Social media in education

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Social media in education refers to the practice of using social media platforms as a way to enhance the education of students. Social media is defined as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content".[1]

Student devices[edit]

Following the 1980s, there was a computer advancement boom that defined the 1990s-2000s, as CD-ROMS were first introduced, and the internet became more user friendly. As of 2018, 95% of teenage students have access to a smartphone and 45% say they are online almost constantly.[2] As the use of technology and social media has become more prevalent, some educators and parents argued that they were too distracting for the classroom environment.[3] This led to many schools blocking Internet access, including access to social media sites, and even disallowing the use of cell phones in the classrooms.[4] These policies proved to be ineffective in some cases, as students continue to bring their phones to class despite the policy, and many even find ways to access social media sites regardless of precautions taken by school administrators.

In response to these challenges, many schools have adopted a "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) policy to school.[5] This is a policy that allows students to bring their own internet accessing device, such as a phone or iPad, for the purpose of accessing the Internet for research and other in-class activities. While the BYOD concept was initially introduced as a way of reducing departmental technology costs, administrators and teachers are realizing other benefits from BYOD policies, such as increased student motivations and engagement[6] and anywhere access to information.

Social media can have a positive effect through "video calls, stories, feeds and game playing"[7] all things that can happen both in and out of the classroom. Although, language learning through social media might raise some questions about potential awkwardness about communicating with teachers and professors in an unprofessional atmosphere.[7]

Social media allows for the classroom to extend outside of the school, and gives the students time to collaborate in a different medium. Kids can be side tracked by social media, but with self determination and self-direction, it can be used as a powerful tool. There are many new avenues to learning thanks to social media, and to reach them adequately, one study suggests breaking learning with social media into informal and formal learning through academics.[8]

Social media is a powerful facilitator of communication, which is important in the classroom as well as the school community. Parents, especially moms, use social media sites like Facebook to stay connected with their local community and friends.[9] Schools can easily use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to send announcements, updates, and other important information home to parents.[10] It also can create an avenue of communication between teacher and student that may not exist in the classroom. Students who are shy in person may open up when talking privately to a teacher online. Further, having an online channel of communication between the teacher and their class would likely help to facilitate a deeper level of community.  

On the academic side, the study conducted by Shahzad Khan in 2010, provided that students are using social media more and it is impacting their communication positively. This study did not provide a negative impact on students. Other studies by Maqableh, Quteshat, Masadeh and Huda Karajeh in 2015 did not provide any negative impact of social media on students but focused on the ignorance of academics due to spending a lot of time on social media. Ndbele and Mbodile discussed that e-learning platforms are effective for students.[11]

Device integration in the classroom[edit]

Technology integration can be described as involving student needs rather than revolving around teacher needs. In a classroom with a whiteboard and a single computer, the learning will revolve round the teacher.[12] With the use of technology, the learning environment can be expanded.[13]

By proposing looking at social media as its own distinct language type it breaks down a barrier for the teachers so they can integrate it into the classroom more easily. This is another way that social media and the classroom can come together by changing the approach to teaching social media to make it easier for both the teacher and the student to understand. With the use of technology, the learning environment can be expanded.[14]

The use of technology in the classroom can be very positive. Technology can support and improve the learning environment. As technology is becoming more predominant in the world today, teachers believe that developing these technological skills among students can be very beneficial for entering the workforce.[15] The technology creation of online textbooks has made tablets and laptops widely popular in the classroom. With this ability, students are able to have readily available access to this resource anywhere at any time. Laptops can be used to quickly access information in the classroom and gather knowledge. They can be used for interactive activities involving polls, note taking, recording data, and research.

Social media has a strong impact on students. The studies focused on the impact of social media and reflected that 38% of students focus on the positive role of social media for their studies while 16% of students agreed on this strongly, but only 40% disagreed. 4.7% of students strongly disagreed that social media helps them in the study. It is also clear that social media impacts both genders and according to the results, it can be seen that 53% of female students are getting the negative impact of social media on their studies while 46% disagreed this point. In the male students, 40% agrees that social media has a negative impact on studies while 59% disagreed this notion.[11]

The impact of using technology within classrooms can have a negative effect as well. A study shows that students who used laptops in class for nonacademic reasons had poorer class performance overall.[15] These students spent most of their time on social media websites, online shopping, and other personal usage.

