Social Media in Higher Education Event Highlights


On Tuesday 3 March 2015, I attended a seminar in Utrecht, The Netherlands about Social Media in Higher Education.  It was held in Dutch, so the actual name of the seminar was “Social media als vak” (Social media as a speciality). An English translation of how they promoted the seminar is as follows:

That the world is changing through the arrival of social media is very clear.  In recent years, social media has created a hug shift in the way people search for information, receive news and communicate with each other.  In the past, we were reliant upon news channels and traditional media but now individuals can share information and news directly with each other via social media.   Still, it seems that the curriculum in higher education is not keeping up with this trend.  The knowledge of teachers and relevant teaching tools in the area of social media are often lacking.  For this reason, Coosto and Upstream began a pilot in recent years to develop and share knowledge and tools in the area of social media analysis for higher education.  This has been done in conjunction with  students of “commerciële economie” (commercial economy) at De Haagse Hogeschool (The Hague University of Applied Sciences), het Institute poor Communicatie, Media & IT van de Hanzehogeschool Groningen, tourism students at NHTV Breda and communication students in the Faculty of Economy and Management at de Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen.

The event was hosted by Surf Academy in their brand new (beautiful) office, next to Utrecht Centraal train station and was offered for free to staff at Higher Education Institutions.  Surf Academy is part of Surf Spot, a not for profit organisation which offers discounted software and hardware to teachers and students.

IMG_1886 IMG_1887

Recently, I started lecturing in e-business, marketing and business planning at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and attended with two of my colleagues.  There were about 30 of us present from a number of educational institutions throughout The Netherlands.  Unfortunately didn’t get a chance to meet many other attendees.  I’m still working on my Dutch language and  though most people also speak English, it does make me a little more shy at networking events at the typical “borrel” and I also had to catch a train back to The Hague.

In general, it was very interesting.  I continue to work on mastering the Dutch language and managed to follow the majority of the presentations, though feel I still missed some parts, but have found all the presentations on SlideShare and will share below so I (and readers) can go through in more depth.

A summary of the program:

2.15pm: Opening by Danique Aaftink (SURF) and Thierry Thiessen (Coosto)

2.25pm: Marco Derksen, founder of Marketingfacts and Upstream opened the seminar with his vision o the market developments, with a focus on what these developments mean for the marketing and communication employees of the future.  His slideshare presentation is below.

marco derksen

2.40pm: Jeroen Vinkesteijn, teacher at NHTV and co-ordinator of the blogging platform TravelNext shared which methods and tools the NHTV has been using in recent years to convey knowledge and skills related to social media.  Click on the image below to view the presentation on SlideShare.

Jeroen NHTV

3.15pm: Renée van Os, professor in Communication at HAN University of Applied Sciences: Arnhem and Nijmegen discussed how learning in online communication has developed.  In their first year, students begin with the module “online business” and then, through until graduation they undertake applied online research.

3.35pm: Henk Schaaphok and Gerard van Rijn, both from The Hague University of Applied Sciences have been focussed on social media analysis, developing a profile for their University as having expertise in digital analytics, and they offer a module in this topic.  Click on the image below to view their presentations on SlideShare (in Dutch).

Pilot social media analysis


Henk presentation

A few of the main points I took from the event were:

  • The power of search – that people are overwhelmed by information, they only want to find it when they need it.
  • Social media is creating new business models. You need to listen to clients and be constantly in contact.
  • It’s important to integrate social media into various fields of study- but what do students need to know?  What does this mean for education?
  • Many students seem to believe “Someone said it online somewhere, so it must be true” -they need to be taught how to analyse/establish authority, source and trust online.
  • Kids often have no idea what they are doing on social media at the moment and this has consequences

Some skills students should/could be learning:

  • Basic knowledge of social media data
  • Basic skills of social media analysis
  • Managing brand reputation online
  • Online media planning and analysis
  • Best practices of social media use

One of my favourite parts was the explanation of a project students undertake at NHTV, where they are working with the UK to create a simulation called Emerald Forest Hotel and Emerald Forest Bungalow Park.  I didn’t get exactly how it works and would like to look into this more as it looks great.  Students interact online with this fictitious hotel to learn social media and management skills.  Apparently the SEO rankings are fantastic and they get real life enquiries!


Social Media Analysis for Teachers and Students: 

From the new academic year (starting September 2015), the social media analysis tool used in the pilot, Coosto will be available through SURFspot for teachers and students.  There will also be lesson material available for teachers.  This is currently available in the Dutch language but hopefully in English soon.  (Coosto does have a UK site so hopefully this will be accessible to those of us here in The Netherlands who speak and teach in English).

A few other random notes:

We were also told about the Google Online Marketing Challenge, which looks really interesting, we will have to look into this for our students for the future I  think.

A Twitter hashtag was advised before the event, being #SOMEHO….short for SOcial MEdia for HOgeronderwijs (Higher Education), only a few of us used it though.


I did share an example from Jeroen’s presentation, where he showed a great tweet that the Police in Drachten had done in the past about a black sheep – it was quite fascinating to see that the police force in The Netherlands as well as Australia have taken to social media and are doing it well – with regular, informative tweets, but still with a sense of humour.  They also responded within a half hour when I tagged them in my tweet.

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 21.11.12

Twitter handles for speakers/partners are:

  • @surf_academy
  • @marcoderksen
  • @CoostoNL
  • @renee_van_os
  • @gvanrijn
  • @HFSSchaaphok

Thanks to those who gave us the opportunity to attend this event, Social Media in Higher Education is a topic I’m sure many will be discussing not just in The Netherlands, but worldwide right now.  Last semester, as part of the E-business module at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, I worked with my colleagues to integrate more social media training into the course, and am now doing the same for an International Marketing module.  Bringing together my skills and experience in social media and my love of education, I’m very glad to be part of  this!


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