Social media: whether you like it or not, it’s nearly impossible to live without it these days. Smartphones, tablets, and social media platforms have integrated themselves into nearly every aspect of life in the modern world. Although there is still some ambivalence and confusion within the educational system about how to properly embrace these modern social learning tools and incorporate them into the classroom curriculum, universities and even high schools haven’t been left with much of a choice.
People were surveyed, being asked the question ‘Can online education become an alternative?’ 57% of respondents answered ‘yes’, online education could be a successful alternative to traditional education. However, 67% of respondents believed that students should go to school even when they have the option to study online. In general, most people tend to hold the belief that online education is beneficial for learning new skills, but that compulsory education should remain traditional.
Combine the Best of Both Worlds
Some people prefer the idea of getting an education online, while others feel that students should stick to traditional education. This leaves the traditional curriculum open to an interesting idea: why not combine the best of both worlds and incorporate social media into the classroom curriculum?
Human beings and social media are becoming inseparable, and with 100% of today’s universities having a presence on social media today, there have been proven advantages of using these platforms to benefit students worldwide. Here’s everything you need to know about social media’s integration into the classroom and the ways in which social media is having an impact on education today.
How has Social Media effected K5 and Universities?
Do you know that 7 out of 10 people own a smartphone today, and 30% of that number are active social media users? Many high school and college campuses have begun to incorporate social media into their curriculum already, and there have been proven advantages to combining social media and education. In fact, participation on students’ behalf has increased significantly when social media has been made a part of the curriculum.
Integrating social media into a classroom curriculum is more akin to using social media for business than for personal reasons, which means that schools have to be very strategic about which platforms they choose to work with and how they integrate them into the system or curriculum.
Setting Goals and Developing a Strategy
Schools that have chosen to engage into social media have found much success in setting goals before introducing social media into the curriculum. It is essential to develop an effective strategy for realizing them before considering which platforms to begin working with.
Whether working on a larger scale or a smaller one, setting some specific goals that can be measured, such as what percentage of students you want following the page, along with a few overarching goals, such as building stronger connections within the community helps keep both students and staff focused, engaged, and on track.
Developing a strategy after goals have been set is another essential step toward successful social media integration. There are many factors to consider when developing an effective strategy, such as a budget creation and appointing a team that will assist with writing and posting content and helps to get staff and students engaged. However, this does not mean that a large budget and team is necessary in order to be successful.
City University London is a great example of how setting goals and planning a strategy can lead to success, even with a small team and limited resources. By implementing an effective strategy – in their case, photo contests – the team has met their goals of getting students engaged and building a greater sense of community, with more than 63,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter today.
Social Media Success
Staying connected to social media has helped students to reach out to mentors more easily and find lecture notes anytime with the use of platforms such as Blackboard and Moodle. Social media can also help schools increase their exposure and appeal to a wider range of prospective students. It can help current students build a greater sense of community, and can even help staff communicate more effectively with one another.
Keeping Students and Professionals Engaged
While Facebook, Twitter, and apps such as Flashcards have helped teachers keep their students connected and engaged, universities and other school systems have seen a great response from setting up accounts on platforms such as Ning and Linkedin, which generally cater to a more mature and professional demographic.
Working with Young People
When working with a younger demographic, coming up with fun ways to incorporate platforms such as Instagram and Tumbler into the curriculum has increased student participation by piquing their natural interests.
Benefits of Video on Social Media
Large scale and small scale strategies alike have benefitted from creating YouTube or Vimeo accounts in order to incorporate more videos into the curriculum. This is especially beneficial for classes where visual learning is ideal, such as biology or film study. Or, videos can be used to attract new students, like at the University of Cambridge, where videos are used to showcase everything the campus has to offer. Their videos have had thousands of views and have been shared hundreds of times, demonstrating how social media has helped to increase their exposure.
Potential Negative Effects of Adding Social Media to the Curriculum
Although it’s basically impossible to separate students from social media, or social media from the educational system, there are some potentially negative effects of mixing these elements. Social media does a person’s attention span lower, and people who suffer from attention deficit disorders may have a difficult time operating in a classroom where social media has been largely integrated.
To avoid issues, it is wise for educators to take measures that will help students who may have a difficult time switching tasks, following orders online, or are struggling with attention issues. For example, educators can give lessons on how to use social media to gather information effectively, and simplify the information that they share. Sewickley Academy is a private school in Pennsylvania that has outlined some important tips to help educators keep their students on track when using social media as part of the curriculum.
Social Net Jargon
Social media has also simplified the speech of young people today, with hashtags and acronyms for nearly everything, making up an Orwellian type of ‘newspeak’ that is difficult for many generations of people to understand and keep up with. Educators today are faced with the difficult task of ensuring that proper speech and grammar skills aren’t lost in their students, but social net jargon can be very effective in creating a greater sense of community and in helping to effectively plan and connect campus-wide campaigns.
While social net jargon has the potential of disintegrating proper speech and grammar skills, it also has the potential to help schools reach their goals of creating a better sense of community among students. The University of Salford in the U.K. has developed branded hashtags for Twitter along with a visual campaign to keep students engaged in important happenings around the campus.
There are not many industries today that haven’t been revolutionized by social media, but its biggest impact has, without a doubt, been on the education system. With a whopping 96% of students today engaging on social media, and 59% using it to share and discuss educational topics, there has never been a better time to be a part of the social media revolution that’s happening in classrooms and campuses around the world.