The results are in!
We’ve been on the lookout for our top ten social media superstars in higher education (HE), and we had some great entries! A huge thank you to everyone who took the time to apply.
The competition celebrates the excellent social media work being done by sector professionals out there – and the most innovative ways of using social media to add value to their practice.
The final line-up was chosen by a panel of HE and social media experts, including; our social media team, Sarah Knight (our head of change – student experience), and award-winning social media editor for Times Higher Education, Chris Parr.
The top ten are fantastic examples of social media use in HE that others could take inspiration from. Each winner will receive an edtech visit for their class (robot included) – and of course, they’re celebrated in our top ten list, too! Why not give them a like, share, and follow.
Congratulations to our winners!
The Jisc top ten HE social media superstars of 2017
- Andy Tattersall, information specialist at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield
- Anastasia Denisova, journalism lecturer and researcher in viral cultures, University of Westminster
- Dr Christina Stanley, lecturer in animal behaviour and welfare, University of Chester
- Dr Glenn Hurst, department of chemistry lecturer, University of York
- Kardi Somerfield, senior lecturer in marketing, University of Northampton
- Keith Brown, software developer
- Pablo the library penguin, library penguin, University of Portsmouth
- Dr Peter Klappa, reader in biochemistry, University of Kent
- Roger Kerry, associate professor, faculty of medicine and health sciences, University of Nottingham
- Dr Vikas Shah, academic champion in clinical radiology/imaging, University of Leicester
Andy Tattersall, information specialist at the School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield
Creator and contributor to ScHARR’s YouTube channel, Andy’s video series’ include ScHARR Bite Size series – which teaches the viewer “something new in 20 minutes”. His Research Hacks series contains 44 helpful videos, and the more recent Cite Hacks series features engaging illustrations and information – such as this video that covers blogging about your research.
“Higher education is now in a continual state of change thanks to the web and social media (…) it offers a wealth of new opportunities for teaching and learning, knowledge sharing and opening up of our resources across the globe. Video plays an important part of that change as it allows bite size, cheap, accessible knowledge that is shared on all platforms and in the classroom, lab, or even on the bus.”
Anastasia Denisova, journalism lecturer and researcher in viral cultures, University of Westminster
Anastasia practices what she preaches – as she shares and discusses her own research, research updates, and the wider news agenda on Twitter. Her conversations spark interest and engagement from her students, fellow researchers, and even journalists looking for commentary.
“Tweets act as light bulbs, putting the exciting points on the spot. The feedback from other users further enhances this understanding – if anything receives likes retweets and any kind of attention – I know that I am on the right track. My research is of worth to the public.
At the end of the day, we as academics have to oppose the waterfalls of ‘fake’ news, rushed judgements and toxic bias. By making our studies and balanced viewpoints more accessible for wider publics – via social media – we are serving the community. This is more important than ever in our turbulent times.”
Dr Christina Stanley, lecturer in animal behaviour and welfare, University of Chester
When asked to design a new module in line with her research interests, Dr Christina Stanley’s first thoughts were: “Brilliant! But how can I ensure this is fun and engaging?” Realising the importance of embedding employability skills into teaching, and after inspiring conversations with colleagues, Christina realised an innovative use of Twitter was the answer.
Christina shared relevant papers with her students, and inspired them to do the same, even using Twitter as an assessment tool, using the hashtag #BI6192. The Twitter feed was embedded on the module’s eLearning site.
“I think this is a great example of how social media can be easily used by other HE professionals. In addition to helping students to improve valuable communication skills, they engaged with wider reading on their subject (student reluctance to do this is something we often struggle to overcome) and reported to me they had gained inspiration, even replies, from scientists all over the world.
They also graduated with concrete evidence of their ability to both engage with the wider community and promote new material, key employability skills. Try it yourselves!”
Dr Glenn Hurst, department of chemistry lecturer, University of York
As well as using Twitter to engage with students and the academic community, Dr Glen Hurst uses social media to enhance the quality of his teaching - by empowering students to create their own YouTube videos of organic chemistry mechanisms. Students then tweet their videos to him to receive feedback so they can improve.
“This has allowed me to provide students with even more feedback than other mechanisms such as tutorials/workshops and in doing so enables them to improve their communications skills.”
Glen also uses Snapchat to signpost students during inductions, allowing them “to contextualise the chemistry concepts we teach in lectures to the real world and to provide them with a glimpse into conducting chemistry research in a laboratory and beyond. This is very easy and free for facilitators to try.”
In collaboration with colleagues and students, Glen has also contributed to the construction of a 'Chemistry@York' app for applicants and visitors to the Department of Chemistry. The app has been downloaded by in excess of 500 individuals from across the globe.
Kardi Somerfield, senior lecturer in marketing, University of Northampton
Kardi uses Twitter in several ways to help her students to keep up with advertising and marketing practice. The AdStudent Picks list is a set of accounts for students to follow. It keeps students up to date with the trade press and breaking campaigns, whilst building familiarity with agencies, clients and issues. Kardi promotes the use of #AdStudents, to highlight posts from the advertising student community across the three years of study and beyond to alumni.
