Social media and Higher Education: FOMO (fear of missing out) or does digitally enabled learning have a place in Law Schools?

Main Article Content

Gina Curro
Nussen Ainsworth


Recently embraced by the legal profession to make justice more accessible, social media (SM) is fast becoming the primary tool of communication for the courts. In Australia today The Supreme Court of Victoria uses SM to share judgments, media releases, publications, speeches and other information. On the County Court of Victoria home page one can read the Court's Twitter feed. These innovations have led to the expectations for Australian law schools to adopt 21st century technology, and enhance student engagement in the classroom. While there are studies which have investigated the use of SM as an educational tool in general, research specifically addressing its application to Law curricula is scant. In this article we propose that introducing SM into curricula will create learning opportunities to develop the awareness of responsible usage of SM platforms, thereby ensuring successful communication outcomes for Law graduates. We discuss the challenge of online scholarly/academic identity, and also the social capital benefits. A brief account of SM and the legal industry is presented next. Because of the impact of policy imperatives, VU Blended Learning Strategy and Graduate Capabilities for 21st century have been included. Examples of SM applications in the Australian Law classroom, including the use of the meme, an image with a text phrase that is distributed via SM, are discussed.  The complex and contested nature of SM, leads the authors conclude that it is possible to successfully implement digitally enabled learning in the Australian Law classroom, but not without certain pedagogical caveats.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Curro, G., & Ainsworth, N. (2018). Social media and Higher Education: FOMO (fear of missing out) or does digitally enabled learning have a place in Law Schools?. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 18(3).
Author Biographies

Gina Curro, Victoria University Melbourne Australia

Gina is an Educational Developer who collaborates with academics in the College of Law and Justice in order to supportvpublication initiatives/scholarship in the theory and practice of learning and teaching. Her research interests include academic and research literacies, especially digital basedvtechnologies. She draws on her PhD in Applied Linguistics for this work, and also when teaching academic literacies to doctoral students.
Nussen Ainsworth is a lecturer in the College of Law & Justice at Victoria University where he teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution and Clinical legal education. Nussen is apassionate and regular presenter on incorporating technology and social media into Legal and Professional Advice Industries.

Nussen Ainsworth, College of Law and JusticeVictoria University

Nussen Ainsworth is a lecturer in the College of Law & Justice at Victoria University where he teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution and Clinical legal education.  Nussen is a passionate and regular presenter on incorporating technology and social media into Legal and Professional Advice Industries.


Abe, P. & Jordan, N. (2013). Integrating social media into the classroom curriculum. About Campus, 18(1), 16-20. doi: 10.1002/abc.21107.

Antheunis, M., Schouten, A. & Krahmer, E. (2016). The role of social networking sites in early adolescents’ social lives. Journal of Early Adolescence, 36(3) 348–371. doi: org/10.1177.0272431614564060.

Anthon, D., Hemingway, A., and Smith, A. (2014). A technological trifecta: Using videos, playlists and facebook in law school classes to reach today’s students. Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal,40(1),1-16.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v. Allergy Pathway Pty Ltd 2011 192 FCR 34.

Aydin, S. (2012). A review of research on Facebook as an educational environment. Educational Technology Research and Development. doi: org/10.1007/s11423-012-9260-7.

Baldwin, G. (2014). Social media and the law special issue. Law Institute Journal, 88(3), 26.

Blackham, A. & Williams, G. (2014). Social media and the courts. Law Institute Journal, 88(3), 31-33.

Bouchillon, B. & Gotlieb, M. (2016). Making them count: Facebook sociability for optimizing the accumulation of social capital, Social Science Computer Review, 35(3), 1-20. doi: org/10.1177/0272431614564060.

Brown, G. (2016). Blended instructional practice: A review of the empirical literature on instructors' adoption and use of online tools in face-to-face teaching. Internet and Higher Education, 31, 1-10. doi: org/10.1016/j.heduc.2016.05-001.

BRR Media. (2012). Australian legal sector social media snapshot 2012. Retrieved from

Cao, Y., Ajjan, H. & Hong. P. (2013). Using social media applications for educational outcomes in college teaching: A structural equation analysis. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4), 581-593. doi: org/10.1111/bjet.12066.

Chuang, H. (2016). Leveraging CRT awareness in creating web-based projects through use of online collaborative learning for pre-service teachers. Educational Technology Research and Development,64(4), 857-876. doi: org/10.1007/s11423-016-9438-5.

Dabbagh, N. & Kitsantas, A. (2012). Personal Learning Environments, social media, and selfregulated learning: A natural formula for connecting formal and informal learning. Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 3-8. doi: org/10.1016/j/iheduc.2011.06.002.

DeAndrea, D., Ellison, N., LaRose, R., Steinfield, C. &Fiore, A. (2012). Serious social media: On the use of social media for improving students’ adjustment to college. Internet and Higher Education, 15(1), 15-23. doi: org/10.1016/j.ihedu.2011.05.009.

Doogue, B. (2014). From tweet to defeat. Law Institute Journal, 88(3), 55-56.

Elavsky, C., Mislan, C. & Elavsky, S. (2011). When talking less is more: Exploring outcomes of Twitter usage in the large-lecture hall. Learning, Media and Technology, 36, 215–233. doi: org/10.1080/17439884.2010549828.

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends”: Social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143-1168. doi: org/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2007.00367.x

Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C. & Lampe, C. (2011). Connection strategies: Social capital implications of Facebook-enabled communication practices. New Media & Society, 13, 873-892. doi: org/10.1177/1461444810385389.

