From High Noon to Midnight: social media in HE: should universities provide advice or allow open evolution of social media in teaching?

Hilary Cunliffe-Charlesworth @hilary_cunliffe and Chris Hall @goldblach – Sheffield Hallam University

At present the use of Technology Enhanced Learning can look rather like the ‘Wild West’  – an open free for all where individuals and groups have rushed to make discoveries and gain fame, while for other academics the use of social media has proved to be a poor experience of little benefit to the learner or the subject that academics.

In this workshop a Sherriff will chair the debate:  Social media is a ‘Wild West’ – it should be controlled or it will become a dangerous tool.

‘The Lawmen’ argue that all university modules should embed the use of TEL including social media, within a given framework of policy and advice. TEL offers economic efficiencies and relates to the requirements of future employment. The use of social media should be carefully regulated and students should be made aware of the issues via a clear communications strategy. Only certain media forms should be used. Clear boundaries relating to the wider academic landscape should be noted, and clearly monitored.  The ‘university’ as has to be protected.

‘The Outlaws’ posit that social media should be used to reflect the academic content and enhance teaching quality. Social Media should be allowed to evolve at its own rate, and use any format deemed relevant. Conformity is rejected. Students and staff should have the choice to engage or not in social media. The wider ethical and environmental issues should be addressed and the breaking down of academic barriers should be encouraged, including free sharing and open publishing. Any university policy should avoid recommendations but rather recognise the continuum of change.