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The Role Of Social Media In The Field Of Online Education

The new generation of students has grown up knowing that they need to pack their tabs in their bags and keep the pen drive in their pocket. They can tell time and can be reminded about their next class when their teacher sends a notification on their smart watches. With this rapid advance of technology, social media tools, which had once been introduced to us for fun & entertainment, have been used significantly in the field of education. Earlier people used these tools to share pictures and stories & share with friends and loved ones. But gradually they have been moulded to give a new shape- that of a medium of instruction in schools, colleges and universities.

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Social Media & Online Education – The Juxtaposition

Michael Menchaca, an associate professor in University of Hawaii Online Course, regularly uses different social media, where in one hand his students are required to make 15-second videos on Instagram, on the other, students discuss their group projects using Google Hangouts. Twitter is popular in his classes, as well, enabling students to share resources and engage in discussions.

Since 2000, when Friendster and MySpace were introduced as the quintessential domain for youngsters, social media have gone mainstream. The vast range of Social media tools such as blogging, Tweeting & Google+ hangouts allow online students to both create and curate content, to collaborate with other students & teachers, and to build their own learning networks as well.

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Accentuating the gradual use of social media tools in online education, professor Menchaca exclaims, ”We’ve had online learning for quite a long time – since the 1990s, when it started to become popular – but the inclusion of social media is something that’s relatively new. A lot of us are starting to use it more. I guess we’re still tinkering around and trying things.”

So it quite conspicuous that, today, when education is being experimented & evolved on regular basis, social media tools are bringing opportunities for online students to personalize and enhance their experience, allowing them to interact with classmates, ask each other questions and collaborate on group assignments.

How Can Online Students Use Social Media Platforms?

Though, according to experts, there isn’t much precise data available on social media’s presence in the realm of online education, what does exist, is that, professors of both online and in-person classes are being more open to incorporating social media into class materials. But how can students assimilate these distinct platforms in their learning process? Read on to get answer.

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  • Virtual Classroom – An Initiative To Smoothen Interaction

One of the pivotal disadvantages of online education is it doesn’t let students meet their teachers & peers in person on a regular basis. According to experts, various social media platforms like Facebook & Twitter have turned this disadvantage into an advantage, making their interpersonal interaction easier.

The same has been confirmed by Stephen Rapier, an assistant professor of marketing at the Pepperdine University, as he has exclaimed, “It kind of supplements the potential loss of not being in the classroom, not having that social aspect.”

As an educator he further shares his experience by saying that, he lets his online MBA students use private class Facebook groups as a forum for academic as well as casual conversations.

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  • Be Acquainted With Your Classmates

As we previously discussed that, social media platforms enable students to get into a smooth interaction with their fellow learners, it is now a proven fact from the experiences of many online students that, platforms like Google Hangouts, provide with a mode of getting acquainted, allowing to message and video chat for free.

An online student Katy Ullrich, a graduate from the Master of Educational Technology online program offered through Boise State University, shared her experience, “Everybody could call in at that particular time and just visit and talk about an assignment.”

  • An Opportunity To Interact With Experts

If you have the notion that online classes do not give you the scope to take valuable insights from the experts of your respective fields, then you are mistaken. Today social media have veered the face of online education as along with other facilities, you can also be allowed to collaborate with professionals from your field, attaining insight into their disciplines and ask questions, as being confirmed by Tanya Joosten, director of eLearning research and development at the University of Wisconsin.

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Joosten further comments, “Having that accessibility, that access, to experts in your field is just awesome. So I encourage students to reach out and take advantage of that. Ask them questions. A majority of them are more than willing to participate in a dialogue.”

  • Create A Professional Rostrum To Network More

Professional platforms like LinkedIn not only help hard core professionals to make a solid presence, but online students can also get an edge over their peers, building a prominent digital presence.

Whether you want to showcase your work or increase your networking, according to experts like Edmiston, a LinkedIn profile or a Youtube page can ”show you both as a student and a professional, and you need to understand that what you’re posting in a personal voice may also be a reflection of your professional voice.”

Social Media Tools – An Academic Revolution

The matter of fact is, online learning has actually been around for several years, but one of the reasons that it has recently taken off is because of communication technologies, in particular social media. Ten years ago, an online course meant sitting in a room by yourself clicking through static web pages. Today, most online courses take place not only in virtual classrooms, but across the Internet at large.

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