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The Challenging Effect of Social Media on Education

Can technology-driven social media impact our education system? Yes, is the answer offered by Praveen K Panjiar.

Photo by mark rahejaon Flickr

With the help of platforms and social media tools, students nowadays are collaborating on world-challenging projects, and educators are bringing expert lecturers to their classrooms via social media. Edtech teachers are creating lessons and developing new instructional strategies every day through social media platforms.

However, even when the rise of social networking (the most pervasive use of social media) has made it easier for people to stay connected, still some worry that the need for up-to-the-minute updates is negatively impacting a younger generation’s ability to mature socially and could be stunting academic growth.

This pervasive use of social media is being debunked by Daniel Clark. Moving beyond the pros and cons of the impact of social media in education, Clark assesses visionary Douglas Adams on the sinister impact of the Internet over society:

"Anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it --- Anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really. (Adams, 1999)"

Adams,  writes Clark, claimed this could be applied to any innovation, from the wheel onwards.

This conception has a tremendous impact on the way we live on the Internet today. For anyone under 30, online communication, sharing content, self-publishing, and collaboration are not the state of the art technology, they are processes seen simply as normal.

After explaining what is to be understood as social media and social media in education, Clark says we need to start adapting to this new learning environment on three phases: Support for educators (blogging, Edublogawards, TeacherTube, Twitter), delivery of content (MIT's OpenCourseWare, iTunes U, Khan Academy), and social learning (Facebook, Google+, blogs, LinkedIn, and YouTube).

Two of the most important conclusions to which Daniel Clark has arrived are:

Despite increasing use of social media by educators, the approach of most educational institutions still seems very “industrial media”, with timetabled classes, an emphasis on learning delivery in person and by printed books, transmission from educator to students and much assessment being by written exams. No doubt this will take time to change, but we can begin with small steps and small-scale experiments.

As with all new technologies, it is impossible to predict what those implications will be in any detail. However, they are likely to include greater transparency, more involvement from students, including opportunities for live collaboration and learning in small, on-demand pieces rather than in a logical, sequential structure.
Should we expect to have a different school system in the future due to social media?

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