How today’s higher education faculty use social media infographic

Posted by reyjunco on October 23, 2012 in Commentary, Infographic, Research |

Last week, Pearson and the Babson Survey Research Group released the results of their latest survey of how higher education faculty use social media. The results are quite interesting. For instance, they found that almost 34% of the sample used some form of social media (defined as blogs/wikis, Facebook, LinkedIn, podcasts, or Twitter) for teaching purposes.

It’s worth noting that the survey had a response rate of 6% and it’s impossible to tell how generalizable these results are to the greater population of “all university faculty.” In other words, it’s wholly possible that the survey sample contained a greater proportion of faculty who were more likely to use social media (and who were more likely to use social media in their courses).

The sample was also stratified based on Carnegie classification and the results weighted to adjust for differences in response rates by these classifications. I would have liked to have seen stratification by gender, race/ethnicity (of which no data about the sample are provided), and discipline. Perhaps a weighting by age may have been in order given that almost 42% of the sample was aged 55 or over.

Even still, these are interesting findings especially when compared to previous Pearson surveys. The trend suggests that faculty are becoming more comfortable incorporating social media into the classroom. Of particular interest to me is how Facebook is used more for teaching purposes than Twitter although the second most reported barrier to using social media in the classroom was “concerns about privacy” (presumably primarily related to Facebook as Twitter tends to be a more pubic medium).

You can download the full report and the infographic here.

Pearson How Higher Education Faculty Use Social Media Infographic

Infographic credit: Pearson Learning Solutions (2012). Available online here.

Disclosure: I provided feedback on drafts of the survey instrument.

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New appointment at the Berkman Center

Posted by reyjunco on August 31, 2012 in Commentary |

I am thrilled to announce that I will be a Faculty Associate at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society for the academic year. I will continue my work with the Youth and Media Team and look forward to working with other faculty, fellows, and associates. I am especially thankful to Urs Gasser and Sandra Cortesi for their support of my work and my association with the Center. For me, the Berkman Center has been my research home for the last few years. It’s a place where new ideas and innovations in research are highly valued and encouraged. The Berkman community is a passionate group of individuals all interested in one common goal– furthering the understanding of cyberspace.

I always feel like I’m on a high bristling with new ideas after every visit to the Center. Indeed, Doc Searles, a Berkman fellow suggested software I’d never heard of to try to help me answer a research question – and in fact, I ended up using that application for my latest round of data collection. Following the same thread, the Youth and Media Team provided invaluable input on the preliminary results of the study using the application Doc suggested. These are two examples of what makes the place great: passionate people with diverse backgrounds collaborating on the common goal of understanding why and how we do what we do online.

I am really looking forward to the new discoveries that this next year will bring. Stay tuned!

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Social Media Research & Practice in Higher Ed #sxswEDU podcast

Posted by reyjunco on June 22, 2012 in Presentations |

Social Media Research and Practice in Higher Education #sxswEDU logo

Back in March I served on a panel along with Liz Gross, Ed Cabellon, and Greg Heiberger at the #sxswEDU conference. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. Greg and I talk about our latest research on using Twitter to support students throughout their first year of college.
  2. I summarize my recent research on using Facebook in education.
  3. Greg explores the future of higher education and how new technologies can be used to effectively improve student success.
  4. Liz discusses how to use Facebook to market your institution and programs.
  5. Ed explains how to frame productive social media use to administrators.
  6. I get snarky about EdTech startups and how they don’t communicate with educators.

Listen to the podcast here:

Or you can download the file by right-clicking here and selecting “Save As.” Here are the slides for the presentation portion:


I’d love to hear what you think. Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.

