Computers in Libraries 2014: Engaging Students Through Social Media


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This presentation looks a recent study on how undergraduate and graduate students use social media for research and study. The presentation also incorporates ideas from recent literature on the topic.

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  • My name is Beth McGough, I am the Social Media Manager at ProQuest. Today I will be talking about engaging university students through social media.
  • I will introduce you to the study which the information in the presentation is derived.Then look at how students are using social media generally and for research, and how they have been trained on incorporating social media in research activities.I’ll conclude by providing some top level recommendations for engaging with university students through social media.
  • The survey was conducted in August 2012Reached 600 students at degree-granting universities, large and small, representing a broad mix of academic disciplines.Approximately 300 students each were enrolled in US and Canadian institutions.Nearly equal mix of undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Virtually all students, graduate and undergraduate use Facebook. Half of undergraduates, and fewer graduate students use Twitter.Graduate students are more likely to use LinkedIn and Google+.In the other category, there were a handful of responses that mention specific sites for file-sharing, or public or school-hosted sites devoted to academics.About 2/3 of students visit social media sites more than 4 times a daySince this survey was conducted we’ve seen the rise of new sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, and messaging apps like Snap Chat.The Pew Social Media Update 2013 reports 37% of young adults use Instagram and 27% use Pinterest
  • The use of social media sites for specific tasks provides libraries direction for where to focus social media efforts.Social media channels are most likely used for contacting and sharing information with peers. Other likely uses include collaborating or organizing research. These are ideal activities for the library to help students with.Social media is less likely to be used actual research and for reaching faculty, instructors and librarians. Although later in the presentation you will see students are open to connecting with the library through social media.
  • 61% of students said they do not use social media for research purposes. But, the rest of the study’s findings reveal higher use than indicated here when more specific questions were asked. It appears the responses to this question were highly dependent on how one defines “research or study purposes” and what services constitute “social media.”If a respondent took the question to mean “do you cite Facebook as source” the answer would be no. But when students were asked about specific research and study related activities a different picture emerged. While students clearly don’t consider social media a source for research, they are already using it to communicate and collaborate. This is an opportunity for librarians to make the connection for students that the social sites they use throughout the day can be incorporated into their study life too.
  • Current events is an example of how students are already participating in research and learning activities on social sites and may not even realize it or make the connection for surveys like this. On March 26 Pew reported 34% of young adults on Facebook are news consumers and 45% of young adult tweeters are news consumers on Twitter. Engagement plays a key role in the social media news experience. features such as sharing and commenting elevate social media beyond everyday conversations. In an article published in 2012, Witek and Grettano write: “…the Comment function elevates social media into a space where interaction of information, thinkers, and ideas results in growth of understanding and new knowledge among active participants.”
  • When students were asked if they’d received training in the use of social media for research purposes the majority had not received training, also the majority did not know where to find training resources.This is an opportunity for librarians to close an information gap through information literacy instruction.By connecting the social media sites students use everyday to research activities and showing students new ways of using familiar tools, and introducing new tools that will feel familiar librarians can make the research process feel easier for students.
  • Students were asked to indicate their interest in library services delivered through social media. Undergraduates were generally more interested than graduate students, but both groups express at least some interest.With the ubiquitous of social media in students’ lives and their openness to connecting with the library through social media indicates this is a medium that the library should be exploring if not already.
  • Because use of social media is so high among students and it is where they are communicating personally, and are likely be participating in research-related activities, the library should consider establishing a presence on Facebook and Twitter if it has not already. It should also consider other sites where students are active like Instagram, Pinterest, and SnapChat.First the library needs to connect with students through Facebook, Twitter, and possibly other sites. Once that online relationship is established the library can become a part of a student’s daily life online.To help build a following libraries should consider developing reciprocal relationships with other university organizations so they will share the library posts to their networks.
  • To serve graduate students librarians should consider setting up a presence on the sites graduate students are active. Creating library moderated LinkedIn groups would provide a space for graduate students to ask and discuss research-related questions. Similarly, groups could be set up on Google+.Cynthia Dudenhoffer of Central Methodist University has used Pinterest to create “research portals” or visual representations of ideas used to kick off the research and writing process.In a 2010 article Hicks and Graber describe a program and the University of Colorado where the library encouraged students and faculty to use and adapt library and database widgets in their own blogs and web pages. They write: “Class web pages become subject hubs and form a dynamic learning community that helps students become immersed and grounded within their subject, thereby directly contributing to academic learning objectives. By providing quick access to the scholarly literature, widgets also help connect the course to authentic conversations on the web.”The library can also provide or connect students with collaborative tools for organizing research, managing citations, and sharing research, if it doesn’t already. Hicks and Graber describe helping a research group use RefWorks to create a bibliography. They used the tool to create and dialogue about the evolving bibliography. A great example of how a library tools provided support for collaboration and creating within the research process.
  • Through information literacy instruction librarians can make the connection between a student’s online life and scholarly life. The library can then uncover social tools for students that will make them better researchers and scholars. Information literacy instructors can use the feature of social sites like Facebook to teach students basic research skills. Witek and Grettano describe using Facebook to teach information literacy. They draw analogies between organizing and sorting the News Feed to sorting database search results. Furthermore, they describe curating the News Feed, choosing who’s activity they’d like to see, to narrowing search results. They write: “…the student is deliberately taking control of the information being displayed on the screen, not simply accepting the results at face value – and this awareness of one’s research process is key to critical thinking and information literacy having a lasting effect on the student’s information seeking behavior in both academic and non-academic environments.”The social media features of databases and research tools can be discussed.Students can be shown how to connect with librarians through social media.Also, students can be shown how to connect with researchers in their discipline through social media. For example, teaching students how to participate in a Twitter chat or how to find researchers with similar interests. In a paper written in 2012 Kelly describes his experience connecting with new partners and collaborators through Twitter, particularly during conferences. He also provides suggestions for disseminating research, specifically open access content. He suggests utilizing the institutional repository, SlideShare, blog posts, and participating in conference discussions to amplify research. Graduate students may especially have an interest in these techniques. Graduate students can be introduced to other sites with discipline-specific communities, like Quora or Wikipedia.Librarians can also introduce other tools to help students collaborate and share research such as Dropbox or Google Drive. This is also an opportunity to highlight services offered by the library or school.
  • If you’d like to explore this topic further you will find a whitepaper and infographic on ProQuest’s SlideShare site via the links above.
  • Computers in Libraries 2014: Engaging Students Through Social Media

