At a seminar on Connecting with Students I had a great conversation with Liam about the topic of social media and whether or not it was appropriate to engage with students on Facebook. A group of my students in KN-136 actually started a group called “KN-136 Crew” and I was shocked when they decided I could be in the group. I was under the impression this was a place to complain about class and/or get completely off topic, but instead I found that it’s a really healthy place where they share funny exercise videos, create study guides for one another, and check up on due dates and class activities. There’s even been an intramural volleyball team that has come out of it.
Our discussion paired really nicely with this article I found on LinkedIn this morning: When Colleges Woo Students Through Social Media. Our department, like most in the University, has a Facebook page that posts about activities, events, accomplishments going on here. While I saw this primarily as an engagement tool for our current student body, it didn’t occur to me that this is also a great way to market ourselves to prospective students.
While the transparency of Facebook and other social media sometimes frightens professors and TAs into dismissal, I think that it’s a great tool to meet students, present and future, “where they are” and still maintain a level of privacy. This is the first time I’ve participated in social media, on any level, with students I’m currently teaching. I’m continually checking on the privacy settings of my personal page and, ultimately, every single thing I post on social media is filtered (filtered ≠ censored).
There are, of course, obvious concerns with the rising use of social media. As the article states,
The spontaneous nature of social media clashes with the carefully controlled marketing messages that colleges create through brochures and campus tours. Plus, engaging 17-year-olds in their most natural of habitats can be risky—like any brand, a college is only one awkward tweet away from becoming a victim of the Web’s vicious meme cycle.
It’s interesting to consider the fact that college’s have to concern themselves with marketing; as a high school grad the question, for me, was not whether or not to go to college but which one to attend. I suppose each college and university, in its own way, is trying to find a way to fight for a piece of that pie, so to speak.
What do you think? How do you feel about the use of social media as a means for student recruitment? Or for student engagement? Or both??