Social media can blur the lines between formal and informal learning

Staff Writer By Staff Writer - March 23rd, 2015
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The modern teaching environment is much more flexible than it has been in the past. The need to teach students the core of any curriculum remains, but how they actually engage with what's put in front of them is changing.

That's in no small part down to technology. School kids are embracing consumer devices like never before. In fact, research from Statista points out that over half (56 per cent) of children aged 10 to 13 own their own smartphone in the US alone.

Social media for learning

Adapting the learning environment with that in mind is crucial for unlocking the potential of younger generations. This can be done by channel​ling the power of social media. Everything from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest offers whole networks of videos, blog content, advice or even audio clips which have the potential to make learning easier, according to The New Media Consortium.

By their very nature, students are likely to already be engaging with social media in their own time. Getting them to do so more productively is where the real skill lies.

Facebook and expression

Looking at Facebook in particular, more and more people now have the ability to voice their opinions freely. While posting any old rambling - we've got that one person on our timelines - isn't exactly fruitful, teacher Andrew Simmons believes the social network is making it easier for his students to express themselves.

In a piece published by The Atlantic, Mr Simmons explained that he sees more honesty and reflection in his students' writing, which stems from them engaging with others on social media.

While most educators would be quick to chastise any student who pulled out their Apple iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung Galaxy Note 4, this example goes to prove that teachers can actually get more from their pupils if they ditch rigidity and allow them to channel social media into classroom productivity.

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