The benefits and detriments of social media, and how to use it to help online learning.
Social media has had a profound effect on how we communicate with one another. The intense connectivity brought about by this new modality of communication has had and will continue to have a significant influence on society in many different aspects. Politicians can now view how certain issues our trending and respond base on the emerging data. Businesses can use social media to "crowd source" innovation and develop marketing schemes to meet consumer demands. Being as social media has permeated nearly every segment of society, we should not be surprised about the effect of the modality in the educational realm. Many of our students come to our courses with an acute knowledge of social media, and the issues we face as instructors are how to use student's knowledge to increase connections in the classroom, and improve the educational process.
There are positive aspects about social media that can help us connect with and educate our students:
- Students arrive in our classes with a palpable amount of technological acumen.
- Minimize the learning curve associated with online learning.
- Students already, if not explicitly, understand the concept of peer-to-peer learning
- The free exchange of ideas and thoughts
- Formally dictatorial settings, such as the classroom, more democratic
Social media also presents challenges toward effective learning:
- Anonymity of the modality allows individuals to post thoughts without accountability.
- When accountability becomes apparent, different issues can arise
- A lack of critical thinking, and deliberative thought in social media
- The tendency toward a "dumb mod" mentality in which everyone follows the leader
As instructors, we should use the positives social media provides while assuaging the negative aspects. We should strive to provide guidance within the classroom on how to extend and extrapolate upon initial thoughts (posts). There is the additional need to correct the insidious grammar and spelling mistakes present within social media, and encourage our students to speak and write with a more academic vernacular. We need to be proactive in our classrooms bringing in new ideas, outside sources, and real-world examples to make the material more meaningful for our students. The critical point being that we need to use our student's social media skills toward creating an environment in which we improve the connectivity of social media to include critical and deliberative thinking processes. What strategies have you used or could you use in the classroom to promote the positive aspects of social media or use the social media skills your student poses to encourage peer-to-peer learning?