The age of social networking has brought with it aye-sayers and nay-sayers, especially with respect to the effect it has on the youth. Irrespective of social perception and opinion, there is no doubt that students of all developed and most developing countries are actively engaged on social networks. While the name “social networking” points to social interaction, does it have any effect on education and learning? The typical knee-jerk reaction is that it is detrimental to anything productive because it is a time sink, causes distraction and leads to antisocial behaviour that is non-conducive to learning. Here's a look at instances to back social media's potential to facilitate learning:
- Edutopial believes that that using social media can play a constructive part in the classroom by bridging the digital divide that isolates lower-income students.
- Recent research has shown that a large proportion of college students use technology applications only to learn and feel that “the technology they use to study should be as tailored to their needs as social media feeds”.
- Social media also changes the focus of learning from the “teacher” to the “group” as the knowledge provider.
- There are specific social media sites aimed at education, such as EdMoto and Saywire.
- Mindomo.com, bubbl.us, and MindMeister.com are often used for brainstorming, enhancing the rate and quality of collaboration for students.
- A study of 8000 facultyrevealed that blogging was the most popular social platform used by 80% of educators, most of whom, have students write blogs related to the course work; this creates a unique type of engagement.
- A national survey of 1,200 principals, teachers and librarians found that most agreed that social networking sites can help educators share information and resources, create professional learning communities and improve school wide communications with students and staff.
- One teacher encouraged students to create Facebook pages for characters from literature.
- Another taught probability through Twitter.
Social networking is no longer just a fad among youngsters – it is part of their ecosystem. Thus, the way to build model digital citizens from youngsters of today is to use the very forum that consumes over 10 billion minutes of worldwide time daily, as a valuable tool to enhance the learning experience.