Natasha Murashev is the author of Psychblog.com, a digital magazine focused on applied psychology.
As schools are increasingly integrating social media into the classroom, the debate over its’ use and effectiveness for learning rages. In an interview with TechNewsDaily, the principle of the Social Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, Chris Lehmam, stresses the importance of using social media in schools by pointing out the disconnect between how kids learn in school and what they do when they go home to the real world.
It is clear that social media in the classroom is the future. According to PBS documentary Digital Nation, it is already part of the standard curriculum in China, where children learn to use the computer as they are learning to read. However, a recent study described in ScienceDaily indicates that the way social media is used in the classroom right now is not as effective as we hope.
One way teachers hope social media will help students is by creating an environment where shy students are not afraid to participate. However, researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology found that the use of social media in the classroom has little effect on building connection among students. After examining the use of course management systems and discussion groups to enhance classroom instruction, improve communication and connections between students and translate the benefits of social media interactions to the classrooms, researchers found that if you’re not well-connected socially outside the classroom, social media in the classroom will not help you.
I remember when I was in college, most of my classes had online discussion boards, but nobody ever used them. I always thought it was awkward to post a question on a discussion board for the whole class to see. If I needed help with my homework, I asked the teacher directly or asked my friends who were in the same class.
Social media could be the answer to schools encouraging creativity instead of killing it, but more research needs to be done to figure out how to use it most effectively. As needed, the Rochester Institute of Technology researchers plan to continue their research and hope to eventually provide data that will help educational planners create better social media formats to maximize the impact on student social connections and learning.
What are your suggestions for improving social media effectiveness in schools?
Article image by Spectronics.