Social Media in the Classroom
Ever since the initial growth of social media platforms, teachers have been debating the potential benefit (or backlash) of incorporating them into education. Students learn to read and write with pen and paper. They learn how to type and send emails, the structure of an email, and proper subject lines via computer. Should students be taught proper social media literacy and digital etiquette as well?
Many schools are cracking down on the use of Facebook, and banning all apps/websites that are affiliated with Facebook. However, schools are aware of the importance of social media, the role it plays in today’s society, and the dangers that linger for the less vigilant users.
However, many online classes today that are featured in college programs are “closed systems.” These are essentially social media sites that are operated by the schools, offering the same functions as “open” (standard social media) systems, but anyone not affiliated with the school cannot become a member. Grade schools are considering this as an option as an early learning tool, illuminating the consequences that are held within the send button. The education system voices concern through these main questions:
The “Social” Aspect
The New York Times wrote an exposition relating to a decline of drug and alcohol use amongst the youth. The main idea points social media as the rationale. Smartphones appear to be more entertaining than parties, and this suggests that face to face communication for those that grew up with smartphones is less stimulating.
Promoting this behavior leaves educators with their hands tied. In a sense, social media keeps people connected – joining groups that affiliate with interests, or young adult groups that promote things like suicide prevention. However, can students form bonds when communicating solely through a screen? Will this affect their verbal communication in the future, or will they possibly develop a social anxiety? The literal stance, what the public school system advocates, is a thorough education. An education means achieving a future job, and social media is used in everyday jobs for marketing, advertising, outreaching, arranging meetings, and more. Social media drives the economy.
At times, social media is but reckless and sheer pandemonium. Sites like Tumblr have been known to allow pornographic images, so long as they are displayed in a context of “artistic, educational, or photojournalistic.” Although, there is a fair amount of content on social media that is distracting, giving the user hours of entertainment and providing little to no educational benefits.
Schools are concerned that they will be the cause of a child viewing one-sided or inappropriate content. Some parents may be upset if they found their child viewing content that didn’t align with their political or moral views. Even if it’s a “closed system,” teachers still have to manage the content that students post and share for appropriateness.
The Cost and Fundamentals
Schools would have to provide laptops for students, and this is an expensive investment, but not entirely unrealistic. There would have to be a well-organized check-out system with assigned computers that are kept in well secured laptop lockers. At another angle they’re useless if you consider the fact that most people scroll and post on social media through their smartphones. In fact, there are social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat that are only accessible through a smartphone.
Technology aside, teachers would need to prioritize implementing a program that coaches students to use proper posting etiquette and going over security features to protect identity. Future classes would offer social media for business, like managing a page, checking trends, and handling dissatisfied clients. As far as what is posted, the teachers would leave it at the student’s discretion, but would explain the consequences of selected posts with examples.
Social media is here, and will ideally become another tool that will make classrooms more engaging, relevant and culturally diverse. Currently it’s utilized as another resource for communication, purchasing goods, and business just as much as it is a source of distraction and an excuse for reclusiveness. Learning how to properly use social media will help students navigate the social media world and find its balance in their lives.