Fitzgerald v. Smith T/A Escape Hair Design 2010 204 IR 292 (Austl.).

Frison, E. & Eggermont, S. (2016). Exploring the relationships between different types of Facebook use, perceived online social support, and adolescents’ depressed mood. Social Science Computer Review, 34(2), 153-171. doi: org/10.1177/0894439314567449.

Galloway, K. (2015). Meme-alicious Law Teaching. Retrieved from

Geber, S., Scherer, H. & Hefner, D. (2016). Social capital in media societies: The impact of media use and media structures on social capital. International Communication Gazette, 78(6), 493-513. doi: org/10.1177/1748048516640211.

George, P. (2014). Social Media and the Law. Australia, VIC: LexisNexis Butterworths.

Hemingway, A. (2013). Keeping it real: Using facebook posts to teach professional responsibility and professionalism. New Mexico Law Review, 43, 1-27.

Horton, F. (2014). Beware anti-social media. Law Institute Journal, 88(3), 34-37.

Jerry, R. & Lidsky, L. (2012). Public Forum 2: Public higher education institutions and social media. Florida Coast Law Review,55, 1-32.

Junco, R., Heiberger, G. & Loken, E. (2011). The effect of twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 27(2), 119–132. doi: org/10.1111/j.13652729.2010.00387.x.

Kind, T., Genrich, G., Sodhi, A., & Chretien, K. C. (2010). Social media policies at US medical schools. Medical Education Online, 15. doi: org/10.3402/meo.v15i0.5324.

Kirschner, P. & Karpinski, A. (2010). Computers in Human Behaviour, 26(6),1237–1245. doi: org/10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.024.

Larcombe, W., Malkin, I. & Nicholson, P. (2012). Law students’ motivations, expectations and levels of psychological distress: Evidence of connections. Legal Education Review, 22(1/2), 7198.

Lee, C. & Ma, L. (2012). News sharing in social media: The effect of gratifications and prior experience. Computers in Human Behaviour, 28, 331-339. doi: org/10.1016/j.chb.2011.10.002.

Linfox Australia Pty Ltd v. Stutsel 2012 217 IR 52 (Austl.)

McCarthy, J. (2010). Blending learning environments: Using social networking sites to enhance the first year experience. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 26(6), 729-740.

Miller, K. (2014). Face it, nothing’s private. Law Institute Journal, 88(3), 38-41.

Paul, J., Baker, H., &Cochran, J. (2012). Effect of online social networking on student academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2117-2127. doi: org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.06.016.

Pirotrowski, C. (2015). Social Media: major topics in dissertation research. Education, 135(3), 299-302.

Pirotrowski, C. (2015). Emerging research on social media use in education: a study of dissertations. Research in Higher Education, 27, 1-12.

Privacy Act 1998 (Cth) (Austl.).

Rose v. Telstra Corporation 1998 AIRC 1592 (Austl.)

Rowan-Kenyon, H. T., MartínezAlemán, A. M., Gin, K., Blakeley, B., Gismondi, A., Lewis, J.,McCready, A., Zepp, D. & Knight, S. (2016). Social Media in Higher Education. ASHE Higher Education Report, 42(5), 7–128. doi: 10.1002/aehe.20103.

Selwyn, N., Crook, C., Carr, D., Carmichael, P., Noss, R., & Laurillard, D. (2008). Education 2.0? Designing the web for teaching and learning. Retrieved from

Scott, K. (2013). Does a university teacher need to change e-learning beliefs and practices when using a social networking site? A longitudinal case study. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4), 571-580. doi: org/10.1111/bjet.12072.

Schroeder, J. & Greenbowe, T. (2009). The chemistry of Facebook: Using social networking to create an online community for the organic chemistry laboratory. Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 5(4). Retrieved from

Skead, N. & Rogers, S. (2014). Stress, anxiety and depression in law students: How student behaviours affect student wellbeing. Monash University Law Review, 40, (2), 564-587.

Steinfield, C., Ellison, N. & Lampe, C. (2008). Social capital, self-esteem, and use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, 434-445. doi: org/10.1016/j.appdev.2008.07.002.

Tess, P. (2013). The role of social media in higher education classes (real and virtual) – A literature review. Computers in Human Behaviour, 29, 60-68. doi: org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.12.032.

Vanderhoven, E., Schellens, T., Vanderlinde, R. &Valcke, M. (2015). Developing educational materials about risks on social network sites: a design based research approach. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64, 459-480. doi: org/10.1007/s1142.

Veletsianos, G. (2013). Open practices and identity: Evidence from researchers and educators’ social media participation. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4), 639-651. doi: org/10.1111/bjet.12052.

Veletsianos, G., Kimmons, R. &French, K. (2013). Instructor experiences with a social networking site in a higher education setting: expectations, frustrations, appropriation, and compartmentalization. Educational Technology Research and Development, 61, 256-278. doi: org/10.1007/s11423-012-9284-z.

Victoria University, The VU agenda and blueprint for curriculum reform: Capabilities for the future (2012). Retrieved from

Victoria University. (n.d.) Blended Learning Strategy and Operational Plan. Retrieved from

Wang, Z., Tchernev, J. & Solloway, G. (2012). A dynamic longitudinal examination of social media use, needs, and gratifications among college students. Computers in Human Behaviour, 28, 1829-1839. doi: org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.05.001.

Weiqin, E., Campbell, M., Kimpton, M., Wozencroft, K., & Orel, A. (2016). Social Capital on Facebook: The Impact of Personality and Online Communication Behaviors. Journal of Educational Computing Research,54(6), 1–22. doi: org/10.1177/0735633116631886.