Where is Social Media Taking Education?

Within each human being is an innate desire to learn and explore. The human psyche is naturally drawn towards new and exciting things. Social media has made is possible for people to explore these interests online. Starting with the introduction of sites such as YouTube, people have become more inclined to learn things online and self-educate rather than seeking assistance from some other means.

An Epidemic of Help

Social media has sparked an online epidemic of people helping other people. Blogs, forums, and podcasts have also become prevalent places to ask questions and further your knowledge on pretty much any subject. What does this mean for traditional ways of education? I wouldn’t say that traditional in-class courses are going to disappear any time soon, but I would certainly agree that there is going to be a significant shift towards online education. Programmers and developers are working hard to make online learning more intuitive, and easily accessible to the masses. In reality, people are becoming more self-sufficient as a result of internet education. Providing them with even more ways to learn online is exactly where education is headed.

A Serious Distraction From Academics?

As unfortunate as it may seem, social media has become a serious distraction from people’s academic studies. University students especially, have been showing a lack of concentration both in and out of class due to the easy accessibility of social media. This is not likely to change any time soon. There is comfort in knowing however, that by providing easily accessible online learning, this issue can be slightly addressed. If students are going to be distracted by social media, they might as well be learning valuable information while they’re at it.

Learnville and E-Learning

E-Learning platforms are starting to become a definite reality. People have come to the realization that social media has a much greater potential than simply allowing people to keep in touch with one another. In fact, this is only the beginning. The introduction of widely accessible and credible education in social media is on the verge of market introduction. To name one of the more promising sites, Learnville.com is currently being established. Essentially, the site provides a platform to allow users to sign up for free and share knowledge using live video stream. It’s difficult to say at this point, but the site should be capable of creating a virtual-classroom environment in real-time. It gives people an opportunity to share knowledge in a community-like setting where social media plays a key role. Keep your eyes pealed for Learnville’s introduction, and other similar platforms. This seems to be the direction that online education is headed.

The Benefits & Concerns

So what are the benefits of online learning? For those of you who are not enrolled in post-secondary education, a platform such as Learnville could provide a viable alternative to learning, and as a bonus, in the comfort of your own home. Online learning also allows people to remain anonymous, therefore making people feel more comfortable about asking questions that they would otherwise not ask. Furthermore, online learning platforms will likely provide users with much greater variety in the types of courses offered. With in-class learning, you are quite limited by both the availability of courses, and their physical proximity to your home. There are very few restrictions associated with e-learning. One of the major concerns, however, is the lack of personalized attention to students online. This is a concern that can at least partially be mitigated by real-time, and virtual classroom teaching.

Weigh In

Its safe to say that social media is rapidly causing online education to emerge. Hopefully, we will see some sort of e-learning platform in the near future. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the guitar, but who has time to go to class anymore, let alone trying to sort through YouTube videos? Be sure to weigh in on this issue by mentioning @LearnVille on Twitter!

This article was written by Gabriel Brutto, a HBA Candidate at the University of Western Ontario. You can contact Gabriel on Twitter @LearnVille. Have an idea for an article and looking for a forum? Want to write for Edudemic?

6 Comments

  1. Andrew

    July 21, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Hello. just thought I would offer up a viewpoint not mentioned in the article and that is what I suppose could be dubbed 'the user-contributed conundrum.' By that, I simply mean every person has their own opinions as well as what they perceive as fact, and that information doesn't always come from a credible source even if the person who shares it believes it has. This is much like the problem with Wikipedia, while I love the broadness and accessibility of the site, hardly any college professor will allow you to cite the article directly (only it's sources, if there are any) due to the malleability of it's content.
    Now it is true that all educators have personal bias' and are limited by their own education, however, typically school boards/informed students/heads of faculty correct these shortcomings when they become known or censure/terminate those who refuse compliance. While this can lead to a narrower view of a subject, that consistency has become prevalent in the understanding and relatibility of the material amongst learned individuals. Though learning from social media may lead to a less mainstream and more wholistic view of the subject matter, it is dangerous to assume all users will take what they learn 'with a grain of salt,' as it is said. I suppose my concern is that most of these online learning resources have little or no quality control comparable to that of an accredited source, aside from the condescending and frequently ignorant comments on forums and the like, from other users that are only slightly more informed (hopefully).
    To sum up, I'm frequently amazed and impressed with the accomplishments of social-media networks like most other people, and at times I am flabbergasted by their potential, but I'm also very frightened. Not because everyone can find and learn whatever they want, whenever they want, but because they may all be learning something different. Which to me suggests a much greater potential for harm when incorrect or overly biased information is passed on to others, especially children who can only trust that what they learn from family and respected community leaders is accurate. Not to mention the sheer frustration of trying to debate and convince a stubborn and ill-informed person of their mistake(s) when they believe they are correct because they believed the information was correct and credible. This worries me because I see it everyday, from the comments following an online news article to discussions in public chat rooms and the arguments with friends that stem from conflicting tidbits found in a plethora of articles, videos and forum posts.

  2. Gabriel Brutto

    July 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I agree that this is an issue that needs to be addressed and a very valid argument. However, the credibility issues can be mitigated by an extensive screening process (requesting credentials, background checks, etc.). E-learning platforms such as Learnville are being established for the very purpose of providing "credible" resources. The reality is, this is an epidemic that is uncontrollable. Such platforms shed light on the old saying, "if you can't beat them, join them." It is going to be a difficult task to regulate content on e-learning platforms, but this is the major factor that is going to distinguish the "good" from the "bad".

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  5. Shravan

    October 17, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Hi,
    It's surprising that you mentioned a website that is still not launched! There are a few websites already in market and more or less doing what learnville is planning to do.
    Nevertheless, issue is very forward looking, in the sense, Social Learning Networks or Collaborative Learning is going to drive the teaching and learning. Social media when focused on teaching learning, really defies Time and Space constraint. And your views very much consolidate the same.

  6. juliestarkey45

    May 10, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Learning is a growing education. It never stops. And I love online education as much as I admire social media education.
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