Social media use in teaching: Results from a questionnaire on use in higher education

Caroline Haythornthwaite @hthwaite – University of British Columbia

In 2014, we launched an online questionnaire about the use of social media (SM) for teaching in higher education and solicited responses from university instructors world wide. We were particularly interested in how extensively SM were being used in teaching, educators’ intentions in integrating these tools into their teaching, and their successes and/or difficulties in using the tools. We asked respondents about their past, current or intended use of social media in their teaching; what kinds of tools they used; the usefulness of the tools in teaching; and barriers to use (333 responded in all or in part). Respondents were given the option to report on use of SM in a specific class (235 completed the second half). Blogs, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook were reported as most useful; with discussing, sharing, and organizing the most common uses.

The major barrier reported was privacy, followed by lack of time to learn to use and integrate the tools into teaching, and lack of confidence that the tool is supporting teaching effectiveness. More detailed responses were analyzed by coding and analyzing the distribution of responses. Codes were created from a close reading of the text and applied by two researchers, with differences settled by a third reader. Coding comments about the ‘most useful’ SM tool revealed that teachers use the tools for organizing, information discovery, sharing, discussion, reaching resources outside the classroom, fostering community, supporting collaboration, reflective learning, peer interaction, and learning through practice. Most comments were limited to one sentence, with a few of 3-5 sentences; all codes that were applicable were assigned to each comment. Analyses show low correlations among these codes suggesting the reasons are relatively independent and serve different purposes to different educators.

Analyses are ongoing to explore further the relationship between use of SM and the teaching experience.