Social Education

It’s 7:30 a.m., your alarm just went off, and before you even think about eating breakfast, you log into your Facebook account. After you login, you notice that you have three new notifications. The first notification is from your professor, letting you know that class is canceled today – a big, sleepy smile spreads across your face. The second and third notifications are to let you know that two of your classmates recently posted in your History 320 group. You ignore the posts from your classmates and scroll down your newsfeed instead. Right away, you notice that your friend updated her status about the tough statistics exam that she has at 9:00 a.m. today. Wait a minute! You are in that statistics class and you completely forgot about that test! All of a sudden that smile is wiped off your face as you scramble out of bed and frantically look for your notes.

Sound Familiar?

If it does, then you probably belong to one of the many schools that now incorporate social media into the educational experience. In fact, an education technology study conducted by OnlineColleges.net found that 100% of universities surveyed utilize a Facebook account, 80% use a Twitter account, and 70% have a Youtube channel.

However, the study also reported that only approximately 53% of students have a smartphone, meaning that not everyone can take advantage of all that social media has to offer. To abolish this problem and even the playing field, Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach Initiative is working to provide those who cannot afford the Internet with smartphones. According to the the program, after smartphones were provided to needy students, standardized test performance increased drastically, with a 30% improvement rate!

The cause of this dramatic increase?

No longer did their learning stop when they left the classroom! By using the internet and social media, students now had the ability to communicate more easily with their peers and could access information whenever, and where ever, they wanted to.

With a greater appreciation of the positive impact that social media can have on education, many social media-esque programs have been designed with that specific purpose in mind (check out last week’s post for some great examples!). One example of a social media tool utilized here at North Dakota State University is Blackboard, a program that allows teachers to maintain grades, post information about class, and incorporate discussion boards into their courses. Now Blackboard even has an app that can be used on most smartphones, making it easier for students to have access to their educational information around the clock. In addition, social sites like RateMyProfessors.com can be utilized by students to communicate with one another about their classroom experiences, aiding in registration and course planning.

Even from our own personal experiences, we have found that social media has been a helpful tool in the advancement of our education. In fact, as a group we even use Facebook to bounce ideas back and forth on to how to increase the success of this blog!

What are your thoughts and experiences on using social media in the classroom?

We’d love to hear your opinion!

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