Pearson Report on Social Media in Education

Seaman, J., & Tinti-Kane, H. (2013). Social media for teaching and learning. Retrieved from Babson Survey Research Group website:,0

Sample – 7969

Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts

“Faculty do believe that “the interactive nature of online and mobile technologies can create better learning environments,” with 13 percent “strongly agree[ing]” and 46 percent “somewhat agree[ing]” that this is the case.” P5

“Over three-quarters of all teaching faculty report that digital communication has “increased” their communication with students, while only 4 percent believe that it has “decreased” this communication.” P5

This counterpoints somewhat with the UK report which argues that students are not hugely interested in their educators social media usage, and expressing some reluctance with regard to connecting.

“A majority of faculty members agree that online and mobile technologies are “more distracting than helpful to students.” P6 The majority is 56%, so it’s not a huge majority.

This is in (somewhat) agreement with Fried’s findings, with regard to unstructured laptop use. Though Fried’s findings are specific to unstructured use, and may have no bearing on structured use.

“fully 48 percent of faculty report that digital communication has increased their level of stress. Only 13 percent believe that their level of stress has decreased, with the remaining 39 percent reporting no change. In addition, nearly two-thirds of faculty report that digital communication has increased the number of hours that they work.” P6

Personal Use

A majority of faculty engage with social media on a personal basis – 70.3 monthly or more, 13.6 rarely.

55% use social media professionally, but not in theior classrooms – so possibly there’s 15% whose usage is exclusively personal, and 41% make use of it in the classroom. P7

Social media personal use seems to have an age dimension. 87% of under 35’s use it personally, 63% of the over 55’s, and usage drops as the age subgroup increases. (p7) There is also a relationship between personal use of social media and discipline. Humanities clock in at 74%, and Natural Sciences clock in at 64%. (p8)

Facebook clocks in at the personal use top spot – 58% report daily use. Twitter comes in at ten. B;logs and wikis clock in at about 25%, with about 6% using them daily. Podcasts come in at around 18%. P11

Professional use

Linked in tops the poll here

Freq of Prof Use

In class use

There’s an interesting trend bucker in here. The highest monthly percentage users were the two middle age brackets. So, the under 35’s use social media most personally. But the 35-44 (circa 50% use it more in class., as do the 45-54 (circa 47%) age group. Under 35’s use it circa 35%.

In terms of Disciple breakdown, the Humaniteis score highest – mirroring personal use stats, with natural sciences coming in second from the bottom. Interestingly, in the UK, the mix between Social Work and engineering was complicated, with engineers more likely than social science students to use social media in class. This is also interesting, as it may be the case that the largest significant factor determining tech use by students may be their teacher’s use.

Use by Discipline


Selection of media

“Faculty are relatively sophisticated users of social media—they pick each site based on their specific needs and its function. This series of reports has shown that the pattern of popularity of sites for teaching use is consistently different than the pattern for either personal or professional use. The most-used group of sites for teaching is blogs and wikis, while the sites most often accessed for personal use (Facebook) or professional use (LinkedIn) are used far less frequently for teaching purposes. Podcasts, the second most-used type of social media for teaching, are used at much the same rate for teaching as they are for personal or professional purposes.” P13

Passive or active engagement

“Faculty require their students to create content for blogs and wikis more often than they ask them to comment or to merely read or consume.”

Use Of Soc Media for Assignments


We can see, fairly clearly, that faculty are, in general, requiring students to comment and/or create more commonly than just consume (with the exception of podcasts).

Virtual Communities

“A community of people sharing common interests, experiences, ideas, and feelings over the Internet or other online collaborative networks. Virtual communities take on different forms and may leverage social media, forums, and blogs. Examples include: a LinkedIn or Google Group, Message Board, Chat Room, or User Group” p16

This seems quite a broad definition. It notionally includes VLE’s which are, in some respects, closed social media, and could very well comprise a form of virtual community. Or a community graveyard, depending on usage.

About one half of respondents said they were members of virtual communities for personal uses,  and just under 40% for professional purposes. Faculty teaching online are more likely to be involved with social media than those who do not.

Barriers to use

Barriers to Faculty Use

My main concern – takes too much time to use – comes in low on the chart, but is still meaningful. Privacy concerns are high, which matches with Educar, and the study drilled down deeper here – “ it is not a single issue that troubles faculty—they have high levels of concern with multiple aspects of privacy” p17.  The biggest fear is in having non class members contribute to discussions, and see class materials. Peronsal privacy, on behalf of themselves and students was cited by 80%. P19

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