This was the first activity of the afternoon. Participants had to write three post-it notes relating to the use of Social Media in teaching and learning to ‘clear the air’:

  • Orange: Imagined worst case scenario
  • Green: Super positive personal aspiration
  • Pink: True life horror story

We then clustered these into sub themes over the course of the afternoon and revisited them in the final hack session.

ORANGE – Imagined worst case scenario

Theme: Disconnection

  • Idea for using social media for learning/teaching which fails to engage
  • Expectations of what using a service/operating in a place will deliver are not met by reality – rather than feeling more connected people end up feeling disconnected – damaging on self-image and personal narrative
  • Having no connections
  • Excluding students through choice of social media
  • Unmoderated posts – possibly leading to exclusion

Theme: Psychological/physical harm

  • Band of trolls – cascade
  • Student commits suicide because of trolling on course FB page
  • Having an academic come to you to say a student is being abused
  • Physical harm and/or death
  • How to react to negative comments
  • The entire thing is reduced to personal and institutional marketing.  We are all just doing unpaid digital labour in the service of corporate platforms to organise students (and/or colleagues) suffering harm/distress as a result of social media interactions
  • Bullying of an individual/group of students
  • An increase in student mental health problems (depression, anxiety etc) from 24/7 connectivity
  • I encourage ECRs and PhD Students in my institution to share their experience and their security and mental health is threatened as a result (we have a responsibility!)

Theme: Tech Fail

  • Massive security breach where sensitive student data exploited by cyber-criminals
  • Failing to educate learners about how to safeguard themselves and their data on social media
  • University data etc. being hacked or having data stolen
  • Host company loses all your stuff!
  • A platform goes bust and you lose your interaction/pricing model makes features unavailable

Theme: Abuse of power

  • Delivering students to markets
  • Governments using social media data (predictions, profiling etc.) against students and people in general
  • Using SocMed with students to discuss e.g. Human Rights, students coming from Human Rights abusing countries, identity revealed and they get hunted down and killed for having opened up or criticised regime
  • Donald Trump using Twitter as official communication platform
  • Neo Liberal Agenda neutralises critique

Theme: Reputation

  • Damage to reputation
  • “Losing Face” especially if you are a newcomer in an online community of practice
  • Lack of understanding of what SM are (associating it with Facebook)
  • Self-misrepresentation
    • Typos etc
    • Being misunderstood and not realising it
  • Comments taken out of context – escalation and loss of reputation

Theme: Job insecurity

  • An innocuous comment destroys your life/career in the future
  • Getting sacked for putting something “out there”
  • Sharing stories impacting job security e.g. gender pay gap, HE staff experience survey
  • Oversimplification of ideas and expression: the redaction of complex ideas to soundbites, memes (itself a simplification) and LOL2

Theme: Exposure

  • Students may not think about the fact that they are vulnerable as social media is in the public arena and their contributions can be found by anyone.  They may see negative effects and regret what they have put “out there”
  • Someone forces me to use it/share stuff I’m not comfortable with
  • Super duper personal info going viral and damaging individuals’ wellbeing (and reputation)
  • Using the wrong Twitter ID when you have a professional and personal account
  • Using social media to encourage discussion in and outside of class and it gets out of control, i.e. something someone said is taken out of context and shared widely outside of the class space.


GREEN – Super positive personal aspiration

Theme: Open and flexible

  • Secure, open, non-proprietary, seamless, multi-functional, “hackable”
  • Using social media to support openness, in particular for leadership roles

Theme: Political Activism/Citizenship

  • Social media mirrors a critical and positive society
  • Eliminate the need for facilitation and moderation
  • Help create a fair internet by re-balancing gender inequality
  • Master civil disagreement (instead of disengagement)
  • Making people more engaged with activism
  • Ability to create global citizens with more emotional intelligence
  • Trolled by neo-Nazis

Theme: Connected Teaching and Learning

  • Using social media to diversify the channels of communication and open up the walls of the classroom
  • Finding ways and platforms that engage students – across their perceived social only/education barrier
  • Potential to connect, collaborate and share with people globally
  • Able to link students (teachers in training) to other HE teachers around the world for genuine exchange of practice
  • Breaking down of barriers to knowledge and the people behind that knowledge
  • Access to spaces to have conversations and formulate new world views

Theme: Career benefits

  • Making connections through social media that lead to exciting collaborations
  • Trusting my network (and beyond) enough to take risks
  • Raise academic profile globally
  • Become an influencer able to spread critical, intelligent insights/research
  • To have a strong personal/professional network which I actively contribute to (I MUST blog)
  • A PHD thesis 140 characters at a time?
  • To turn my social media interactions into useful scholarship and give something back to the online community that has inspired me

Theme: Breaking down barriers

  • Connecting students and teachers and changing lives locally and internationally
  • Using social media to connect rather than as broadcasting tool.  That’s a high aspiration for me
  • Use of social media to extend the discussion outside of the classroom into students’ life – the inspiration of teaching bleeding into other spaces
  • Finding “peers” in far off places
  • Breaking down barriers of local/institutional silos
  • Collaboration (notes, valuing ideas from online chats or events/conferences) – collaborative notes planning/idea shaping
  • Meeting up and finding people at my time who had very similar interests as me
  • Crowdfunding problems
  • Social media used to connect globally, share resources and knowledge
  • Students speak to one another and share positive experiences
  • Embedded use of social media e.g. Twitter for CPD/show good practice across the institution
  • Expanding personal/professional connections – meeting great people


  • An end to superlatives and hyperbole
  • To take down the @crosscoutryou train website (get them to change their ux)
  • To be or not to be: Authentic self online

PINK – True life horror story

Theme: Bad things happen to them

  • Made an unguarded FB comment about a team whose purpose I question, and a member of that team took it personally and reported me to HR!
  • Student insulted key project partner on Instagram – the partner found out
  • Broke own rules about posting negative comments about someone on FB – happened to be a relative of a colleague – I deleted it just in time!
  • Somebody’s career ruined by a throwaway comment
  • Students started a derogatory, misogynist hashtag about a female lecturer on Twitter
  • Loss of reputation/losing job
  • Students responding negatively to course on social media.  Publically “trolling” and disrupting activity

Theme: Bad things happen to me

  • Trolled by Neo-Nazis
  • I found myself at centre of a Twitter storm for calling out a professional athlete for sexism
  • Informative history video hiding facts and harming a group of people (nationality) – got massive spam for trying to get the facts straight (and insults)
  • Trolled because of a post, online, then offline then at an event
  • Nasty comments on Twitter in response to pro-Remain campaign in Brexit aftermath

Theme: #fail

  • Putting the wrong date for an event…and it being retweeted (yesterday!)
  • When I said: “Ignore these scantily clad women” and posted Calvin Harris on the VLE
  • Institutional blog w/o a shaving feature
  • Blanket ban of platform (YikYak) to “prevent bullying” rather than addressing underlying behaviours
  • An implementation of WordPress that was done with the robot.txt file instructing search engines NOT to index blog posts was not discovered for about two years

Theme: Falsification

  • Someone I know faked having leukemia via blogs and social media very convincingly
  • LinkedIn request was not the person he was claiming to be


  • Social media used by students to air grievances and discuss things that should be handled with discretion – a side effect of the normalisation of social media
  • Multiple personas – contamination from one persona to another
  • Wanting to post and then thinking which grammatical error because of the 140 character limit
  • @piersmorgan