Here at Plum, we design, build and operate IVR technology. The nature of our business requires us to consistently integrate the latest and greatest technologies, many of which have been social media-related as of late. Social media is a relatively unique tool in that it is utilized and applied to nearly every other field of business, including education.
Researchers from the University of Stockholm and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have published an article exploring the myriad uses for social media in the academic realm. This type of communications technology has become increasingly popular with individuals from all demographics, and its reputation and functionality has been dually noted by educators attempting to engage and stimulate students in interesting, compelling ways.
So what are the potential benefits of integrating social network functionality into an academic curriculum? One of the primary advantages is the freedom of movement that the technology enables. “Social media have potential to support learning in ways that are not restricted by time and place,” the researchers wrote in their article How Are Campus Students Using Social Media to Support Their Studies Students are free to share and access information regardless of location or time, which may prove to be a more attractive and engaging option for those with limited access.
Additionally, social media tools enable students to connect with both teachers and peers in a personal yet non-intimidating environment, indicating that they may be effective tools in the effort to foster and improve academic conversations.
Instead of having to trek to office hours, wait in line and potentially miss a face-to-face speaking opportunity with a professor, students are able to send out a tweet, start a Facebook discussion or even connect on LinkedIn. This way, students are able to communicate efficiently and effectively, which may engender engagement by a larger, more diverse sector of the academic population.
One of the most striking aspects of social media is the way it has rapidly transformed the way “students in higher education live and learn.” There is a critical mass of information available to students with a simple click of a button. Procuring mass amounts of information is easier today than it has been at any previous point in history, and today’s students have tools at their disposal that enable seamless communication and connectivity..
The researchers argue that this may be a potential drawback to today’s students, the “Google generation,” because of the oversaturation of information within their reach. They wonder if this convenience will lead to a sort of “intellectual depowering of learners incapable of independent critical thought.”
Regardless of the stance one takes on social media’s purpose and relevancy within academics, it is irrefutable that tech innovations within the realm of digital media have dramatically altered the way students think and understand concepts and conversations, both academic and otherwise.