Academic institutions cannot ignore social media

Sep 23 2013, 02:22 IST
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SummaryThe number of social media subscribers in India has touched approximately 66 million, according to a study conducted by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) and Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB).

The number of social media subscribers in India has touched approximately 66 million, according to a study conducted by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI) and Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB). Out of the estimated 80 million active internet users in urban India, around 70% are active on social media. Corporates and others are taking cognizance of this new phenomenon and are rethinking about how the businesses could take advantage of it.

Social media offers an immense potential for the educational institutions too in various dimensions of their functioning and for transforming the process of education. In schools, we find parents actively forming groups and keep in touch with each other and the teachers on a variety of subjects. Some of the faculties have started using videos extensively to supplement their teaching sessions. Although as individuals, a significant number of them are part of the social media, barring marketing activities to some extent; social media is yet to occupy the centre stage in higher educational institutions.

Social media is a force that academic institutions cannot afford to ignore. If planned well, it can impact positively various aspects of the academic system. We now finally have the opportunity for students, corporates and academia professionals to work in the same space, bridging the gap that exists in meeting each other’s expectations and collaborate for achieving the common goals. We already have several successful examples of social media based models overcoming the constraints of customisation, time, cost, relevance of content and time sensitivities which collectively enable the institutions to be better prepared to address the new realities.

MOOCS and Courseera have demonstrated that it is feasible to access the world class courses and content to supplement students’ learning from a university and thereby equip them with the cutting edge capabilities in niche areas as required by the industry. Turnright.com is a great example of connecting students with the alumni of the same almamater or with the corporate mentors based on matching profiles and interests. Webex, Google Hangout and Skype have been recognised as excellent tools for facilitating not only sharing of expertise from remote locations and showcasing the profiles of students but also for helping promote projects and internships with corporations. Innovation, research and entrepreneurship in academic institutions would also get a better thrust with the use of collaborative and crowd sourcing techniques.

Following important opinion makers and Gurus on the Twitter and encouraging students to

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