How many times do we reach for our phones, to find ourselves opening up our Instagram or Facebook account? If this is true even for adults, we may be concerned about how social media impacts students.

Certainly, there are tangible impacts from frequent social media engagement. Some of them are positive and others, negative. A critical understanding of both types of effects that accrue from the use of social media is paramount, since students spend a large part of their time on it.

In this article, we talk about advantages and disadvantages of social media in an educational context.

Specifically, using a social media platform for academic purposes.

Advantages

Platform for open collaboration.

Social media is certainly, social. Interactions are a trademark of social media. Students and educators can communicate fluidly on social media platforms, sometimes arguably better than in person. Social media has over recent years boomed - and youths are seen as digital natives.

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The OECD average of young people using social networks is 89.1%

This presents a great opportunity for collaboration and peer to peer learning. Discourse is essential to mental growth, and by sharing ideas and discussing them, students learn from one another. Students can also work together on tasks, and teamwork can have incredible effects on self efficacy (Vygotsky, 1978). This can yield confidence to perform specific tasks for the teacher's learning objectives.

Social media can also bridge the gap between students and educators. Students can ask questions and obtain feedback easily on social media.

Better engagement.

Students learn better when the environment is familiar and conducive. As digital natives, they are most familiar with social media platforms, like Instagram and the trendy Tik Tok. Who knew that social media can be great for learning too?

Yes - we’re talking about the photos, videos and comments that these platforms are so known for. Visual and auditory learning are useful pedagogies that social media offers. Other than that, posting and commenting are useful because students ‘own’ the content they write. This can lead to organic learning, as students talk about things they are interested in. When students are interested in what they do, they are more engaged as well.

Disadvantages

Distractions and Poor Self-Regulation

As the Internet and social media is a hypermedia environment, it’s not surprising that students may get distracted by non-academic content. Yet, this could be an opportunity to train students’ self regulation - the ability to manage distractions and the need for instant gratification.

One study showed that students have considerable self-regulating abilities when learning online (Wang and Wu, 2008). Thus, notwithstanding the fact that distractions can occur when using social media for learning, educators can do their best to steer students towards good habits and practices and reap the benefits that social media offers.

With massive amounts of content on social media, educators may find it hard to manage and regulate students’ activities. No doubt, it would be hard for them to go through all posts and comments made by students.


This is where analytics comes in.

Soqqle aims to generate analytics for educators to track topics discussed, most active students, type of content and more. We work hand in hand with educators, to come up with more value added features to support teaching and learning endeavours.

We aim to overcome the disadvantages of social media - towards the goal of a self-regulated collaborative environment that students can thrive in.

Are you an educator? Find out how social media can be useful for you at soqqle.com!


References

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society. The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Wang, S. L., & Wu, P. Y. (2008). The role of feedback and self-efficacy on web-based learning: The social cognitive perspective. Computers & Education, 51(4), 1589–1598.