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Academic Advising & Social Media

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NACADA Tech in Advising Recommendations for Use of Online Social Communication in Academic Advising

The purpose of these recommendations is to provide guidance to Academic Advisors contemplating the inclusion of on-line social communication tools in their personal or programmatic advising design.

For the purposes of this discussion, Online Social Communications will be understood as externally hosted Web environments, sometimes referred to as Social Media Environments, in which information is aggregated, presented and shared. Further, where functionality exist, the environments allow you to document and filter connections between individuals, maintain profiles, support multimedia, and facilitate communication with a time shift supporting response at user-defined times. On-Line Social Communication environments include Facebook and other Online Social Networks, Twitter, YouTube, personal blogs and wiki pages. Since Facebook’s introduction in 2004, an ever-increasing number of advisors, student services specialists, academic units and universities have been leveraging the benefits of an on-line presence.

The expanding use of on-line social communication by advisors and advising offices, evidenced by numerous publications and presentations over the past five years, encouraged the NACADA Commission for Technology in Advising to proffer the following recommendations when considering inclusion of Social Communication tools in the delivery of advising information:

  1. First and foremost, one should appreciate the importance of face-to-face communication in academic advising and view any forays into Social Media Environments as supplemental to advising in brick-and-mortar environments.
  2. As is the case with all communication taking place at a distance, the recipient of the information cannot be verified when posting information in Social Media Environments. Advisors should be familiar with your institution’s FERPA compliance or other student records standards and technology use policies, and as is the case with email and telephone, refrain from discussing these topics in uncontrolled, on-line environments.
  3. Advisors should remember that Social Media Environments do not represent the university to most students. This being the case, allowing your students the option of interacting with you in these spaces and regularly surveying your populations to ascertain their continuing level of comfort is recommended.
  4. By accepting that Social Media Environments do not represent the university to our students and that we’re reaping great benefit from students’ willingness to engage us in these spaces, care should always be taken to not “clog the drain” with information. Note how likely students are to delete university-generated emails without reading them. Likewise, if one pushes too much information into Social Media Environments, students will stop paying attention and disengage.
  5. Finally, Advisors should also bear in mind that these are public sites and as such care should be taken to ensure you are playing the role of the professional–even on personal profiles.

Thanks to Art Esposito, Berdie Eubank, Ned Donnelly, Jennifer Joslin, Sharon Loschiavo, Scott Roberts, and Terry Duncan for creating these recommendations.

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  • Jeanette Pellegrin

    Eric, I am doing research for a paper on the use of social media in academic advising.   I wonder if you could suggest any articles, particularly in scholarly journals, that I could glean information from?  I’m specifically addressing the pros and cons of using Facebook, Twitter and blogs in advising.

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