Social Media in Digital Education: Pros and Cons
Like it or not, social media has quickly become a very integral part of everyday life for millions of people around the world, infiltrating not only the complex world of teenage interaction but also business and education. With naysayers often opposed on principle and embracers of social technology quick to point out its benefits to their life, sorting through the pros and cons of social media in any particular aspect of life can be a trying and confusing task.
Education in particular is one area in which social media has proven to be a polarizing topic, with many proponents stressing its benefits in the classroom while others denounce it as an unnecessary and unhelpful distraction to teachers and students alike.
If you’ve been considering whether or not to integrate social media into your educational endeavors, whether as teacher or student, allow us to shed some light on the pros and cons of the use of social media in digital education:
Pro: Teacher/Student Connectedness
One of the most obvious boons of social media in digital education is the ability to connect students with their teachers and each other even outside of the classroom, enabling the sharing of class work and materials at any time and giving students the ability to more easily develop positive homework and study habits. In a truly digital classroom, this also means the elimination of paper and other hard materials in favor of electronic creation, storage and delivery, inadvertently creating a green environment as well.
No matter how many of the educational benefits of social media that we present to you here, the potential for distractions unrelated to the classroom are always prevalent where social media and the electronic devices used to access it are concerned. Just as digital delivery of materials allows for the better development of good habits in students, the inherent distractions present the possibility of educational time being passed over for simple social time.
While there is no easy way to invite electronic devices into the classroom or other educational areas without some level of distraction, monitoring and time management can go a long way towards ensuring that students are taking ample time to explore the usefulness of social media to their educational endeavors.
Pro: Distance Education
Formally known as correspondence education, long-distance learning is one area where social media can be used to huge benefits without the worries that come with the traditional classroom. Where delivery of study materials previously required the printing and postal delivery of books and leaflets, social media allows for the digital creation and deployment of course content and testing materials, avoiding both unnecessary costs and wait time. To take the use of social media a step further, some institutions have done away with the need for long-distance students to attend monitored classrooms for examinations by utilizing tools like Skype to allow for live, real-time monitoring and assistance during test-taking.
Con: System Abuse
The creation of any digital network, whether it encompasses an entire city, a school or even a lone classroom, comes with inherent and unique risks to security. To avoid future security issues in your use of social media in the classroom, take the time to properly plan, create and deploy your digital education efforts as opposed to flying by the seat of your pants and potentially leaving gaps in account management that could be exploited to the detriment of you and your class.
Pro: Vastly Increased Learning Opportunities
Comparing standard learning with that offset by digital and social media efforts is akin to comparing researching through endless hard texts in a library with the ease presented by Wikipedia; simply put, the use of social media and other modern technologies vastly increases the resources available to a student at any given time, allowing them to learn at a pace and in a manner most comfortable to them and, as studies have shown, ending almost exclusively with better understanding and implementation of the subjects being taught.
Jessy is the social media and tech blogger for Fast Forward Academy, the indepth resource providing cpa study guide and lots of learning materials.