johns Hopkins, Harvard, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Columbia make the best use of social media.

How colleges and universities use social media

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  • Thanks for sharing this post Pam. Higher Ed is quite innovative in their social media practices, however we’re often overshadowed by big brands with much larger budgets. 

    One trend that leading schools like Arizona State University and Emerson College are adopting is using private social networks specifically for their campus community. These provide way more functionality than generic social platforms, and allow students to make friends and get involved on campus in a 2.0 environment. 

    Shameless self plug, but did you see this Inigral Infographic on social media in the admissions process?

    •  Hi Brandon,

      Thanks for reading! No, I hadn’t seen that infographic before; it contains a lot of interesting info! I added it to Pinterest:

  • Toran

    This is excellent. However, we should take it to the next step. We need to capture this collaboration as part of the learning platform. While it is great that students are using it, most of the dialog and interaction happens in their “private” spaces – outside of the classroom. Therefore, the instructor may not be a part of the dialog. Our company provides a platform for this. Omnicademy is an on-line platform that all the great LMS features plus a social media platform – thus making the best use of the social collaboration.

    Thanks for posting!

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  • Great post, Pam. I see so many ways higher education is using social media, too. From fundraising to providing career support to getting students involved in viral videos, there are many ways any department on campus can engage their populations. I’m glad you bring up that people are using the sites as places to ask questions and exchange ideas – I think it’s so important to keep in mind that these sites can be used for so much more than another place to list events. It’s just as important to listen as it is to share!

    A colleague and I are curating more content on the topic of social media and higher education from our voices and from voices of friends from around the country. I’d love for you to take a read. And, of course, share your voice!

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