With social network on the rise, and the large amount of young people that take part in social networking, there is question as to whether or not social media should be part of our education system. Propenents of social media point out the benefits of social media in regards to educational tools, and increased student engagement, while critics of social networking focus on subject like privacy, time, and miscommunication. Pros of Social Networking Today’s students are increasingly using social networking as a means to communicate.
According to a recent poll, 22 percent of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day. Seventy-five percent of teenagers own cell phones–25 percent use them for social media, 54 percent use them for texting, and 24 percent use them for instant messaging. (O’Keefe 2011) With these statistics in mind, educators looking to engage students in an already challenging curriculum, search for ways to connect a student’s learning experience to what has become a huge force in their young lives.
Social networking can be yet another platform to enrich the learning experience since students and teachers can connect beyond the confine of the classroom. Although Websites such as FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkIn are popular among young people, they are not the best, or the only social network sites available to use in school since they are “open sites” where anyone outside the student’s immediate circle can access communicate, or gain information.
Instead, blogs, wikis, and private social networking are tools that can make a tremendous impact on how teachers teach and students learn in a much safer arena than public sites such as FaceBook or Twitter. Blogs, Wiki Private Label and other private social networks such as Edmondo or Socialcast, provide a place for teachers to post homework, communicate with parents and students, and interact with students beyond the classroom. Student can also use these private social networks to participate in discussions, get peer feedback, and showcase work.
Blogs, wikis and private social networks that are controlled and monitored by teachers to provide a far more safe on-line social networking environment than open social networks. Just as social media resources has attracted the attention of millions of young people, these same features have the ability to capture the attention of students to the learning opportunities provided by their school. Educators could take advantage of these social and interactive features to encourage students to become actively engaged in their learning experience with their teachers.
Using social media resources as learning tools would allow students to access valuable and necessary learning objects regardless of their location and time of day. Easy access to an abundance of learning resources may also help in the amount of time a student spends engaged in a lesson or an assignment. In addition, the participatory nature of many social networks could be used to re-engage previously bored students or students that are apprehensive to openly talk in live discussions is class. Cons of Social Networking
There are many challenges that face the use of social networking in education such as; on-line safety, time to manage networks, and miscommunication. Before a school decides to make social networking part of their curriculum the benefits of such sites need to be weighed against the drawbacks. Social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are open for anyone who wants to participate. Students need to provide personal information to join these sites, and often don’t think about safeguarding it.
Although a lot of the information individuals’ supply on social networking is elective, young users may progressively become more comfortable with displaying a great deal of personal information online, without thinking who has access to the information, and what is it used for. Since students aren’t concerned with safety issues, teachers are therefore put into a position to ensure students are exercising privacy rights, which can take up a lot of time that teachers don’t necessarily have.
In addition, teachers must take the time to check that students are using the social network as a tool to enhance the learning process instead of recreational use, and in looking at each blog, wiki, Facebook comment, Tweet, etc,. to see if the student is in fact participating. Managing networks take a huge amount of time that teachers often complain they don’t even have even in the traditional educational setting. Although social networks can facilitate communication, they also can hinder it by possible miscommunications. Learning via. the Internet does ot afford students the same opportunity of explanation and clarification that occur in face-to-face interaction. Students can face some difficulty through social networking in expressing their views and ideas in writing, as many learners may prefer to express their ideas orally which is how they have been effectively communicating for years before using social networks. While social network users need to utilize writing skills to express their ideas and opinions freely, face to face interaction allows students to perceive physical clues like tone, inflection, and body language.
In an online environment, these necessary components are lacking. As social networking becomes more and more integrated in the ways students communicate, the debate over the role social networking play in the classroom continues. Proponents on both sides will struggle to find a balance between the importance social networks to ways teachers teach and students learn and the safety of students. Though there are risks associated with encouraging students to use social networking, advocates argue that the opportunity for a student’s potential intellectual and social growth will outweigh the costs.
References Mitrano, T. (2006). A Wider World – Youth, Privacy, and Social Networking Technologies. Educause Review, Nov/Dec, 16-28. O’Keefe G, Clarke-Pearson K, “Clinical Report-The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. ” Pediatrics. 2011 April; 127(4): 800-805 Rutherford, C. (2010). Using Online Social Media to Support Preservice Student Engagement. Journal of online learning and teaching, Vol. 6(4).
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