Social Media as a Learning Device

Social Media as a Learning Device

I happened to come across an article, Using Wikis for eLearning, that states “A hallmark of Web 2.0 is that it improves as more people use it and this approach underlies wiki-based learning. It is based on the idea that within any enterprise, a great deal of knowledge exists among the members. Sharing this knowledge and information can raise the organization’s intelligence level, be it a university, an association, a corporation or club.”

Collaborative learning is nothing new. Mankind has benefitted from collaborative learning for thousands of years, but the way in which we communicate has been changing at such an astonishing rate that it is also changing the way that we learn. Collaborative learning in the modern age has taken on a new form with high speed internet and social media platforms such as wikis which give us instant access to information. Wikis in particular are excellent as a learning platform as the users can continually update and edit information, building and updating ideas and theories.

The internet, social media, and computers are also changing the ways in which people think and memorize information. A recent article from The New York Times, Cohen (2011), highlights research that shows how widespread use of search engines and online databases are beginning to affect the way people remember information. According to the article, “The experiment explores an aspect of what is known as transactive memory — the notion that we rely on our family, friends and co-workers as well as reference material to store information for us.” And further “The Internet’s effects on memory are still largely unexplored, Dr. Sparrow said, adding that her experiments had led her to conclude that the Internet has become our primary external storage system.”

The use for social media in education has also not gone unnoticed. Educational institutions worldwide are beginning to make use of emerging and existing social media platforms to foster learning exactly because of some of the key points introduced in the previous sections. In a post by Couros (2011) on Connected Principals, a blog designed for school administrators, several reason for using social media as a learning platform are given:

  1. It’s free
  2. It cuts down on isolation
  3. Building tolerance and understanding of cultural diversity
  4. It can amplify passion
  5. The world of education is (and needs to be) more open

More and more we see the use of social media in our schools through online programs and instruction. This entry is a prime example as it is being written specifically for use in such an educational social media endeavor. As social media platforms evolve I can only expect that so will their uses in both education and expansion of our knowledge as a whole. Not only will we benefit from this type of learning, but our learning processes will likely be accelerated to new levels far beyond even what we have today.

Refernces:

Using wikis for elearning. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.theelearningcoach.com/elearning2-0/using-wikis-for-elearning

Cohen, P. (2011, July 14). Internet use affects memory, study finds. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/health/15memory.html

Couros , G. (2011, March 25). Why social media can and is changing education. Retrieved from http://www.connectedprincipals.com/archives/3024