M. Caton-Rosser, G. Gibson, B. Looney, D. Henry

Black Hills State University (UNITED STATES)
Published research shows that many students favor learning modes requiring access to and manipulation of new digital formats. Thus, the suggestion is that instruction that utilizes elements of social media - for example, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr - as learning tools produces greater student interest and success. This paper explores pedagogical strategies for integrating social media into instructional methods in higher education, juxtaposing theories of social learning as well as uses and gratifications upon the process.
In recent years, student involvement with digital and social media has exploded, though adeptness with personal, social connectivity does not necessarily equate with professional adeptness. In turn, higher education faculty face a two-fold challenge; first, to stay current with social media trends, and second, to implement social media platforms with instructional design aimed to enhance learning and move students beyond social media as recreation. In addition, there is plenty of controversy and debate among faculty and students about the actual benefits of this new teaching and learning format that has been recently spurred on by rapidly advancing technologies.
The exploratory research has been conducted by three faculty members at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, USA. The study is a work-in-progress aimed to delineate for the university’s faculty a variety of instructional methods, sharing of best practices, and development of policy that might be applied in the classroom. The primary goal is to create awareness of social media as a classroom tool, coupled with improved learning and professionalism as outcomes for students.
The study has applied the methods of comparative analysis among universities and colleges across the United States accessing social media policies of the institutions, site visits at the institutions, as well as a survey among students and faculty at Black Hills State University.