Modern technology, particularly the Internet, has changed the way we do everything. The way we learn, work, and interact on a personal level have all been impacted. One of the most critical aspects of this is social media. It is one medium that touches all of these areas and drives new changes in them on a nearly daily basis.
Ten years ago, the demographics of smartphone and mobile device users was much older than it is now. Even young children just beginning their educations enter the classroom with at least a working knowledge of online technology. By the time they become teenagers, they have typically become immersed in the world of social media, utilizing multiple networks and platforms to interact and share information with friends, parents, teachers, and more.
Social Media and Education
The impact of social media on education has its advantages and disadvantages. Some view it as a disruption while others see it as an opportunity to bring people together to work toward and collaborate on specific academic tasks. Which point of view is correct? To varying degrees, the answer is both.
When used correctly, social media can (and does) enhance the learning process considerably. The ability to work on group projects, share information, and hone each-others’ academic skills are all aspects of social media that teachers leverage every day to enhance the learning experience.
Benefits of Using Social Media in the Classroom
Social media is a language that most 21st Century students speak fluently, so why not use it to its most significant advantage in the classroom? There are responses on both sides of this argument, but the benefits are quite apparent when one considers all the ways it can be implemented.
Students will always be more engaged in learning when the information is delivered via a medium they understand. Engagement is becoming a more significant challenge by the day in the modern classroom, but in a virtual environment, more students are apt to join the conversation.
Students who don’t typically raise their hands in class often feel much more comfortable engaging on platforms like Twitter, SnapChat, or YouTube. These platforms, in particular, have a broad appeal among younger audiences, making them ideal platforms for use in various projects and assignments.
As students become more engaged, their communications skills also improve. Students who might be less confident in their abilities to complete even simple writing assignments might, for example, seek the aid of an essay writing service they engage with online before approaching a teacher for help first. Over time, the confidence those students develop interacting with outside support systems can often draw them into more meaningful interactions with their teachers as well as their peers.
Pitfalls of Social Media in Education
Several aspects of social media can be detrimental to the learning process, and responsible teachers should be aware of them. First, social media can just as easily discourage classroom interaction as students retreat to virtual platforms where they are more comfortable engaging their peers. A balance of virtual and real-world engagement needs to be emphasized in the classroom.
Online engagement is also less structured and more difficult to control. Arguments, cyberbullying and other harmful forms of engagement can impede the learning process. Educators who use social media as a learning tool should monitor conversations and content on the channels they oversee to ensure a healthy, confident, and productive online workspace for everyone.
Finding the Right Balance
While it is essential to meet and engage with students on a level that is conducive to learning, it is equally important to preserve traditional learning models in the classroom. Responsible teachers never let virtual learning environments dominate the structures of their lessons, and they keep a close watch on the way their students interact online.
When developing classroom curricula, the perfect learning formula involves developing a learning environment around traditional processes that include social media, not the other way around. Social media should be a tool in the learning process, not the primary learning platform. When that balance is achieved, students are in a much better position to learn and develop as a group while maintaining a sense of personal identity and individuality in the process.