There can be many advantages and disadvantages of social media for students. A social media post can take on a life of its own, and once it is out here, it is pretty much impossible to take back. Even though there is some risk, the benefits can outweigh those risks; you need the proper social media plan and strategy for how it will be used. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be useful in the classroom.
There are some items to be concerned with, and it is essential to think about the rules you are going to have with social media. This is no different than rules you may set up for your teenager. The University of Minnesota has put together a great list of the items to think about here. Higher Education is usually very slow to move in new directions, and Social Media is no different, if the faculty and administrators do not understand it, then they are reluctant to adopt. In the area of social media, this not only impedes taking advantage of these educational applications, but it also puts the educational institutions at a disadvantage when it comes to recruitment.
Since most educators need something scientific before deciding, you may want to read this study on the effectiveness of social media as a communication tool before continuing. There are a lot of various apps for social media that are attractive to students. You may have heard that Snapchat recently launched an IPO, which made its co-founders $500 million each in a single day.
What is Social Media?
No discussion would be complete without a definition of social media. Most people may think of Facebook, Twitter, or the MeWe apps as Social media, but that is not a real definition. Social media is simply software that allows people to connect and exchange ideas. Really forums where the first edition of social media. MeWe is sort of bringing back the feel of a forum to social media since its about communicating around topics. Its an interesting concept MeWe is trying, but its not far from what Google tried with Google Plus and we all know what a failed social media site that became.
This is one of the reasons educators are reluctant to incorporate social media into their education curriculum. This does make sense; while Snapchat is the hot social media app for teenagers today, there may be another one tomorrow. For example, a new social media app named Live.Me is gaining traction in the United States. Many teenagers and young adults are turning to this app because of its ability to stream live video and also provide a social aspect where you can share video streams with your friends and make new friends. I have seen at least 30 of my young Facebook friends using this app to stream live video over the past week.
Advantages of Using Social Media for Students in Education
Social Media can increase student collaboration. Students become friends with their classmates on social media and are more likely to collaborate on projects. This can lead to higher retention rates as students become more connected to the institution and their peers. Faculty can use social media as a way to get students to participate. Many students are naturally shy in person, and many may not speak up in a classroom, but that may not be the case on social media. Today’s students grew up on social media, and for many, it is the natural way to interact. Faculty can ask questions on social media such as Twitter, and students can answer those questions, by including a specific hashtag. This not only allows the faculty to find the student answers but also allows other students to see what others are answering and create a dialog. Many learning management systems incorporate a discussion board to accomplish this same educational pedagogy but are just as useful if not more by using a social media platform in education. Social Media can be helpful in team projects. Many colleges stress the importance of the soft skill of working in groups. Social Media sites can be helpful to increase this ability as the students can hold meetings in real-time and work on their projects. This enhances the likelihood that they will also spend time together working on projects and may not have to make time to meet in person all the time as the project progresses. Having teams work together using social media only strengthens advantage one and two of your educational activities. Social media can provide a richer experience for resources.
Disadvantages of Social Media for Students in Education
Students can get distracted and start using social media for their purposes and not pay attention to educational content. Distraction is going to happen to a certain extent, and there is not a lot the faculty member can do to prevent it. The key to explaining to the students that you are using social media as an educational resource, and they need to stay focused on those tasks during classroom participation.
Using the feedback model for answering questions listed in the advantages of social media will help to reduce this disadvantage. Posting inappropriate content can also be a significant problem. This can damage the reputation of the educational institution and likely one of the reasons that many educational institutions have not embraced social media. This can be overcome by ensuring you have the proper social media policies in place and dealing with students who violate the plan in a manner that still encourages social interaction, but lets them know they need to remain professional. The risk of these sorts of incidents can typically be reduced with proper education of the students.
Students, especially those in college that post inappropriate content on social networks, can not only hurt them in their classes but also raise a red flag to potential employers that the student may not be a good fit. Many companies now use social media posts as a background check before hiring, and having content you would not want your mother to ready could reduce the chance of a student landing a great job. It has many of the social media interaction applications and still will allow you to keep your social media in education somewhat protected and private. Relying too much on social media for communication can stifle a student’s ability to interact in person.
This is a problem throughout society and not just limited to education. Many of today’s youth have grown up with technology, and many times it is easier for them only to communicate online and not in person. That is one of the reasons to incorporate video conferencing into the classroom as part of your strategy. Having the student interact through social media technology such as Google Hangouts can sometimes break the ice and allow them to communicate better in person.
This is one of the main reasons that social media in education should be a supplement to your educational activities and not the only method of instructional delivery. These are just a few of the advantages of social media in education and also some of the potential disadvantages. Social media can be a powerful enhancement to the way students learn. It does take some planning and thought processes before implementation. Know any other practical strategies for using social media in the classroom? Please let us know in the comments.