The Role of Social Media in Education

Journal Four: The Role of Social Media in Education

Objective

Facebook successfully drew the world’s attention to the effects social media have on the way we learn, share and comment on information shared in the digital form. The earlier and subsequent emergence and growth of other social media outlets during the past decade has made it very difficult for anyone to ignore. Today, educational institutions acknowledge the importance in employing these same social media tools in an academic context to serve their learning philosophies and objectives.

Reflective

Social media is a growing socio-technological trend that is already affecting many lives on personal, professional and academic levels. Its application to education is still overwhelmed by speculation and conservativeness and even more, its applications in an educational context are still not very clear. As we progress through the 21st century, much advancement comes about in these digital platforms. Yet, the more we progress into the century, the more we will find students accustomed to technology as a primal part of their lives and it is therefore important, when it comes to education, to make these students feel little or no conflicts, between their high-tech lives and educational practices. The gap must be narrowed.

Interpretive

Skepticism of social media in education is widely acknowledged and understood as the majority of tools today are tailored for the leisure seeker rather than the student. However, it is also essential to familiarize one’s self with the other emerging online tools that are dedicated in most to learning and education. Wikis, voicethread, Youtube, Moodle and plenty more available tools are just the tip of the iceberg. I believe that educators have a choice, not an obligation, to choose which online social media tool best fits with their course content, course objectives, the level of interaction needed between students, the demographic backgrounds of the students and accessibility to internet (region and country dependant).

Decisional

It is important for educators today to find the balanced between governing guidelines of education and self-directed study. Online social media are creating paradigm shifts in the way students learn, however, there is a bubble of hype surrounding these delivery methods of educational content. I think the best practice to follow at the moment is the slow integration of social media in education and carefully assessing its worthiness and contribution to learning outcomes. Testing on smaller scales must be initiated before a full-blown campus wide adoption of twitter, Facebook, wikis or blogs. Ideally, I see it working best as the progression takes place with a combination of class-room teaching and virtual teaching, both weighted in alignment with course objectives and learning outcomes.

References:

The collective work of course assignments from Course PIDP3240: Media Enhanced Learning, British Columbia Provincial Instructor Diploma Program

Selwyn N., (2012) Social Media in Higher Education, http://www.educationarena.com/pdf/sample/sample-essay-selwyn.pdf (Retrieved on 21st June, 2012)

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The Growing Use of Twitter by Today’s Educators

Journal Three: Emerging EdTech: The Growing Use of Twitter by Today’s Educators

 

Objective

An online study was carried out on Twitter’s use in education throughout two consecutive years 2009/2010. General statistics are introduced about Twitter’s global presence and subscriptions; the findings quickly progress into an objective presentation of how popular this online application has been and is becoming with faculty and students in educational settings. Within the field of education, the statistics also progress from numerical findings to more opinion-driven and subjective feedback provided by the responses from the sample, which is the faculty. Their opinions range from “supportive” to “opponent” to the application of Twitter in education.

Reflective

As I became a recent member of twitter myself, I began to realize how broad and limitless the scope of communication can be. The “tweets” or short messages on display provide information in short sentences which can be explained in further details through provided links. It is evident that the application of twitter can influence sharing of information within an educational context. Speedy, efficient and accessible communication can be shared and distributed instantly. It is a great tool to share details in personal and professional lives which enables others to reflect on or help with.

Interpretive

Educational institutions have always been a laggard in adopting new and revolutionary methods of teaching, but to an aim. It is one thing to adopt new best practices, but quite another to adopt a revolutionary teaching structure based on online media. However, if faculty members choose to use twitter in their educational strategies, I speculate that it might be difficult to get all students to use the application on a timely basis. Using twitter may also provide a distraction as a quick check online for a class assignment deadline may turn into an hour’s social networking for personal conduct. Not only that, but also due to the virtual element of Twitter, students will not be able to capitalize on a very important aspect of teaching outcomes, which is improving their social face-to-face skills.

It is also noteworthy to mention the lack of capacity for Twitter to accommodate longer posts. These abbreviated messages may create confusion and misinterpretation when reading them. This factor is also greatly blamed for the abbreviated vocabulary used in Twitter messages, which contradicts school philosophies of improving writing skills and professional appeal.

Decisional

Although I still believe Twitter can be a great tool to share personal updates and even promote business-related activities, it may not be the same case when used for educational purposes.

In spite of its popularity and ease of use, I do not envision a successful educational outcome of twitter. A more defined online communication through other tools, such as blogs or wikis may prove to be more rewarding as the focus is not shifted from the educational message being delivered to a personal browsing experience. There are many tools out there that can help instructors and faculty members in their teaching experiences, and online media are contributing towards a paradigm shift in teaching delivery. It is of paramount importance not to divert from the philosophical strongholds of the schooling system, which include preparing students for superior learning and professional readiness for the real world. Twitter does not align with these philosophies.

