Importance of Social Media Sites in Education

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Education, whether formal or informal, is an essential component of human life. Learning is a continuous process that takes place throughout the life of every person. COVID-19, on the other hand, has transformed the current educational system into a distant setting, with teachers failing to deliver high-quality, engaging courses and many parents being compelled to take on the role of their child’s teacher. The global impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on schooling has been considerable. According to González-Padilla & Tortolero-Blanco (2020), over 1.6 billion children and teenagers are out of school as a result of temporary school and other educational institution closures in most countries. Despite the fact that young students have a lower mortality rate than adults, they can transmit or spread the virus, which is the primary cause of school closures throughout the world. Adults, parents, and teachers are worried about their children’s poor performance. Hence they take on the role of teachers, guiding their children through lessons and homework completion via online learning, which has emerged as a cutting-edge alternative to traditional schooling.
The developing alternative, according to Sood & Chawal (n.d.), has had an influence on parents’ productivity and duties. They must provide online learning tools, such as mobile phones or computers, as well as internet access. The majority of elementary and secondary school children are used to formal learning that allows them to interact with their teachers in a face-to-face setting. They must suddenly compress all tactile components of learning into a digital session, in which books are replaced with a tiny, non-textured screen (Hall, 2012). On the phone, hours are spent evaluating prescribed assignments and materials for various courses. For many students, this new learning style is difficult since they have a short attention span (Sood & Chawal n.d). Despite the widespread usage of online social media for personal purposes, only a small fraction of students and teachers utilize it for instructional objectives. However, these social media sites like YouTube have played an important role in formal and informal schooling, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent years, the usage of social media has risen dramatically in society. People looking for information of any type will use social media technology, preferably a social media network (Czerkawski, 2016). Formal learning is the process of learning that students follow until they complete their education in educational institutions. After that, they adapt informal learning, which can occur at any time and in any location, such as libraries, museums, and family, which improves an individual’s learning ability. Online learning networks have become major tools for academic and informal learning due to the growth of social software and the improvement of web-based technology (Mpungose, 2020). Informal learning networks, in contrast to top-down, instructor-centered, and meticulously planned formal learning environments, provide students with more bottom-up, student-centered participative but sometimes unstructured learning possibilities.
Through participatory digital cultures, it is suggested that social media can connect formal and informal learning. This claim is backed up by cases of sophisticated utilization by young people, albeit most young people choose to be consumers rather than full participants. Although researchers have advocated using social media to blend formal and informal learning, this research is usually under-theorized. Individuals have begun to refer to sites and online apps as “social media” to describe activities such as engaging, publishing, collaborating, promoting, directing, and socializing that enable members to form and engage in diverse groups.
Typical social media features employ profile pages to promote individual members. Interconnections with other users via links and news feeds and sharing of user-generated material are all characteristics of social media (Czerkawski, 2016). Content may be inserted, and pages can be dynamically updated. Social media sites, such as blogs, Facebook, and YouTube, are commonly used by college students. Informal learning outside of the classroom, which is unstructured, is just as essential as formal learning in educational settings. According to Mpungose (2020), it aids both academic and informal learning. Students, in particular, use the online community for formal learning while employing instant messaging and social networking technologies for casual learning.
Speculating social media as an educational environment
One of the most significant limitations of education is that professors cannot simply transfer information to pupils; rather, students must actively build knowledge in their minds. That is, they uncover and synthesize information, compare additional knowledge to existing information, and modify rules when they are no longer applicable. In this constructivist view of learning, the learner is regarded as an active participant in the process of knowledge acquisition (Carwile, 2007). Connectivism and social constructivism are intriguing beginning places for thinking about social media and learning at various levels of formality and informality.
One of the most important concepts in education is constructivism. Learning is placed in the context of situations, actions, or cultures, according to social constructivism. Greenhow & Lewin (2016) argue that it has far-reaching consequences for how instructors teach and learn to teach. It is critical to focus on kids if attempts to change education for all students are to succeed. To date, constructivism’s most significant contribution has been a focus on student-centered learning. Constructivism is a psychological learning theory that describes how individuals learn and gain information Greenhow & Lewin (2016). As a result, it is directly applicable to education.
According to the notion, humans get knowledge and meaning from their experiences. Social media activities tend to be conceptually linked to social constructivist notions of learning as participation in a social context and decentralized, available, and co-constructed knowledge among a varied set of users. Learning a Connectivism allows for non-linearity, unintentional chaos, and unanticipated network effects in the learning process (Carwile, 2007). This is because learning occurs in nebulous ecosystems with shifting basic parts, but not entirely under the control of the human. Connectivistim is a process of developing relationships and developing a network with nodes and linkages, according to connectivist theories, which appear to be closely related to social media activities Greenhow & Lewin (2016). The utilization of Internet activity as a compelling and natural parallel for conceiving dispersed learning through networks strengthens connectivism.
Importance of Social Media Sites during COVID-19
According to Temban, Hua & Said (2021), COVID-19 has forced higher education institutions to shift from face-to-face to online training due to the widespread pandemic. Many public institutions, particularly in developing nations, lack well-established web-based educational systems enabling relationships with students. Educational institutions of all sizes must adopt eLearning as the only feasible option for long-term education due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s fast outbreak and subsequent containment efforts (Goel & Gupta, 2020). Social media has grown into a powerful tool for possibly increasing student learning, facilitating relationships between students and their instructors and classmates, and involving them in the new distance learning environment.
