August 28, 2009

Twitter in Higher Education: More than 30 Percent of Faculty Say They Tweet

By: in EdTech News and Trends

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Results are in from the Faculty Focus survey on Twitter usage and trends among college faculty. The survey of approximately 2,000 higher education professionals found that nearly one-third (30.7 percent) of the 1,958 respondents say they use Twitter in some capacity. More than half, (56.4 percent) say they’ve never used Twitter.

The findings, available in the downloadable report Twitter in Higher Education: Usage Habits and Trends of Today’s College Faculty, show relatively strong adoption rates among higher education professionals. On the other end of the spectrum, the results also reveal a large number of faculty question the value of using the micro-blogging service in an academic setting.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 21.9 percent of respondents say they are “familiar” or “very familiar” with Twitter.
  • Of those who use Twitter, 21 percent say they “frequently” use it to collaborate with colleagues; 15.6 percent do so “occasionally.”
  • Of those who use Twitter, 7.2 percent “frequently” use it as a learning tool in the classroom; 9.4 percent do so “occasionally.”
  • 71.8 percent of current Twitterers expect their usage to increase this school year.
  • 20.6 percent of current non-Twitter users say there is a “50/50 chance” they will use Twitter as a learning tool in the classroom in the next two years.
  • 12.9 percent of respondents say they tried Twitter, but stopped using it because it took too much time, they did not find it valuable, or a combination of reasons.

Depending on how they answered the question “Do you use Twitter?” respondents were asked a unique set of follow-up questions. The 20-page report released today provides a breakdown of the survey results by question, including comments provided by survey respondents when available. The comments further explain how they are using Twitter, why they stopped, or why they have no interest in using it at all.

Although the majority of faculty do not currently use Twitter, their reasons are varied. Many questioned its educational relevance and expressed concerns that it creates poor writing skills. For others the reasons boiled down to the simple fact that they either don’t know how to use Twitter, or don’t have time to use it.

One of the more interesting findings from the survey is the high percentage of faculty who use Twitter, even if they’re still experimenting with the best ways to incorporate it into their courses. What also became quite apparent was how strongly Twitterers and non-Twitterers feel about the technology.

The majority (55.9 percent) of people who took the survey are professors or instructors, with another 4.3 percent who designated themselves as online instructors specifically. Nearly one-fourth (23.6 percent) are academic leaders, such as department chairs and deans. Sixteen percent selected their role as “other” and this included individuals in faculty development, academic advisement, instructional design, marketing, admissions, assessment, and library services.

Go here to access Twitter in Higher Education: Usage Habits and Trends of Today’s College Faculty.

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