The Huffington Post recently published an article that outlines the general misgivings schools feel about social media.
In short, institutions are concerned about social media’s role with privacy issues and general school safety. With the violent shootings at universities in recent years, this resistance is certainly understandable. However, there is an additional, less rational anxiety schools have. From the article: “[schools] believe social media is a distraction that diminishes student engagement and the quality of the learning experience.” In actuality, it’s a proven fact that social media increases student engagement and facilitates healthy debate.
Students are a creative bunch. Despite all efforts to block access to social media, they will find a way to gain access. When one’s friend network exists exclusively on Facebook and Twitter, and with an increasing migration to the mobile web, it’s not hard to understand the motivation these students have to use social media. This is a good thing. Digital content is yielding a more informed young population. Schools that fail to embrace this are missing a huge opportunity.
In our experience, the schools that leverage social media typically have students that are more in touch with their school’s mission and have a higher sense of belonging. These two factors are huge when it comes to student retention, which is a major concern with increasing tuition costs.
Terrible incidents will always happen, regardless of the prevalence of social media. Using it as a medium to inform students is simple, easy and certainly effective.