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Why I don’t trust that Facebook will keep your child’s information private

Posted by reyjunco on June 14, 2012 in Commentary |

Child Surfing Facebook - Facebook, Children, and PrivacyLast week, I wrote an opinion piece for NBCLatino entitled Don’t trust Facebook with your children in response to Facebook’s announcement that they are considering allowing children younger than 13 to join the site. In that post, I discussed four reasons why you would want to be wary of allowing your children under 13 to join Facebook. Due to space limitations, I didn’t include a fifth that I wanted to elaborate on here:

Privacy: Time and time again, Facebook has been notorious for tricking users into sharing more of their personal information. And yes, I mean tricking and no, I’m not being overly dramatic here as I’ll point out below. Since the Internet has a short memory, let’s briefly review some of these issues:

  • Beacon: In 2007, Facebook launched a system named Beacon that allowed non-Facebook websites to include a script that would send user information back to Facebook. A user didn’t have to be logged in to Facebook for their information to be collected from a third-party site, nor were the users even informed it was happening. Imagine making a purchase on Zappo’s and then having it automatically posted to your Facebook wall. Facebook shut down the service in 2009 just before they settled a class action lawsuit over Beacon.
  • News feed: In 2007, Facebook introduced the News feed and Mini feed that published all of a user’s Facebook activity without allowing users to opt-out. Because of user outcry, Facebook implemented privacy controls for the feeds. Then in 2009, they removed those privacy controls. Again after user outcry, they added more privacy controls and “simplified” their privacy settings. Even though they have been “simplified,” I don’t believe that Facebook privacy controls are “simple” and easy to understand.
  • Inability to delete accounts: This one didn’t affect many users, only those trying to delete their accounts so most people don’t remember it. Even when users deactivated their accounts, Facebook kept copies of their information indefinitely. To this day, you have to submit a request to completely delete your account. If you merely deactivate your account, Facebook still keeps all of your information indefinitely.
I could go on and on, but you get my point– Facebook has done a lousy job at protecting user privacy and they have received great criticism about their deceptive practices. All of this should come as no surprise to anyone who keeps up with Facebook-related news because Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t believe in privacy and he insists that our notion of privacy is changing (not for the better). Interestingly enough, while Zuckerberg pushes to make what you share on Facebook public, he does not share much of his own personal life. This contradiction that has led to further outcries including this bounty by Gizmodo for public pictures of Mark that they will then share on their own site.

Because of all this, one can infer that Facebook has had a deliberate disregard for privacy of its users. Now imagine similar privacy bait-and-switches with children – who are less equipped to understand what is happening and to protect themselves from having their information shared with more people than they intended. And while in my original piece I wrote about how I’m not as concerned about a stranger taking advantage of a child on Facebook as I am about other things, such privacy breeches certainly increase the chances that a person with ill intentions will use the information for their own benefit at the expense of the child.

For these reasons, I don’t trust that Facebook has my best interest in mind and I certainly don’t trust that they’ll have the best interest of children under 13 in mind… and neither should you.

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Web Connected Minds talk outline

Posted by reyjunco on May 6, 2012 in Presentations |

Today I’m giving a talk at the Web Connected Minds Conference about my research on social media, student engagement, and learning. I’ll be talking about my published research on how Facebook use is related to student engagement and student academic performance. I’ll also be talking about some of my published research on improving educational outcomes by using Twitter as part of college courses. The best part (in my opinion) will be the unpublished data I’ll discuss showing how Twitter can be used to help improve student persistence into the second year of college. Lastly, I’m discussing interviews with students from these studies and *gasp* making inferences based on qualitative data analyses.

You can download a PDF copy of my talk outline by clicking here or just check out the embedded PDF below. Also, if you have any questions about the talk or the outline please ask them in the comments section of this post and I’ll make sure to answer each one.

Rey Junco Improving Student Engagement and Learning Using Social Media

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Facebook frequency of use and activities survey questions

Posted by reyjunco on April 5, 2012 in Survey Design |

Facebook frequency and activity survey questionsI’ve had a lot of requests for permission to use my Facebook frequency of use and activities survey questions. I am happy to share these survey questions as long as they are cited as coming from :

Junco, R. (2012). The relationship between frequency of Facebook use, participation in Facebook activities, and student engagement. Computers & Education, 58(1), 162-171.

Facebook frequency – I use two different ways to measure frequency of use: 1) Average time spent on Facebook per day and 2) Number of times Facebook is checked per day. Note that if you are relating these to outcome measures, you will probably get different results for time and checking (there is more detail about this in this paper and this one). My reason for using a continuous measure of time spent on Facebook is simple. Using categorical measures (i.e., 1-2 hours, 3-4 hours, etc.) presupposes an underlying distribution in your data that may not actually exist. Plus, you can always convert a continuous variable to a categorical, but not vice-versa. I recognize that using such fine-grained options could be problematic; however, survey methods are the most efficient in collecting these data (stay tuned for one of my future projects that seeks to remedy the problems inherent in employing surveys to collect usage data). You might have noticed that the “time spent on” question is worded in a way to include more stems than just Facebook– I used a few additional stems (i.e., searching for information, email, etc.). Feel free to add your own.

