There was a time when students would get cold feet at the very thought of interacting with their teachers; even if that meant for discussing regular assignment related issues, or to simply wish them on special occasions. Now, teachers are no more the dreaded humans and students do not fret about meeting them even for a casual discussion. Teachers are more like friendly guides today; students can rely on them when faced with academic issues, career related or otherwise. This change is visible not only in online educational domains but in face-to-face classroom setups as well. This enhanced interaction has been made further possible by the increased popularity of social networks.
Is social networking conducive to learning?
Just like any application based practice or trend, social networking too has its own positive and negative effects. Judging from its usage, which is primarily social mingling, one, cannot simply tag it as harmful to learning. In fact, it depends essentially on the students and educators; whether it can be made conducive to learning or not. However, it is always better to put any new practice to the best use for society rather than chucking it as a mere waste of time. Social networking can surely benefit teaching-learning if it is made a part of the classroom activities; and it is already happening in classes where teachers and students are allowed to access social networking sites by institute authorities.
How do social media foster student-teacher interaction?
There are independent educators who simply maintain pages of their own on various social networking sites and allow their students to post queries and comments. They regularly check those posts and respond to the queries, or have chat sessions with the students when online to solve their problems. They even post class modules or reference study materials on these sites from time to time, or maintain educational blogs to be accessed and shared by the students easily.
Many institutes use the class registration software to conduct classes online or to streamline administrative jobs of their onsite classes. Such institutes avail of the member management solutions to build and maintain private community networks where they ask their students to be a part of. These community networks are epicenters of activities where students and teachers interact freely. To provide a better communication platform, some institutes also purchase a Social Media Connector from the software provider at a minimal cost which facilitates easy downloading of social media profiles of members directly on to the community networks.
Following are the ways in which teachers are trying to leverage the power of the social media to connect with their students:
1. They post questions or conduct live polls on various socially relevant subjects on the social networking sites in order to understand their students’ view points on them.
2. They engage in discussions online either through a forum or through a chat session to explain a certain lesson to their learners.
3. They share various info-rich graphics and slide presentations on their profiles to make their traditional mode of learning even more interesting.
4. They post blogs and encourage their students to do the same that helps to improve their creative writing skills.
Students who otherwise feel a bit awkward to open up in classes interact freely over social media. They even come to know of various issues that are rarely discussed in classes that add on to their knowledge.