UWS is coming to the social media game relatively late. Other HE institutions have extensive activity underway within their environs and a set of policies and procedures in place to ensure that the benefits of social media for enhancing learning, teaching and research are maximised.
The debate about social media is partly about institutional preparedness (IT infrastructure) but it is also about attitude. In order to open up the debate about the value of social media it is necessary to engage with all academic staff and students about the case for and against its use. There are pedagogical arguments for and against social media and some of these are represented here.
There is no doubt that social media is a powerful tool when used effectively. Just look at this selection of Tweets from academic staff at UWS (and beyond, drawn from the social media masterclass held in late January 2012. The strategic use of the hashtag (a method of categorising subject/topics in Twitter) demonstrates the effectiveness of this social media channel: in raising awareness of the event happening; in generating external buzz about UWS; in drawing in further links and suggestions for reading from the learning community; and, in highlighting that we really do want to converse with each other and collaborate across disciplines and institutions. Whilst this example was intra-institutional there is nothing to stop this 'good news story' going viral and generating cross-institutional debate about the value of social media in HE.
Social media can be used effectively for feedback as well as for an information resource. The example, below from Stuart Hepburn is indicative of how staff are now able to secure immediate feedback from students on their learning experience.
As part of a UWS commitment to upskilling its staff and students in the use of social media for learning and teaching a social media masterclass was held in January. In the spirit of collaborative learning, a feature of digital humanities work, the presentations delivered on the day are available to access below. Firstly, Gordon Hunt's discussion of social media and web 2.0 as information tools, followed by the audience's Twitter interactions around the presentation.
Graham Jeffery provided an engaging, critical take on the status of higher education in an increasingly networked age. Stand out comments include 'University as a validation machine' 'University as a large knowledge factory' and the need to move 'beyond provider-consumer relationship'. See below for more tweets on his presentation.