University of Gloucestershire (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 5948-5950
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Education has embraced social media. We tweet back and forth with our students. We tweet from field trips. We tweet for the eyes of potential students. We have facebook groups for our courses. We tag each other, have tumblr collections from student events. This has opened up fantastic ways of engaging with our students.

As people have begun to bemoan the declines in lecture attendance, or asserted commonplaces about attention spans, Social Media has allowed us to be radically interactive, and be context-specific about where traditional academic hierarchies of communication are and aren't in place. This is to be welcomed, to be pushed further, and innovated with respect to.

But.. Students are beginning to see a collapsing of lines that can make them uncomfortable. They may want to complain on twitter about a boring lecture, or use images as their Facebook profile picture that they would rather their lecturers didn't see. Much of this can be cleared up by them getting to grips with the systems: there s much scope here for staff and student development (which often shows just how flawed and problematic the digital native/immigrants taxonomy is). However, this still leaves an area of ambiguity, an area of problematic self-construction for students, and I would see this as ethically interesting, maybe even difficult, for staff.

This paper seeks to explore the extent to which a flourishing of social media on a Higher Education course deepens and enriches the learning experience, but aslo brings into play a set of grey areas, where a collapsing barrier between social, academic, personal and private identities should give staff some pause for thought, amidst their enthusiasm and fervour.