If a justification is necessary, just look to the budgeting process. Public community colleges face the same risks as other taxpayer-funded organizations and institutions (such as NASA). Free tools to enhance the educational experience, when not used, are the equivalent of flushing budget dollars. And, the fact that these tools easily engage students outside the classroom increases the odds of success.
The CCSSE found that 95% of students between the ages of 18 and 24 use social networking tools, with 64% hitting them several times a day. But, it stops at the classroom door: only 18% of social media users tie it to school. 27% never cross the social media threshold for school. A mere 5% of the 400,000 students (from 663 institutions) involved in the study never use social networking tools.
In the older crowd, fewer students use social media tools, but the numbers are far from trivial. 68% use social networking platforms, 41% more than once a day. Only 10% do it for school, with 49% never turning their social media tools to later iterations of the “three Rs.”
Will education follow the working world?
It’s hard to see how it can’t. Students can expect to leave the classroom and find themselves face-to-face with business applications of social media, from recruiting via Linked In to scanning Twitter for customer service problems. Whether students hit the consumer sector — where Starbucks Corporation (SBUX), Target Corporation (TGT) and Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY) are among those represented in the social media space — or the stodgy world of finance, social media is bound to arise. Maybe it’s time for schools to close the gap.