References:

“The growing use of twitter by today’s educators”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFP07a3ThAs

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Game Layers on Top of the World

Journal Two: Seth Priebatsch- Game Layers on Top of the World

Objective

Seth Priebatsch introduced a concept called game layers or “Gamification” which is comprised of seven game dynamics. In his explanation, game dynamics are the forces that influence people’s decisions in their everyday lives, whether these include motivating customers to pay their bills on time, get people to buy a product they don’t actually need or simply remind participants of filling up an online survey. These forces are applied through game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. This happens as the technological age progresses from the “Open Graph” layout introduced by Facebook, to the more complex, influential and embedded world of building game layers. In a nutshell, it is happening, it is real and it can alter the lives of millions of people for better or worse. In the digital context, virtual currencies, a progress bar or an achievement badge are the collectibles, or symbols of status which people aspire to. The presenter also reflects on the fact that game dynamics are a natural second phase following the building of social connections, as one progresses from defining his/her social context and start heading towards the competition, the status and the rewards.

Reflective

As I contemplated Seth’s ideas and reflections, I started to think that game dynamics truly are forces sweeping us off our feet. The influence is imperative and pre-determined by not only the big players, such as Farmville, online games, credit card companies or restaurant marketers, but also by every marketing team that is interested in getting the public behaving in a certain way, as they guide us through our consumerism patterns and affect our social habits dramatically. It is not only that we are subjected to messages, advertising and pressure in conventional mediums, but game dynamics are now becoming very popular through online media which in itself is becoming more integrated into our daily lives.

Interpretive

My interpretation of the topic brings out a few questions about it. It is evident that this is not a new pattern or social lifestyles. Consumerism has always been subject to the influences of messages sent across television, billboards, emails or Facebook. In fact, in marketing studies this is referred to as “marketing behaviour”. The competitive nature of man and his willingness to earn status or get rewards are deeply embedded in the human psych. The argument which Seth is focused on is the changing medium through which this influence is delivered, referring to the online virtual world; although this is hardly new as it has been present for a few years already.

This being said, I think that game dynamics will one day become a necessary tool that every entity (for-profit or non-for-profit) will have to adopt in order to engage their partners, clients and customers in an exposition to particular ideas and influences of purpose.

Decisional

Game dynamics are simply a fact of the human nature and apply to almost everything we do including work, productivity, personal relationships, consumption patterns and the overall life styles which we lead. These dynamics have always been employed by marketing teams and public relations professional, in different more conventional contexts. I acknowledge the importance of game dynamics as discussed, however, I am hesitant to recognize Seth’s innovative ideas, although he brilliantly capitalized on an existing and emerging trend. Although the concept strikes a definitive answer to today’s influence of online activities on our very own consumption and social trends; it only represents the online version or promotional marketing. It will nevertheless be interesting to observe the future progression of this online model of game dynamics and see much it will affect the human behavioural psych.

Reference:

Seth Priebatsch, TED Talks (August 2010): http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/seth_priebatsch_the_game_layer_on_top_of_the_world.html

Wikipedia (July 2012): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification

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How Social Media Can Make History

Journal One: Clay Shirky- How Social Media Can Make History

Objective

Clay Shirky discussed and presented facts about the changing landscape of media reporting and communications worldwide. In essence, he tackled the general public’s adoption and choice of turning to social media outlets for information rather than conventional media reporting tools, such as their television sets and newspapers. The change is outlined as a major force that is directing the way news are now being reported and the role of the consumer/reader in its building, publishing and distribution.

Reflective

My immediate reflections include agreement to what has been said about the new communication age in the 21st century. As Clay Shirky has best put it, Internet media has become a tool for coordination rather than a source of information only. From my own point of view, this argument falls in line with what we have seen in recent months on the Syrian war front, where the public has taken to twitter and the internet to educate the world about what has been happening on the ground, behind closed war zones. People have gone out in demonstrations in Suadi Arabia and Jordan, after pitching and promoting their causes online.

Interpretive

After giving further consideration to this topic, I think that social media and the internet have indeed changed the landscape in which collective voices are formed and published to the world. It is evident that there are more writers today, because there are more opinions that simply, travel freely across the world instantly. The internet is an environment that supports civil, ethnic, political, corporate or religious groups to reach out further and create a more holistic approach in communication patterns, one that includes feedback and promotion of ideas in a horizontal movement rather than a vertical one-way delivery approach.

Decisional

YouTube, twitter, Facebook and a number of other digital carriers of information are fast becoming more serious channels of news reporting; all carried out by private witnesses and regular people who do not belong to the media industry. Digital information that is transferred throughout social media platforms is no longer subject to centrally-controlled censorship initiatives. I am quite certain that I will gradually shift my source of information from conventional media to smart phones and computer tablets. As these gadgets are getting more sophisticated, lighter, and more affordable and user-friendly, my approach to printed newspapers, television sets and fax machines will gradually change in favor of the digital age.

On a grander scale however, I think the social networking age will bring along real change to the way international policies get shaped, environmental movements develop and political powers rise and fall, with substantial influence on economic development and freedoms of speech.

Reference:

Shirky C., How Social Media Can Make History, Online URL (Available At): http://www.ted.com/talks/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html (June 2009)

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