Digital Engagement Builds Bridges and Flattens Hierarchies

Shared Spaces - Students, Staff, and Everyone Else 

November 9, 2017

When Facebook first launched in 2004, there were quite a few members of the higher education community that said that Facebook would not ever be useful for anything related to teaching, learning, and/or enhancing the student experience. A prevalent idea at the time was that Facebook was a space that only held value for students and that it would not be acceptable to use in a professional/professorial capacity.

Fast forward to 2017 and Facebook and other social networking sites (SNS) are firmly entrenched in our digital engagement toolkits. Whilst Facebook is the dominant SNS on a global scale with more than 2 billion active users, a plethora of social media apps, sites, and channels have emerged that are used to engage students, create connections, and build community.


LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, and Snapchat are just a few of the digital engagement channels that universities are using to engage with students in educationally relevant ways.

However, there are still those who are of the opinion that SNS provide spaces for connection that are solely for students. This view fails to acknowledge the myriad ways in which academics and students services practitioners are using social media for meaningful interactions on a daily basis.

It also betrays a lack of fluency with digital platforms. For example, if you state that certain digital spaces are "only for students," then you never actually have to learn how they work and/or recognize that others are actively using these SNS within higher education.

Social media sites/apps/channels represent shared spaces that create bridges and flatten hierarchies.

Learning and engagement takes place between a variety of communities. The educationally relevant interplay that happens between students and staff on social media provides opportunities for enhancement of both digital capabilities and the student experience.


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Eric Stoller

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