Guest column by Lindsey Wright
Networking used to be a term used once a person entered the workforce. It was a way of making connections to others in the field that could help a person grow or expand their career.
Now, networking is social media. The popularity of this form of communication is not only apparent in online courses offered by virtual colleges, but it is all over the Internet. Social media provides opportunity for students to learn from their peers and find alternate means for research. They're provided an extensive set of tools to advance educational experiences and obtain numerous positive results. This concept applies to communication, psychology, media and marketing for people of all ages and professions.
Education students are benefiting from the use of social media as applied to formal curriculum. Christine Greenhow, researcher at the University of Minnesota stated "by understanding how students may be positively using these networking technologies in their daily lives and where the as-yet-unrecognized educational opportunities are, we can help make schools even more relevant, connected, and meaningful to kids."
For example, critical thinking becomes an absolute necessity to navigate through the extensive amount of information accessible online. Without critical thinking a student could be easily persuaded that sites like Wikipedia always offer reliable information. Alternatively, "students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content, and thinking about online design and layout. They're also sharing creative original work like poetry and film, and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The web sites offer tremendous educational potential" explains Greenhow.
With the aid of socialization on websites like Facebook, an open forum for all ages can provide the chance for students and professors to discuss and compare thought processes about media stories and its prevailing influence over the masses. Most importantly, social media presents an opportunity for blogs to be shared with an entire educational environment for students, faculty and even parents.
Brian Kievit for example, a middle school science teacher, has interested students in problem-solving activities via social networking. Eighth grade students chose a local menace, Buffelgrass, and then warned locals of the horror of this "plague-like weed" and took action via social media.
The positive effects of social networking related to the educational experience of students of all ages, including college level learners is immense. From marketing an opinion to communicating effectively, social networking provides positive experiences for students and educators alike when a balanced curriculum is implemented.
Lindsey Wright is a writer for onlinecollegeclasses.com, an Internet directory of free education, lectures and classroom sites.