Social Media for Academics

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Social media for Academics: An overview of the benefits (and problems) of social media in Higher Education.

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Social Media for Academics

  1. 1. Tweets, blogs and Academic success:the role of socialmediain higher educationChris BuddleMcGill University@CMBuddle
  2. 2. Special thanks to Crystal Ernst
  3. 3. What is “Social Media”?…digital content and interaction that iscreated by and between peopleS. Decker, massrelevance.com…the online technologies and practices that peopleuse to share content, opinions, insights, experiences,perspectives, and media themselves.H. Greenstein, Social Media Club-NYCForms of electronic communication through whichusers create online communities to share information,ideas, personal messages, and other contentMerriam-Webster
  4. 4. Communication,collaboration, community…toolsfor ‘outreach’ activities
  5. 5. Social media tools for Academics• YouTube/i-Tunes• Video or audio delivery of content• Blogs• Longer format writing, typically with embeddedlinks/video/photos• Content-rich• Individual or collective• Microblogging• Tumblr, Pinterest• Often humourous, pop-culture oriented• Facebook• More ‘social’• Groups can be effectively used for Academicpurposes• Twitter• 140-character limits• Short updates, photos, linksTimeInvestmentLowHigh
  6. 6. Social Media Glossary• “Posts”• Any new update to a blog, twitter, etc• A “Tweet”• A post to twitter (140 Characters)• RT, MT• “Hashtag” – aggregator on Twitter (e.g., #PhDChat, #HigherEd)• “Meme”• Images, video, concept that goes viral on the Internet
  7. 7. Key features of social media:• Dynamic• Engaging• Conversational• Network• User-friendly• User-driven• Open, accessible• Knowledge filter• Free
  8. 8. Benefits: Skills• Social media facilitates skill development in areasthat are not traditionally part of an Academic’straining• Networking  more than conferences!• Regular writing, for a global audience ofthousands, is good practice!• Honing communication skills for a more generalreadership/viewership• Transferable to journalists, media offices, lecturing
  9. 9. Benefits: Teaching• Engagement with students and among studentsand instructors• Expanding the institution’s walls – making thecourse content relevant to others• Innovation: dynamic teaching rather than static
  10. 10. Podcast assignment:
  11. 11. Undergraduate Field Biology Course
  12. 12. Natural History Projects• Students (in groups) prepared blog posts and fact sheets about localspecies, and were asked to tweet about their species• Rationale:• Breaking down the classroom barriers• Communicating science to a broad audience• Writing for more than the Prof/TA• Using social media for more than the ‘social’• Interaction with the broader scientific community
  13. 13. Student Quotes:• “I really like that whatI am learning has arelevance beyondthe classroom”• “I can’t believepeople out there areinterested in ourwork, it’s cool”• “Wow, a Professor inthe UK asked usquestions aboutBeech Bark Diseaseover twitter”
  14. 14. Benefits: Networking &Collaboration• Larger group of colleagues• academic, industry, amateurs• no geographic limitations• Escape from solitary pursuits• International “hallway talk”• Feedback on ideas• Research Collaborations
  15. 15. Gradstudents,undergraduatestudents,researchscientists,post-docs,otherProfessors,andmore…Connecting(withtwitter):
  16. 16. WhatHashtags do I use?….Discussionsabout research& Academia:
  17. 17. Savvy scientists must increasingly engage with blogsand social media… Even if you choose not to blog, youcan certainly expect your papers and ideas willincreasingly be blogged about. So there it is – blog orbe blogged.Paul Knoepfler, Associate Professor, UC Davis
  18. 18. Expand your audience75 citations
  19. 19. Social media -> Research success?
  20. 20. Research collaborations
  21. 21. Bioscience Education
  22. 22. Leveraging socialmedia for research:
  23. 23. Benefits: Giving back (&Institutional value…)• We have a duty to share & report in an accessible way• Social media is an easy and effective way to reach a largeraudience• Helps to answer “what is the value of Higher Education?”• Get noticed by students, faculty, journalists, general public• Cost-effective• Not having a social media strategy will get noticed
  24. 24. Most Universities have‘mission statements’ thatinclude ‘service to society’….socialmediaisaneffectivewaytofacilitatethiskindofservice
