Almost every person that you can think of today will probably have a social media account of their own. Whether it is for personal or professional use, social media supports information, ideas, messages, and other content sharing throughout the web. In general, the latter allows individuals to create their own profile, connect and engage with their friends and family, as well as creating and sharing contents of their own.

In education, however, social media are easily used since they’re flexible and user-friendly. Teachers and researchers from all over the world can create and engage with communities regardless of their distance—to share and communicate their needs and vice versa (Akgunduz et al., 2016). According to Jones et al. (2010), social media sites augment the education process by providing blended learning experiences and supports the teaching and assessment processes.

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But… Why?

Which one do you think students would do more? Tweet or read? Find inspirations through the web instantly or use their library card first? Social media provides instant access to almost every content there is, and that’s just a glimpse of why it’s preferable than other learning methods. It provides unique and dynamic learning experiences to students and teachers alike (Chapel).

The Social Learning Theory (that says students learn best from each other) supports this. Studies have proven that students would become more engaged, earn relatively higher marks, and would become more motivated when they study together (Chapel). At times, the latter would be done through social media where learning activities could be made engagingly insightful.

The use of social media in the teaching and learning process throughout the years has increased, and its role needs to be better understood (Ahern, et al., 2016). To put it into context, Facebook could help create community engagement through posted content. These engagements could facilitate information sharing—boosting students’ critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the process (Ashford University, 2020).

Pros

Better communication is considered to be one of the biggest upper hand of using social media. Users can pretty much communicate with anyone at any time, regardless of their whereabouts as a way of gaining information. This helps classrooms’ collaboration as well, where students don’t even have to set one foot outside of their homes for group assignments and discussion.

Whether you use video conference platforms like Skype or Zoom to support distance-learning or blogs to share and discuss a certain content, using social media in classrooms can positively influence you in ways that you may never think of. For example, the latest version of Facebook allows users to stream topics live to their audience for both public and private. This can be done to conduct seminars, or even public mentoring and workshops.

Elaborative blog posts can be used as an alternative for the traditional hand-written essays students are more than familiar with. Besides, blog posts can be used as an additional portfolio when students progress with their careers.

In art and design education, Pinterest can help students as well as lecturers to find new ideas for their current projects. Not only that, but Pinterest can also be used to create mood boards and discuss publicly or privately with contributors or fellow users.

Last but not least, social media can help facilitate remote or distanced learning even in uncertain times (e.g. COVID-19 Pandemic). The method removes communication boundaries that could occur between teachers-to-students, students-to-students, and even teachers-to-teachers.

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Cons

As everything is pretty much accessible online, users can do almost anything with every piece of information that they find—for both positive or negative conduct. Although parental guidance can be applied in social media for classrooms, the knowledge seems to be out of reach for some users. Posting inappropriate content in the form of posts or even comments can be easily done in just a few clicks away.

The use of social sites often cause disorders such as the inability to have genuine conversations, limited attention spans, and even creating a need for instant gratification. It also enhances the formation of self-centered personalities (Jessica, Needa, Beth).

An Oxford Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology argues that social media posed risks of infantilizing the human mind (Valentine). As today’s world often requires faster pace and transient actions, the brain might function differently on such short notice. Then, in response to actions that require a longer period, attention can slip from time to time (Valentine).

Not only does social networking caused profound changes in the way people interact with one another (Pantic, 2014), the number of mental health issues caused by social media is growing by the minute. As indicated by several studies, the perpetuating use of social networking sites (SNS) relates to symptoms of depression (Pantic, 2014). One of the reasons is that technology-mediated communication often leads to a wrong impression of the physical and personality traits of other users. This gives rise to incorrect conclusions regarding the concluded information of one person to the other (Pantic, 2014).

Applicable Example

A Financial Management professor of IPMI International Business School Jakarta was looking for a different approach to conduct his lecturers in the time of the COVID-19 crisis. Since the remaining studies will be conducted at home, he figured that the conventional method of studying finance (e.g. full company analysis) wouldn’t be able to capture students’ attention in the long run if not conducted face to face. To answer to the challenge, he proceeded with Soqqle.

Familiarly known as a social learning mobile app, Soqqle allows students to share their understanding of the material in a video form. Unlike public video-sharing platforms we know today, teachers can restrict viewers to specified groups only (i.e. class of certain subjects). The contents can be evaluated at any time, as a way of giving feedback to the students. Not only that, but both students and teachers can leave likes and comments to discuss the topics being brought.

Conclusion

Teachers today are constantly grinding their gears to keep students engaged and interacted in classrooms. One of the ways to do so is by learning through the support of social media.

Since cherry-picking is almost impossible when it comes to social media, knowing every possible detail before actually applying the method into classrooms is essential to prevent the unwanted and to maximize every possible potential. Baring in mind that different classrooms have different circumstances than the other, and sometimes a contrasting approach is needed.


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Ahern, L., Feller, J., & Nagle, T. (2016). Social media as a support for learning in universities: an empirical study of Facebook Groups, Journal of Decision Systems, 25(1), 35-49, DOI: 10.1080/12460125.2016.1187421

Akgunduz, D., Akinoglu, O. (2016). The effect of blended learning and social media-supported learning on the students’ attitude and self-directed learning skills in science education. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 15(2), 106-115.

Ashford University (2020). Using Social Media for Learning. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://www.ashford.edu/blog/online-learning/using-social-media-as-a-learning-tool/

Chapel, L. Using Social media in the Classroom. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://study.com/academy/lesson/using-social-media-in-the-classroom.html/

Jessica, Needa, Beth. Pros & Cons of Social Media. Retrieved August 16, 2020, from https://sites.google.com/site/bhsdigicitizenship/social-media/pros-cons-of-technology/

Jones, N., Blackey, H., Fitzgibbon, K. & Chew, E. (2010). Get out of MySpace! Computer & Education, 54(3), 776-782

Pantic, I. (2014). Online social networking and mental health. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 17(10), 652-657.

Working To Halt Online Abuse. Online Harassment/Cyberstalking Statistics. Retrieved August 16, 2020 from https://www.haltabuse.org/resources/stats/index.shtml

Valentine, Sophie. The goldfish effect: why social media shortens our attention span. Retrieved August 16, 2020 from https://www.mytutor.co.uk/blog/attention-span-social-media/