Overcoming Barriers to Social Media Use in Extension

Extension agents and specialists feel pressure to use social media, feeling they will be “outdated” if they don’t use it, yet issues of control and time allocation can be significant barriers. These findings were shared in the Journal of Extension by Elizabeth Newbury, Lee Humphreys, and Lucas Fuess based on their research with Extension educators in New York and Wisconsin.

They found that use of social media by peers is crucial in encouraging adoption, an important finding for members of the eXtension Educational Technology Learning Network.

“It is particularly interesting that, based on the second study, there seems to be a disconnect between seeing social media as being critical for Extension to use but also believing that there would be consequences for not using it.”

Authors had specific recommendations for how to best conduct training to encourage social media use.

“It is important to recognize that key barriers included concerns around control, privacy, and time investment. Thus, training should address the privacy settings and illustrate how to negotiate negative encounters on social media. Perhaps most critically, training should discuss social media with relation to time management. Social media should be seen to complement other forms of outreach and not a reinvention of the wheel.”

and also,

Demonstrating more intimately how other Extension offices are currently using social media as an effective strategy to their education, outreach, and fundraising efforts might also go a long way to diffusing the barriers for those who have not yet employed social media. By leading by example and pooling knowledge bases, social media might be seen as in service to the priorities of Extension and not another hurdle to surmount.”

Newbury, E., Humphreys, L., Fuess, L., (2014). Over the hurdles: Barriers to social media use in Extension offices. Journal of Extension [On-line], 52(5) Article 5FEA1. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2014october/a1.php

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