Survey shows that social media has graduated to academia

Survey shows that social media has graduated to academia


JISCA new survey of colleges across Scotland shows that social media, and particularly YouTube, has firmly entered the learning environment as teaching and learning tools, with its use growing significantly year on year.

In the 2012 ETNA (Enhanced Training Needs Analysis) survey, carried out by the Jisc Regional Support Centre (RSC) in Scotland and launched today at their annual conference in Edinburgh, nearly three quarters of academics in further education agree that social media tools enhance the quality of the learning experience. YouTube is by far the most popular tool, while Facebook and particularly Twitter, lag well behind. However, the survey also identifies a strong need for staff training in the use of social media.

The 2012 ETNA survey is the fifth of its kind in Scotland, with ETNA surveys having been carried out for more than a decade across Scottish colleges, analysing technology in further education and able to show trends over time. In 2012, 1,700 staff took part, including more than 700 academics across 40 of the 43 colleges. Together with responses from admin and support staff, managers, learning resource staff, learning technologists, and technical and network staff, it provides a comprehensive picture of technology in the learning landscape.

Of those surveyed:

  • Academic staff seemed most in favour of social media: 70% agreed that its use enhances the quality of the learning experience and 69% agreed that students were at ease using it
  • Some academic staff felt that social media is a distraction to learning
  • Around half of all middle managers said their department uses social media tools for learning and teaching
  • Fewer than 10% of staff in any category, however, had received training in social media
  • More than a third of staff identified a need for staff training.

Of the media channels:

  • The video world of YouTube stood out strongly, used by 62% of academic staff and 40% of learning technologists
  • Other media lagged far behind, with Facebook used by only 15% of academic staff and Twitter used by just 3%
  • Blogs and wikis sat just behind Facebook at 14% and 13% of academic staff
  • Emerging platforms such as Pinterest and Flipboard were used by just 1% of academics and not at all by managers
  • Facebook was more popular among admin and support staff, learning resource staff and learning technologists than it was among academic staff
  • All social media access was still completely blocked by a significant minority of colleges.

Celeste McLaughlin, advisor: staff development at Jisc RSC Scotland said: “It’s clear from the survey that social media is now here to stay in colleges as learning tools. They offer a familiar environment for students and, at the same time, teaching staff clearly like them. In particular, the ability to share videos online has made YouTube a clear favourite. But training is patchy, so Jisc RSC Scotland aims to help college staff improve their social media skills.”

The 2012 ETNA survey, Growth and Development – an analysis of skills and attitudes to technology in Scottish further education, is to be launched at today’s Jisc RSC Scotland annual conference, Bring Me That Horizon!

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