Social media is dominating the internet today, with dozens of popular websites catering to information sharing and socializing. Facebook, Twitter etc are some of the social media websites that are very popular today. But these websites offer services that can be deemed casual. For example, pictures of a wedding to be shared with some friends cannot be considered as serious content. But many want to take social media a step further, and transform it into a boon for mankind; they want to use social media to provide low cost, almost free higher education to everyone in the world.
This is a laudable goal, but is it possible to implement education through social media in reality? It is possible, but it is difficult. In fact, today, there are hundreds of websites that provide some form of education to users. The quality of the education they offer remains questionable and it is very difficult to regulate as well. There are definitely many drawbacks, but the potential advantages and implications of education through social media make it a worthwhile effort or risk.
Social media can be used in various ways to provide education:
Blogging – the popular online education tool
Today, blogging is already a popular online education tool. Professors use blogging as an extension to real world teaching. If any particular student has difficulty in understanding a certain topic, he can refer to the Blog dealing with that topic. Blogging can also be used as a teaching tool. If a student cannot afford to go to college, he subscribe to Blogs that help educate him at the college level.
Twitter and other such websites can be used by students for academic activities. They can design presentations, communicate with each other, study together and undertake research on various topics through social media. In fact, students can teach other through social media, maybe one day eliminating the need for classrooms altogether.
Web Conferencing – connection is the key
Web Conferencing is amongst the best ways to provide education. A professor can be connected with students from across the world through a webcam, and can teach them without having to be in the same room. The cost of education also falls drastically with web conferencing; after all no one has to pay for the classroom.
Free Books – no prices at all
If authors can be roped in to write textbooks and course books, then millions will benefit from the books. Wiki and other prominent websites are undertaking projects to provide free virtual textbooks to students. Again, students won’t have to buy textbooks to learn. All they need is access to a computer and some bandwidth.
Today, the quality of courses that are on online offer is questionable, barring prominent ones by respectable Universities like MIT. Yet, this is slowly changing as education providers realize that they have to cater to students needs to successfully implement online education. Providing quality, almost free education to every single human being in the world through social media is a distinct possibility and online education needs to go social if the possibility is to come to fruition.