Let’s face the facts, the days of searching for information in an encyclopedia are long gone. To be completely honest, I firmly believe if you were to give a teenager an assignment to locate information in an encyclopedia they wouldn’t even know how to do it.
Computers and the internet have completely changed the way we look for information and social media is going to play an even larger role when it comes to education shortly.
With the world tweeting, Digging, Tumbling, and writing on walls, it’s only a matter of time before a high school teacher or college professor decides to add his/her Twitter address on their syllabus so the students can get a hold of them (that is if they don’t want emails to flood their inbox), creates a class forum for required discussion sessions (which is already happening with Springboard), or gives live video review sessions via Justin.tv or Ustream.
That’s not all, think about how easily students can obtain information using Digg, Reddit, or StumbleUpon.
I’ll give you a scenario:
You are given an assignment to write a five page paper on the Cuban Missile Crisis. A simple search for “Cuban Missile Crisis” on Digg brings back 129 results, 38 results on Reddit, and 73 results on Technorati.
By spending less than two minutes online you have 240 possible sources you can browse through for your paper. Had you gone to the library, you would have found five or six possible sources and it would have taken you anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to locate the information you wanted to use.
Another way social media will soon influence education is group work.
My wife was taking a course in the spring semester and met with her group every week via AOL Instant Messenger. It’s more convenient to log onto your computer and talk to your group than it is to hop in your car and drive to someone’s house which ultimately costs you money since you have to use gas to get there.
Colleges and Universities are taking advantage of the benefits of social media to keep students and faculty informed on campus activities and important news updates.
Alumni associations are utilizing Facebook to keep high school and college alumni up to date with reunions, news, and photos of their past classmates.
All this is just the beginning of an era. Social media has already influenced millions of people and although a lot of people are still learning about Twitter and Facebook, social media’s potential influence on education can make learning fun again.
As always, your thoughts/comments/linkbacks are always appreciated.