As social media has grown in recent years, it has made its way into multiple industries. We’ve obviously seen businesses use it successfully, but we’ve also seen tremendous growth with social in the healthcare, legal, and political sectors of late.
The user base is continuing to grow across all social networks, and as it does, it’s clear that social media is only going to become an even bigger part of people’s lives. One area that has remained touchy in terms of social media adoption is the school environment. While we know that the majority of the school community is already utilizing social media, its use as a tool in the classroom is either nonexistent or minimal at this point.
Should this trend change, or does social media not belong in the classroom?
No doubt there are a lot of strong opinions on this subject. There are, of course, issues involved with bringing it in, but there are also benefits. For starters, the mentality that some naysayers have is incorrect. Just as any business understands that social media is more than posting funny cat videos, it’s also important for society to recognize the other side of social media and all new media that businesses see and have found success with. This side showcases how social technology and information can make an impact for the better.
Blogs, podcasts, file swapping, wikis, forums, cloud platforms, imagery and more have the potential to provide a wealth of knowledge for both students and educators. For example, what if students could write reports or essays on a blogging platform? In this instance, the “peer reviews” could be in the form of a comment and how well the student responds to the feedback. On the flip side, educators could blog about what’s going on within the classroom instead of depending on email or sending home papers.
Another example could involve students choosing the format with which to present a report. What if they did it in the form of a video or a podcast? This could give students the opportunity to be creative and showcase their talents.
Social media platforms also serve as a valuable collaboration learning tool. What better way to learn that “there is no dumb question” than online? The knowledge that platforms such as Quora has could serve as a powerful asset in the education process. Posting a question on Facebook or Twitter and learning how to sort through the noise is another potential learning opportunity that children need to be aware of. What’s more, it would be easy to refer back to the conversation instead of having to rely on memory or notes.
All of these areas and more show that social media has the probability to greatly benefit schools. The “if,” however, is very big in this case. Social media tools could help the school environment IF clear guidelines and parameters were established early on regarding the use of social media. There obviously needs to be a social media policy that covers areas including appropriate behavior between students and teachers, discrimination, recruitment, loss of productivity, privacy, etc.
We all know that there are many potential dangers involved through misuse of tools such as social networks. One of the big reasons behind this is the lack of education that young people receive in regards to social media platforms. Do you think that if social media education and proper use of its integration began in the classroom there would be fewer negative instances?
One school in Wisconsin is buying into this concept. Chris Lazarski, a teacher of an American Public Policy class at Tosa West, convinced the school administration to allow him to incorporate social media into his teaching material. He is specifically using Twitter and has found that he’s better engaging students while also teaching them how to use what has become a natural part of modern society.
“I found that students were using Twitter in a very specific way and for a very specific purpose,” Lazarski said. “They were not exploring the more useful or more interesting aspects of Twitter.”
Students also reported that Lazarski’s integration had enhanced their classroom experience and helped them learn.
In July, Best Masters in Education released an infographic showing just how much social media is being used in schools. According to its findings, 96 percent of students today are already using social networks and 3 in 5, or 59 percent, are using them to talk about educational topics.
As we advance in the digital era, this trend is only going to increase. The question is, as we fear that businesses will fall behind if they don’t adopt social media, will our schools educational standards decrease in value and will our children miss out if schools don’t begin embracing social media?
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