A study looked at students’ in-depth perspectives on learning with cellphones, smartphones, and social media in higher education and revealed that mobile computing devices and the use of social media created opportunities for interaction, and provided occasions for collaboration and constant connectivity. Other benefits included accessing information quickly and conveniently, a variety of ways to learn, and situated learning. Frustrations that students experienced while learning with mobile devices included anti-technology instructors, device challenges, and devices as a distraction.[16]

Apps and services[edit]

The recent developments in technology have changed how and what students learn in a classroom. The internet gives students access to more resources than ever before, in terms of both research and learning tools. Students are taught to be more critical in life overall when they have to decide which sources are credible or not when doing internet research.[17] Students can also engage in active learning by using devices to participate in their field and service learning by working with organizations outside of the classroom to solve problems and create new projects.[18] Also many people are seeing the internet as a chance for peer support and communication. This is allowing those students to really depend on each other through social media and the other internet outlets. Also when using the internet/social media for education there is a positive effect with communication and digital literacy between students and teachers.[19] Students can also use their devices to access learning management systems like Blackboard and Canvas. Students are able to complete their work anywhere as long as they have internet service, which grants them more freedom outside the classroom. Given the recent COVID-19 pandemic and most of the schools being closed applications like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are being used for student to learn and give them that "classroom" feel. There are some cases that students feel that being in the virtual classroom setting being on Zoom is a distraction but others who feel they are able to engage in school more than they would in person[20]

Social media has allowed for expansion learning outside of the classroom through collaboration and innovation. One specific study, "exploring education-related use of social media," calls this "audience connectors." Audience connectors are shown to bring students together while studying through Whatsapp app and Facebook. This study shows that, "60 percent [of students in the study] agreed that technology changes education for the better." While social media can promote a beneficial education platform, there are downsides that present themselves. There is a concern that students are becoming good at "lifting material from the internet," rather than enhance their actual understanding. Another downside is the ever dwindling attention spans of students because of social media. A concern raised by the students of this study showed how many use spell-check as a crutch, and will see a trend of points taken off when spell-check was not an option.[21]

Apps like Twitter have allowed Teachers to make classroom accounts where students can learn about social media in a controlled context. Teachers have used twitter to post assignments directly on the class account and students can practice commenting and liking the messages.[22]

Other apps have been developed that combine learning tasks with elements of social media. Quizlet is a new tool that helps students study in a new way. Quizlet allows users to create flashcard sets that are always available to study. It also takes these card sets and automatically generates practice tests and other activities to help students study, which they can share with other users. There is opposition to learning websites such as Quizlet because some people believe they make it easier for students to cheat, claiming that students can use their phone during the test to look up answers and can pass off other students work as their own.[23] There are apps that you can take a picture of your question and get an answer at the tip of your fingers.

Some researchers are seeing that social media applications such as blogging and online gaming may help kids become creative. There are studies that particularly refer to the convenience that social media offers for the shy students and youngsters who are thus enabled to exchange and express views on this venue.[24]

College institutions are adapting many social media platforms into their educational systems to improve communication with students and the overall quality of student life.[25] It provides colleges with an easy fast method of communication and allows them to give and receive feedback to students. Social media usage has skyrocketed over the past decade as present research shows that almost all college students use some form of social networking website. Conducted studies show that 99% of college students who use social media use Facebook and 35% use Twitter. Facebook and Twitter have become the dominant forms of social media platforms that have successfully grown in popularity.[citation needed] Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are widely used by educational institutions to make connecting with students and providing information convenient. Institutions also consider communicating information through the usage of technology a vital part in student success. In many classrooms across America, teachers have created social media pages for their classes on which they can post assignments as well as interact with their students. Schools have felt the need to make regulations for how students and faculty interact online. Many teachers stay away from "friending" of "following" their students online because it can become too personal.[26]