Facebook activities – Because the types of Facebook activities change with the addition or deletion of features, I used a novel method to come up with these 14 items. I posted a public status update stating: ‘‘I need your help for my next research project. What are the things you do on Facebook?’’ The items submitted by 39 of my Facebook friends were collated and compiled into a non-overlapping list of 14 items. These 14 items were shared with two separate groups of undergraduate students for input, revised and posted on Facebook for further comments. All of the items from the original list were kept, and most of them were edited for clarity and relevance.

You can download a pdf of the questions here. If you end up using these questions in your own research, please send me an email and let me know. You may also be interested in my colleague, Nicole Ellison’s Facebook Intensity Scale.

Junco Facebook Survey 2012

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Twitter 101: Best Practices in Using Twitter in the Classroom Infographic

Posted by reyjunco on March 21, 2012 in Infographic, Research |

Twitter 101 Best Practices InfographicAlmost a year ago, I posted a call to collaborate with graphic designers interested in creating research-based infographics. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of graphic designers who have converted my research into infographics.

Here is yet another one in this series. This one is based on our paper, Putting Twitter to the test: assessing outcomes for student collaboration, engagement, and success. In the paper, we compared two ways to use Twitter in the classroom: as an unguided back channel or integrating it into a course in educationally-relevant ways (ways that made sense based on the course goals). The results gave us comparative data in order to be able to make recommendations about best practices in using Twitter in the classroom.

I’d like to point out that I’m a real stickler about using the term “best practices.” It’s a concept we toss around a lot in higher education. To me, a “best practice” is only something that has been supported by research. Alas, most of the time that we talk about “best practices” in higher ed, we’re focusing on what someone thinks is a “good idea.” So here you go… some data to support best practices in using Twitter in the college classroom.
































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StudentAffairs.com podcast Interview with Rey Junco

Posted by reyjunco on February 15, 2012 in Commentary, Research |

Rey Junco podcast interview headshotLast week I chatted with Stuart Brown from StudentAffairs.com for the student affairs forum podcast. We spoke about:

  1. Variation in technology skills even among students who are “digital natives.”
  2. Digital inequalities and how these inequalities are reproduced throughout a student’s educational career.
  3. How digital inequalities in technology use can put students from minority racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds at a disadvantage not just in college but after they graduate.
  4. Ways that student affairs professionals can help all students be on a “level playing field” with technology skills.
  5. My research on how Facebook use is related to student academic performance.
  6. Some of my latest research showing what might be driving the negative relationship between Facebook use and overall GPA.
  7. Ideas for future research projects (check it out, graduate students!).

You can listen to the 22-minute long podcast here:

You can download the podcast by right clicking on this link and choosing “save as.”

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Achievement not yet unlocked: Badges for learning project looking for funding

Posted by reyjunco on February 13, 2012 in Research |

Badges for learning - game dynamics in the classroomA while ago I posted about the proposal Game dynamics in the classroom: Badges to improve student engagement and learning in large lecture courses we submitted to the Digital Media and Learning Badges for Learning competition. We were delighted to see how much buzz our proposal generated online (here’s a post on Edudemic about our proposal and a screenshot of a Storify containing some of the tweets I received) and were pleased to hear from many of you who were interested in our project. Unfortunately, we were notified that  DML is not going to fund our proposal. I wish I could tell you why; however, in their email they stated “due to volume we are unable to provide feedback on individual projects.”

We think ours is a good project that leverages badges as well as game dynamics to solve a common problem in higher education– getting students to be engaged in large-lecture courses. As you might imagine, we need funding to get this project off the ground. Because the proposal is already online and because I believe there is wisdom in the crowd, I’m writing this post in the hopes that someone in a position to fund a project of this nature might read this. If you are interested in funding this project, please email me by clicking this link. If not, please spread this post through your networks– tweet, reteweet, +1, wall posts, etc.

