Social media: some of us embrace it closely as an aid in daily life while others among us shun it as a wasteful distraction, polarizing this aspect of modern technology among both the teachers and the students involved in higher education. No matter your personal position on the issue, one thing we can all agree on is that devices like smartphones, tablets and portable personal computers aren’t going away any time soon.
Given this last fact and no matter your position in the educational hierarchy, consider these six ways that social media can enhance higher education for you:
1. Professional Development
Given their status as cutting edge platforms among the masses, social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter are necessarily well-informed about new technologies and their most useful implementation for all and educators can use this to their advantage by staying up-to-date on the tools that will make their job easier while allowing them to impart even more knowledge to their students.
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2. Course Development and Deployment
A huge boon for students in recent years is the ability to access their teacher’s notes and course materials online, outside of school hours. Allowing for increased study time and more depth of understanding for the student, providing valuable course materials on Facebook, a personal website or a specialized service like schoology.com also eliminates some of the time in class necessarily reserved for questions.
3. Long-Distance Learning
Traditionally dubbed “correspondence education,” long distance learning has long been offered by educational institutions from middle schools to post-secondary institutions in the form of materials delivered, completed and re-sent via traditional mail service for many years. The benefits of email and other forms of instant communication are clear in this case, removing the potentially long wait between assignments for students and allowing correspondence teachers to grade completed materials more conveniently.
4. Making Education Fun
As we mentioned above, technologies like social media are here to stay and, given their inherent popularity with kids big and small, teachers are often able to better interest their students in the topic at hand simply by conveying information via the platforms that their students are most comfortable with. Whether you post study topics on Twitter, provide learning material on Facebook or build an online course using a tool like ProProfs, teachers around the world are finding that students respond best when approached on a level at which they have intimate experience.
5. Language Learning
The Internet at large connects people from all over the world, bringing together cultures, customs – and language. For students studying second and third languages, social media offers the ability to connect with potentially helpful native speakers from nearly any corner of the pglobe, equally providing educators with a teaching method as close to “hands on” as is possible from the confines of a language learning classroom. With its combination of near-endless resources and the ability to give students first-hand practice with their growing language skills, social media itself can become a language instructor for those looking in the right places!
6. Collaborate, Facilitate, Educate
Collaboration in education, whether between students or educators, immediately brings to mind the phrase “two heads are better than one” with its ability to connect like-minded people in order to share ideas, methods and creativity. The internet in general and social media in particular can allow anyone to share and collaborate with colleagues instantly from anywhere in the world, making it simple to share files, ideas, media and study materials. Whether the goal is to connect students in a single classroom or to bring together students or educators from around the globe, online collaboration and social connectedness has proven to be a huge boon to those involved in all areas of education.
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