The often lengthy and emotionally charged process of applying for a higher education course means navigating different stages. There’s research to be done, choices to make, deadlines to meet, exams to swot for and futures to anticipate. For young adults, used to structured learning environments, it can be their first experience of trying to define their own lives as individuals. Reaching out to students via social media can be a surprisingly effective way to support them on this journey.
It’s true that even a few years ago some educators viewed social media with suspicion, fear or even disdain. A potentially disruptive, unknown channel that was ‘interactive’. And that last bit meant that students could answer back. Add to that the understandable concern that many parents have about excessive social media usage, and the potential for online bullying it throws up, and some educators chose to steer clear.
But many schools and colleges are now using social media in a positive way, with most having an active Twitter feed of news and information targeted at their communities of parents, students and staff. Meanwhile, staff and learners are exploiting social media tools to support learning and teaching throughout higher education.