    1. 1. ENGAGING STUDENTS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA Computers in Libraries 2014 Engaging Students through Social Media Beth McGough, ProQuest @BethMcGough79
    2. 2. Agenda • Introduction • Use of social media • Social media for study and research • Training in the use of social media • Recommendations 2 #CILDC
    3. 3. Introduction 3
    4. 4. Overall findings Students use social media to seek out, collaborate and obtain information from classmates and academic peers Even if they are not interacting with the library they are open to doing so Enabling and fostering the use of social media for organizing and sharing research is an ideal role for libraries However, the study revealed students do not consider social media an appropriate information source for research 4
    5. 5. USE OF SOCIAL MEDIA Among graduate and undergraduate students
    6. 6. Use of social media 6
    7. 7. Use of social media for specific tasks 7
    9. 9. Social media for study and research 9
    10. 10. Students are using social media for study and research 10
    11. 11. Training in the use of social media 11
    12. 12. Interest in library services through social media 12
    14. 14. Recommendations: Use of social media 1 • Consider establishing a presence on Facebook and Twitter if you have not already • Consider other site such as Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr 2 • Post regular library-related updates 3 • “Follow” or “Like” prominent individuals and academic/student organizations, encourage them to share library posts with their networks 14
    15. 15. Recommendations: Current and likely use of social media 1 • Set up LinkedIn groups or point students toward Groups specific to academic disciplines for graduate students in particular • Secondarily, establish a page on Google+ and create groups specific to academic disciplines • Consider creative uses of other sites such as Pinterest 2 • Create community pages or sites for specific academic disciplines, hosted by the library • Provide widgets for faculty or students to embed in blogs or class web pages 3 • Provide online tools for organizing research, managing citations, sharing and collaboration, such as RefWorks, ProQuest Flow or Mendeley 15
    16. 16. Recommendations: Training in the use of social media 1 • Expand information-literacy instruction to include social media for research • Teach students about the social media features of online databases and research tools 2 • Show students how to connect with librarians through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn • Teach students to connect with researchers in their discipline through social media, such as how to participate in a Twitter chat or how to find researchers with similar interests on Twitter or Reddit 3 • Introduce and inform graduate students about other sites with discipline-specific communities, such as ResearchGate, Quora and the editing side of Wikipedia 4 • Consider including Cloud-based tools such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and school services such as an intranet or Blackboard/Moodle in information-literacy efforts 16
    17. 17. QUESTIONS Whitepaper, Student Use of Social Media, Infographic, Student Use of Social Media, @BethMcGough79
    18. 18. Further Reading • Dudenhoffer, C. (2012). Pin it!: Pinterest as a library marketing and information literacy tool. College & Research Libraries News, 73(6), 328-332. • Witek, D., & Grettano, T. (2012). Information literacy on facebook: An analysis. Reference Services Review, 40(2), 242-257. • Hicks, A., & Graber, A. (2010). Shifting paradigms: Teaching, learning and web 2.0. Reference Services Review, 38(4), 621-633. • Kelly, B. (2013). Using Social Media to Enhance Your Research Activities. In: Social Media in Social Research 2013 conference, 2013-06-24 – 2013-06-24, London.