Sunday, 20 April 2014

Excerpt from my MA in Education The Education Research Project 2- The role of social media in enhancing learning and teaching

Issues around Social Media

In my small scale survey, teachers expressed their concerns about on-line safety, privacy, protection of information and safety, viruses, giving access to strangers in a virtual environment, appropriateness of all information shared, things being in the public domain, unsociable use, child protection issues, technology glitches, minor tech problems, access to inappropriate material or an inability to control or monitor students, use of pupils’ image, access to inaccurate or untrue info, spammers, distraction from learning and lack of access for all students.        

Chapter 5: Conclusions and Recommendations
In my study, I set out to answer the question ‘In what way can social media be used in a secondary school to enhance learning and teaching?’ by applying my own experience of using Blogger and Twitter with the students, in addition to teacher-student questionnaires and conducting a focus group interview. Moreover, through extensive research I discovered new and diverse outlets of social media that I will definitely incorporate into the classroom in the future. My aim was to ease secondary school teachers’ concerns regarding the cyber world through exemplifying enjoyable, yet safe, Social Media-based teaching and learning activities.

Choosing the suitable social media is a very important decision when writing lesson plans and designing the tasks. In order to make sure all students benefit, it is made clear that social media tools should be used accurately and appropriately. Therefore, teachers should understand how to choose the suitable social media for different educational purposes (2013:17). Moore made a table which clearly explains about the purposes of social media tools. For analysis, synthesis and evaluation blogs, animation, clippings, games, mind mapping, podcasting, slideshows, video or video sharing and wikis can be used. IM, chatting, clippings, mind mapping, polls and surveys, Skype and VOIP, social networking are good for brainstorming. If you want to develop collaboration, then the same web sites can be used to create collaborative projects in groups. To communicate and share the knowledge, comprehension and knowledge building, feedback, information seeking, searching and consolidation, networking, object sharing, opinion building and sharing, presentation and dissemination of information, storing and managing information and visualisation can all be achieved through social media tools (2013: 18-19).  

The Internet and the Social Media are an undeniable reality of our digital world. According to Ahn, Bivona and DiScala’s paper, recent research on youths, new media, and education paint a stark picture of disconnect between students’ learning in and out of school. Students are self-directed, interest-driven and social when they are learning outside of school (Project Tomorrow, 2010). They state that young people today are increasingly learning with digital media (2011:1). Despite high student demand and interest, schools are still blocking access to these websites in order to protect students against various risks that the Internet can present. But how realistic and effective is this approach?  

Nowadays, children are introduced to computers and the Internet from a very young age. Parents like the fact that their children are competent ICT users, although they would like to ascertain that they are safe when using it.
In ‘The role of social media in enhancing learning and teaching’ I have covered the intellectual and academic benefits of Social Media, but there are further benefits of learning good etiquette when it comes to the Social Media. Students must understand the ethics of Social Media, and it is the duty of schools to teach good Internet conduct. They need to understand how to protect themselves from cyber bullying and other dangers of the cyber world. They need to know what plagiarism is and respect others’ copyright and Intellectual Property while protecting their own.
A recent article that I read was written by C. Thompson on Globe and Mail was called ‘The dumbest generation? No, Twitter is making kids smarter’. (Appendix 16)  ( C. Thompson claims that there is powerful evidence that digital tools are helping young people write and think much better than in the past. A. Lunsford from Standford University compared 877 ‘freshmen composition’ papers from 2006 to the papers from 1986, 1930 and 1917 and found that the average rate of errors had barely budged in almost a century from 2.11 errors per 100 words in 1917 to 2.26 words in 2006. He also adds that technology does not just make students better writers or more fluent, but also lets them communicate easily with others- their peers, friends and the world at large. Prof Lunsford stated that what made the online environment so powerful was that it provided a sense of purpose. Therefore students are writing things that have an impact on the world that other people are reading and responding to.     

Evidently, my study is small-scale and many further studies can be done with larger groups to find out the impact of Social Media being used as an educational tool. Nonetheless, in the face of a world where the future of education will increasingly depend on digital technologies, I challenge all educators to be bold and refuse to be intimidated. I call for a revolution of thought; a change in our traditional reproach of innovation. For if we do not continually develop our understanding of learning and teaching in progress with our contemporary realities, then there will come a time when the very notion of schooling itself will confront extinction. 

Excerpt from my MA in Education The Education Research Project- The role of social media in enhancing learning and teaching

According to Conole in Moore (2013:6), social media has the potential to free us from constrains of transmission teaching. Moore points out that social media are nimble, flexible, easy to use, and often very powerful. They continually develop. Students can participate easily and create own learning spaces. Dewey in Moore (2013:6) recognised the importance of these approaches a century ago and stated that;
 ‘There should be more conjoint activities in which those instructed take part so that they may acquire a social sense of their own powers and of the materials and appliances used.’

Social Media platforms put the students and learning in the centre rather than the teacher.
If used correctly social media can many benefits of using social media in education.” Moore says (2013:6). For students breaking up the material, identifying patterns and putting all back together to create a new or different meaning are the key features of higher cognition. Social media is good for teaching students about the issues of authority, legitimacy and authenticity on the web, and also encourages the judgement skills. Properly designed tasks support the traditional literacy and numeracy through the generation of text and arithmetic based teaching and learning episodes. Using social media teaches students to decode and interpret visual material. Social media can also be used to teach the role of media in shaping our society and culture. Through social media students learn how to create usernames, upload images, manage a profile and perform other basic functions on the internet (2013:7)

One important benefit of using social media is to teach students how to behave appropriately on-line (2013:8). I think this is a significant benefit to all students for they spend majority of their free time on-line according to case studies questionnaires and focus group interview.    

