Use of social media in education
Social media use in education refers to the use of online social media platforms in academic settings ranging from elementary and secondary school to post-secondary education. Social media is becoming more accessible and easier to use, meaning that the age of students who are able to understand and use social media are getting younger and younger. According to a 2010 report, almost 75% of students use social media for educational purposes. Integrating social media into education has been a controversial topic during the 2010s in which people have continued to debate on whether or not these types of medias have a place in the classroom . Many parents and educators have been fearful of the repercussions of having social media in schools and there are concerns that social media tools can be misused for cyberbullying or sharing inappropriate content. As result, cell phones have been banned from some classrooms, and schools have gone so far as to block popular social media websites. However, despite apprehensions, students in industrialized countries are (or will be) active social media users. As a result, many schools have realized that they need to loosen restrictions, teach digital citizenship skills, and even incorporate these tools into classrooms. The Peel District School Board (PDSB) in Ontario is one of many school boards that has begun to accept the use of social media in the classroom. In 2013, the PDSB introduced a "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) policy and have unblocked many social media sites. Fewkes and McCabe (2012) have researched about the benefits of using Facebook in the classroom. Some schools permit students to use smartphones or tablet computers in class, as long as the students are using these devices for academic purposes, such as doing research.
Integration of Social Media
Social media can help to aid teachers in communicating with students even when they are outside of the classroom. Use of social media platforms can provide students with unlimited resources and texts from credible sources that they can utilize to their advantage in essays, projects, and presentations. They can also be used as a means of giving and receiving feedback at any time. This way students can easily access comments made by teachers and peers with a click of a button instead of rifling through pages and pages of notes and handouts. Social media can be seen as a sort of an archive of ideas and other medias that can be retrieved by their users day or night. Because feedback can be submitted so quickly over social media it has bridged a gap in communication between students and teachers that is unmatched. Since students are able to view and respond almost immediately it has been seen that this increase in communication has lead to deeper understanding of class material.
It is important to be cautious when using social media especially in the classroom. Although it's not recommended to ignore social media all together people should still have an understanding of the negative impacts it can have on society. Critics are unsure about how social media will affect the teacher student relationship and commonly express concern about how attention keeping this type of learning is. It is a fear that students will become caught up in the chaos of social media instead of focusing on their school work. With this comes the idea that one day a persons intelligence might depend on these social medias instead of using them to help aid their foundations of thought. The overuse of this technology, while convenient, can also harm expression of critical thought going forward. Putting young students onto social media sites for the purpose of education can also be detrimental to their mental health. According to a survey taken of teens and young adults increased use of social media can lead to anxiety, depression, and lack of self esteem. These issues can affect how a person functions normally and can be detrimental to education. If a student is overcome with mental health issues due to constant social media use then it can be hard for them to focus on their schoolwork. Social media usage in higher education has its limitations, such as dominance of educators in interactions between staff and students, privacy concerns, anti-social interactions and discriminatory behaviour.
Restrictions on Social Media
Although there was some backlash from state educators, Missouri passed a law that prohibited teachers from communicating privately with students over social media platforms in 2011. Legislators who helped pass this were worried that online communication between underage students and faculty would lead to inappropriate relationships that would cause issues in the classroom. Missouri is not the only state that has taken strides toward limiting social media usage however, and while communication is an important tool teachers utilize certain situations can be misconstrued by outside sources if said communication reaches a more personal level. Due to this stigma teachers are forced to keep all communication with students professional regardless the platform it takes place upon.
Using Facebook in class allows for both an asynchronous and synchronous, open speech via a familiar and regularly accessed medium, and supports the integration of multimodal content such as student-created photographs and video and URLs to other texts, in a platform that many students are already familiar with. Further, it allows students to ask more minor questions that they might not otherwise feel motivated to visit a professor in person during office hours to ask. It also allows students to manage their own privacy settings, and often work with the privacy settings they have already established as registered users. Facebook is one alternative means for shyer students to be able to voice their thoughts in and outside of the classroom. It allows students to collect their thoughts and articulate them in writing before committing to their expression. Further, the level of informality typical to Facebook can also aid students in self-expression and encourage more frequent student-and-instructor and student-and-student communication. At the same time, Towner and Munoz note that this informality may actually drive many educators and students away from using Facebook for educational purposes.
