If you are like most online users involved in social media activity, you more than likely use it to communicate with friends, family and even colleagues. More than ever, sidebar advertisements are dominating the site’s visual landscape. Despite the clutter – the role it most often plays in our society – social media can be an outstanding aid in online education for a variety of reasons. Moreover, the user has to be in control of the conversation and the activity, ensuring that its use as a helpful resource is the classroom is enjoyed and appreciated.
Online learning forums do not always promote communication between the course content and the students on the portals that connect them. Social media then steps in the bridge the gap between classroom and student. Peers can share their reasoning, collaborate on projects, and even in keep in touch as a measure of social accountability.
Those that encourage the marriage between social media and online learning call for a conscious choice to decide to use social media as an appropriate tool and not as a distraction, which is the viewpoint most of the opposition takes. Some say that distance learning cannot teach by itself and neither can social media. But a bridge between the two must be recognized as being on the cutting edge of learning with huge benefits to the student, teacher and the educational institution.
Some helpful trends are developing in social media that are almost mandating students to participate in the online conversation outside the classroom. SMS messages are now used to communicate important course information. Although the idea to use them originated as a security measure on campus, more and more online learners are able to quickly and easily learn about approaching deadlines, important campus events, calendar changes, syllabus changes and university news and updates.
Students are already using sites like Facebook and Twitter to facilitate their online learning using tools that engage campus communities in the learning process, providing useful support and sharing information in a team environment.
Also, it is becoming more popular and universally accepted to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD): a new trend that requires the student to supply his or her own technical tools for the classroom. When students are able to use their own devices, it is easier to incorporate social media without viewing it as a requirement. Instead students are encouraged to view social media in learning as the way of the future.