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Introduction

Social media is growing rapidly with some social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter carrying a particularly high population of members. This research paper critically analyses the factors surrounding the use of social media in education. The pros and cons of using social media in education has also been given a distinct consideration. It discusses the advantages and disadvantages of social media in education as well its role in education. With the changing times, it is, therefore, necessary to study the nature of education having factored social media.

Social Media Applications used in Education

Education uses social media applications to enhance communication and development of the quality of education in various parts of education. Educators use blogs as a means of interaction with students. This becomes practical and efficient when the educators post e-notes in the respective blog. The answering of questions not understood during class time in these blogs provides future reference for the students experiencing the problems of the same nature. The main difference between a wiki and a blog is that a blog has only one author (Ziegler, 2007).

Another social bookmaking tool is Diigo. This social media tool is purely user friendly for educators and learners since it can pool scholarly resources. It enables its users to get personalized resources on any topic of interest. Wikis are also used as interactive platforms by education systems across the world; their maintenance is conducted by collaborative efforts of site visitors. Twitter is also another social tool used in interactions (Dixon, 2012). This application enhances learners to interact with fellow students and their lecturers too. Teachers use Twitter appropriately to enhance respond discussions after class.

Facebook as a social network has also changed the way teachers and students perceive learning. Educators use this social media tool to interact freely with their learners. Considering that Facebook has a remarkable feature to notify newsfeeds and upload photos, it is probably the most convenient way to maintain a close relationship with students (Davidson & Goldberg, 2009). The educators especially in the field of geography may use this as a way to send picture diagrams to their students. This enhances clear understanding of the topics of concern for the students. There are also so many other developing social interactive, tools used in education. They are unquestionably necessary for they increase the contact between scholars and allow room for discussion.

The Role of Social Media in Education

The role of social media in education cannot be ignored. This is because social media today plays a key role in developing the quality of education and increasing the enrollment across the world. First and foremost, social media act as a motivating tool which fosters student’s active participation in education. For this reason, teachers should design their schemes of work and schedules in ways that include time for interaction of students through the social media. Social media also helps students to collaborate and contribute towards searching for solutions to global issues. It profoundly influences the education quality of every nation whose students actively participate in social media interactions (Junco, 2012). These students develop the ability to think globally, and this is exceptionally beneficial to their individual career profiles. In fact, some extraordinarily creative students are sometimes lucky to sell their ideas and projects to potential private companies that need dynamic modes of operation all the time. A superb example may be the existence of technical students whose creative ideas on issues such as mobile phone applications are bought by mobile phone industries. For example, Nokia has previously bought ideas and innovations from university students.

Social media also serves to expose students to various tools that contribute towards the rapid growth of the educational process. The students should be taught the strength and weakness of such educational tools and have the chance to use them at any time they feel like doing so. With social media, the students can also perform group discussions in the form of chats. Such tools are extremely relevant to the development of education. Social media are also instrumental in developing the teaching techniques used by teachers. With social media development, it has been possible for teachers to have online classes that are broadcasted via social networks such as Skype (Carlson, 2005). Teachers may also consider recording their lectures in forms of videos and upload them in social media sites such as Facebook or Youtube for Live streaming. This innovative idea makes the work of the teacher exceptionally easy, especially because he/she does not have to show up for revision of covered topics. The students only need to download the tutorials from social media and use them for revision. In case they need clarification, they can replay the videos for as long as they wish. Social media is extremely fundamental in the field of education.

Social media provides students with a limitless avenue for students to interact with their peers across the world. This enhances some sense of balancing of the psychological perspectives of all students across the world. Those who take education seriously challenge their peers who are joking with issues concerning the issue of education. This distinction exists due to the primary difference in the environment they live (Anderson, 2009). In addition, since learning is a social activit,y the understanding of this fact is proven as a basic truth by social media in its quest to develop education. The same way social media tools are used by some countries to collect opinion polls during the election of presidents, it should also be used to collect opinions concerning various schools of thoughts in areas such as education, criminology, ethics, sociology, psychology among other field of study.

Pros and Cons of Social Media in Education

The roles social media plays in education are not debatable. It is evident that education depends on social media. However, this also comes with quite a number of limitations. In this sense, social media in education needs to be regulated within its parameters to avoid the irresponsible use of this vital resource. Social media is functionally necessary in the field of education considering that it enhances the interactions of teachers in so many and different ways (Lepi, 2012). Websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook act as arenas of interactions where learners from different parts of the world exchange scholarly ideas and find answers to educational related questions. Despite these benefits, social media applicability in education has suffered a lot of criticism. The critics present the other side of social media, and it is necessary to consider both sides of the matter in order to get a solid evidence.

Social media acts as an educational tool in the sense that educators can use this tool to enrich the students with knowledge and pass learning experiences. The instructors foster collaboration and discussion, exchange of new ideas, creation of a meaningful dialogue and boost students’ interactions. Another advantage of social media in education is its unique ability to enhance students’ engagement (Junco, 2012). Social media acts as a way to develop the student’s communication skills. For example, students who rarely raise hands in class may be more comfortable to express themselves to their Facebook friends. Social media also improves the communication between students and teachers. Educators freely answer the questions of students via Facebook or Twitter. Teachers also send post homework assignments and lesson plans conveniently using social media. During their part time, instructors tweet about issues of contention discussed during class (Osfield, 2009).

Social media has disadvantages for students too. When students are connected, they successfully search for information on Google, Facebook and other web services, although the use of the Internet simultaneously seizes and fragments the attention of students. Consequently, there is a likelihood of students missing some crucial information from their tutors due to the divided attention. Another seemingly fatal disadvantage that comes along with the use of social media in education is the subversion of higher order reasoning process (Barnes, 2007). The focus, concentration and persistence of individual students is altered to the extent that the student’s ability to think critically is at stake since they are used to getting all the information they need from the Internet. With persistent use of the Internet, the results are less tenacity, less patience, poor critical thinking skills and impulsivity. This is usually a result of overdependence in the use of social network to do everything in academic work.

Prolonged uses of the Internet usually expose students to repetitive, interactive and addictive stimuli. This stimulus has been proven to cause permanent changes in the brain structure, which damage the learning skills of students (Mills, 2011). Although it is true that the longer one uses the Internet, the more the students develop the skills of skimming and scanning, it is also a proven fact that this degrades the concentration spans of individual students.

Conclusion

From the foregoing, it is so clear that social media in education is essential. Students should also increase their interest and the will to know more about social media since it is a field that is highly dynamic. It changes severely with the changing needs of the public. In addition, the use of social media in schools should not be banned with an excuse of moral disruption and time wastage. The best ways to react to social media is only embracing it positively and engage the same in the student’s learning strategies. Students will not be bound by the walls of the classroom; instead they will use the Internet productively in order to interact with other students in group discussions. Furthermore, educational administrators should understand the pivotal role played by social media in education. They should consider the pros and cons as presented in this research with the purpose of changing their irrational thinking patterns, which promote the fact that students always abuse the Internet.

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