Role of Twitter and Social Media in Academics

Being in academics and influencing not only the next generation of professionals but also the job market for these professionals, means we must humanize our role and be accessible to our students.  How better to connect with our students than in real time through Twitter?  According to Social Media Today (Hutchinson, 2016), Twitter users “provide enough data to generate indicative data on almost any major trend or shift” – meaning if we want to advocate for change in any field, we have the power at our fingertips to do just that!

Twitter provides a unique lens into the community, sharing glimpses that impact perspective of both students and faculty, as well as the community at large.  Twitter reflects pride in accomplishments, while also focusing attention on gaps in support or simply opportunity to create something more for a community. While many find academic and professional policy to “appear from nowhere” (Rippner, 2016), Twitter and other social media avenues bring policy needs and developments into the forefront where all stakeholders can be provided a voice while also holding policy accountable to those they intend to serve. As Josie Ahlqvist (2017) stated, higher education is leading over the corporate world in adopting social media usage! Educational leaders are recognizing the impact, and potential impact, of communicating with the communities they represent!

As an academic focusing on Child Life and Child/Family Development, I have visions of new programs and new supports to better serve children and families worldwide.  Most specifically, for children and families coping with medical issues and disabilities, I aim to see more – more supports, more programs, more diversity, more opportunity, more students pursuing new roles where gaps in service currently exist. And more importantly, I aim to share ideas that motivate others to become what they hadn’t envisioned because the opportunity hadn’t yet existed – our newest generation of students will become what past generations couldn’t yet image to dream of!  Twitter and social media will be a huge part of this….it’s the insights from followers that can help guide us towards those gaps in service, and together we can make amazing strides towards meeting the psychosocial needs of children and families, especially those coping with medical issues and disabilities!

While many policies currently existing in child life are specific to individual institutions (hospitals, universities, etc), there are also policies reflecting certification practices (Association of Child Life Professionals, 2019) and requirements for programs which have taken steps to complete either academic endorsement or internship accreditation (which are fabulous reflections of policy criteria being met), but the range in policy can still vary drastically from program to program in how child life is trained academically and clinically, as well as how child life supports are implemented. Where are the gaps you see in the field most meaningful to you?  How can we re-shape the field to better support the needs we’re trying to serve? And how can educational leadership help support this vision?

Ahlquist, J. (2017, October). 25 Higher Education Presidents to Follow on Twitter, Leadership in the Digital Age, retrieved from http://www.josieahlquist.com/2017/10/30/25twitterpresidents/

Association of Child Life Professionals (2019). Retrieved from https://www.childlife.org/resources/for-educators-internship-coordinators

Hutchinson, A., (2016, March). Here’s Why Twitter is so Important, To Everyone, Social Media Today, retrieved from https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/heres-why-twitter-so-important-everyone.

Rippner, J.A. (2016). The American Education Policy Landscape. Routledge Publication: New York, New York

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