Many see social network sites as sources of procrastination and distraction. Youngsters spend many hours a week on one of these social platforms. Access to these networks is expanding as smartphones and tablets are getting more popular every year. People can interact and update everywhere and anytime. As social media is the number 1 activity on the web, its involvement in other domains such as education is inevitable. The most active social networks that are also used for educational purposes are blogs and Facebook.
Blogs- Teachers are shifting their focus from textbooks to online sources and blogs. This is not exclusively done by teachers that are active in the field of media and communication studies. When seeing an interesting case study or new example of something that was discussed in class, the professor can upload it in an instant. Not only does it increase the level of interaction and debate between educator and student, students can debate easier with each other and professors can interact with colleagues all over the globe. WordPress offers it open source platform also for educational purposes with their ‘WP in Ed’-project. Creating a blog has never been easier.
Facebook- Facebook is used as a tool to share practical information about classes and group assignments or as mental support during the exam period. Students have a very dubious relationship with Facebook as they have a hard time finding a balance between using Facebook as an educational tool or to stay in touch with their social network. Teachers are in most cases excluded from the Facebook study-groups.
The German psychiatrists Manfred Spitzer is against the integration of computers, tablets and social media in education. He beliefs that they contribute to the lack of basic knowledge of many young students today. Social network sites as Facebook prevent children to develop their social skills. Without the tools to decode body language or social information, today’s Facebook generation will be uneducated in human social protocols.
A good set of social skills are very important and can only be obtained through training and exercise. “Going out there” and experiencing different kind of social relations is crucial. Facebook should be an online extension of our social interactions and relations offline. We should start to worry when it goes the other way around. Facebook as a help to communicate with classmates shouldn’t be a problem. That changes when youngsters start to feel uncomfortable when they are not using these platforms. There’s a difference between students with a shy character and others that withdraw themselves from social life just to spend more time on social network sites. But yes, we believe that social media can be put to good use in the classroom. For the shy people, online study groups or blogs may be their chance to compensate for their less-assertive attitude in the classroom. Interactivity between students and a professor only increases and practical questions concerning the subject of study can be answered almost instantly.