“The particular benefits of using Twitter this way are that the students begin to understand the research capabilities of this platform, and also acquire the good habit of including bite-size industry content in their daily media consumption. This addresses the specific challenge of the way digital natives selectively process information.”
Her use of social media has resulted in the launch of a ‘student takeover’ of the university social media accounts. Final year students will be given the experience of working in the digital team, as well as being matched with skilled practitioners who will continue to mentor them into their first roles in industry: “We anticipate this will positively impact their employability and the student experience.”
Kardi has also invited community organisations to have social media content created for them by digital marketing students, an initiative recently shortlisted for a Changemaker Award.
Demonstrating that there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to social media, Keith has created Study-Space, a private social media app. The app includes the options to post quizzes, surveys and voting competitions, as well as posting questions and text.
Study-Space proves useful for students and lecturers alike, especially for those who do not wish to use their own personal social media account for work or study, or who might have had negative experiences with social media in the past.
“Study-Space provides a safe virtual learning space for students and teaching staff. It overcomes the obstacles identified with mainstream social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and enables active learning in a safe, secure and private environment.
Our results have shown that the app enables a vibrant community of students and academics working together, with most students posting anonymously. It facilitates teacher/student and student/student communications, both inside and outside the classroom.”
Pablo the library penguin, library penguin, University of Portsmouth
Pablo works with the University of Portsmouth Library to build trust and engagement between university students and library services and facilities. He proactively enhances the library brand across social media, lowering barriers to service engagement, and engaging students, whilst demonstrating empathy and providing a quirky take on often serious messages.
Establishing himself as a trustworthy source of advice on Twitter, he happily helps students and clients with their library queries.
An ever increasing pace of service change means Pablo always has new or different services, products, and developments to remark upon, explore, or otherwise engage with – keeping his followers up-to-date with the evolution of the library. Behind the scenes, he has provided opportunities for staff at the University of Portsmouth Library to explore and rediscover their own library from new angles, as well as boosting morale through challenging times of change.
Through his interaction with services and facilities Pablo offers a humorous sideways look at the library – you can even watch his movie on YouTube.
Dr Peter Klappa, reader in biochemistry, University of Kent
Dr Peter Klappa is a keen user of Facebook Live, harnessing the power of social media to expand traditional teaching and learning spaces. “Most students already use social media for communication and therefore it is only logical to use live-streaming as an extension of traditional face-to-face lectures and workshops.
“Facebook Live streams (FLS) can make learning more accessible for students, who find it difficult to attend face-to-face sessions or who are studying remotely - for example, on placements. FLS can be watched on a plethora of devices, which students already possess, and no further software is needed to be installed on the user side.
Live-streamed lectures can be easily scheduled and deployed, thus reducing timetabling constraints - eg, availability of large lecture theatres.”
Student feedback for Peter’s livestreaming has been extremely positive - demonstrating that it can make learning on the go a lot easier and more accessible.
He states that it’s important to note, that for some students the direct interaction with the lecturer and peers is very important, and suggests that a blended approach with face-to-face lectures and live-streamed sessions might be most beneficial. Furthermore, not every student uses Facebook and Peter is currently investigating other platforms, such as YouTube Live.
Roger Kerry, associate professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham
Inspired by his earlier research into the educational use of Twitter amongst undergraduate physiotherapy students (sponsored by the Higher Education Academy), Roger has created a model of Twitter use which can be implemented into any programme to “enhance and expedite learning and access to knowledge and debate”. The project is called TWEED (Twitter in education). Find them on Twitter at @UoNTweed.
“Following this, I went one step further and three years ago introduced a blogging assignment as part of the summative assessment for a postgraduate module I run. The underpinning theory for this is all about developing student’s critical writing and thinking skills via their awareness that what they write will be immediately open to wide public scrutiny.”
Roger reports that the development of critical writing, compared to more traditional assessments, is remarkable. The assessment has now been taken up by a number of other physiotherapy programmes in the UK and USA.
“Naturally, the international links were made on Twitter, which was a primary dissemination tool for the blogs!
I believe that social media offers a unique and progressive dimension to the world of education. Like everything, there are limitations and misuses, but the more we learn about these, the more we can harness and develop the true power of the media.”
Dr Vikas Shah, academic champion in clinical radiology/imaging, University of Leicester
With his impressive Instagram following, Dr Vikas Shah is bringing radiology to the masses. In addition to image and video posts, he’s an active user of Instagram Stories, using them to post new teaching material every few hours. Vikas has used the new “polls in stories” feature since day one, increasing engagement with his quiz posts.
“When Twitter rolled out the ability to tweet multiple images, I exploited the feature to create #radquiz which is a radiology image with three options which can be selected as potential answers. In 2015 I blogged a weekly case study, promoted using the hashtag #xrayoftheweek on multiple networks.”
His expertise in the field led to co-authoring an article in Academic Radiology on the use of #SoMe (social media) in radiology education, with promotion of this article on various social platforms, yielding the highest Altmetric score for any article in that journal this year.
“My knowledge of the platforms and their new features enables me to exploit them for the benefit of learners. My learners come from a variety of professional backgrounds and countries, often with poor access to formal education, and the ability to provide open access to knowledge is my primary motivation.”