computers in libraries 2014: engaging students through social media

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This presentation looks a recent study on how undergraduate and graduate students use social media for research and study. The presentation also incorporates ideas from recent literature on the topic.

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Engaging students through social media

Engaging students through social media

Computers in Libraries 2014Engaging Students through Social MediaBeth McGough, ProQuestelizabeth.mcgough@proquest.com@BethMcGough79

My name is Beth McGough, I am the Social Media Manager at ProQuest. Today I will be talking about engaging university students through social media.

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Agenda

IntroductionUse of social mediaSocial media for study and researchTraining in the use of social mediaRecommendations

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#CILDC

I will introduce you to the study which the information in the presentation is derived.Then look at how students are using social media generally and for research, and how they have been trained on incorporating social media in research activities.Ill conclude by providing some top level recommendations for engaging with university students through social media.

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Introduction

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The survey was conducted in August 2012Reached 600 students at degree-granting universities, large and small, representing a broad mix of academic disciplines.Approximately 300 students each were enrolled in US and Canadian institutions.Nearly equal mix of undergraduate and graduate students.

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Overall findings

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Use of social media

Among graduate and undergraduate students

Use of social media

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Virtually all students, graduate and undergraduate use Facebook. Half of undergraduates, and fewer graduate students use Twitter.Graduate students are more likely to use LinkedIn and Google+.In the other category, there were a handful of responses that mention specific sites for file-sharing, or public or school-hosted sites devoted to academics.

About 2/3 of students visit social media sites more than 4 times a day

Since this survey was conducted weve seen the rise of new sites such as Instagram, Pinterest, and messaging apps like Snap Chat.The Pew Social Media Update 2013 reports 37% of young adults use Instagram and 27% use Pinterest

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Use of social media for specific tasks

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The use of social media sites for specific tasks provides libraries direction for where to focus social media efforts.Social media channels are most likely used for contacting and sharing information with peers. Other likely uses include collaborating or organizing research. These are ideal activities for the library to help students with.

Social media is less likely to be used actual research and for reaching faculty, instructors and librarians. Although later in the presentation you will see students are open to connecting with the library through social media.

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Social media for study and research

Social media for study and research

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61% of students said they do not use social media for research purposes. But, the rest of the studys findings reveal higher use than indicated here when more specific questions were asked. It appears the responses to this question were highly dependent on how one defines research or study purposes and what services constitute social media.If a respondent took the question to mean do you cite Facebook as source the answer would be no. But when students were asked about specific research and study related activities a different picture emerged. While students clearly dont consider social media a source for research, they are already using it to communicate and collaborate. This is an opportunity for librarians to make the connection for students that the social sites they use throughout the day can be incorporated into their study life too.

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Students are using social media for study and research

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Current events is an example of how students are already participating in research and learning activities on social sites and may not even realize it or make the connection for surveys like this. On March 26 Pew reported 34% of young adults on Facebook are news consumers and 45% of young adult tweeters are news consumers on Twitter. Engagement plays a key role in the social media news experience. http://www.journalism.org/2014/03/26/8-key-takeaways-about-social-media-and-news/Facebook features such as sharing and commenting elevate social media beyond everyday conversations. In an article published in 2012, Witek and Grettano write: the Comment function elevates social media into a space where interaction of information, thinkers, and ideas results in growth of understanding and new knowledge among active participants.

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Training in the use of social media

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When students were asked if theyd received training in the use of social media for research purposes the majority had not received training, also the majority did not know where to find training resources.This is an opportunity for librarians to close an information gap through information literacy instruction.By connecting the social media sites students use everyday to research activities and showing students new ways of using familiar tools, and introducing new tools that will feel familiar librarians can make the research process feel easier for students.

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Interest in library services through social media

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Students were asked to indicate their interest in library services delivered through social media. Undergraduates were generally more interested than graduate students, but both groups express at least some interest.With the ubiquitous of social media in students lives and their openness to connecting with the library through social media indicates this is a medium that the library should be exploring if not already.

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Recommendations for libraries

Recommendations: Use of social media

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Because use of social media is so high among students and it is where they are communicating personally, and are likely be participating in research-related activities, the library should consider establishing a presence on Facebook and Twitter if it has not already. It should also consider other sites where students are active like Instagram, Pinterest, and SnapChat.First the library needs to connect with students through Facebook, Twitter, and possibly other sites. Once that online relationship is established the library can become a part of a students daily life online.To help build a following libraries should consider developing reciprocal relationships with other university organizations so they will share the library posts to their networks.

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Recommendations: Current and likely use of social media

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To serve graduate students librarians should consider setting up a presence on the sites graduate students are active. Creating library moderated LinkedIn groups would provide a space for graduate students to ask and discuss research-related questions. Similarly, groups could be set up on Google+.Cynthia Dudenhoffer of Central Methodist University has used Pinterest to create research portals or visual representations of ideas used to kick off the research and writing process.In a 2010 article Hicks and Graber describe a program and the University of Colorado where the library encouraged students and faculty to use and adapt library and database widgets in their own blogs and web pages. They write: Class web pages become subject hubs and form a dynamic learning community that helps students become immersed and grounded within their subject, thereby directly contributing to academic learning objectives. By providing quick access to the scholarly literature, widgets also help connect the course to authentic conversations on the web.The library can also provide or connect students with collaborative tools for organizing research, managing citations, and sharing research, if it doesnt already. Hicks and Graber describe helping a research group use RefWorks to create a bibliography. They used the tool to create and dialogue about the evolving bibliography. A great example of how a library tools provided support for collaboration and creating within the research process.

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Recommendations: Training in the use of social media

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Through information literacy instruction librarians can make the connection between a students online life and scholarly life. The library can then uncover social tools for students that will make them better researchers and scholars. Information literacy instructors can use the feature of social sites like Facebook to teach students basic research skills. Witek and Grettano describe using Facebook to teach information literacy. They draw analogies between organizing and sorting the News Feed to sorting database search results. Furthermore, they describe curating the News Feed, choosing whos activity theyd like to see, to narrowing search results. They write: the student is deliberately taking control of the information being displayed on the screen, not simply accepting the results at face value and this awareness of ones research process is key to critical thinking and information literacy having a lasting effect on the students information seeking behavior in both academic and non-academic environments.The social media features of databases and research tools can be discussed.Students can be shown how to connect with librarians through social media.Also, students can be shown how to connect with researchers in their discipline through social media. For example, teaching students how to participate in a Twitter chat or how to find researchers with similar interests. In a paper written in 2012 Kelly describes his experience connecting with new partners and collaborators through Twitter, particularly during conferences. He also provides suggestions for disseminating research, specifically open access content.

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