The might of social media in education

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The might of social media in education

Dubai - But are students now posting and tweeting their way to better grades?


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Sun 18 Sep 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 18 Sep 2016, 11:20 AM

  In today's society, there's no getting away from social media. Whether you get your news from it, or communicate with friends through it, it's one of the most powerful tools of the 21st century.
There is no doubt social media is reshaping today's education system. From knowledge-sharing, to out-of-school collaborations, it is empowering not just students, but teachers and parents too. But are students now posting and tweeting their way to better grades?
Before we study that, do note it's not just students championing this new education tool. Earlier this year, Dr Masood Badri, Abu Dhabi Education Council's (Adec) head of research, said the culture here has to change regarding social media use in education. Instead of banning mobile phone use in schools, he urged education policymakers to enourage students to use this mobile access to their advantage.
But just how effective can it be?
A YouGov study in July reported that UAE residents spend approximately five hours a day using social media, on average. Of the 5,000 residents surveryed, 29 per cent admitted to having six to 10 apps installed on their smartphones.
The time spent on social media varied by age group. Unsurprisingly, young residents were the most prolific in social media use, spending two to six hours every day online, while older users (aged 36-55) spent around 30 minutes to two hours per day.
Admittedly, not all of this time is spent on education-focused tasks. But with the younger generation living so much of their time online, the natural transition would be to use it effectively. And if done wisely, social media can be a boon to all students and teachers. In addition to using search engines to conduct research on projects, social media platforms can be used to engage with people all around the world, and add value to a project by collecting diversified views on a subject.
IELTS teacher Faraz Ahmed Memon is a huge advocate of social media use in education. When asked if his students utilise social media in schoolwork, he said: "Very much so. (They use it) constructively by submitting assignments through social media."
At a time when all schools are going digital (and given its might in allowing students to connect, research and make their work go global), could social media soon become the new policymaker in education? Only time will tell.

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