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Professors and Social Media

If you think that today’s professors spend their free time roaming through dusty library stacks, think again. Apparently 80 percent of today’s faculty members “have at least one account with either Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Linkedin, MySpace, Flickr or GoogleWave,” . . . and nearly 60 percent keep accounts with more than one, and a quarter use at least four, according to InsideHigherEd.com.

And that’s just the beginning. The study also showed that over 50 percent used social media as a teaching tool.

The survey of just under 1,000 professors said all age ranges were equally involved with social media, which was a surprise to researchers.

While use of social media across the age spectrum shows up in all current surveys, the use of social media in the classroom has also resulted in some controversy.

In fact, a professor at East Stroudsburg University was recently placed on administrative leave after noting in frustration “Does anyone know where to find a very discreet hitman? Yes, it’s been that kind of day.”

The age range notwithstanding, some social media tools are employed more often than others. Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group, said that more than 20 percent of the profs ranked YouTube as the preferred teaching tool. Indications are that as social media becomes more sophisticated, the profs will find more ways to utilize these systems in the classroom. However, Seaman noted that there was widespread agreement that social media would only be an auxiliary teaching tool, never the “primary delivery system.”

Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia [1].