by Lori Wade
There’s no denying that, ever since social networks and social media made way into our lives, everything is different. Beginning with the way we socialize, interact, plan for parties or even how often we go out. We won’t go into a debate regarding the ethical aspects of the way Social Media is influencing our lives. Instead, this article proposes to focus on the numerous ways in which social media is changing the way the education system works. So, stay tuned to find out what effects does social networking have on the way our children are educated both at school and outside of it.
Starting from elementary school up until university graduation, social media has the role to empower parents, students and teachers to use new ways of sharing information and build a community. Statistics show that 96% of the students that have internet access are using at least one social network. What’s even more extraordinary is that, even though some of the students use the social networks for entertaining and other purposes, there are a lot of them that actually use it to promote a lot of positive and useful activities. From finding a summer internship, promoting a success story about how to win the student-loan battle or collaborate on international projects, everything is made possible.
Implementation in Schools?
When it comes to social media, schools tend to adopt different positions. It’s a general consensus that they’re useful when it comes to sharing information or organizing the school tasks. And at the same time, the social networking is blamed for the lack of attention in students during classes.
But an increasing trend of adopting social media in school is starting to show. And since students already devote a lot of time for social media and connecting with others outside school hours, why not do it during school as well?
It’s a matter of practicability, really, because it makes perfect sense to use the online universe to communicate with your students since they’re already there most of the time. There’s no need for another case study about the usage of social media in schools. You simply need to walk through the hallways of any school or colleague to see kids of all ages totally immersed in their smartphones. Browsing their news feed, sharing photos on Instagram of sending Snapchat messages has become a part of their daily routine.
How Can Teachers Penetrate the Online World?
Moodle and Blackboard are just two examples of learning management system that involves online learning for more than 10 years now. Slowly but steady, such systems will lead to the actual implementation of social media within classrooms. And the best tool available for teachers is social media itself. Only by being open-minded and using the technology themselves will they be able to really reach out to students.
“The best teachers I’ve ever had have used technology to enhance the learning process, including Facebook pages and events for upcoming projects” – Katie Benmar, Freshman
As the above statement emphasizes, students also react very positively when a teacher is willing to use their methods and adapt them as part of the educational process. And it makes perfect sense since a homework has a certain strictness about it, but an online chat discussing a certain book gives students the ability to open up and share their opinions.
Of course, the examples of teachers already implementing social media in classes are far numerous that we can know of, however, there are a few that did such a great job that their students almost made them viral. For example, a biology teacher from Bergen County proposed a challenge to his students. They had to debate over the subject of meiosis on Twitter by using a specific hashtag. This is a great opportunity for students to have fun and learn at the same time. As you need to know your meiosis in order to compress it into 140 characters.
“We live in a digital ecosystem, and it is vital that educational institutions adapt”
Carla Dawson – Digital Marketing Professor at the Catholic University of Cordoba
Professor Dawson really has a valid point there as history showed us all that, no matter how strong the resistance, technological progress and new trends will eventually become a standard. Of course, this applies to developed countries that already have a well-structured traditional educational system. It’s a totally different situation when it comes to developing countries that are still struggling to find their way.
A Stronger Community Through Social Media
The benefits of social media in the education process doesn’t have to stop at the teacher-student relationship. There are a lot of other benefits that can be extracted from the use of social networking at higher levels as well. For example, principals or administrators can find a new way to integrate social media. Like sharing school news via social networks, holding online meeting with the parents or even starting fundraising for different projects.
And social media can quickly become the only channel of communication since we’re living fast-paced lives, parents are usually busy with work and cannot attend school meetings. But this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be in touch with events or be able to check on their kids every once in awhile. Just like in every other field, communication is vital and if it can be done easily with the help of social media, why not go for it?
It may not be criteria just yet, but soon enough questions like ‘Does this school have a Facebook page?’ could become just as important as the things that parents are asking right now. Like, how well equipped the library is or what are the optional classes their child can be part of.
The bottom line is that social media is a big part of our day to day life and there’s no point of keeping it away from the education process. School, college and university staff should be encouraged to make use of technology for student and parent communication. This could easily turn into an argumentative essay topic for college. But the benefits are obvious, starting with healthier parent-teacher relationships and all the way to permanently changing the way our children will learn.
Lori Wade is a content writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!