Several weeks ago I was asked to deliver a talk that would describe trends and issues in the media in the following five years that I believed would influence higher education. As I believed the topic to be too broad and media as a term too unspecific (media can mean mass media, medicine can mean technology, urologist can make reference to a medium…), I have decided to focus my talk on 2010 trends in social media that could inspire, positively influence and change higher education in general and communication studies in particular (this would include marketing-communications, media studies, journalism, creative industries and more).
I did keep into account the 5 key trends of 2010 identified by ReadWriteWeb (mobile, real-time web, internet of things, augmented reality and structured data) as well as Mashable’s Barb Dybwad 5 social media trends (location, group buying, mobile ads, mobile payments and social media policies). I also asked for suggestions and opinions on Twitter and Facebook, some of the replies I received pointing to social media policies, internet access, intellectual property, new media journalism and the future of journalism as we know it. I then applied my own experience filter and decided that “conversation” should be the main trend and issue to influence higher education, its delivery and function in following years.
Based on my work with social media and on my sustained efforts during the past three years to experiment with and introduce low-cost or free new media tools into the classroom, I believe that experience education based on active conversation between the lecturer and the class participants is one of the trends. With sentiment analysis tools becoming more and more popular online and with more corporate entities looking to sentiment analysis services like Spiral16 or Twendz, it is just a matter of time when course evaluations will also have a “sentiment” grid. Similarly, for students aiming to enter the workforce in the following years, it will be vital for communication and communication related higher education institutions to provide them with the skills and tools to handle the development, design, delivery and evaluation of sentiment based campaigns.
Location and geo-relevant services
Geo-relevant content is also on my list. This, in my view, is primarily related to preparing the students to deal with the real-time and the everywhere and anytime web in their future work. However geo-relevant content could be generated by universities on a local scale as a way for students to find their way around the campuses.
Payment and property
Paywall/Value-added services and copyright/copyleft are two interdependent trends. There is an ongoing discussion about how each could potential affect current business models and media production and consumption patterns so I will not elaborate on any of them here. Crowd-sourcing education is partly related to these opposing trends as it unites educators in the ongoing purpose of increasing student learning and achievement. Also, assessing the schools’ policies with regards to students work and intellectual property, especially when it has to do with creative work produced by the students, falls under this category as well. Moreover, corporate presences of universities such as official websites and blogs would also fit this category with questions about who should be in charge with and manage the universities’, departments’ and academics’ image and how should this be done, using specialized and restrictive tools and opting for licensed, emerging products.
I have concluded that these “conversational” trends have an answer in incorporating more social media education (or social media alternatives) to the current delivery module. I argued that students should be offered live-streamed lectures, twitter back-rooms for feedback, video archives of courses and free collaborative platforms for team work. By doing so students will have for example 24/7 access to resources (including those related to class material) as well as a wider choice of resources to fit their learning style. I do not believe that social media education and its offers should or could fully replace the in campus, in person, in class delivery. However, I am a firm believer that communication, and collaboration on-, offline and mobile, on and off campus, coupled with skills and employability oriented courses and cross-cultural exchanges will help provide an all round better academia and academic experience.