Social media is good for classroom management as well. The ones which have ‘wall’ functions (Home for Facebook and Timeline for Twitter etc.) provides teachers feedback opportunities to students. There are also archive and search facilities which allow teachers to intervene or track students’ work. Social media users do not have to be at school to communicate about their work. It saves time and cost for travelling. All parents who have internet access can easily reach teachers to learn about their children’s progress or to ask about any issues they want to know. Students can also submit their work through internet which saves the cost of printing out or handing in paper-based work (2013:9).      

In ‘Social Networking for Schools’, Baule and Lewis stated that ‘Social networking’ builds collaboration skills that students will need in the work places. Students are enthusiastic about these technologies and schools should capitalize on that (2012:9). According to these writers education should embrace new methods and tools in order to continue to compete in a much smaller world. The book’s aim is to provide the reader with a basic understanding of existing and emerging social networking services and how they can be harnessed to assist schools.  They state that social networks are the fastest growing part of the economy. If schools ignore the impact they would go against the premises of education’s role which is to prepare students for the society. Social networks also allow members to communicate effectively throughout the electronic global environment (2012:9).  There is an unintended consequence of social network use by students; it breaks down the barriers among school cliques. Majority of students seem to be more willing to work with others outside of their normal social circles online (2012:11).     

In this chapter I tried to explain ‘The Social Media and its use’, ‘Issues around Social Media’, ‘Overview of the Social Media Tools’ and ‘The Role of Social Media enhancing learning and teaching’.
All the writers and researchers in my dissertation agree that if used appropriately, Social Media is a very useful educational tool. It is important to be aware of the risks and take precautions in order to minimise the danger. Poore believes in using digital technology will enhance learning and teaching. 

Social Media was born around 2005 through evolution of the Internet and the next generation of the web called Web 2.0 (2013: 4). Baule and Lewis stated Social Media as “the assembly, or coming together of individuals in specific groups or communities “linking people to each other in some way. Social networking sites bring people together who people interested in a particular subject.” (2012:2). Bosman and. Zagenczyk in White, King, Tsang state that ‘Social Media’ is a widespread phenomenon focused on connecting, sharing and collaborating (2011:3). They think that Social Networking is a very important portion of the world and schools need to instruct students on how to use social networks safely.

There are significant worries around using social media. Ofsted has published ‘Inspecting e-safety in schools’ guidelines. It is crucial that schools know about it and put into practice in order to get ‘Outstanding’ from the inspections (appendix 2). It can be downloaded from (
Department for children, schools and families has prepared two guidance booklets called Cyberbullying (Supporting school staff: Appendix 3) and Cyberbullying (A whole-school community issue: Appendix 4) ( that explains teachers about how to deal with Cyberbullying. It has been written by Childnet International for schools.
When using social media, it is important to check the privacy features and understand how to protect your posts. In all the web-sites above, they have clear explanations of how to send a post public or private. . It is also a good idea to use a good on-line anti-virus programme and do regular scans against spammers and viruses. 

There are 3 types of copyrights and IP (intellectual property), they are; institutional copyright and IP ownership, student copyright and IP ownership and third party copyright and IP ownership. You need to make sure that you know the content of the rights you hold in terms of copyright, and intellectual property; make sure you understand the Terms of Service that you are signing up for and its implications; have approval for posting content over which your institution holds; and speak to member of your school executive or legal expert if you have any queries. Otherwise you may be stripped or neutralise infringing content from the site (Poore, 2013: 203). You should be careful to choose a service that does not require students to hand over their copyright or IP to that service when they sign up. If you want to use third party material, it is necessary that you check for the copyright and IP issues. You may need to obtain permission from the copyright owner to use the material on your site. If not you are likely to bear some form of consequences. It is important to ensure your copyright and IP, as well.

The main social media sites available and includes: blogs, wikis, social networking (FaceBook or Bebo) and podcasts. There are also visual media such as; Video sharing (YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion), Photosharing (Flickr, Instagram, Photobucket), and Slideshows (,, animations and comicstrips.
Twitter is one of the social media tools which allows people to compose short, frequent messages or ‘tweets’ up to 140 characters that are distributed by the Twitter network on the internet. You can follow and invite others, set up lists, send photos and Direct Messages (DMs). Because there are millions of tweets sent each day, to help people find them, members use hash (#) to tag the tweets about a specific topic. If many tweets take the same hashtag, then it is ‘trending’ (TT: Twitter trend). (Poore, 2013: 124-125)
 A wiki can be public or private, or on any topic. They are normally created by groups not by individuals. Wikipedia is the most famous example of Wikis. People can contribute to articles by editing or creating articles on any topic. However there are other wikis out there as well.     
Facebook is funded by Mark Zuckerberg. This is how they describe their mission: ‘Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.’  The users feel that they have control over the sites and features, and they use the tools such as; ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘comment’. 
One of the most used Social Media sites is YouTube. It is excellent to find short clips about the topics we do in class such as: writing CVs, pollution, nature, bullying, PE, music etc. Others are Vimeo, Daily Motion and Vine. Photo sharing websites are Flickr, Instagram, and Photobucket. Slideshow and Prezi are the two of the websites that you can share your slideshows on-line.  Animations and Comicstrips are other websites to use to create characters and tell stories using these characters.    

Possibilities are endless but I have chosen the ones I have used or I am familiar with. Digital world keeps reinventing itself and it is quite difficult for teachers to keep up with all the latest gadgets.