Course Project Topic: What Social Media and Social Media Analytics Could Tell Us about College Experience?

Quincy and I will collaborate on this project. We will look into what social media could tell us about college experience using social analytics tools. In thinking about this project, I found that some information we got from our two presentations is very useful for thinking about this project, which I didn’t realize until I start to think about our own project.

Some Details:
1. We want to focus on engineering and technology college students. We will NOT focus on Purdue specifically. Instead, we will look at engineering and technology college students’ experience in general. We will probably look at the differences among east coast, west coast, and mid-west regions.

2. Our data set will be from the public data of several leading social media sites. The major one is Facebook, because for the college students age group, Facebook is still the major social media avenue. Here is where the statistics we presented in our first presentation comes to play. We will present the rationale using those statistics to say why we chose Facebook, and other social media sites. In the last reading this week (the ASEE identity management paper), it is also mentioned that Facebook is the dominant social media site the participants use. A couple of the participants have Twitter accounts, but haven’t use it actively. Some of them read others’ blogs, but were not maintaining one themselves. Although many college students aren’t using Twitter actively, there probably college graduates talk about college experience they had before on Twitter, so we will still include data set from Twitter and other sites.

3. We will use social analytics tools Radian6, Visible Technologies, and NodeXL. We will explore to see what different aspects these tools will say about the data set. This project will be very exploratory, and we will refine/narrow down our questions along the way.

4. In our literature review, we will include some literature about college experience that have done off-line using survey, interview, etc. We will compare whether what we got from social media sites is different from what they got offline. If there is a difference, what leads to the difference? Here is where our second presentation about Internet culture comes to play. There is probably certain aspect of the Internet culture that leads to the difference.

Research Questions:
What social media could tell us about engineering and technology students college experience? What are those good things and not-so-good things in their college experience? What these results could inform us to improve students college experience, retain students, and help students success? (this question can be put as the implication part rather than the research questions part) What are the differences among east coast, west coast and mid-west areas in terms of college students experience? What are the differences when people talks about college experience online and offline provided by previous literature? What leads to the differences?

Who will be Interested:
This project will inform the college administrative body and policy makers to improve students experience and retain students. Most people who are interested in student retention, student success should be interested in this paper, and they will find it’s a whole new way to look at this problem space from the public discourse on social media sites. People who are interested in social media analytics tools and their application will also be interested to see how we use different tools.

Benefits To me:
(1) This project will take the nature of my research closer to engineering students, which will benefit me as a PhD in engineering education.
(2) I will come to understand more about the culture of social media, and the culture of college students on social media.
(3) I will become familiar with social media analytics tools, and they are very related to social computing, which is my research interest.

Questions:
1. The conversations taken online. Some of them are talking about college experience, some of them are talking about their opinions about college experience, how do we distinguish? If everything gets mashed up together, will that be valid? Other questions are mostly related how to we deal with the data, how do we tell “this” from “that”. I guess we just have to seat down and play with the tools to see what we can get.
2. We have to develop a series of keywords related to our topic to search and generate results from the tools. What kind of standard we have to comply with? Or just think about the words out of our mind?
3. We want to submit an abstract to the ASEE conference by Oct 7th. Not sure which division we should go?

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