The Social Construction of Media: Social Media, Culture, and Everyday Life

Social Media's Role in Education

Learning Management Systems

Social media, without a doubt, has become an everyday, every moment activity among the 1.7 billion people using the Internet.  With the continual rise of social media, a widespread use of social networking has emerged in the area of education.  Social media in education has changed the way we learn today.  Learning Management Systems are one example of how Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other simple interface websites have impacted the way we look to educate our youth online. With more and more schools, colleges, and universities moving to online assignments, LMS have emerged as the go-to interface for conducting this new style of education.

As a student at a university that enrolls over 28,000 students and attends lectures with some three hundred plus peers, it’s no wonder I value learning management systems. With the platform Blackboard, my courses and assignments are organized on an easy to navigate website. Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard, have created an interactive and social aspect in e-learning. I for one, strongly believe that the best way to learn is through working with others in a collaborative environment, and Learning Management Systems bring together both students and teachers to create open collaboration.

Modern LMS are taking the responsibility of increasing the communication between users and instructors.  Currently in 2016, there are almost 600 different choices of LMS’s available. However, what you may not know is that LMS have been around since the late 20th century. The concept of LMS is to provide individuals with easier access to materials and learning assistance. Recently, with online interfaces similar to social media websites, LMS also enable instant messaging among students and instructors. By 2002, the most common LMS platform to date, Moodle, was released. The creator of Moodle was in search of an alternative way to utilize online teaching, and in doing so he launched one of the largest known LMS’s to date. By 2007, Moodle had established itself as a leading and award winning open source LMS

The LMS Blackboard has been used in recent years in assisting numerous primary and secondary education schools by managing administrative work, hosting courses, delivering coursework, tracking student progress, and integrating social learning experiences.  The use of LMS’s has further expanded the field of e-learning. Many of these systems today have developed entire online curriculums for students, who lack a regular classroom, to complete coursework and earn diplomas and degrees that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to obtain.

According to Sidneyeve Matrix, associate professor at Queen’s University, LMS, as many may believe, are not just platforms that deliver PDF’s and grades, but now offer an online networking platform that is capable of supporting socialized assignments. To support her claim, she asserts that “rather than having one or two all-purpose discussion forums, faculty could instead have students create research-based poster presentations or infographics and share them in an LMS discussion forum, adding a required number of peer-to-peer critiques or comments.” Matrix also states that in her largest course of more than 1,000 students, she requires her students to interact in the LMS, to critique and discuss assignments.  This, she reports, has created a rather lively and highly varied online discussions. She further states that the increase of student interactions has lead to an increase of student participation and a better understanding of “digital togetherness and community” (Matrix, 2014).

Education is changing rapidly, and is expected to change even more in the next ten years.  I can remember when I got my first cell phone, it could make and receive phone calls and that’s about it, now I can I can log onto my cell and pull up my Blackboard account and submit an assignment from across the country.  Its simple technology has changed the way we learn, and education has become much more digital based.  To thrive in a digital community it’s inevitable that LMS be incorporated into a curriculum to enhance students collaboration and social learning skills.


Staying Connected

Younger generations nowadays depend on the Internet for homework, their profession, as well as social purposes and don’t know what life is like without it. Results from a 2011 poll by a University of Arizona and Claremont University research team have shown that 86% of Internet users from the ages 18-29 are currently active on some kind of social media.  A majority of that age range consists of college students. From the results, the two types of social media sites that were being used the most often in school are Facebook and YouTube with the overall purpose of collaboration and communication outside the classroom.

A Facebook group is an effective communication tool for social purposes but recently it has become a useful tool for collaboration between classmates and instructors at the college level. With Facebook currently being the most highly used communication tool, it is no surprise that it is becoming the most effective way to reach students/notify them the fastest.

Instructors have the ability to post announcements, homework, reminders of due dates and class cancellations on a class Facebook group. Students will get a notification about the post on the site they are more likely to visit than if the instructor were to send an email. Unlike other social media sites, there is an option for the instructor to view who has seen the post, to see if their message was received by a majority of the class.

Facebook also provides a space for classmates to create discussion, collaborate, and turn in assignments. In the major I am pursuing, digital technology and culture, many of our projects are digital such as a video and must be posted on our class Facebook page by the due date to view them in class the next day. It is very useful for students when they are working outside the classroom. They have the ability to ask questions, receive answers and share content with others all conveniently from different locations.While Facebook is a useful space to converse with other classmates and share ideas through conversation, YouTube is commonly used as a platform to share ideas visually. For example, there are many tutorial videos uploaded on YouTube that students can watch if they are struggling with homework and need a visual explanation. Instead of texting someone or posting on a Facebook group, they have the option to watch a short video and see an explanation from someone else’s point of view. Also some instructors choose to record their lectures and post them on YouTube for students to watch again if needed or watch if they missed the lecture. The concept of this video sharing is that they are available at convenient times for the students and can be re-watched unlimited times.

While scholarly uses for Facebook are more about collaboration, YouTube’s scholarly uses are more about watching and learning. But both media sites are helping students and instructors work together outside of class. A group project or work is not limited to just meet ups or class time now, but can be completed through communication on these social media sites.

Media Sharing

Throughout the education system these days, there are many forms of social media that have impacted learning in different ways. Blogging is one if the main social media sites being used in the learning system. It’s a way to post all your assignments on one page and an easier way for the teachers to see all the assignment in a single platform as well as educators using the sites to post about different ways of teaching and the incite behind it all.

           Digital tools now help fulfill portals through which new knowledge about education and learning can enter schools. Precisely, thousands of gifted educators are now writing blogs about teaching, learning and bringing clearness to their practices. In every area, every grade level and every school are all reflecting on the way their system works and what works best with that specific school.

           Blogging sites are a medium to share information and content that is useful their education and/or daily life activities. Blogging within the school system is available to share content, encourage debate and answer questions. According to Edutopia, Some users often set up hashtags for certain courses to be able to debate online and make conversations about certain topics. Some teachers use their class blogs to to post daily tasks, information on what was covered in classes throughout the week and when assignments are due.  Teachers and professors do this mostly to keep students up to date but it can also helpful for parents to stay up-to-date on what assignments their child has due. Blogs can also provide information for students who are absent and be one location to find everything that needs to be made up in a certain week while also providing resources that students can use for adjustments on papers. Sites like Weebly and Wordpress are the two main blogging sites are used in classes around Washington State University College. These sites are very frequently in used English and Digital Technology classes. They are helpful when you have to critique other classmate’s work as well as a safe place to upload all your assignment in one place. The Digital Gator Website is also useful example of how a blog sites are used by a teacher as a class website.  The teacher provides links to resources, assignments and information to help students with their middle school computer classes. With the age of technology users getting younger and younger, the learning process of how to use technology in the classroom will help them succeed in the long run throughout college and future careers.

Each student learns differently and in today's age of growing technology, the question will not be whether to offer classes online, but rather how to require them in all schools. When it comes to schooling in the classroom versus schooling online, the usage of blogging sites are used throughout both. When having a blog site for a classroom class, it’s essentially making part of the class online interaction. Lots of teachers use class blogs for global collaboration, authentic learning, reflective blogging, collaboration and discussion, according to the Edu Bloggers. When used for these purposes it’s common for their students’ to have their own individual student blogs. When students are asked to write for an audience outside of their class, they are more motivated, learn more and they write better than if they only wrote for their teacher. Students also will tend to go into more detail about certain topics to be able to share them other students and not just the teachers. Some teachers will also have students critique other classmates’ blogs, which will tempt students to write in more depth about the topic or discussion.

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