A study in 2015 showed that students and young adults are using newer social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, etc. more than ever before .[27] They are using these platform not only to be contact with other students but they are using it to keep up with their school and things going. Many schools have adapted to using social media outlets in 2021. Many have their own social media platforms and post things that relevant to the school. There are also many teachers that are using social media channels and video outlets to interact with students. Teachers may post on social media about class activities, school events, homework assignments which is very helpful to those students who may not listen in class. They can also use outlets like YouTube and Zoom to record their classes and lectures a head of time and post them to help dedicate more time in class for other things. The access of social media provides the opportunity for educators to teach good digital citizenship and the use of Internet for productivity.[citation needed] In 2021 technology is expanding and with the world in a global pandemic teaching online and students attending school is making technology even more important. Now teachers are using many different outlet to reach their students Zoom, Slack, Instagram, Google Classroom, Canva, and Canvas making it easier connect and communicate with students.[citation needed]


Social media outlets that are used in education, specifically Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+. (From to left to right) Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram ( From bottom left to right) Flickr, YouTube, Google+

The use of social media in education has helped many educators mentor their students more effectively compared to previous teaching methods.[28]

Rather than compete with, or deny access to social media sites, some schools have embraced them, and are using them to further students' educations.[29]

Parents, students, and teachers use social media to connect and educational sites to communicate inside and outside the classroom. Programs like BlackBoard, School loop, Top Hat, and Moodle, Slack, and Canvas have created platforms to enhance the learning experience for students and make it easier for teachers to monitor their students progress with assignments. These sites are not considered "social media" websites, their added communication features such as forums create an experience that is similar to that of social media. A 2018 study from Pew Research, 95% of teenagers currently had a cell phone and 45% of them stated they used social media consistently.[30] As technology in schools continue to grow throughout the nation, a survey from Cambridge International[31] (nearly 20,000 teachers and students (ages 12–19) from 100 countries) found that 48% of students use a desktop computer in class, 42% uses smartphones, 33% use interactive whiteboards and 20% use tablets. Desktop computers are used the most in classrooms more than tablets, 75% of desktop computers are in schools. On the other hand, teachers are moving away from the no phones at school rule, and are implementing them into their courses to keep students attention in class.[32] Additionally, teachers are at risk when using these platforms. For example, their use of social media outside of the classroom is not always protected by the teachers union.[33] Educators take a risk when choosing to communicate with students outside of the classroom, especially when they are private conversations through social media. Transparency is the key to communicating with students. Teachers are choosing to use Twitter as a way to talk to their students because it is a social media site where the posts and comments are open to the public. For example, instructors within a study conducted in 2010 reported that online technologies (social media) can help students become comfortable having discussions with their peers outside the classroom better than the traditional counterpart.[34]

Social media is changing the dynamic of how teachers educate students; it is becoming apart of cultures within classrooms. Technology enhances education, making a 'new culture of learning. Students, especially in colleges and universities use social media majority of their time daily. Educators can incorporate a social media outlet which their students are using regularly. The increased presence of social media in higher education settings is an outlet for universities that want to re-connect with their students.[35] It has a played a role in providing news updates to students and informs them about course activities. Zehra Mohsin, Falak Jamil, and Bhamani study focused that students usually waste their time when they work on their social media profiles. Hamade in 2013, in a study, provided that social media is positive in providing better linkage in family and friends and helps to be more social in socio-political grounds.[11] With those social media sites come political and historical memes and videos that inform students about the specific topics. Social media is important for students to learn and be part of a community when they are posting about a certain topic or using a hashtag to join a movement.

According to a study done by Lisa Marie Blaschke[36] Weisberger's hypothesis is supported by research by Junco, Heiberger and Loken (2011) and Blaschke, Porto and Kurtz (2010), proved to say that the use of social media can increase learner engagement levels (student-student, student-instructor and student-content) and promote the development of cognitive and meta cognitive learning skills, such as reflection, critical thinking, construction of knowledge and understanding of one's individual leaning process.

On the other hand, a limitation to social media in education is the limited research and development on the subject.[37] Additionally, social media in educational institutions leads to the risk of potential of cyberbullying. Research has been conducted on this growing issue which can lead to legal consequences for the perpetrator. As for the victims, cyberbullying can result in emotional and physical harm which can lead to fatal consequences.[38]

See also[edit]


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