Social media and education

In the western modern day society, social media has become a vital communication method.  It is where most people obtain most of there news and information, however, does social media help education? Every university has a social media account but is it used for actual learning or just to communicate with students? Is this communication with students apart of a deeper meaning of participatory connection which conforms a closer bond to the school? It’s hard to tell if the benefits of social media use in education outweigh the negatives.

In recent years we have seen a rapid rise in the number of educational institutions using social media to communicate with students. There isn’t a University in the UK which does not have some sort of social media platform. In which they communicate with students. It’s essential for the marketing of the University but also it is vital for communicating with students, as social media has become the main way in which young people obtain information. Institutions could post announcements such as events or notices. knowing that most students can easily access and share this information, on a social media platform such as Twitter.  This is creating a more coherent relationship outside of lesson thus meaning students are more likely to know vital information, which may be essential towards their learning.

This doesn’t just apply to universities, schools are using social media in order to communicate, with one study in 2018 by final site UK showing that 75% of schools are using more than four social media networks.   With schools engaging in more social networking this allows parents to engage in the school activity, thus creating a more community-based relationship between schools and parents. This may make parents a lot more comfortable with their children’s education.

Social media allows you to interact with people all over the world, this has given students the freedom of connection.  The connection has allowed students to make their learning more efficient outside of the classroom in a number of ways. Firstly, group discussions can be done outside of class. Students and teachers can connect with one another through video chat on Facebook, Google plus, or even just create a group chat where they can discuss ideas on upcoming projects. This is contributing to the efficiency of learning by making students more prepared in the classroom.  Connection through social media accounts has created a community of learners in which informal learning is benefiting, not just them but the teachers too.

The beauty of social media is that it is an environment that expresses freedom. Discourse is based around opinion especially on platforms such as Twitter. However, does this voice of the people have an impact on the way students inform themselves on social media? In recent years “fake news” has become a major issue on social media, with newspapers creating fake stories in order to gain financial or political gain by misinforming or lying on social media platforms. One study by the researchers at Massachusett’s Institute of technology media lab examining about 1260000 stories shared by some 3 million people on twitter from 2006 to 2017 found that false news was about 70% percent more likely to be retweeted by people than true news. Now when retweeting something you share it to a number of another twitters users and the process goes on. This could provide students with false information, which could ultimately affect their judgment on certain subjects like politics or modules, which involve discussions on political and global affairs.  However, its clear to older students that information on social media platforms should always be perceived as an opinion. Younger students at secondary school will need to be taught this social media skill of depicting opinion from fact otherwise issues might occur within their work.

This ted talk, talks about the dangers of fake news.

Teachers have been using social media as an interactive feature of learning, integrating it with common educational techniques. In some cases this works extremely well, such as innovative applications like Twijector, which can project twitter streams on to classroom walls, from this students can create a live interactive stream by tweeting.  This use of social media in the classroom is fantastic but what if the sole purpose of social media for students was to disengage from education? In fact, most students don’t use social media for educational purposes they just use it for their social life and personal interests. This makes it extremely hard to see what will happen in the future when it comes to social media and education. Guidance must be applied when using social media and institutions must be able to find the correct balance in order for social media to for fill a correct role.