Social Networking Argument

Social networking and social media have become a prominent way of communication - Social Networking Argument introduction. Websites such as Facebook and MySpace allow people from all over the world to communicate in a variety of ways. People use these websites for a variety of reasons: to find and gather information, communicate with instructors, and converse with peers. However, the use of social networking comes with certain drawbacks that cause some instructors to detest using social networking for anything academic. These drawbacks, such as it distracting students or giving inaccurate information, can be avoided by limiting the use of social networking in schools and monitoring its usage, which would improve on the beneficial features of social networking in education.

Many people enjoy social networking because it allows them to stay in contact with friends and family across vast amounts of space. This allows people to pass information rapidly from across the globe. However, this information’s reliability could be suspect because of the source. The people exaggerate and falsify information that students could use for academic purposes. For example, if a student finds a comment about a presidential election, claiming that a presidential candidate supports gay rights, can the student know if the information is accurate? The student would need to find where this person attained this information, as well as if he or she can trust this person as a reliable source. For the most part, social networks do not provide source reliability information. To improve their usability, social networking sites could use forums that allow only certain people to comment about certain issues. This way students could use information from the forums to expand on their knowledge of certain issues.

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If the aforementioned post had been in one of these forums, the student could rely on the information because the comment came from an expert in the field. Social networks promote communication of a more personal, opinionated nature. This information spreads rapidly, which makes controlling the information very difficult. Some people argue that social networks allow people to spread information in a variety of ways, including chat, messaging, email, and video, which depletes its value as a reliable source of information. Mr. Alessandro Cecconi of Nova Southeastern University disagrees, stating that the many ways information spreads in social networks is a great strength (2). He argues that the ability for teachers and tutors to reach students in many different ways allows them to interact constantly, which facilitates a more spontaneous style of learning. This learning style facilitates learning much better than a straight lecture, which sparks little interest in the thought process behind the concepts.

Dr. Stevenson at Marion Military Institute uses this system to promote a better understanding of all concepts in the class. He has the students collaborate and think through problems throughout lectures in order to reinforce the concepts, promote reading the material before class, and stimulate brain activity in order for the students to master material much faster than a lecture. This same concept could be used in social networking. Teachers could have students read an article and comment about it on a social networking site. This would promote students to discuss the materials outside of class, which causes the students to master the material faster because the students think about and interpret the material. They also ask more questions which further their understanding of concepts. Mr. Cessoni also states that almost anyone can write about whatever they want, as the operation of the websites require little expertise. Facebook allows anyone with an email account to create an account, where this person can post anything about anyone they choose. This ease of access decreases the reliability of any information found on the site because very few people edit this information and validate its accuracy before posting it.

Despite the major concern of the validity of the information on social networking sites, social networking helps students communicate to each other and, more importantly, to their instructors. Ms. Carrie Jacobs states that teachers can use social networking to help students through homework, rather than allow these students to give up through a lack of understanding the concepts (7-8). However, most teachers find that students distract themselves using social media sites, and that causes teachers to dislike social media in any form. Ms. Jacobs argues that teachers should try to help students navigate the 21st century world by showing them how to use these networks and devices to help rather than hinder studies (3). Teachers find that students pay less attention in class when the students use cell phones, another form of social networking with the use of text messages as well as access to social networking websites. Ms. Jacobs says that current students will forever have access to social networking sites and devices, and the current teachers’ position allows them to make a difference in the use of social networking by students.

She states, “Students need to learn that it is inappropriate and disrespectful to answer their cell phone or text in the middle of a class discussion. How can we teach this when all we say is no, no cell phones in school! (3)” A survey conducted by Gewertz in 2007 of 9 to 17 year-old students showed that 50% of teenagers talked “specifically about their school work when they text-message by cell phone, or use their computers to instant-message, blog, or visit social-connection sites, such as Facebook.” If students use social media and social networking to discuss educational materials, it would make sense for teachers to use this to their advantage. However, the majority of teachers refuse to take the initiative these students take in making social networking a viable educational tool. Teachers could use social media to remind students of upcoming assignments as well as give hints about homework assignments and assessments. Ms. Young at Wheeler High School used an online system of sending text-messages to students as reminders, which helped the students immensely. Students turned in more assignments on time than the average class and as a result earned higher averages in the class. Despite the obvious benefits of social media in schools, many students show that social media distracts them and others from classroom instruction.

Some students cause teachers to dislike social networking because of the students’ bad classroom habits, such as texting during class to waste time or to cheat on a test. Teachers could stop these behaviors if they took a more active role in teaching not only their subject, but also life skills, such as when to keep that cell phone in your pocket, or when not to check Facebook to see if someone has responded to a status update. Classroom use of social networking, while helpful in most cases, enables some students to look up inappropriate information, thereby inhibiting the education of that student. However, many schools and companies prevent this with simple web filtering programs set up on the network that prevent students from accessing materials inappropriate for the educational environment. With these in place, instructors can focus on allowing students to work collaboratively, as the designers of the social networks intended them to be used.

This allows students to work cognitively by working together to solve a problem as opposed to learning passively by listening to an instructor lecture about the same topic. Cognitive learning stimulates the brain more and therefore causes the brain to retain more information. This could explain why people tend to remember something they participated in, like a conversation, over something they heard, like a lecture. Social networking contains certain fallacies that do not make it reliable in terms of information and entices teenagers to waste time. This in turn causes teachers to dislike it, but when used in moderation, social networking can increase integrity and learning ability in academic situations through communication with peers and instructors. Instructors need to teach students how to use social networking and other technologies for education as much as students need to buy in to social networking as a viable option for education for social networking to work in the educational system.

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