Connecting Students to the World of Work and so Enhance their Engagement with Learning through the Use of Social Media

Veronica Spowart, Kris Coats and Leo Morantes-Africano – New College Durham

Obtaining good retention of and achievement by HE students from low participation neighbourhoods is known to set particular challenges because of many factors including employer engagement, student motivation to complete the course may diminish at key times. We have sought to tackle this problem within vocational courses through better visibility of the business sector targeted by their course. Using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter we have created closed cohort-based groups and established rules and protocols of interaction. Once the student group reached good levels of ‘electronic behaviour and presence’ and were seen to be compliant with tutors’ expectations, the groups were extended by inviting alumni and known supportive employers. The interaction of external members has been surprisingly positive. They have provided encouragement to complete the course, confirmation of curriculum choices, critiques on student work, opinions about priorities, and helpful stories and scenarios of how the courses in question have led to successful careers. Employers have interacted very positively with offers of work-experience and have been much more energetic in providing on-site presentations than ever before.

The impact has been little short of a transformation in student commitment through a deeper awareness of and connection to the business sector to which their course is directed. Surveys performed at the beginning and end of the courses emphatically demonstrate these changes. Retention rates are high and work standards have improved. There has been some press reporting and recognition of the work within institutional networks.

The workshop will invite experiences of the use of social media from delegates and provide opportunities to share misgivings and aspirations.

We will explain how the selected social media for these courses are implemented, provide a web-accessible guide on the operational practice and pitfalls of deployment and present details of the changes in student perceptions that the project has achieved.

Workshop plan:

  • Delegates note down their objective for the workshop. (2 minutes)
  • Delegates to complete three key questions which aim to establish opinion about employers, social media and students. (Tool: Kahoot – this will provide immediate responses in a visual format so that general opinions can quickly be established) (5 Minutes)
  • Delegates develop question and facilitate a discussion carousel.
  • Delegates work together in small groups to develop a flip chart in response to a key question. (5 minutes)
  • Each group will leave the flip chart and question they have developed and move to the next flip chart and question a different group developed. They will consider the question and flip chart and add to the content. (5 minutes maximum for each question)
  • Repeat step 2 until each group has considered all questions and has returned to their original table.
  • Each group presents their flip chart to the room sharing a wide range of experience.(5 minutes)


NB: Depending on the number of delegates; there will be a maximum of four questions. If there are many then there will be duplicate groups rotating. The presenters will facilitate this activity by working with the groups using Q&A to develop debate.

  • Presenters to share experiences with Social Media and how this has enhanced the student experience (Show & Tell) (10 Minutes)
  • Delegates provided with a login and URL for a drop box to collect and/or share resources including:
  • A user guide of how to set up a closed group on Facebook with tips on how to keep personal profiles private.
  • A user guide on how to set up a group on LinkedIn and grow membership. (5 Minutes)


Delegates to revisit their original objective and consider if it has been met. Invite delegates to provide feedback and share thoughts using a Twitter wall. (5 Minutes).