Is Social Media a necessary requirement for students to learn?

The past decade would have looked at – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Snapchat etc. as Martian. Though, today they are the most popular words, redefining communication in both business and day-to-day life and hardly anyone who doesn’t know exists. They have not only penetrated their root into our homes, but also into our classrooms and schools and into our learning patterns too.

The evolving world of Internet communication such as blogs, podcasts, hashtags, file swapping offers students radically new ways to research, create, and learn. We live in a socialized world and our learning home – schools should reflect the world we live in. We need to teach students how to be effective collaborators in that world, how to interact with people around them, how to be engaged and informed. We need to make our children aware of the benefits of the network on education. As quotes suggest, we can change the name from social networking to academic networking to glorify it as used for academic benefit.

One reason social media is so popular is that it allows people to personalize the way they experience and interact with the Web. 90% of the students feel that the material or technology used to study should be tailor made and personalized to their pace, the level of understanding and requirement.

Why are teachers hesitant to use social media as a learning tool? Teachers are concerned that social media makes it easier to create online conflict with parents. Social media can decrease the ability to socially interact with peers face-to-face and promote an informal language as well as a disruptive attitude in children.

Why tempt fate with the dangers and distractions of social media when you can ensure students have access only to those corners of the Internet designed to help them learn and succeed — whether they’re in the classroom, at home, or on the school bus? This has been a concern for all the parents, but with the right strategy, social media can make studying more collaborative and efficient.

Regardless of where you fall on the technological spectrum, social media, is here to stay which means teachers now have to adapt to its persistent presence in the everyday lives of their students. Can social media help my students with homework and test preparation? Should lessons and projects be incorporated with social media?

Social media no longer has to be an obstacle to studying; it can help students create and manage a study community, make the best use of study time, and find new resources to help them learn and retain knowledge. Social media has innumerable prospects to help students with their learning.

It’s common for many students to be challenged by the same learning concept or course assignment. Social media can help centralize the collective knowledge of an entire class to make studying and communicating more efficient for everyone. Designate a course, create a community or study group hashtag to your requirement. Start a contact list or group for the class to collaborate and share study tips. Invite professors who use social media to follow the group conversation or join chats. Remember that thousands of students everywhere are studying the same thing right now, study networks don’t have to be limited to students from just one school. Starting a collaborative study network to tap into the group mind can save everyone time and effort. For missed classes or lectures, have someone stream or record the lecture on Skype, or SnapChat. Use Google Hangouts to facilitate group study sessions. Follow or become a fan of the authors who wrote the books that are being used in your class.

Ask questions to experts and influencers. Social media tools can help keep course information organized and accessible.  Save, curate, and share resources using collection-building tools such as Pinterest or Tumblr. If course documents aren’t already posted online, use Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox to gather study materials. Have classes use content services like Google Docs for team projects; it can make keeping organized and sharing notes much easier.

Follow existing subject-area hashtag or look for YouTube videos and playlists for extra learning on the most challenging topics. Search on all your social channels often for course topics, keywords, and expert names. We should teach our students of the better possibilities of social media and teach how to electronically present themselves in the digital social world. After all, the most famous Facebook had its origins in Harvard University before extending to other colleges in the US, so it is perhaps appropriate to look at the role of social media in education today, a decade on from its beginnings in the bedrooms of Mark Zuckerberg and his college friends.

We know that universities and other education providers have increased use of social media marketing to showcase their courses and attract students, but are they harnessing the full power of the medium to engage and interact with those same students once they begin their studies?

Since it was first imagined back in those Harvard rooms just ten short years ago, social media has transformed the way we interact with one another – on a personal level, and on a business level, with marketing experts quickly seeing the commercial opportunities offered by an instant, direct communication link with their existing and potential customers. The possibilities for social media in education are equally exciting. Universities don’t even need to convince students of the value of social media – the students have already been won over, so it makes sense to talk to them in the online world they already spend most of their time inhabiting.

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