Social Media in the classroom

Social media is a great way to become aware about what’s happening in the world around us. It is also a fantastic way to learn new things from our peers and online friends. It is no surprise then that social media can play a crucial role in education in schools, colleges and universities. The social media revolution has a hugely positive potential for the education system to help engage and develop students.

Given India’s severe shortage of faculty members,  social media can help bridge the gap and fill in for the teachers by imparting better education to the students. Social media is the best resort to improve education without increasing costs.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ Hangouts and blogs are all finding their way to the classrooms or rather classrooms are finding their way into these sites.

Students are putting to use the immense potential provided by social networking platforms to extend their classroom discussions to cyberspace. They connect to resources, collaborate in study and share information through social media.

When asked what they learn from using social networking sites,  students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views, and communication skills.

A Ph.D student used a social networking site to identify the right method to use for her research. “She searched for other people working on similar research and contacted them to clarify her doubts.,” says Thillai Rajan, associate professor, department of management studies (DoMS), IIT-Madras

Besides researchers, even undergraduate students share information on the internet. Students submit assignments, read class notes and clarify doubts through discussion threads — all using a course management software.

Students who wish to join an institution can get all related information through communities of social networking sites that exist in the name of that institution. They have the opportunity to interact with alumni and present students of the institution.

Students looking for internship or summer training can land up with at least 2-3 offers by posting their profile on social networking sites like LinkedIn and ApnaCircle. Besides , they can look for part-time jobs on social networking sites.

Students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st-century skills we want them to develop to be successful today. Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, creating and curating content, and thinking about online design and layout. They’re also sharing creative original work like poetry and film, and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. Social networking sites offer tremendous educational potential.

For the next generation, developing the socio-technical skills in using these media not just to elicit information, but to develop research skills, participatory skills, interpreting skills is key.

By incorporating education with social media teachers can increase the engagement of students, better collaboration in classroom, increase technological proficiency and improve communication skills of the students. Faculty needs to understand clearly how students can make positive use of network technologies to help the schools become more relevant, purposeful and connected to them and take a step forward in changing education.

Faculty members are experimenting with these networking sites to reach out to students. Ravindra Dastikop, Director, Centre for Web 2.0 Enabled Learning, SDM College of Engineering and Technology asks his students after every class to give the summary of what was taught in class on so that students who did not attend the class would at least take that extra effort of finding out what was taught in class on the same day. Besides this he asks his students to post a question on Facebook and all the others would try to answer; also they need to choose the best answer for which they are given credits. “In this way every student reads his classmates’ answers and in the process a corpus of information is created,” he says.

Schools have been using online media for promotion as well. Virtual tours, distribution of free school swag and materials online, promotion of school activities – they do it all on social networks. Moreover, many schools are reaching out to potential students using Twitter or Facebook leads.

For institutions, social media will have a positive impact on the marketing of schools, the professional development of educators and improving the techniques of learning and teaching. Gradually, learning will become very interactive and social media sites might actually be the classrooms of the future.

Benefits of social media for education

Benefits for students:

  • Development of communication skills
  • Increased skill in technology
  • Increased exposure to varied views
  • Increased talent to work on group projects
  • Students can develop an optimistic image of themselves by putting best qualities out there
  • Many students already use these forms of technology, so they may be more engaged in learning if they utilize it.

Benefits for Teachers and Schools

  • Increased access to resources
  • Collaborate with other teachers
  • Exchange lesson plans and information
  • Can reach parents who are incapable to come to school
  • Can form partnerships with schools in other states or countries
  • Cheap and effective way to convey details to parents and get word out about school and events.

When students graduate, they go to college and enter a workforce where technology – and the ability to use it and interact with it – is at the forefront. Digital learning helps students grasp the substance of their lessons while meeting them on the digital frontier where they are already spending their time.

If you would like to discuss social media in the classroom in more depth and how it can work for your organization then please get in touch.

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