From a course management perspective, Facebook may be less efficient as a replacement for more conventional course management systems, both because of its limitations with regards to uploading assignments and due to some students' (and educators') resistance to its use in education. Specifically, there are features of student-to-student collaboration that may be conducted more efficiently on dedicated course management systems, such as the organization of posts in a nested and linked format. That said, a number of studies suggest that students post to discussion forums more frequently and are generally more active discussants on Facebook posts versus conventional course management systems like WebCT or Blackboard (Chu and Meulemans, 2008; Salaway, et al., 2008; Schroeder and Greenbowe, 2009).
Further, familiarity and comfortability with Facebook is often divided by socio-economic class, with students whose parents obtained a college degree, or at least having attended college for some span of time, being more likely to already be active users. Instructors ought to seriously consider and respect these hesitancies, and refrain from "forcing" Facebook on their students for academic purposes. Instructors also ought to consider that rendering Facebook optional, but continuing to provide content through it to students who elect to use it, places an unfair burden on hesitant students, who then are forced to choose between using a technology they are uncomfortable with and participating fully in the course. A related limitation, particularly at the level of K-12 schooling, is the distrust (and in some cases, outright prohibition) of the use of Facebook in formal classroom settings in many educational jurisdictions. However, this hesitancy towards Facebook use is continually diminishing in the United States, as the Pew Internet & American Life Project's annual report for 2012 shows that the likelihood of a person to be a registered Facebook user only fluctuates by 13 percent between different levels of educational attainment, 9 percent between urban, suburban, and rural users, only 5 percent between different household income brackets. The largest gap occurs between age brackets, with 86 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reported as registered users as opposed to only 35 percent of 65-and-up-year-old users.
Twitter can be used to enhance communication building and critical thinking. Domizi (2013) utilized Twitter in a graduate seminar requiring students to post weekly tweets to extend classroom discussions. Students reportedly used Twitter to connect with content and other students. Additionally, students found it "to be useful professionally and personally". Junco, Heibergert, and Loken (2011) completed a study of 132 students to examine the link between social media and student engagement and social media and grades. They divided the students into two groups, one used Twitter and the other did not. Twitter was used to discuss material, organize study groups, post class announcements, and connect with classmates. Junco and his colleagues (2011) found that the students in the Twitter group had higher GPAs and greater engagement scores than the control group.
Gao, Luo, and Zhang (2012) reviewed literature about Twitter published between 2008 and 2011. They concluded that Twitter allowed students to participate with each other in class (by creating an informal "back channel"), and extend discussion outside of class time. They also reported that students used Twitter to get up-to-date news and connect with professionals in their field. Students reported that microblogging encouraged students to "participate at a higher level". Because the posts cannot exceed 140 characters, students were required to express ideas, reflect, and focus on important concepts in a concise manner. Some students found this very beneficial. Other students did not like the character limit. Also, some students found microblogging to be overwhelming (information overload). The research indicated that many students did not actually participate in the discussions, "they just lurked" online and watched the other participants.
YouTube is a frequently used social media tool in the classroom (also the second most visited website in the world).[failed verification] Students can watch videos, answer questions, and discuss content. Additionally, students can create videos to share with others. Sherer and Shea (2011) claimed that YouTube increased participation, personalization (customization), and productivity. YouTube also improved students' digital skills and provided opportunity for peer learning and problem solving Eick et al. (2012) found that videos kept students' attention, generated interest in the subject, and clarified course content. Additionally, the students reported that the videos helped them recall information and visualize real world applications of course concepts. In the early 2000's right as YouTube was getting its start a man by the name of Salman Khan began uploading lecture videos. As his videos grew more popular Khan Academy was born and Salman began to expand his lecture topics in order to reach a wider audience of students. Today Khan Academy is still in use and its continuing positive impact on education is seen as well.
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