Is Social Media a Good Tool for Teaching and Learning?
Social media offers multiple benefits for the teaching and learning experience. Because of the number of access possibilities (facebook, pinterest, snapchat, twitter, Instagram, excetera, students and teachers can collaborate, build technology skills, gain feedback, and lead to engagement. These are critical elements of a positive learning experience and I do not what to discount the benefit of social media, but I would like to prompt a discussion on some of the negative impacts of social media on student learning and discover ways to mediate these impacts.
Many of our students use social media daily. They may also feel distress when they are not able to connect for a period of time due to FOMO, or fear of missing out. Health experts discuss the negative impacts of being connected all the time. Some believe that this leads to shorten attention spans, addictive behaviors, and a drop in academic performance. Multi tasking also makes it difficult for filtering irrelevant information. Some experts say this is because the constant inundation of news, information, status updates email, and other notifications makes individuals believe that multitasking is possible. In reality, multitasking leads to habitual, distracted thinking. This sustained, distracted thinking can have significant negative impacts on the brain. Multitasking shortens attention spans and lessening the ability to think in high level situations.
Research at UCLA found when students are focused on a task such learning, the hippocampus in the brain is activated. However, when an individual is multitasking, the striatum is used. While this part of the brain holds memories, he striatum holds memories for learning physical tasks, but this is not great for building academic knowledge.
Moving beyond the academic issues, there are health experts that believe social media can have an addictive effect on the brain because of the release of dopamine when engaging in social media.
How do we balance these concerns with the benefits of social media in the classroom? How can we balance technology driven instruction with the need to also include more traditional methods of instruction? How can we help our students move from multi-tasking to unitaksing?
I'm looking forward your thoughts.