SOCIAL STUDENT RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT IN HIGHER EDUCATION: EXTENDING EDUCATIONAL AND ORGANISATIONAL COMMUNICATION INTO SOCIAL MEDIA
ISCAP - School of Accounting and Administration of Porto (PORTUGAL)
The exponential growth of social media usage and the integration of digital natives in Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have been posing new challenges to both traditional and technology-mediated learning environments. Nowadays social media plays an important, if not central, role in society, for professional and personal purposes. However, it’s important to highlight that in the mind of a digital native, social media is not just a tool, it’s a place that is as real and as natural as any real-life world place where formal/informal social interactions happen.
Formal higher education contexts are still mostly imprisoned in safe, controlled platforms, while a new world of social connections grows and develops itself outside schools. Social media has been redefining how we relate to each other as humans and how we as humans relate to the organizations that serve us. It is a two-way dialog that brings people together to discover and share information, share ideas and build communities of people that share the same interests.
In this paper we discuss the concept of Social Student Relationship Management (Social SRM), as an analogy to the marketing concept of Social Customer Relationship Management (Social CRM), applied to an educational context. Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It's the company's response to the customer's ownership of the conversation.
Social SRM propels HEI to engage in dialogical conversations and collaborative relationships, through the use of social media platforms, allowing to reshape the HEI-student formal relationship, strengthening educational bonds, providing mutually beneficial value and, ultimately, allowing for the growth of social and educational communities. It places the HEI, teachers and staff in student’s digital natural environment, engaging them in personalized conversations that reinforce student’s role as empowered participatory individuals in the school’s strategic development and also in the management of their learning opportunities.
We discuss the double dimension of the communication concept associated to Social CRM, which encompasses the educational dimension that comprehends the extension of the classroom teacher-student communication and educational workflows into social media platforms and the HEI´s organizational communication needs, intimately related to its image, reputation and sustainability.
This paper presents a preliminary study, carried out during two semesters, in three different subjects from the first, second and third school years from two different higher education courses, during which the educational dimension of the Social SRM concept is put into perspective. We present the extension of the traditional classroom teacher-student formal and informal relationship into social media and discuss its impacts on student’s accommodation, motivation, academic achievement and added value. We also discuss the teacher’s perspective in terms of relational and educational benefits related to the implementation of a Social SRM based educational strategy and put forward some educational and technological concerns that might present some obstacles/opportunities to a broader adoption of the concept.