Social media has reached almost all corners of the earth, and the classroom is not exempt. Many believe social media can be a hindrance in the classroom; students are tweeting instead of taking notes, and it seems that almost every week you hear of a new tragedy because of bullying on Facebook. Social media has taken classroom brawls and differences to a whole new level, making almost every micro issue seem cosmic. While many are using the powers of social media for bad and harm, many more are seeing the power of social media and they ways it can enhance a classroom experience.
I am a student at a California State University. While I have yet to encounter a professor that openly suggests the use of social media, we students are using social media to keep in touch with one another. The great thing about social media is that it creates a buffer between you and the person you are exchanging information with. Many professors require group activities to be completed during the course of the quarter, which ultimately involves exchanging information of one way or another. If a student is not comfortable with handing out a phone number, a Twitter handle or Facebook page is still an excellent way to keep in touch without having to get too personal.
I personally have used Facebook to ask fellow classmates what assignments are due and for clarification on particular assignments. While I have not participated in groups related to my university myself, there are Facebook groups out there that stem from the university that connect several different people. The most apparent use of social media on campus is via clubs and organizations. There is not a single posting for a club or organization that does not have at the very least a Facebook page, some even have Twitter handles, posted on their posters and fliers.
My school uses its own form of “social media” called Blackboard. Each student has login information, and we can go online to Blackboard and find lecture notes, quizzes, announcements, track grades, email fellow students, and other pertinent information regarding our class. Blackboard originally started out solely for online classes, but approximately two-thirds of every class I have taken that was not online has used Blackboard.
While I have yet to enroll with a professor that has given out a Twitter handle or Facebook page, there is no doubt that social media is slowly, but surely, seeping into mainstream education.