By Syeda Zartashia Azmat
Social media has quickly become a respected online venue for learning and sharing ideas and opinions. And it is not just superficial information. Social media sites are a commonly used tool by students and teachers alike. It’s a common meeting ground for group projects, and even classes, and it’s something that everyone nowadays has access to. Social media sites allow students to communicate about group projects, submit material, peer review one another’s, in a common meeting area we are all familiar with. The familiarity is what I think makes social media such a powerful learning tool. We all use these communication websites anyways, people will be more inclined to collaborate if it’s in a format they already know and regularly use.
While social media does have the amazing advantage of bringing people together, allowing them to engage academically; it also has the obvious ability to distract. While the exchange of ideas about whatever group assignment might be at hand, your friends will be there to distract you. They will compete for the student’s attention, and more than not win over the not so fun homework assignment you will do, right after chat with a buddy. Of course whether your homework is meant to be done via Facebook or traditionally, students will always be faced with the decision to stay focused or slack off. But when the homework is right there, in a place you never associated with school before, it might be slightly more difficult.
Overall I believe schools from an organizational perspective can benefit from incorporating social media into their learning plans. It’s a great tool that everyone uses and is comfortable with. Not to mention it’s not uncommon to continue using social media in a work related environment. Those tools educators have realized are of some redeeming value, are also being explored in the business world. So is social media the new classroom? Well yes and no. It’s a great tool to enhance the learning experience but cannot be relied on solely. But overall it is something to benefit us as students and educators.
Social media is all around us; it has come to encompass almost every aspect of our lives. And as time goes on, social media will become even more embedded in our lives than ever before. Soon we will be using sites to accompany our classes, assist in our grocery shopping, communicate with potential employers and coworkers, and anything else and more than we could ever imagine.
This is why I think it is important for people not only to adopt these social networking websites, but to avidly use them as well. Soon everyone will use social media for everything. And if you’re not using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Google+, and other popular sites like these, you will either be behind or be completely left in the dust. I encourage everyone to become familiar with as many social media sites as they can before these sites become a true necessity.
And with all the possible negative aspects of these sites like online reputations, I believe the positive ones heavily outweigh the negative. Just as with anything in life, there is always a possibility that something can go wrong. That is why it is important to constantly check your social media accounts, and manage your online reputation like you would your reputation in the real world. The lines between the “online world” and “real world” are becoming increasingly blurred, so prepare yourself and represent yourself the way you want to be seen by the world.
Social Media and the digital divide
Is there a new form of segregation affecting our population? Many people will say yes, and it’s called the Digital Divide. But what is the digital divide? The answer can vary on who you talk to but I will cover the more basic aspects of it. On a scale like in the United States it can refer to the divide that occurs between people who have access to technology like the internet. This sort of divide is common between the “rich” and “poor” (obviously you don’t need to be rich to have internet access, but this is just a broad example). The digital divide can also occur on a much larger international scale. There is an obvious divide between developed countries and developing countries when it comes to technology. And because these developing countries have very limited access to technology, they are extremely underrepresented in the digital world.
It’s a funny thought to think technology can actually be causing a divide, when all this time we have believed exactly the opposite. If a group is absent from the world of technology, it is easy for the group who has it to ignore, belittle, and even demean the other. If a tragedy happens in one country where there is technology, people can see it, and read about it all from the people who are experiencing it. But if a similar or greater tragedy happens where there is little access to technology people will hear about the issue less, and in turn believe it is less important if they even hear about it at all. This divide creates a disconnect between people, just as easily as it can create connections.
SO,Social media websites can operate as both curses and blessings in our modern society. The difference between it as a curse and a blessing all hangs on the shoulders of its users. You may choose to abuse the potential of Facebook, or to change the world with Twitter. The difference in your actions may be small, but the end result varies greatly, and it is up to you to decide social media’s role in your life.