Social Media in Higher Education will drive student learning outcomes when Pedagogic frameworks that enable learning through student engagement are built. Web 2.0 is all around us —Google Apps, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the list goes on. The younger generation across the globe, comprising students mostly, have taken onto them as second-skin. India is no different and therein is the opportunity to address some of the structural challenges faced by Indian higher education — expansion, excellence and equity.Characteristics of Web 2.0 and Social Media. In spite of the plethora of Web 2.0 tools on the internet, a broad classification of their characteristics can be based on their usage.
- Communication: Email still exists and would continue to. Owing to many tools now like Skype, go-to meetings and webinars, communication mediums have become sophisticated involving text, voice, video, screen-sharing and combination of these.
- Publishing: Easy availability of numerous blogging platforms and wikis coupled with their ergonomic usage has made it easy for everyone to create and publish with relative ease.
- Bookmarking: Information on the internet is overwhelming and organizing favorite content is a problem. Social bookmarking services like Diigo help. For educators, such tools hold immense potential for knowledge sharing, collaborative research and even reaching out to experts and their bookmarks.
- Syndication and aggregation: Feed readers can keep one updated with changing content on favorite websites, blogs, bookmarking pages using the RSS protocols. Using aggregators like iGoogle and netvibes an engine can be built that flashes all content on a single page.
- Real-time collaboration: The availability of collaboration tools like Google Apps has transformed collaboration. Google Apps also provides a free suite for educational institutions.
- Social networking: Tools like Facebook, Twitter and Google present the opportunity to reach out beyond our known network. Social networking is a powerful tool that aids informal learning. Learning is truly social.
Social Media in Higher Education - Application for Class and Non-class Activities
Planning the application of tools according to their potential is important. A jump into implementation without proper lesson planning could be detrimental. Defined training with Web 2.0 implementation strategies would ensure success. Since the very nature of Web 2.0 is evolving one should adopt a phased approach to implementation starting from the simple to the sophisticated.
Impact on Learning Outcomes: Web 2.0 and Social Media in Higher Education has the power to impact positively the learning outcomes of students.
Pre-existing Web 2.0 Skills: A recent COMSCORE survey dated June 2011, pointed out that in India, of the 73 million internet users over 75 per cent were in the age group of 15-34.Students are using these tools increasingly, primarily for entertainment. Proper challenge in the educational context can nudge the students to begin using these tools for teaching learning activities. Faculty and institutions can build on these pre-existing skills to deliver lessons.
Social learning: Social learning using Web 2.0 is all about doing, unlike traditional learning that focusses on knowing and reproducing. Therefore, Web 2.0 and Social Media in Higher Education pedagogy translates into increased student engagement, continuous faculty support and peer-based learning, all in an informal context.
Work life and career simulation: Most of the college graduates pass-out into a corporate career. Corporate jobs are dynamic and changing all the time. Business situations require students to work across multi-location teams, across functions in a collaborative manner in a synchronous and asynchronous set up, under demanding timelines. Web 2.0 tools simulate this environment right there at the college level, thereby facilitating the transition for the student.
Life skills acquisition: It is an irony of the education system that conventional higher education programmes are far removed from reality. Therefore, students when they step into a professional career after passing out, experience this shocking reality check. Web 2.0 tools, because of their universal nature can play an important role in sensitising students in these areas.
ePortfolio: Learning records created through Web 2.0 and Social Media in Higher Education can be retained and retrieved through a lifetime. This inculcates continuous learning habits and learning can be passed from generation to generation.Web 2.0 is evolving continuously and it is expected that educational instruction would rise to the challenge and build pedagogic frameworks that enable attainment of learning outcomes through increased student engagement.
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