= So few =
After more than seven years of social media disrupting almost every sector in industrialised societies, more than 80% of lecturers still report never using social media in their work (Kamenetz, 2010) . Many have argued, and some have demonstrated the benefits that the Internet and social media offer educational objectives, but the majority of practitioners in higher education and training remain unconvinced. More than 80% have never edited, joined in a discussion, or peer reviewed a featured Wikipedia article. More than 80% have never loaded a video to Youtube, created a playlist, or embedded a video in their educational material. More than 80% have never engaged in a blogging network, or used an RSS reader. More than 80% of university and college graduates are therefore going out into their communities and professions without their teachers exposing them to social media in their curriculum.
= Why? =
What is the reason for 80% of lecturers choosing not to use social media in their work? Apart from a plethora of anecdotal reasons expressed throughout the blogging networks of educational developers, some research has focused on this sort of question. Graham Attwell (2010) recently reviewed a range of research that found a combination of influences were causing the slow uptake of social media in education. For example:
Experiences, predispositions and attitudes of people before they became teachers;
Prior knowledge and expectations of the profession of 'teacher';
A disconnect between how people use the Internet for personal use, and a lack of confidence in how they would use it professionally;
The pressures and restraints that institutions place on teachers, preventing them from developing confidence and awareness;
A lack of motivation, engagement, interest or commitment to the use of the Internet and social media in teaching practice;
A prevalence for institutions to drive technology use which is based on institutional concerns rather than the opportunities for teaching and learning.
= What institutions can do =
By reviewing their policies, procedures, rewards and incentives, institutions can address all but the first two reasons in the short term. In the long term, they can address teachers' preconceived ideas, dispositions and attitudes, and their prior knowledge and expectations of the profession by introducing positive discrimination to influence changes in culture within a reasonable time frame, therefore, making up for lost time. This long term planning should aim for establishing senses of autonomy, mastery and purpose (Pink, 2009)Institutions can do the following:
Look at the practices of teachers and students who are confident with social media (both for their personal and professional use), and open education and research practices, and consider how such use might scale within the institution;
Give teachers time to explore, 'play' and share experiences in using Internet and social media in their work (Hegarty, Penman, Kelly, Jeffrey, Coburn & McDonald, 2010);
Offer a range of staff development opportunities to raise capability and enhance self-efficacy in ICT, including project-based approaches and support for communities of practice to develop (Hegarty, Penman, Brown, Coburn, Gower, Kelly et al., 2005);
Recognise, incentivise and reward practices that show motivation, engagement, interest or commitment in using Internet and social media for teaching, research and learning (Hegarty et al., 2005);
Review technology and support services that are provided and maintained by the institution, and identify where they serve primarily an institutional need (Hegarty, et al, 2010);
Use discoveries in step one to inform discussions on alternative ideas for the provision of technologies and services;
Use autonomy, mastery and purpose as guiding principles in this work;
= An example =
If Skype is evidently a popular personal technology for telephone and videophone use, an institutional support service could work towards making such a device usable within the institution, and sponsor meetings and discussions on how it can be used professionally - such as international guest lectures, project collaboration, etc..
If uStream, Youtube, Blip.tv, and Internet Archive are popular services offering functionality to video record, live stream, store, deliver and socially network video audio visual content, then institutions would be advised to ensure these services are usable on their network, and sponsor meetings and discussions on how they can by used professionally.
If Wikipedia is a popular information source for teachers, students and the wider community, then policies and practices can be devised to encourage engagement, participation and critical appreciation of the project and its processes.
If the institution has policies and procedures that effectively block or discourage teachers or students engaging in these services professionally, such as Intellectual Property and Copyright policies, or Network Security procedures, then make it a priority to review and change these.
If the institution financially rewards practices that circumvent engagement with social media, such as the rewards for successfully publishing in elite and exclusive academic journals, then balance this investment with financial rewards for teachers and academics who academically engage in using open journals and popular social media outlets.
If the institution invests in marketing, consider the complimentary value to both brand awareness and educational outcomes, by investing marketing budgets into the production of education and research media for open publishing on popular social media channels.
= References =
Attwell, G. (2010). Teachers Dispositions. Pontydysgu Bridge to Learning. Retrieved from http://www.pontydysgu.org/2010/08/teachers-dispositions/
Hegarty, B., Penman, M., Kelly, O., Jeffrey, L., Coburn, D. & McDonald, J. (2010). Digital Information Literacy: Supported Development of Capability in Tertiary Environments. New Zealand: Ministry of Education. Retrieved from http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/tertiary_education/80624
Hegarty, Penman, Brown, Coburn, Gower, Kelly et al., (2005) Approaches and implications of eLearning Adoption in
Relation to Academic Staff Efficacy and Working Practice Final Report. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education. Retrieved from http://cms.steo.govt.nz/NR/rdonlyres/8C221A73-CF28-4CC9-83E8-B8FD7D9C1164/0/ALETfinalReport251006.pdf
Kamenetz, A. (2010) DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
Pink, D. (2009). The Surprising Science of Motivation. TED Talks. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUbU9Y
= Further reading =
Teachers Dispositions - One of the most cited reasons for the limited success in introducing new pedagogies for the use of technology for teaching and learning – and indeed for the lack of technology use on education – is resistance by teachers...
The World Is Open: How Web Technology Is Revolutionizing Education - Curtis J. Bonk - For those of you eager to stay current on open education trends, I recommend the new book by Curtis Bonk, The World is Open: How Web Technology is Revolutionizing Technology. I heard Bonk speak last November at the Sloan-C International Conference for Online Learning and he was quite inspiring. Great stuff for any educator with an open mind.
Struggling with the costs of teaching in higher education - This edition of Planning in Higher Education is excellent, if you are interested in the costs of higher education. It did provide me with some nice quotes that I can use to explain why it is difficult to write about the resources needed to support e-learning, and why it is almost impossible at the moment to measure its cost-effectiveness.
Be Online or Be Irrelevant - Scholars need to be online or be irrelevant, because our future depends upon it, but more importantly the future of how knowledge production dissemination takes place in the broader culture will be determined by it.
Digital Humanities vs the digital humanist - The more digital humanities associates itself with social media the better off it will be. Not because social media is the only way to do digital scholarship, but because I think social media is the only way to do scholarship period.
When Professors Print Their Own Diplomas, Who Needs Colleges? - The unofficial students paid no tuition and got no formal credit, but they did end up with something tangible: a homemade certificate signed by Mr. Wiley, who at the time directed the Center for Open and Sustainable Learning and is well known in the area of online learning.
To publish or not to publish online - Academic concerns about open publishing.