One of my first essays at high school was about negative aspects of Facebook. I lamented about it destroying our relationships. Back then I understood it as a platform for wasting time and pointed out its overall meaningless. It never crossed my mind that a few years later I will participate in a Facebook group class for one of the college courses I took. Let alone, that it will become one of the essential tools for interaction and learning; a fuel for education.
It was heavily snowing in Zagreb and public transport was blocked. During the evening I received a message on a Facebook chat from my professor. Accompanied with a link the message said: “Since it’s not possible to have a class tomorrow, join Facebook event I created for our session. We will discuss research on International Journalism. Click attend so I can mark your presence.”
Not only was it considerate, but in a way creative. In 2011, not everyone was so keen on Facebook, especially in Croatia. Using it as a substitute for a class and a new learning method was definitely a breakthrough. But it didn’t stop there. Later on, the flourishing of various sorts of helpful social media tools for learning made them inevitable in one student’s life.
Take for example learning management systems, such as Moodle or Schoology. Their multifunctional characteristics enhance studying and actually make it possible. These networking software’s serve as administrative platforms for delivering educational programs Social media functions are integrated in the systems of LMS. Activities such as chats, videos or forums benefit students and improve their efforts. This way they have better reach and effect, especially when they include live conferences, webinars etc.
Nowadays, education is more than just attending courses. We might as well learn from our networks, friends and stumbling upon news, so-called informal or incidental learning. Invariably it stems from our social media accounts. They have gained credibility as a source of information dispersed from institutions and organizations as well as users and audiences. What makes it even more appealing is the interaction, participation and engagement it ensures.
Besides learning, social media are effective when conducting data collection for a research. Tinder as a methodological tool? Yeah, right. Hold on, it is right. Even more than right. For sociologists it is almost an unavoidable platform to connect with people from troublesome locations. Imagine a scenario where you are alone in a war affected foreign country, not speaking the language and doing ethnographical research. It comes in handy, doesn’t it? Not only for meeting up, but for actual learning about the people, culture and the country.
Monitoring what the users are doing on social media channels is also growing. This helps with observational data in research processes. Platforms as CrowdFlower enable this method.
Last, but not Least…Networking
I couldn’t wrap my mind around latest news about research without Twitter. It is my number one tool for following advances in research fields of my interest. I connect with experts, professors and research teams, who regularly post about their published pieces or attended conferences. In terms of education, it might not be that helpful, but the goal of networking adds up to entire social media usage.
Author: Anja Stevic