Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Social Networking in the Classroom: Pros and Cons

            At one time we’ve all wished that we could use social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ in the classroom. Teachers and professors in high schools and colleges across the nation are thinking of new and interesting ways to implement social networking into the school day to make assignments more social and less boring than they usually are. So what exactly is good and bad about the use of social networking and how can it affect students and teachers at school?

As every teenager and young adult knows, social media is now a part of our everyday lives. Without it we feel disconnected from the world and our friends which is why having it on our smart phones and other devices make it so accessible and easy to use at all times. Of course, social networking is not something that mixes with school well, seeing as people refrain from doing work and instead pursue the distractions that it creates. But what if we could use Facebook to organize and turn in our assignments? What if we could peer-view our classmates’s work on sites such as Google+? Would these resources make learning and assignments more exciting or would they simply cause problems?

Social media sites such as Facebook and Google+ can be used to allow anyone to be connected at all times. Concerning school, students who are friends/followers on said sites can easily contact each other about assignments. For instance, if you forgot your homework assignment in algebra, you can easily ask a classmate what it is. Depending on how connected to social networking the classmate is, your response could be nearly instantaneous. On the other hand, teachers can share information amongst each other and also with the parents of students. If a student were to be having a problem in his/her class, they could simply contact the student’s parents with a private message instead of having to find their number to call them.

To get more information on how social media can improve the classroom environment, I spoke to history teacher Tabitha Craddock who used to use Facebook as a way to connect with the students in her AP Psychology class. According to her, private messaging her students through Facebook strictly about school work seemed to help them with assignments. Craddock never posted on walls and maintained a professional relationship with her students which never caused any problems. Due to recent school policies, she is separating herself from students on Facebook.

Of course, not everything about social media is good. There are many people who use it in ways that will postpone the possibility of it ever being adapted in a school setting. Students can abuse sites by posting slanderous things about other students, teachers, or their school. Cyber bullying is something that all schools are concerned with and policies to control it are still circulating everywhere. Of course, teachers are not innocent when it comes to the correct usage of social media. Teachers being friends with students is something that every school is concerned with due to the possible outcomes. Schools are not the only places concerned with the internet usage of employees. Employers are beginning to prohibit the use of social media in the work place due to the low productivity level of workers when they are on it.

As of right now, social media in the classroom is clearly just an experiment. In the future specific sites will probably be built around school and work that have limitations preventing distractions. It’s still interesting to see that it is a possibility and can eventually become something that every school uses.


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