New information and communication technologies affect all areas of societal life. Yesterday, we were “enslaved” by the traditional media, namely: Television, Radio, Print Media. But today, with the advent of the digital system, the world has taken another shape.
The current trend
New information and communication technologies have not spared the field of education. They have occupied it from top to bottom. For example, 9 of every 10 teens within the 13 to 17 age bracket use social network platforms. And of this population, 71% use more than one platform. Also, females belonging to this population receive an average of 40 texts a day.
Students and teachers are no exception, and it is sometimes difficult to do without social media. That says a lot. But the advent of social media isn’t all about gloom and negatives. Social interaction platforms present several dangers, including disinformation, but also several advantages when used properly. This is why it is important to educate young people for this purpose.
This article aims to approach the subject from several angles. We will see new impacts of the integration of social media into learning. We will also see their usefulness for the in-service training of teachers, in particular through virtual learning communities and communities of practice.
Social media: positive impacts for students
Breaking down the psychological barrier
Social media lowers the psychological barriers that can exist between individuals who communicate face to face or in real-time. Used in a school context, they allow very rich exchanges in which, formally or informally, the pupils and the professionals discuss various subjects (academic or other), thus promoting collaboration and increasing learning.
The psychological disorders arising from academic pressures, and worsened by students’ extracurricular activities, are real. However, today, with the help of several online initiatives, with sites like EssayYoda offering assignment and essay assistance, students can now heave a sigh of relief. You can read more how to buy an essay paper.
Get feedback from peers and teachers
Also, the ease with which one can generally comment on social media posts allows for quick feedback from peers and teachers. Also, when used in a learning situation, these media encourage young people to reflect and maintain critical judgment about their words, which they must sometimes reformulate, and refine before publishing them.
Acquire technological skills
Using social media, students also develop know-how and technological skills that will be useful to them throughout their lives, such as downloading, editing and publishing content. Acquiring technology skills, in turn, helps students prepare for the immediate future. While in school, many are interested in creating online portfolios and learning how to create perfect resumes, such as those offered on CraftResumes, which will be useful for the postschool life.
Develop social capital
Some even argue that mastering social media would have a positive impact on the development of everyone’s social capital. By social capital, we think of all the resources (real and virtual) that an individual or a group has. Robert D. Putnam, professor of public administration at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University, sums it up: “Social networks have value“. Nowadays, social networking sites are the main means of communication for many people!
Social media for teachers
We often hear that students master social media better than their teachers! However, some interesting avenues can contribute to the integration of social media into their pedagogy.
Social networking sites, instant messaging or conversation spaces can be very useful for the training and professional development of teachers, in connection with educational technologies, but also many other respects.
Virtual learning communities
Virtual learning communities have the same objective as the physical learning communities. This type of group aims to train teachers through webinars offered in synchronous mode. Of a limited duration and offered in a formal and organized framework, the presentations or training are followed live by the users, all thanks to Web platforms such as Adobe Connect, Via, Zoom or BlueJeans. These paid interfaces are often preferred over other free ones (like Skype) because they better support a large number of users.
This kind of remote presentation allows the acquisition of diverse knowledge. Virtual discussions with other users allow for networking that would have been more difficult because of the distance, travel, and costs that ensue. Indeed, thanks to instant messaging (integrated into platforms) and direct exchanges, communication between participants is very easy. Besides, various educational institutions are also beginning to webcast some of their activities.
Virtual communities of practice (VCoP)
VCoPs are also useful for training those involved in the education community. These allow you to meet in asynchronous mode to exchange freely and spontaneously through instant messaging, mailing lists or closed groups created on social networking sites. Grouped by common affiliations (subject taught, professional or other values), the various speakers discuss many topics according to their goals or their intentions of the moment. Communities of practice are generally less structured than learning communities, but this does not affect the ease of dissemination, sharing or exchange of relevant information.
Platforms like Courselle, Google Classroom, and Edmodo are very useful for these communities of practice. They allow in particular the creation and sharing of learning activities with teachers from all over the world. They also promote access to different ways of doing things or to expertise. Private groups on Facebook also represent a simple and user-friendly tool for this type of community.
Stakeholders can meet voluntarily and discuss their practices. They review or share information and consult the group when there is activity. Notifications also stimulate the participation of users who only have to follow the progress of the content according to their interests.
Ways to break professional isolation
These virtual communities bring a lot to the teacher who takes advantage of them. While staying at work, everyone can break the isolation and stay informed about the latest pedagogical trends, interesting learning activities and much more. Allowing the sharing of information of various types, these communities also stimulate mutual aid thanks to the punctual responses of other users and even allow to take a critical look at their situation. They, therefore, favor the creation of dynamic knowledge and the transformation of knowledge.