Social Media in Education: Pros and Cons

We all agree that learning is not just studying a textbook but also interaction and communication. Until a few decades ago the latter aspect of learning was limited to the physical space of a classroom. Now however, social media has widened the dimensions

of the available spaces for the social component of learning.

Social media in education , being a relatively new concept has been the central concern of many educators, teachers and parents. In the short time that it has existed, people all over the world have welcomed it as an indispensible addition. In this article, we explore the role of social media in education, its benefits and challenges.

While the adoption of social platforms has not been uniform globally, a study conducted by University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has revealed that 100% of studied colleges have opened up their arms for social platforms in one form or the other. 

The Broad Picture
The popularly used social media in education includes Facebook, Twitter , LinkedIn, Google+ message boards and blogging among which Facebook leads the rest. From a 61% usage in 2008-2009, it went upto 87% in 2009-2010 and reached 98% in 2010-2011, thus proving to be the most loved of all.

Twitter although falls short of the loved-by-all mark, has shown tremendous increase in its usage. Educational institutes have been majorly using micro blogging to update students and teachers with latest announcements. From 0% use in 2008-2009, the growth graph marked 59% in 2009-2010 and finally 84% in 2010-2011.
LinkedIn, best used by admission professionals began with only 0% usage in 2008-2009, covered 16% in 2009-2010 and touched 47% in 2010-2011.

The popularity of Blogging has remained constant over the years. It has had 48%, 46% and 47% usage in the years 2008-2009, 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 respectively.
Likewise message boards enjoyed constant levels of usage starting from 36% in 2008-2009 to 38% in 2009-2010 and 37% in 2010-2011

Incorporation in the Existing System: How schools use social media
For a generation who spends their maximum time in the virtual space, focus must lie on the key interests and needs of students while using social media in education. Also social media provide ways to enhance connection with students as it brings them closer by alleviating the necessity of physical presence. Here are some interesting ways in which schools use or can use social media in the 21st century teaching and learning

Classroom Resource
a) Sharing of important announcements and discussions to keep members updated through Twitter.(Using Twtter for Teacher Collaboration)
b) Blogs and networking sites as a hub for links to important resources/articles/information. (Power of Twitter for Student Research)

School Pride
a) Mascot Facebook pages to popularize events, encourage participants, develop a school spirit
b) Freebies like school swags and useful material shared online

Reaching Out
a) Through virtual platforms, many institutes allow not just a peek but a full navigation of the campus.
b) Through name tags of institutes provided by students in their interactions via social media, institutes approach potential students via their online profiles.

Professional Development
a) Websites provide information about one’s own industries directly from the source.
b) Networking provides interaction avenues with colleagues.( Also see Google Hangout for Teacher Development )

Stay Connected
a) Active, at times cost free promotion can be done on virtual groups, pages and blogs , also allowing feedback and further interaction at the same time.
b) Schools can even interact with parents and keep each other informed.
c) Alumni groups can maintain connection.

The good and the better
While many schools have adopted social media successfully, some have not been able to use it to its full advantage. Here are some suggestions for the good and ways in which others have made themselves better.

1) Info-abled
The manager of the virtual space must be equipped with the knowhow of both social media and the school.
2) Social yet mute
If a webpage does not allow one to one interaction the very purpose of its being social is lost.
3) Update/Stagnate
Frequent maintenance and updates are necessary to prevent the page being judged as inactive by co-online visitors.

Successful strategies
1) Is it safe?
Using tools such as monitoring, necessary pre-post approval, teachers have been able to maintain the social health of their interactive space.

  1.  Implementing Connection
    Through encouraging student participation, the social aspect of learning has been achieved.
  2.  Online Personality Management
    The school’s online picture says a lot about the school. By allowing content space for students, faculty and prospective students, the virtual presence of the school is enhanced.

The wide outreach and consumption statistics of social media shows that it is an addition to life that is here to stay. What do you think about the feasibility of incorporating this resource for enhancing education? Have a look at this wonderful infographic by and drop in your views below.

Pros and Cons of Social Media in Education

About the Author
Author: Keerti Arora

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