Social Media Policy Implications in Saudi Higher Education Institutions

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This dissertation presents a research study on social media policies covering the concerns of how social media integration could be improved through policy implementation. The overarching objective of the study is to investigate and clarify the factors that affect Saudi higher education institutions’ (HEI) social media adoption and implementation of effective policies. This dissertation was done through three phases each phase had its own purpose and goal in mind. The purpose of the first phase was to investigate and analyze the status of social media policies at Saudi Arabian higher education institutions (HEIs). This phase analyzed the content of existing social media policies at HEIs in Saudi Arabia. It also investigated potential gaps concerning learning and teaching with social media policies, as well as examined how these policies meet student and faculty needs. Results conclude that the majority of Saudi HEIs do not have clear social media policies on their websites, as 65 out of 68 of the universities do not have a social media policy and just three of the universities have policies. The current Saudi higher education social media policies are not aimed at social media usage for teaching and learning. The purpose of the second phase was to investigate the perceptions of students and faculty toward social media usage. Questionnaires were distributed and 523 students and 290 faculty enrolled in this phase. Results indicated that there were general positive perceptions toward using social media for academic purposes. Saudi HEIs are encouraged to adopt or create social media policies that respond effectively to student and faculty needs in an efficient way. The purpose of the third phase is to investigate and clarify the factors that affect the Saudi higher education institutions’ adoption or formulation of effective policies on social media. The focus group was conducted to explore the critical challenges and issues preventing Saudi higher education from creating a clear social media policy. Focus group sessions were held online, which involved administrators and policy makers from the higher education in Saudi Arabia. Data were analyzed using qualitative research methodology with the support of NVivo 12 software. Factors were seen as the major reasons and challenges for not having a clear social media policy included with the lack of policy makers, awareness, management support, and resources. The findings suggest that Saudi HEIs need to enhance their social media policy and may need to consider outsource to gather the desirable resources to formulate and implement a clear social media policy.
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