Social media is the future of communication. It includes an array of internet-based tools and platforms that increase and enhance the experience of sharing information. The platform is all about community-based input, contact, content-sharing, and alliance. This interactive medium has a multitude of interesting things like forums, micro-blogging, social networking, social bookmarking, wikis and podcasts. Studies show that online social networks like Twitter, Facebook or MySpace have a great impact on youths’ lives.
Social Media: The World of Networking
Here’s a quick look at the user statistics of a few social media platforms, which only prove the growing popularity of these websites.
- Facebook—1.6 billion
- Youtube—Billion-plus visitors
- Whatsapp—950 million
- Google plus—440 million
- Instagram—430 million
- LinkedIn—420 million
- Twitter—230 million
- ResearchGate—9 million
41% of American professors used social media as a teaching tool in 2013. In India, the National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) and e-learning engineering courses were viewed by 110 million people on Youtube till 2014. Teachers are now beginning to tap into the market of social media. Students too have realized its power. Social media has become a platform for common-minded people coming together. The multiple online discussion groups involve asking doubts, opinions about universities, new ideas, etc.
College events and fests are now getting propagated through online platforms. Social media helps to get both audience and sponsorship. Students can spread knowledge by sharing PDFs and links. Many universities use social media to market their courses online and make studying easier for children.
Learning Management System
Most higher education institutions prefer a learning management system (LMS). Popular LMS are Desire2Learn, WebCT, Moodle, and Blackboard. They have been specifically designed for educational purposes in distance education and provide a software application for the administration. These systems record, track, report and deliver e-learning courses. Platforms like Moodle and Blackboard allow easy integration with social media services. Teachers can share the content through apps like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to provide quick help to students.
The Positive and Negative Impact of Social Media on Education
Distance learning models have an edge over campus-based counterparts. They are the future of university education and keep pace with new technologies. These models improve communication with students and also boost the learning experience. A study of the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) shows that the student participation improved when the social media platforms were integrated with learning programs. Also, it had helped reduce the student drop-out rates.
Distance education courses are growing as more students are opting for them. 150 percent more students enrolled in them in the USA from 1998 to 2008. MOOC like Coursera serves around 1.3 million Indian students. 70% of students in India use smart phones, who form a huge target group for the MOOCs.
Students now spend more time online and end up wasting time. There have also been many cases of fraud institutes providing bogus degrees online and children fall into this trap. The teaching fraternity feels that the social websites have blurred the line between formal and informal writing. Students often use online jargon even while doing homework or writing exam papers. The new online fever has taken a hit at their inter-personal skills and made them averse to real communication. The physical and emotional imbalance caused by social media makes students irritable and dull.
Considering these pros and cons, it is necessary for parents to have certain regulations over the use of such social networking sites, especially for high school and college students. Students should think about what they are doing and decide how much time they want to spend on social media. The negative aspects should certainly not influence students’ education.