With this being the first day of the school year (where did summer go??!!), a growing number of students’ school supplies includes smartphones and tablets.
In theory, these devices are supposed to enhance the learning experience, particularly media-friendly tablets. But we all know that a lot of digital activity has nothing to do with education – at least the academic variety.
The reality is once you open the Pandora’s Box to technology, it’s impossible to close it.
Given this situation, an interesting question is what role, if any, does social media play in the education system?
This can be addressed in two ways:
1. How students communicate with each using social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
2. How schools communicate with key stakeholders – students, parents, trustees, etc. via social media.
For students, social media is simply part of how they communicate. For many students, social media has always been part of their lives.
The question is how social media should be used within schools. Should students be allowed to tweet, update and video during school given it can be a huge distraction and time-killer? Does it make sense to ban students from using social media during school hours? You could probably have an enthusiastic debate given the polarities.
For school administrators, social media has lots of potential to improve communications and make what they do more transparent and accessible.
Historically, the flow of information from schools has been pieces that paper that usually end up stuffed in backpacks before they arrive home.
It’s definitely old school and far from being effective, real-time or interactive.
Social media, however, can change the communications dynamic by making information easily flow.
The use of Facebook pages, for example, for schools and classes provides a completely new way to disseminate information and, as important, facilitate feedback, discussion and comments.
While students are all over social media, schools are probably getting their heads around how to leverage school media.
It’s early days for social media within the education system but if structured and rolled out properly, it could be lead to many improvements in how we teach and how students learn.
What do you think?