To summarize, the project will do four things:

  1. In partnership with SCVNGR, we will develop a badging system that can be used by other universities.
  2. We will implement the badging system in a large-lecture course. The system and our protocol will use game dynamics based on research-supported strategies to improve student engagment.
  3. We will evaluate the effectiveness of our intervention by using a controlled experimental design. We will collect data on student engagement, attendance, and course grades in randomly assigned experimental and control classrooms. We’ll also run focus groups to collect qualitative data. The control classrooms will not use the badging system but a instead do the same activities through other methods.
  4. We will develop and make freely available educational materials so that others may integrate the badging system into any kind of large-lecture course.

Here is the project summary:

The goal of this project is to create and evaluate a badging system for learning in order to increase college student academic engagement and improve class attendance and academic performance. We hypothesize that we can improve college student academic outcomes by combining Location Based Services (LBS) with a badging system employing game dynamics and integrating it in an educationally-relevant way in a large-lecture course.

You can download the full proposal PDF file here which includes details about our methods. If you are interested in funding this project, please email me and I can send you the proposed budget.

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Will iTextbooks increase student engagement? Not really.

Posted by reyjunco on January 30, 2012 in Commentary |

Over at Wired, Tim Carmody wrote a great piece about Apple’s latest foray into the education market – digital textbooks via the iBooks 2 app. Tim hits the nail on the head in his introduction (emphasis mine):

Engagement is a big word in education. It combines both objective participation and subjective emotion. It’s one of the few psychological terms in education that links students, teachers and content. So it’s not surprising that in promoting the iPad as a tool for education, Apple touted the device’s ability to engage students.

Because they’re so engaging: okay, let’s just drop the bull and say it, because they’re cool

Tim understands what Apple and most reporters don’t know or like to gloss over: That there is nothing engaging about iTextbooks in relation to the important interpersonal engagement that we’re striving for in order to increase student motivation, participation, and academic outcomes (here is a great article reviewing student engagement and related research).

iBooks 2 Textbooks and student engagementThere’s no doubt that iTextbooks are intrapersonally engaging or put another way, interactive. However, just because something is interactive does not mean that it is engaging. Although I’m not endorsing them either, at least Inkling has the “social learning network” feature that allows students and instructors to carry on a conversation about book content. Certainly, a step in the right engagement direction.

Some of my research on Facebook and Twitter illustrates the idea of “engaging” tech vs. actual engagement: using an “engaging” system like Facebook doesn’t predict much of the variance in real-world engagement; however, using it in certain ways does. Learning outcomes come about not because of the particular technology being used, but because of how that technology is used to support sound pedagogy. Certainly, some technologies will be better suited for certain activities than others (for instance, Twitter lends itself better to ongoing synchronous and asynchronous conversations than email).

Educators will often become enamored by new technologies and adopt them with the underlying assumption that technology in and of itself must be good for learning (for a great review, see the Outcomes section of this paper). We see this type of hype with almost every new educational technology tool that is released. Take for example iPad initiatives at a growing number of universities: there’s no data to show that having students adopt iPads leads to better learning outcomes. So why adopt them on such a widespread scale? The only reason that I can tell is because they are cool.

Now, there is nothing wrong with the “cool factor.” Doing traditional educational activities with a shiny new toy can improve student motivation, a phenomenon I liken to Jedi mind tricks (“these are not the boring lectures you are looking for”). Unfortunately, the effect of the cool factor is short-lived when it comes to promoting positive educational outcomes. When all students have iPads (which is presumptuous to assume- I’ll save my rant about how iTextbooks will widen digital inequalities for another time), reading iTextbooks will be just like any other boring non-engaging assignment that students have to complete in isolation. In other words, the coolness wears off and the interactivity becomes a routine part of the process.

Of course we’ll never know how well new technologies work unless we try them. But in addition to trying them, we must integrate them in educationally-purposeful ways and also assess how integrating them in these ways affects student outcomes in comparison to other tools (in the case of iTextbooks, reasonable comparisons would be regular textbooks, other forms of digital books, and interactive websites). Put another way, we can (and should) be excited about the possibility of how new technologies might enhance learning; however, we must be mindful of evaluating what works and more importantly, what doesn’t.

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