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Social Media in Improving Education

Much has been said and discussed about the potential business benefits that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites offer; they’re not just social media any more, but also marketing tools for your products and services. The question now is, can these sites that were developed so people could share details and information about themselves, help in the field of education?

Every child who knows their way about the Internet is sure to have a profile on MySpace or Facebook, use Twitter to connect to friends, post content to YouTube and photos to Flickr, and use the net to chat and stay in touch with friends. Ideally, this makes social media the perfect tool to harness in the quest of improving education, because the children are already familiar with the technology.

While there are various third party applications on Facebook that are useful for students (like HeyMath which explains difficult mathematical theories and FlashCards that allow you to create flash cards that help in preparing for an exam), most students do not spend time on them and prefer to hang out on the site looking at their friends’ profiles or updating their own and taking one of the million idiotic quizzes that Facebook has to offer. There are various educational videos on YouTube and intellectual discussions going on in Twitter, but that part of the social media does not appeal to the kids.

What needs to be done to change this situation and cause a turnaround is to increase awareness of these educational tools that will help children do well in school and in the real world. Once they get over the initial reluctance to search social media for useful information and applications, they’re likely to rope in all their friends as well and get them to try using social networking sites for learning too.

With teenagers and children, it’s often a policy of “follow the leader” where most of the kids tend to ape the most popular person in class. So if they are targeted by the teachers and made to realize the efficacy of such applications and use them to improve their learning, it’s natural that the others will follow too. And social media will find a new use, one that is actually beneficial to the younger generation.

This article is written by Kat Sanders, who regularly blogs on the topic of online engineering degree at her blog The Engineering A Better World Blog. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:katsanders25@gmail.com

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