To the untrained eye, social media may seem like it has little place in the classroom. It can be argued that when used simply for the exchange of gossip, social media isn’t educationally beneficial and, in fact, can even be detrimental to the learning process. However, when used properly, social media can prove an invaluable tool for communicating with students or for allowing students to communicate with each other.
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Whether used as a part of an online education program or incorporated into traditional brick-and-mortar schooling, powerful social media–when harnessed effectively–can allow students to better connect with their studies. Such capabilities can give them the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding using a medium that is familiar to them.
Many teachers recognize the benefits of discussion and, as such, credit students for in-class participation. Engaging in this practice can be challenging, however, as it requires the teacher to monitor which students are speaking up when.
By using social media, teachers can both better scrutinize which students take part in these educationally advantageous dialogues and also allow students to better prepare answers before presenting them instead of putting them on the spot via a face-to-face discussion. By setting up a class Facebook page or Twitter account, teachers can create and sustain an ongoing online discussion of content material.
Communicate Between Classes
Social media provides the perfect platform for between-class communication. With this tool, teachers can send out announcements, share ideas or pose questions to pupils, even when class is not in session. Using social media as a means of communication between class times is particularly advantageous in higher education, as classes are often spaced several days apart.
To use social media in this fashion, a teacher needs simply to set up a Facebook page dedicated to the class and have students “friend” or “like” the page. Once this simple task is complete, members of the class will receive updates from the teacher every time they log onto Facebook. Because college students spend an average of 238 minutes per week on Facebook, it’s highly likely they’ll see these posts between specified class meeting times.
Study Together Remotely
Studying in groups can prove highly beneficial, as each member of the study circle will likely view the information differently and, as a result, have a slightly different understanding of the content. One of the biggest challenges facing students who wish to study with peers is finding time to get together. Through the use of social media as an educational aid, this challenge can be completely eliminated. Students who wish to share knowledge with their peers can create social media accounts through which to swap these ideas. By creating a Twitter account and posting questions for each other, for example, these students can exchange ideas even when not in the same room, making the sharing of information and ideas easier to fit into even the most hectic of schedules.
Apply Learned Content
Learning content is only half the battle. The true challenge is applying this content to real-life situations. With the help of social media, teachers can give students application practice. This allows instructors to grade their pupils not only on potentially ambiguous test scores, but also on how well they can use the information in question.
Instructors can ask their students to apply content learned and create videos they can upload to YouTube, create slides they can use to compile a Pinterest page, or network with others through the creation of a workplace-themed social media page on a site like LinkedIn. By having students engage in this application, teachers can end their courses more confident in their students’ mastery of the concepts; students, in turn, can exit the courses with a clear understanding of how the content they learned has a bearing on real life.
All too often, students walk away from classes overloaded with information, remembering few of the vital facts the professor hammered through during lecture time. Through the use of social media video sites like YouTube, teachers and students can capture and share these lectures, allowing pupils to relive the lessons as often as necessary.
Proactive and tech-savvy teachers can capture their lectures on video and upload them to a YouTube channel dedicated to the class. If the teacher lacks the initiative to do so, or isn’t comfortable enough with technology to complete the task, a student can—with the permission of the teacher, of course—capture lectures and turn them into mini-movies to be viewed on a social media site of this type.
Social media has revolutionized the way individuals communicate. More users than ever before are flocking to social media sites and relying on them as a tool for communication with friends, co-workers or fellow students. It’s advantageous for teachers and students to recognize the benefits of integrating these sites into academics. Through the use of social media, education can become its own best iteration: a continued conversation about topics and ideas.
About the author : Melissa Crossman is an author living in Indianapolis with her two dogs. She writes about technology and education. You can follow her on twitter at @MelCrossman3.