Social Media is a fascinating tool allowing for unprecedented advances in the way society functions. Whereas the telegraph once served as a gateway to important news stories, it has been replaced by Twitter — an application able to connect with millions of users, in real-time, at the click of a button.
The ability to connect with such a large audience is what makes social media so versatile. It’s benefits enable it to be utilized in a variety of fields — one of them being education. With the introduction of social media in the classroom, educators are now able to connect with and keep their students up-to-date using these popular applications.
This utilization of technology helps create an “virtual classroom” of sorts — for example professors can use Twitter to update students about assignments, post relevant information for coursework, quickly answer questions, and ensure that students have unlimited access and options to voice any concern or query they may have.
Social media enables me to connect on a deeper level with my professors; I am granted access to materials and information that my professors find relevant, interesting or can’t be shared within normal class meetings. By utilizing the social media options that my professors present me, I am granted access to materials that are important in my quest for knowledge. Of course I have to abide by the rules — no non-classroom related communication, no spam, not using the social media as a platform for a personal agenda.
This abundance of material enriches the learning experience. By providing excess information, the teacher-student bond is strengthened. Ironic, considering it’s due in part thanks to technology, but beneficial. Allowing this level of access helps the chances for each student to learn and be successful, which is the goal of education.
There is a slippery slope with this however. That Facebook rant you posted about the bad grade you received in English, complete with curse words and other unflattering descriptions of your professor? It is easily accessible, and can undoubtedly be sent to said professor. That tweet you posted, promoting an illegal activity you just committed? It’s public. Not only is legality an issue, but there are also University policies that may be violated as well. While the rise of social media has it’s benefits, one of the downsides to this surging trend is the erosion of privacy. That being said, when using social media tools, it’s important to remember to your separate personal life from academic life, be aware of the material you present AND to be mindful of your audience.