Why are university scholars resisting social media to broadcast their scientific breakthroughs and engross their tech-savvy students?
Businesses and journalism have embraced social media as a path for pushing products and engaging clients and readers, but why not the ‘Ivory Tower’ brigade?
Two Michigan State University researchers, assistant professor Christine Greenhow and Benjamin Gleason, MSU doctoral student of education, describe scholars’ resistance as “troubling” given that both American and European universities are fighting for greater access to publicly-funded research.
There is concern that perhaps elitism among scholars is undermining business acumen – the ability to see the ‘big picture’ in a business environment.
Minority of university scholars using social media
“Only a minority of university researchers are using free and widely available social media to get their results and published insights out and into the hands of the public, even though the mission of public universities is to create knowledge that makes a difference in people’s lives”
“Simply put, there’s not much tweeting from the ivory tower.”
Greenhow explains that according to evidence, a small number of faculty members are beginning to share their work through social media, but she does not see it as becoming widespread unless further education centers adopt policies for tenure and promotion that reward these practices.
Perhaps businesses and journalism have exploited the benefits of social media much more extensively and effectively than University Scholars because they have better business sense.
Academic elitism is not a luxury most businesses people are likely to embrace during their careers. It would be interesting to know whether the university scholars who do use Twitter, Facebook or YouTube have more commercial experience than their colleagues who shun social media.
Social media not used to teach students
Greenhow carried out a survey involving 1,600 researchers and found that just 15% use Twitter, 39% use Facebook and 28% use YouTube. Those who do use social media do so to disseminate their work and/or find collaborators rather than using it largely to teach their students.
Greenhow said “Academia is not serving as a model of social media use or preparing future faculty to do this.”
She added that the issue is at the heart of wider discussions about equal rights and accessibility to higher education, as well as accountability and transparency.
The study, titled “Social scholarship: Reconsidering scholarly practices in the age of social media,” has been published in the British Journal of Educational Technology.
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