Engaging Students through Social Media: Evidence-Based Practices for Use in Student Affairs
reviewed by Kay Seo - March 10, 2016
Title: Engaging Students through Social Media: Evidence-Based Practices for Use in Student Affairs
Author(s): Reynol Junco
Publisher: Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco
ISBN: 1118647459, Pages: 368, Year: 2014
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Engaging Students through Social Media: Evidence-Based Practices for Use in Student Affairs presents research-based, practical strategies for implementing social media technologies effectively in higher education settings. Social media expert Reynol Junco wrote the book, and being a researcher with the same interest, I find this book to be very informative and helpful. This book is geared toward student affairs professionals, focuses on exploring how college students use social media technologies, and provides recommendations for student affairs practice based on the related research. Since social media has become a ubiquitous part of student lives, it is essential to find out how they use modern technologies, their impacts on learning, and how we can apply this information in guiding them. The book addresses these important inquiries, by connecting research and practice to inform student affairs practitioners and other higher education professionals.
Engaging Students through Social Media consists of eight chapters. Chapter One introduces the idea of social media to the reader and discusses key concepts like social media, social networking, microblogging, image and video sharing, devices, and digital inequalities. A variety of social media technologies and services are also described.
Chapter Two deals with social media in more depth by providing an insightful summary of the research previously conducted on social media use. Findings are presented thematically and include: student engagement; academic and social integration; the relationship among Facebook, Twitter, student engagement, student social and academic integration; and academic performance. The chapter provides a balanced view on social media by addressing not only its benefits, but also potential dangers through its use. The chapter concludes by providing the reader with helpful tips for evaluating research.
Chapter Three, which I find particularly interesting, discusses how social media use affects the development of student identity. This chapter begins with a review of important theories regarding identity formation and introduces a vast array of diverse development models encompassing racial, ethnic, cultural, and lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender (LGBT) aspects of identity. The chapter follows this by discussing how identity is formed similarly and differently online, and extensively describing the dynamics and processes among the three levels of real identity, pseudonymity, and anonymity. Identity dictates ones behaviors and presence-absence patterns online, making it essential to understand the effects of social media on student identity development. This chapter provides excellent information regarding this topic.
Chapter Four focuses on learning through social media by addressing informal learning that takes place outside of formal educational institutions. It discusses how social media can be used in social and community contexts and its impact on the acquisition of knowledge and values. A variety of practical tips and real world examples are provided for promoting informal learning in student affairs. The chapter also discusses how social media is practically used and how technology can develop relationships with individual students and engage them in community building.
Chapter Five turns to formal learning using social media and presents evidence-based practices and examples of adopting social media in courses. The chapter highlights social media as a tool for communication, cooperation, feedback, and active learning, and explores potential benefits and drawbacks from using Facebook and Twitter.
Chapter Six takes a more holistic approach and analyzes social media use in a systematic process encompassing preparation, implementation, and assessment of possible social media interventions. Similar to other educational resources, integrating social media into the teaching and learning process takes careful consideration and thorough planning to reach the best outcomes.
Chapter Seven shifts the focus away from students and their learning and discusses how student affairs professionals can use social media for professional development. This adds an interesting dimension to the book by turning readers into the main subjects of the chapter. Social media can serve as both a learning tool for students and career development tool for student affairs practitioners. Junco discusses how to build and maintain a professional social network, how to present professional images online, what information should be shared, and what social media activities should be used.
Finally, Chapter Eight explores the future of social media in student affairs practice. It describes what the classroom of the future might look like and redefines the role of student affairs professionals in the changing landscape of higher education impacted by social media. The chapter ends with the authors resonating statement, Student affairs professionals can lead the way in showing others how social media can be leveraged to meet students where they are and to bring them along to where we want them to be (p. 297).
Overall, Engaging Students through Social Media is an excellent resource for understanding social media use in education and learning how to make the best use of these technologies. What makes this book unique is that it takes both focused and broad approaches to social media and these contrasting techniques combine beautifully together. Despite the rapid growth of resources regarding social media, studies aimed at student affairs are still scarce. Focusing on this underrepresented area, the book is a great reference for professionals working in this field and other educational professionals. In providing an extensive review on the effects of social media on learning, this book can inform researchers, instructors, and administrators. Social media is here to stay and will continuously evolve and transform, providing both benefits and challenges. As Junco suggests in his final chapter, we should keep considering and exploring ways to make the most of its technical affordances, but at the same time be aware of its potentially negative side effects.