  25. 25. A social media profile forAcademics & Universities• Institutional benefits:• Showcase that Professors are “real people”• Get a glimpse into everyday lives of Academics• Rethink stereotypes of Universities (and theiremployees)• Better understanding and appreciation for teachingand research endeavours
  26. 26. Have you been Googled?Take control of youron-line profile.
  27. 27. SEARCH COMMITTEES WILL GOOGLE YOU.… There are basically two outcomes ... 1. they willfind something that is neutral or positive and itwill not really affect their decision or 2. they willfind something ridiculous that will negativelyaffect their decision.Gerty-Z, scientopia.org/blogs (“Balanced Instability”)
  28. 28. Be proactive (instead of reactive)• Social media is pervasive; Academics and their institutions musttake part• Control your internet profile• Student and Faculty recruitment remains critically important tomost schools• An effective social media strategy can help• Not having one can hurt.• Effective content could include:• Positive and student-driven initiatives• Dynamic highlights of research and teaching activities
  29. 29. It’s not all rosy:Be careful what you write.Don’t be an idiot.
  30. 30. There are few incentives foroutreach activities because…• Institutional cultures are not changing with the times, norhave they been built with ‘outreach’ in mind• Tenure & Promotion based on research and teaching• There is a lack of understanding about social media, and a fearof the unknown• The media, and pop culture, paints social media as only ‘social’• There is sometimes a sentiment that Academics are tooimportant to engage with outreach activities• Some of my colleagues have been reprimanded forengagement in outreach activities• Focus on research papers and grant-writing!
  31. 31. Should Academics & theirinstitutions value outreachactivities?Is so, how?
  32. 32. Incentives for Outreach• The STICK: RequireAcademics toperform ‘communityservice’ on a regularbasis
  33. 33. Incentives for Outreach• The CARROT: Give apay raise toAcademics who dooutreach activities
  34. 34. The carrot cake• Outreach activitiesbecome fullyintegrated into theinstitutional culture.• A core value• This will require aparadigm shift at alllevels
  35. 35. Engagement in SocialMedia takes time. Andyou CANNOT forgetabout:Teaching.Research.Committees.Your family.
  36. 36. Finding time.• Make social media part ofyour daily routine• Write when you can• Write to relax?• Eventually, it saves time:• Blog posts relevant for aresearch group• Use social media tofacilitate meetings (e.g.,Google +)• Find ways increaseproductivity
  37. 37. Using social media takestraining:• Outreach must become a core activity forAcademics• Tools for outreach, including social media,should be part of this training• Bottom-up and top-down support is required
  38. 38. 1. Start a Blog• Blogs are valuable for individuals and institutions, and allowvarying levels of commitment• Determine type of blog• Multi-authored, with administrator? Individual blog?• Determine target audience• Prospective students? Colleagues? General public?• Read many, model the good ones• Good blogs have themes so that readers know what to expect• Regular content is the key to success• 1-2 per week is essential• Must have weeks of content ready before launching
  39. 39. 2. Network and market your blog withTwitter/ Facebook• Twitter / Facebook can be effective for both individuals andinstitutions• University Twitter feeds• Scholarly Societies, Journals• Departments, Universities• Twitter / Facebook are effective at promoting high qualitycontent• “lurk” for a long time before venturing into the Twitterverse
  40. 40. 3. Let it grow (but pay attention)• Comment, view comments, engage, share• Effective use of social media means content and networkingmust be given the freedom and flexibility to grow• A shifting paradigm for Academics and their institutions• Add content!
  41. 41. Social Media in Academia: Caveats• Initial time investment is significant• Social media is risky and requires ‘letting go’• Broad shoulders are required• Social media is not a podium – it is about conversation• Every Academic should do outreach activities• But not everyone should engage in social media• For group / institutional efforts, there must be sustainedsupport for social media• Training is required• Social media should complement and not distract from coreduties of an Academic
  42. 42. Social media has changed my life.Professional• Filter for information• Community engagement• New collaborations• New opportunities• Communication skillsPersonal• Broadened perspectives• Got me out of my bubble• Giving back• Validation• Fun!

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