The rise of social media has become one of the most influential and important developments in recent years. The ability of individuals to connect with one another instantly from any location has had an unprecedented effect on our society and the way we consume and perceive information as a whole. Humanity has never been more connected to itself into the world around it than it is now, and as time goes on it social media is only looking to become more and more integral to our everyday lives. As a result of this today we will be discussing how social media can be used to improve the quality of distance learning and online education as a whole.
The rise of social media
After the dotcom era, society began experimenting with the internet and what it could be used to achieve. One could argue that the most important example of early social media on the internet came in the form of MySpace, and later gave rise to giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all of which occupy the social media space today. The influence of the social media sites cannot be overstated, and the sheer amount of users and volume of information that is passed through these and other social media sites today dwarfs almost all other mediums in existence. So, knowing this information how can social media be applied to education and be used as a resource to further distance learning?
Social media has a unique power and ability to connect individuals across the vast distances and to allow these people to relate to one another by sharing their experiences and knowledge with each other regardless of geographical, cultural, and age barriers. Disability to allow students to relate to one another and to allow them to share information is invaluable to education, where the sharing of information is essentially the foundation of the idea. Social media can be, and has been used in practice to connect students with one another and to give them the gathering place in lieu of the traditional classroom where they can connect with their instructors and their students share questions and ideas and communicate with one another at any time or place. This allows social media to simulate the traditional classroom that is missing from distance learning, and we can see this in the case of Dr. Rankin’s (of University of Texas) use of Twitter to engage the students in her history course.
The power of engagement and community
Engagement is one of the most important aspects of education, and if students do not feel as though they can with one another and with their instructor then they are unlikely to receive the full benefit of the education they are trying to receive. Social media remedies this issue through practices such as creating virtual classroom environments and accommodating class engagements on discussion boards and social forums, allowing students to speak freely and enjoy the amount of engagement that they would normally receive from a traditional classroom. Because of this, social media can be an invaluable tool to education, and create a sense of community around distance learners who are sharing their experiences in the same course.
All in all, social media can be used to create valuable learning opportunities, and create a rich Community between distance learners and their instructor. For many students this is what has been missing from distance learning and online education in the past, and now with the rise in popularity of social media this issue is remedied entirely so that the traditional classroom can now effectively be simulated online.