There are a lot of scare stories about kids, the Internet and social media. If it’s not predators or bullying, it’s text-speak ruining the vocabulary of the next generation or cell phones constantly distracting kids when they should be doing schoolwork. It’s true that parents and other adults need to be vigilant about how the children in their lives use the Internet and social media, but the other side of the coin is that the Internet has great potential as an educational tool. A look at the rise of online education is just one example of how true this is. What began as a few for-profit colleges has now been embraced by traditional brick-and-mortar universities, and for-profit in some places has given way to for-free as universities like MIT put their course materials online and free initiatives like Khan Academy spring up.
Social media has also made its way into academia. Professors blog, tweet and present papers at important conferences about the digital realm as well as networking and sharing ideas over social media. On university campuses, social media has become an integral part of education in many classes with students required to contribute to class blogs or use social media in other ways.
What about younger students? Can children benefit from social media in the classroom as well or is it merely a distraction? Research suggests that from young ages right up through the teen years, social media can enhance educational results. After all, young people have the opportunity to connect with others their age all over the world which can greatly expand cultural horizons. Social media has many other uses as well however. One often overlooked advantage of using the Internet for learning is that it is a text-based medium. This means that students who are using it to communicate are forced to draw on their writing communication skills. Far from degrading skills like grammar and spelling, social media has the potential to enhance those skills through regular practice in educational settings.
Social media has uses in the classroom that go far beyond practicing writing skills however. What are some of those uses, and what have been the results?
from → Social Media