This article is cross-posted on APA’s Psych Learning Curve and GradPsych blogs.
This has sparked my interest in how social media can be used effectively in the classroom and it has influenced my career choices for the future. Our ability to receive information is becoming more accessible with advances in technology. As technology begins to affect different areas of our lives we must take charge and change our approach of receiving and presenting knowledge.
For those of us in the field of school psychology, a portion of our responsibility is to assess and evaluate each student’s ability to learn and acquire knowledge. Just as technology grows and develops, our understanding of how students learn must follow. When we think of education, most of us picture a teacher lecturing from a PowerPoint or a carefully outlined agenda with minimal student interaction. In the traditional sense, educating students has been viewed as a way of transmitting information from an all-knowing source (the teacher) to students waiting to be enlightened. In most cases this idea still resonates, but the way in which students are engaged has vastly changed over the last ten years.
A vast amount of social media platforms have been created over the past decade; Vine, SnapChat, Instagram, and Periscope to name just a few. With the use of these platforms, more people are using social media as a means of communicating, business, entertainment, and yes, even education. More students are engaged by what they can see or interact with, on an individual or group level. This type of environment promotes a more positive outlook on learning and presents a parallel between how students learn and how they use technology.
Research suggests that when technology and social media are used appropriately student engagement and overall learning are enhanced (Lvala & Gachago, 2012). Due to such findings, researchers and educators have questioned how these findings can promote positive learning environments for students. Is technology friend or foe? The emergence of social media has also increased the rate of information exchange both socially and academically. It has grown more common for individuals to use social platforms to exchange knowledge and create safe spaces for self-expression. With social media becoming a highly used platform, educational uses have been deemed to show positive signs of academic engagement (Lvala & Gachago, 2012).
It is my belief that technology and social media are friends to the classroom. I encourage all readers to investigate the positive impact of social media and digital technology in the classroom. Also, we must understand the difference between educational technology and general digital technology. Social media is a common virtual space that most individuals understand, especially the youth. If one can properly utilize the key elements of social media, students will become more engaged with course content. If you are a non-believer ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you uncomfortable using social media in your academic curriculum? If so, why?
- Have you been trained to use technology as an educator?
- Do you use social media in your personal life?
- Do you believe that social media and digital technology are a distraction? Why or why not?
Lvala, E., & Gachago, D. (2012). Social media for enhancing student engagement: The use of Facebook and blogs at a University of Technology. SAJHE , 26(1), 152-166.
Dwayne Bryant is a fourth-year doctoral student at Howard University studying School Psychology. His research interests are social media and digital technology. Most recently he gained experience in providing psychotherapy at a behavioral health clinic in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. This experience provided him with a sense of confidence in his field of study. Over the last two years he has worked on research projected gear towards the advancement of women in STEM fields. He is currently working as an intern in the APA Public Interest Directorate on the issue of women and STEM. He has a passion for advocacy and fairness for all people. In the future, he plans to open a private practice and a learning and recreation center in his hometown of Oak City, NC.
As a former college recruiter I can attest to the importance of delivery with our youth. Speaking to high school graduates it was hard to translate things they weren’t knowledgeable of. I can explain all the accolades of our schools nursing or business programs. But what I have found out when those same students contacted me on the schools Facebook admissions page, they were interested in the university. They found a way to connect by seeing pictures and likes from their friends on the Facebook page. From there the ice was broken and the student found something they could relate to. They were more inclined to ask about programs they saw their friends interested in. They were able to retain the information because it was attached to a post on their timeline. It also served as a anchor point in their history to always refer back to. Using social media to engage students is definitely a plus for future generations. When it is implemented into the classroom I am excited to see how the students will get involved.
As technology increases we need to be prepared with how to properly use it in schools. I can understand why educators feel that using technology in schools can be distracting. However, there are ways that you can use technology in a classroom and it not be a distraction. I have a background in Instructional Design and Educational Technology, which has opened doors for me to understand that in order for us to engage the students we must understand what their interests are. Technology is definitely one of those interest. I would encourage educators to test out using technology in class to see how the students react. This would be the key to making adjustments and adapting the technology to the students because ultimately, it is all about them.
It opens an avenue of integration and discussion of the utilization of social media as a curriculum guide towards learning. Students use social media as a coping mechanism and information drive towards their current social life. When using social media avenues as a use of learning it can open up an alternate use of curriculum. Teachers and administrators need to learn how to use it and have a standardized benchmark to reach mastery of subjects.