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Countless possibilities of social media in education

My final year students have each set up blogs where they regularly record their thoughts about the material we cover. I also use Blogger to record occasional research updates that might be of interest to readers of my textbook, and with a view to incorporating these into a future edition.” David Hardman, psychologist at London Metropolitan University, UK

In the present day, everyone on the globe is connected through the internet, specifically through social media. From talking to friends across the globe to bringing news to tapping fingers the moment they are confirmed, the highly complex interconnected web is rich with information and opportunities. However, it is often taken for granted, used to watch cat videos and people’s dancing fails instead of expanding minds and providing the base for independent research and development. Social media has the potential to be an educational tool, used for good instead of for procrastinating. By rebranding its purpose, students everywhere can reap the benefits of a global education.

One fairly new feature of social media is the ability to make video calls from any computer with a camera. This, when implemented in the classroom, translates into having the opportunity to invite engaging experts to give interactive lectures without the costs associated with travel. Similarly, students can now hold face-to-face consultations with their professors from anywhere, which can be a huge bonus for learners who love to travel, or have circumstances preventing them from being present in class. This way, unlike a recorded message or an email, the learning experienced becomes personalized and engaging.

Additionally, networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn can help students practice interpersonal communication skills necessary for building a life after school. By offering free workshops on topics such as how to send brief, professional messages and how to clean up their web presence in order to show themselves in the best light, Facebook can easily be turned into a bottomless hole of misery into a tool for guiding people towards their dream career. Similarly, social media sites known for a special feature, such as the beautiful graphics seen on Tumblr, can offer crash courses in the basics of their unique field. This quick, but efficient teaching strategy will equip learners with employable skills.

Obviously, the most valued part of social media is its ability to replace face-to-face communication to a certain degree. Its ability for someone to reply to a message that will be instantaneously seen by someone on the other side of the world make it perfect for use in large lecture halls, where it is easy for one voice to get lost among hundreds. By setting up a group chat or forum, students and teachers can interact in live-time, by posting questions, starting debates related to the subject, and questioning the content’s validity. Teachers can address issues as they arise, focusing on areas students have the most trouble with.

As one can see, when implemented appropriately within the classroom, social media can be a useful tool for engaging students, personalizing content, and simply ensuring everyone receives the education they want and deserve at their own pace. Although commonly used as an outlet for mindless entertainment, a few improvements can easily turn a mindless activity into a thought provoking one, at almost no cost. By utilizing video chat features, adapting to the high regard society holds social media in, and addressing student concerns live in the classroom, the time sucking monster can be tamed into any learner’s best friend.