Social Networking in Classrooms: How cool a Quality Learning?

By: Dr. Dheeraj Mehrotra

Physical or mental, the presence in the classrooms for the maximum learning lot today is of that of their comments on the pictures or the wall messages received. What and how many visits? ? ? Pondering in the classrooms goes on and on with the march of time till the time permits them to explore the i-phone status checked through the peers. How far is this educative is a 100 dollar question. It is true to the fact that because social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs) have become the fabric of how the world communicates. Yes, traditional methods of connecting and collaborating still exist -- you can still pick up the phone or write a letter -- but you can also route messages or share ideas with clients, colleagues, vendors and others using collaboration platforms, social networks, wikis and more. As we know the children are densely populated with the subjects which include Science and Maths for over 365 days a year and need to have a share of their thoughts apart from their parents and teachers which obviously relates to of academic and physical nature. Also we need to remember that Teachers become enamored with YouTube, TED,

and WatchKnowLearn or for sure any Ready Recknoner Web Content of interest with Quality and Cream !
Sorry to say and share, in this digital world, opportunities for education are available like never before. Though teachers using online tools are empowering students take part in their education, they may also expose them to inappropriate material, sexual predators, and bullying and harassment by peers. Also more over, teachers who are not careful with their use of the sites can fall into inappropriate relationships with students or publicize photos and information they believed were kept private. For these reasons, critics are calling for regulation and for removing social networking from classrooms -despite the positive affects they have on students and the essential tools they provide for education in today's digital climate. Above all, the positive effects of social networking sites in education are profound. According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota on student use of social

media, students who are already engaging in social networking could benefit from incorporating it into curriculum. One of the studies brought forward the fact about, Christine Greenhow, who was the principal investigator in a study, elaborated on the impact social networking could have on education, as, "By understanding how students may be positively using these networking technologies in their daily lives and where the as-yet-unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools even more relevant, connected, and meaningful to kids." Above all, through utilizing teaching techniques that incorporate social media, teachers are able to increase students' engagement in their education, increase technological proficiency, contribute to a greater sense of collaboration in the classroom, and build better communication skills. Moreover, Nick Grantham, an Australian enthusiast living and working in Ireland believes that the five future technologies that will completely change the learning space and revolutionize the techniques we use within it. They follow as:
a. b.

c.

d.

e.

Biometrics is the technology used to recognize humans based on specific physical or behavioral traits. Augmented Reality (AR) glasses by the end of the year, this technology may be closer than we think. AR is essentially the layering of further data on top of the reality we already see. Multi touch surfaces which pertains to easy management of information. Imagine a workspace where students are collaborating live with peers around the world, manipulating virtual objects right in front of them. Streamed video, virtual tools and millions of online resources available with a single swipe of the desk. Electroencephalography (EEG), which is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp to measure brain activity. Working with software, EEG could be used to highlight when students show signs of confusion, adjusting courseware to remediate until signs of full understanding are shown. Holographic Displays: In education, this could revolutionize distance learning as well as provide a completely different space for simulation and experimentation. Students could recreate holographic scenarios, such as science experiments or scaled models, that may be too expensive or dangerous to put together in the classroom.

A Mashable article titled, The Case For Social Media in Schools, also details several reasons for advocating the use of social networking in the classroom and provides a real example of how it is affecting education in a positive way. "A year after seventh grade teacher Elizabeth Delmatoff started a pilot social media program in her Portland, Oregon classroom, 20 percent of students school-wide were completing extra assignments for no credit, grades had gone up more than 50 percent, and chronic absenteeism was reduced by more than a third." Also with reference, "Think about not only incorporating technology into your lessons, but creating more and more compelling

assignments so that 21st century skills, the kinds of things students will have to develop in terms of critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, global participation -- that these are incorporated into assignments. The best spaces will incorporate social media, and interacting with others. "

Another study, which analyzed how students performed when asked to use twitter to do assignments, found that students who were asked to "contribute to class discussions and complete assignments using Twitter increased their engagement over a semester more than twice as much as a control group." In addition, "Tech savvy administrators are using blogs as a tool to keep parents, teachers, and students informed of the things going on in their schools." Banning the social networking sites in classrooms would lead to the fact that they then would :  Communicate with students on the popular communications platforms they're using outside the classroom - sort of like banning teachers from saying "hello" to a student at the movie theatre.  Share lesson plans, extra learning resources and ideas on social platforms where their students are spending much of their free time.  Create a classroom wiki or shared document (like a Google Document) where students can work together to take notes on a lecture or add robust resources like YouTube videos or other online links to class notes to enhance the learning of everyone in the classroom.  Effectively teach technology and social networking skills their students will desperately need when entering the workforce. On analysis, most educators agree as: "Mostly kids at risk already have a bunch of social and emotional problems in their lives. These kids are the ones who might engage in risky behaviors, seek out sex talk online and knowingly meet people who are older." According to the article, "Peer-to-peer harassment and bullying are much more common threats to online youngsters," which is a concern both online and off. "Educational Networking" is a new erupting trend utilizing "social networking technologies for educational purposes." With the march of time there has also been a demand for being a learning means, "The Internet as we know it is the 21st century," he says. "It is what these students have known their whole lives. They're connected, they're creating, they're discussing, they're collaborating." He and others say working online also pushes education beyond the confines of school, allowing kids to broaden discussion of their work. And it forces them

to do "authentic" work that gets tested out in the real world, as outside viewers see it and respond to it.

The report emphasizes that these new "social networking sites aim to capitalize on the enormous popularity of online social networking while simultaneously providing a more secure and regulated platform for social networking activities." The fact which phases out our concern is the fact that the market size for digital classrooms is likely to touch almost 1,00,000 classrooms with a phenomenal growth rate of more than 100 percent in the recent years. This trend is expected to continue for the next several years. While private schools and colleges are going for a digital classroom concept for each of their classrooms, in government schools, trend is to make atleast one classroom digital. However, it will still take few years to reach a high level of adoption as sheer number of schools itself is very high, with government school number touching 15 lacs while private schools are almost 1 lac. The way education is delivered and the importance it has in developing modern India is driving the changes in the educational set up. Also, globalisation is effective in bringing the latest teaching methodologies and tools to Indian market. The latest teaching delivery mechanism includes the student having a networked computer at his disposal, fully networked classrooms, multimedia method of delivery and study content in soft form. The class rooms are becoming connected in real time and interactive in nature. This in any case would breed the Social Network Phase in schools.

As the debate over the role technology and social networking play in the classroom continues, proponents on both sides are fighting to find a balance between the importance of innovation and the safety of students. Though there are risks associated with encouraging students to use social networking sites, proponents argue the potential for opportunity outweigh the costs. Networking or no networking, the social networking stays towards office requirements or for existence, in reality ! ! !

Innovator, Six Sigma In Education, Author, Trainer. http://dheerajmehrotra.tripod.com tqmhead@aol.com

* DGM, K12- Education, S.Chand Harcourt India, New Delhi.

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