Integrating social media into teaching

It’s pointless to ignore the emerging presence of social media within daily life. Social media is used for a multitude of tasks suitable for daily and professional life but I find there are still places where using it is still inappropriate.

Educational institutions around the world are making gradual shifts towards incorporating social media into learning curricula for students in order to improve teaching and communication methods.

There are two kinds of social networks I can envision for educational purposes. On one hand a commercial company, such as Facebook, could host the educational content like quizzes and student work. On the other hand, the institution could host all the content and keep track of managing it themselves. I’m torn between these two types because they both have appealing benefits but also equally unappealing downfalls.

Using a commercial company like Facebook is really convenient. Since everybody already uses it for conversing with one another, it makes it easier to use the chat and notifications to facilitate assignments and group work for students.

In a single case study last December, English teachers Piyada Low and Rinda Warawudhi took polls from Thai engineering and economics undergraduate students on using Facebook as the platform for their learning curriculum. The students gave positive feedback. They enjoyed taking the quizzes, felt they could work autonomously within Facebook groups and had no problems communicating between peers and teachers.

One quality within social media people like to advocate for is convenience. Conversing and coordinating with teachers and peers is assumed to be easy for everyone.  While Facebook is accessible, I don’t think it’s a good place to do classwork and complete assignments.

It’s way too distracting. The sheer amount of junk data that flows through the Facebook feed is horrendous to look at. Sometimes the validity of the infographics and “facts” shown in some images is less questionable than their origins themselves.

Internet trolls are another thing to watch out for. If a student tries to share their homework or information publicly, unwanted commentators might spoil the academic environment people try to learn in.

I was assigned to write Yelp reviews for one of my English courses and I don’t know how I felt about that. People were free to comment on my submission but it was also amidst a swarm of other Yelp reviews of wildly varying qualities.

A private location to store emails, assignments and other educational data in servers is an alternate method to handle an institution’s electronic communication needs. It’s useful because it lets the institution be accountable for keeping track of all the information rather than surrendering the data to a third party that may or may not be responsible.

That’s only if it works, though. I remember using an open source application called Moodle that jumbled up all the answers to multiple choice exams. The answers were incorrect, menus were counter-intuitive and the servers crashed constantly.

I get tired of keeping track of every social network and software program presented and maneuvering between them in order to get my grades, newsletters or other such content from my education institution. What would make me a satisfied student is if I could receive and process all the information thrown at me in one place.