Student identities in transition: social media experiences, curation and implications for Higher Education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Students increasingly arrive at university with a range of existing social media presences and the use of social media may vary in a range of contexts, from socialising, informal peer support, and formal academic tasks to building complex networks of potential employers and contacts. Research conducted as part of the University of Edinburgh’s Managing Your Digital Footprint research project, funded under the Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme, has been investigating how students across the University use social media, how they manage and curate their online presences, and the extent to which they encounter both risks and opportunities.

The research approach included the issuing of two surveys (n=587 and n=870) from across the student body (undergraduates, postgraduates, online distance learners, and PhD students). The findings have provided a rich picture of the student experience and how students are managing their digital identities. In addition, Ethnographic tracing work was undertaken with students (n=6) which has explored their personal approach and conceptualisation of their digital footprints in more depth.

In this paper we examine the research data in relation to student identities and their transition into and out of the university environment. In addition we will focus on how students conceptualise and manage their online presence, and how this aligns with professional social media best practices. The discussion will conclude with an examination of possible implications for using social media in teaching and learning environments and how universities can support students to effectively manage their online presences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSheffield Hallam University - SocMedHE Blog
Subtitle of host publicationSocMedHE15 Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2016
EventSocMedHE15 - Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom
Duration: 18 Dec 201518 Dec 2015


Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Social Media
  • Higher Education


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