Social media can be viewed as a distraction. Some people rely on it as a news source. Companies use it for marketing purposes. And some of us study it in a more academic way.
In higher education, we at least touch on all four approaches. Some teachers find it all a useless annoyance. In communications and journalism courses, it is studied as another medium. In business school, it has moved into marketing and advertising courses and conversations. Beyond the theories of social media use, there is learning about the design and analysis of social media.
Studying online communities and social networks is leading to developing new tools and methods for analyzing and visualizing social media data. One of the better compilations of social media research tools has been curated by researchers at the Social Media Lab at Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University. Their site has more than fifty tools that they have reviewed academically. Many are free tools to use and are fairly simple to implement and use to collect data for analysis, while others require some programming experience.
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