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Social media in learning, especially as a component of student recruitment and engagement is immediately relevant to my current workplace. Prior to the COVID pandemic, the student recruitment team mainly pursued in-person opportunities such as university fairs, campus open house events, and school visits (travelling to high schools and colleges to present to students.) Since the implementation of multiple lockdowns, recruitment has relied heavily on online recruitment events, webinars, virtual college fairs, and social media. Where students used to call or email the admissions team with their inquiries, they can now contact the team through email, live chat, and social media. What is integral to our functions is that the general email inquiries, live chat, and social media posts are created and responded to by current students. In regards to our work-study students who are trained to provide correct admissions information and appropriate guidance to prospective students, the impact is two-fold: firstly, the prospective student is able to obtain answers to their questions quickly; secondly, they are able to connect and hear from a current student directly. This reflects Weller’s note about the use of social media to increase student recruitment as the voice of our current students can provide valuable insight into their student life and experience. We consider this a value add and will purposefully ask our student staff to provide suggestions for future projects, and review our webpages and flag any information that is confusing from the student perspective.

On the contrary, the university remains steadfast in their traditional approach to undergraduate education. Weller (2020) indicated that one of the three aspects of Web 2.0 that can impact higher education is granularity. In other words, dividing the learning content into smaller chunks and repackaging the degree to be finished within a more flexible timeframe as students migrate into the online learning environment. For years, the university has offered online lecture recordings to supplement physical lectures, as well as some fully online courses. Additionally, in the current pandemic situation, many of our international students are unable to arrive on campus for their first class in September. As such, the university is offering the majority of the Fall semester courses online. This way, students are able to begin their studies on time. However, the university maintains that they are a brick-and-mortar institution and students are expected to attend the physical campus in January. Surprisingly, this lack of flexibility and granularity resonates in some of our students’ responses as well. Many of our international students who need to study online for the first semester are upset that they cannot attend the campus. They indicated that if they had to study in an online program, they would not have chosen to attend our university. This raises many questions about the students’ motivations to attend our university, and potential reasons behind the institutional decision to remain “offline” despite the growing interest in online education.

 

References

Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.