|Community college educators are well aware that student engagement is a pivotal factor in student retention, success, and completion. They also know that, as largely commuter institutions, community colleges often lack the more traditional ways students connect with each other, such as living and dining in residence halls.
So where do community college students go, other than to class, to interact with their peers?
One answer may be the Web, and particularly social media sites. As Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar products offer new ways for people to gather around shared interests, they raise a promising question for community colleges: Is there a role for social media technology in helping postsecondary students engage with each other and the college to achieve their academic goals?
To help find answers to this question, the League for Innovation in the Community College (League) has partnered with a group of researchers from the University of Arizona and Claremont Graduate University and a team of Schools App developers at Inigral, Inc., in a research project designed to increase understanding of issues relevant to the ability of social media technology to improve student engagement and increase student retention.
Eight community colleges, selected through a national RFP process, will implement Schools App, a Facebook application, at their institutions this fall to better connect students to fellow students as well as to college programs, activities, support services, and personnel.
Gerardo E. de los Santos, president and CEO of the League, said, “The League is excited to be part of this exploration into innovative ways community colleges are using social media technology to improve student retention. With the national focus on completion, the results of this study will be of particular interest to postsecondary educators as they work to ensure their students’ academic and career success.”
The project, “Getting Connected: Harnessing the Power of Social Media Technology to Enhance Community College Student Success,” is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The eight colleges selected to participate are Cuyahoga Community College, Ohio; Laramie County Community College, Wyoming; Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, California; Maricopa Community Colleges, Arizona; NorthWest Arkansas Community College, Arkansas; Onondaga Community College, New York; San Jacinto College District, Texas; and Western Technical College, Wisconsin.
The League for Innovation in the Community College is an international organization dedicated to catalyzing the community college movement. The League hosts conferences and institutes, develops web resources, conducts research, produces publications, provides services, and leads
projects and initiatives with more than 800 member colleges, 160 corporate partners, and a host of other government and nonprofit agencies in a continuing effort to make a positive difference for students and communities. Information about the League and its activities is available at www.league.org.