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Most Professors Use Social Media

More than four out of every five professors use social media. And more than half of professors use tools like video, blogs, podcasts, and wikis in their classes.

Those are some of the findings of a new national survey of nearly 1,000 faculty members released today by Pearson, the publisher.

But, while the data suggest a remarkable pervasiveness, drill deeper into how professors are using social media and a different story emerges.

Don’t picture a nation of professors asking students to tweet in class. Only about 10 percent or 12 percent of survey responses represent “active” uses of social-media tools, meaning professors expecting students to post or comment on or create something, said Jeff Seaman, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group, which conducted the study with Pearson and New Marketing Labs. He contrasted that with “passive” activities like reading or watching a video.

“At the moment, it’s used primarily as another information resource,” Mr. Seaman said. “Not as something which … could only be done in social media.”

The survey pool was compiled from a database of professors with whom Pearson has had contact. Among the report’s other findings:

  • Almost one-quarter of professors have accounts on four or more social networks, and 59 percent have more than one account.
  • Nearly one-third of faculty members use social networks to communicate with their peers, and more than 30 percent use them to communicate with students.
  • Professors with more than 20 years of teaching experience use social media only slightly less than do their younger peers. (Mr. Seaman found a similar lack of age discrepancy in an earlier survey about faculty members and online education.)
  • Faculty members working in the humanities and social sciences report greater social-media use than do their colleagues in mathematics, science, and business.
  • By a ratio of over four to one, faculty members report that social media have value for teaching.

 

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