Personal Digital Influence in Higher Education Via Social Media

Sally Sun, Martin Smith, Paul Cowley

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportConference Contributionpeer-review


The development of communication technology and social media has changed the method and frequency of lecturer-student interaction. It has been demonstrated that lecturer-student interaction can play a key role in the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Moreover, research results have indicated that students improved their engagement, performance, and motivation through social media communication with their lecturers. However, the question of what influence strategies should be adopted and how to use them may require further investigation. In this research, we developed an Educator Personal Digital Influence Framework to demonstrate factors of lecturers’ influence on students when it comes to personal influence management on social media. We asked students studying academic skills and marketing modules (September 2017 cohort) at foundation level and students studying a strategic enagement module (January 2018 cohort) at year 3 to join a WhatsApp group and share their personal WhatsApp number with the lecturer. The lecturer subsequently communicated with the students via the WhatsApp group or to students individually. Thereafter, three focus groups with these students were conducted to explore the factors that lecturers should consider in order to enhance and control their influence. Additionally, the focus group data was used to develop an Educator Personal Digital Influence Framework, which was then verified through questionnaire results. Students confirmed that social media communication made their lecturer appear to be more accessible, which had a positive impact on the sense of ‘connectedness’ between them. According to
their perceptions, this appears to have had a positive impact on their performance. However, students also raised concerns regarding privacy issues, communication frequency, and channels, type of information shared etc. Based on the data collected from both questionnaires and focus groups, the Educator Personal Digital Influence Framework is refined and presented as a tactical model to be considered for educators within higher education to manage and enhance their digital communication and personal impact on students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEDULEARN18 Proceedings
PublisherInternational Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-84-09-02709-5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2018
Event 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies -
Duration: 2 Jul 20184 Jul 2018


Conference 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies


  • Social media
  • Personal influence
  • Whatsapp
  • Connectiveness
  • Interaction
  • Communication
  • Digital infuence
  • Higher education


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