The continual development and progression of the internet has had an immense impact on society and the way that we do things. From our consumption of information to our communication with each other, technology and the internet have altered the way that we exist. Therefore, having become an integral part of our survival, technology is now widely accepted in more areas such as education. With the new generation having become accustomed to using technology from a younger age, their way of understanding and digesting information has changed. For example, it has altered the attention span of students due to having more access to shorter videos and concise articles. Therefore, traditional education can appear to be challenging due to being presented as deviating from their accepted norm. The idea of having to sit in a classroom and listen to a teacher may not appeal to everyone and is therefore leading to more students pursuing online education.
When students are already familiar with using social media and consuming information online, distance learning is naturally the next step. Therefore, more institutions are beginning to incorporate and embrace social media within their teaching and learning processes. Instead of having to sit and read through a wealth of text, students are able to learn through videos and other mediums. They have the flexibility to learn from within their own space which not only caters to different learning styles but ensures that they are learning in a way that suits and is familiar to them.
Social media and the internet also make it possible for students to feel more included in a community whilst still having access to resources and guidance. Social media is often the quickest way to contact people or have questions answered, therefore making information accessible, regardless of location. For example, news of current affairs can quickly spread across social media before television stations have had the chance to cover it. Social media is instant and allows communication in real-time, almost emulating our daily interactions with people. Therefore, its use in education can only be perceived as a means of aiding learning and creating a shared experience for the student. Tutors are able to share content and relevant material with students in real-time and interactions are not as limited as when in a classroom setting.
It also allows students to ask more questions and clarify their own understanding which is something that is often challenging in a classroom when there is no time to contemplate the things that they have been taught. Social media even improves communication between tutors and students because neither party has to sit down to compose an email. Social media is accessible on phones and tablets, making it easier to respond to one another and thus improving the overall interaction between student and teacher. This ensures that students are able to develop a better understanding of content but that they are still using their initiative and becoming more critical through their questioning.
The presence and availability of online communities can also help to provide support for students which is integral for ensuring that they feel encouraged and motivated. Without the physical presence of peers, it is easy for students to fall behind or struggle with a lack of enthusiasm. Social media makes it possible for students to have a support network and maintain interaction with others.
As the face of education continues to change, institutions are having to find ways to continue to develop their curriculum in a way to appeal to the new generation of students. Although some are hesitant to deviate from the practices of traditional education, it is important to prioritise the student’s needs and therefore ensure that they are taught in a way that will maximise their own potential and learning. Whilst more social media platforms continue to be introduced, the internet is thriving and should therefore be used as a tool to aid the educational process. It has already proven itself as an invaluable medium and pool of information.