There are many advantages of using social media in education. One the most important is to encourage interaction between students. This is especially helpful in college environments where having students create a bond with the institution can increase retention rates. Of course, along with the advantages of social media in education, there are also some disadvantages and you should gauge the impact your social media activities may be causing 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 just 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 important to think about what 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 really good 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 slow 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 cofounders $500 million dollars each in a single day. 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 fro 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.
Now that we have some background data let’s move on and take a quick look at some of the advantages of social media for education as well as some of the disadvantages.
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.
- 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.
- Social Media can be useful for 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 in your educational activities.
- Social media can provide a richer experience for resources. Videos, resource websites, and tutorials can be shared very easily with the entire classroom at the click of the button. This eliminates the need for students to copy website links from a handout and have the risk of mistyping. It is much easier just to click a link than to type it.
- Video Conferencing in the Classroom is also a significant benefit. Using social networking sites such as Google Plus will allow the use of Google Hangouts. These sort of resources can be used to setup class sessions where everyone can collaborate through video in real time. Google Hangouts can also be saved for future reference, in case one of the students has a conflict and can not make the meeting.
These are just a few of the many advantages of using social media in education, but like anything else, where there is an advantage there are also disadvantages of social media in education
Disadvantages of Social Media for Students in Education
- Students can get distracted and start using the social media for their personal purposes and not pay attention to the educational content. This is going to happen to a certain extent, and there is not a lot the faculty member can do to prevent it. They key to explain to the students that you are using social media as an educational resource, and they need to stay focused on those task 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 the 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 posting 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 measure before hiring and having content you would not want your mother to ready could reduce the chance of a student landing a great job. This is also where Google classroom can come in handy. 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 just 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 a 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 are educated, but it does take some planning and thought process before implementation. If you have any other effective strategies for using social media in the classroom, please let us know in the comments.