During the first decade of the 21st century, the internet was the site of what Miller (2011) has called 'a kind of social "big bang" leading to an expanded social universe' (208). This increasingly ubiquitous embeddedness of social media in students' personal, working and learning lives brings certain pressures to bear: students need to know how to 'work' social media for their own professional and competitive advantage and also how to manage a 'digital footprint' that has the potential to deeply damage their employment opportunities and future personal wellbeing.
This research considers all student cohorts and aligns with the 'Digital Footprint' campaign (2014-2015) in order to conduct a systematic programme of research aimed at building our institutional and sectoral understanding of how students are managing their digital footprints, where such management is lacking, and what this might mean for future institutional planning to build student competence in this area.
Research findings will feed into University policy, provide evidence-based guidance to colleagues with responsibility for embedding digital social media in learning and teaching, and give a rich picture of the current 'state of play' among our diverse student body which will be useful equally for students and staff of the university.
This project provides an opportunity to align a research project with a University wide campaign for the benefit of both students and Schools.