Facebook began as a school-specific network where students and teachers could interact. My, how things have changed in just a few short years. Despite those early beginnings, Facebook isn’t the first place students or teachers run to in order to communication with each other. The desire for teachers and other education professionals to use social media for connecting with students, however, is making a comeback.
When Facebook first launched, online social networking was still gaining a foothold in popular culture. Friendster was still hanging on for dear life, and MySpace was becoming big business as its network became a hub for display advertising. Since then, Facebook has opened up its own virtual doors to anyone that wants an account, in turn becoming a leading social network of its era.
Facebook has helped to make online social networking an accepted aspect of our culture, touching just about everyone with an Internet connection or mobile phone. Who are you, if you aren’t on Facebook? How do you communicate with people, and how have you survived so long living under that rock?
The sentiment we now have towards such correspondence with friends, peers, colleagues, business associates, bosses and professors is one of acknowledging the centralization of our many relationships and how they intersect in our own lives. In general, this is a good thing. For the education sector, it’s a teaching mechanism.
More hands-on than most aspects of digital teaching, social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook are enticing educators because of the permeability social networking has in students’ lives. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Incorporating social media deeper into the education system means that students and teachers have new ways of keeping in touch, as well as new ways in which students learn how to navigate the world.
Social media is becoming so ingrained in our culture that it’s changing the way in which we communicate with each other. Relationships themselves are taking on new meanings when it comes to social networking, taking on digital terminology in reference to the status of one person in the mind of another. That means that social media, which has moved past the point of simple networking, is utilized for business as well. Preparing students for the “real world” of social networking is something they may not encounter otherwise–at least not before they graduate high school.
The Gainsville Sun points out one way in which social media can be incorporated into education sectors to give students a new perspective on social networking. Instead of looking at social media from a consumer standpoint, some are hoping to shed light on its larger implications in an effort to help show students their own future of social networking.
Will it work? Social media has been a pastime of the younger generations, only having become popular with the rest of the world in very recent times. Once the old folks and the big brands get a hold of social networks, the teens and young adults tend to flee to the next trend. Facebook has helped to change that effect, though the ongoing use of Facebook as a cross-demographic hub may discourage students from gaining new perspectives anyway.
Joining a social media network after the students’ generation has already made it popular, for the purpose of showing them how they should be approaching it, could result in backlash. The privacy concerns that arise from avid and open sharing of personal information are adding to the backlash potential, even as social networking etiquette becomes part of curriculum aimed at prepping students for life after school.
All of this simply proves that we’re still in an era where social networking has many directions it could take, and we still don’t know how things will play out when it comes to consumers young or old, educator or student.
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