September 17, 2010

Twitter Usage Among College Faculty is on the Rise

By: in EdTech News and Trends

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Results of our second annual survey on Twitter usage and trends in higher education are now available. The survey of nearly 1,400 college faculty members found that more than a third (35.2 percent) of the 1,372 respondents use Twitter in some capacity. That’s an increase from 30.7 percent in 2009.

Meanwhile, just under half (47.9 percent) of those who completed the survey say they’ve never used Twitter, down from 56.4 percent in 2009. The remaining 16.9 percent say they tried Twitter, but stopped using it — a four percent increase from 2009.

The findings, released today in the report Twitter in Higher Education 2010: Usage Habits and Trends of Today’s College Faculty show adoption among higher education professionals continues to grow. However, the results also reveal that a large number of faculty still question the value of using the micro-blogging service in an academic setting.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 29.7 percent of respondents say they are “very familiar” or “extremely familiar” with Twitter, a 7.8 percent increase from 2009.
  • Faculty are most likely to use Twitter as a real-time news source or to share information with peers; with approximately half saying they do so “frequently.”
  • Of those who’ve never used Twitter, 68.8 percent question its educational relevance.
  • 76.1 percent of Twitter quitters stopped using the technology because they didn’t find it valuable.
  • 56.8 percent of current Twitter users say they expect to increase their use during the coming academic year.

The second annual survey sought answers to some of the fundamental questions regarding faculty members’ familiarity, perception, and experience with the popular micro-blogging technology. Depending on how they answered the question “Do you use Twitter?” respondents were asked a unique set of follow-up questions. The 22-page downloadable report provides a breakdown of the survey results by question, including comments provided by survey respondents. The comments further explain how they are using Twitter, why they stopped, or why they have no interest in using it at all.

Interestingly, one of the new trends to emerge this year was this feeling of technology overload. We had a number of people comment that they already have enough ways to communicate with students and they simply don’t want another application that needs to be monitored and maintained. As one professor put it, ‘There’s already too much electronic clutter in my teaching life. I don’t need to add another source.’

About the survey
More than 60 percent of the people who completed the survey teach at the college level with 57.8 percent identifying themselves as professors or instructors, and another 5.4 percent as online instructors specifically. Academic leaders made up 15.7 percent of the respondents, while the rest include instructional designers (5.6 percent), faculty development (4.5 percent), and library services (2.5 percent). Another 8.6 percent selected “Other” and this included IT, academic advisor, teaching assistants, and support services.

The survey was conducted in July and August 2010. An email invitation to participate in the online survey was distributed to Faculty Focus subscribers, as well as to select in-house lists of higher education faculty and administrators. Faculty Focus also notified its Twitter followers of the survey via http://twitter.com/facultyfocus.

To access the full report: Twitter in Higher Education 2010: Usage Habits and Trends of Today’s College Faculty go here.

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