The advent of the COVID-19 breakout is a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, with enormous lockdowns established around the globe. Pandemics are large-scale occurrences of an infectious illness that spread across a vast geographic region and cause significant morbidity and mortality. According to Sobaih, Hasanein & Abu Elnasr (2020), to prevent the spread of COVID-19, several governments have put limits on residents’ movements, banned social events, and encouraged individuals to stay at home. Thousands of individuals have been affected by COVID-19’s harmful effects, including its imposed limitations, and will continue to be affected.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on several sectors of society, including the economy, medical system, and education. Learners were compelled to stay at home as educational institutions were closed down. As a kind of social isolation, people spent more time on social media throughout the pandemic (Sobaih, Hasanein & Abu Elnasr, 2020). This has resulted in procedural modifications in academic institutions’ day-to-day operations. Students in an educational setting rely on collaborative learning to enhance their academic results. Social media provides a learning platform that enables learners to network with peers and subject experts rapidly and encourages collaborative learning.
During the first three months of the COVID-19 outbreak, social media platforms experienced a 61 percent spike in online traffic compared to normal levels (Goel & Gupta, 2020). Students have previously said that the urge to communicate with family, professors, classmates, coworkers, and friends is a driving force behind their use of social media. However, social media is presently a means of communication that allows instructors and students to connect online learning platforms while still keeping to social distance rules. During COVID-19, the function of social media in education has grown in importance, as it improves connection and provides collaboration possibilities for individuals who are just getting started with social media (Temban, Huav& Said, 2021). Teachers, students, and academic institutions can use social media to modify their teaching or learning techniques to get around COVID-19’s limits. Learners enjoy live streaming services through social media platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, where they partake in ongoing interactions on trending topics and keep in touch with peers.
According to (Sobaih, Hasanein & Abu Elnasr, 2020), educators might gain from a greater attention on learners’ daily usage of and learning from social media sites, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. (Goel & Gupta, 2020) contend, on the other hand, that only a tiny percentage of teenagers use social media in sophisticated forms that instructors would enjoy. The lack of current paradigms that characterize social media as a venue for informal learning exacerbates the problem. There is also a lot of discussion regarding the advantages and disadvantages of using technology into daily learning. This is because there has been relatively little study on the links between formal, non-formal, and informal learning that such platforms may be able to facilitate.
In informal learning approaches, the use of social networks is essentially non-existent. Learners can participate in online interaction programs such as chats and discussions with the assistance of social media sites. According to Chen & Bryer (2012), it may be an important tool for learning and connect academic and casual learning environments. This link provides specific channels to interact with professionals, lecturers, materials, and other learners in multimedia formats. Furthermore, according to Temban, Huav& Said (2021), the context of education may be shown with the assistance of social media technology in an essential way that goes beyond traditional classroom teaching techniques. Educators or instructors, in general, are responsible for bringing about change in teaching techniques through the use of social media networks. This encourages learners to apply a collaborative learning approach in the classroom to easily connect via social media and share their creative ideas, which are critical for their growth and development. With social media in education, any official or informal contest may be won by any student or learner.
YouTube has brought in a major transformation in the educational landscape. It has become intimately tied to education. Lange (2019) defines it as a video-sharing business that provides high-quality education and has seen substantial growth in recent years. It is common knowledge that video-based eLearning is an effective learning tool. As a result, Temban Hua & Said (2021) argues that YouTube adds a dynamic aspect to studies, increases information transmission, makes complicated procedures more understandable, and aids in explaining difficult-to-understand themes. By utilizing YouTube, Portugal Arruda & Passos (2018) argue that a student from one nation can gain access to education from another country.
Furthermore, if a student is having difficulty comprehending a concept, they can review it again. On the other hand, teachers can provide high-quality education to many learners who would otherwise be unable to get it. As a result, YouTube teaching is more successful than any other resource since pictures have a greater impact on learner’s minds (Arruda & Passos, 2018). Students pay far greater attention to the films than they do in a typical classroom setting. This makes learning more enjoyable and simple. Furthermore, there are no school materials necessary to learn anything, such as chairs, desks, classrooms, or other school equipment. A robust and stable internet connection, as well as a smartphone, are all that is necessary.
YouTube has evolved into one of the most important providers of instructional media in history. Typically, Web 2.0 technology has altered how people learn and the environment in which they study. Being one of the world’s greatest search engines, YouTube offers tremendous educational value for educators, parents, and students at all levels (Lange, 2019). On YouTube, there are currently more instructional videos than books in the Library of Congress. According to Somyürek (2019), YouTube is an enticing medium for informal learning since it allows people to express themselves in an unregulated, unvetted space with diminutive or no editing procedure on the submitted content. Another characteristic that makes YouTube a resource for informal learning is the opportunity to create and consume material with few restrictions.
Scholars in media studies and anthropology have done high-profile research on incorporating instructional components into YouTube’s informal educational setting. Most studies demonstrate how YouTube may be used at different points along a theoretical continuum between exclusively academic and informal learning (Lange, 2019). YouTube was designed to enable users to watch and share user-created videos as well as remark on what is shared. Academic experts, on the other hand, have come to view its social networking features, such as watch, share, and remarks, as learning opportunities, which is a positive thing. Thus, many academic institutions adopt YouTube and utilize it to build instructional YouTube channels (Dyosi & Hattingh, 2018). Additionally, YouTube is being used to boost both formal and informal settings and experiences. Teachers have also incorporated parts of YouTube into the classroom, settings urging students to analyze and create their videos. However, teaching and learning relationships on YouTube are distinct from those usually seen in formal or informal settings, and recognizing this difference is critical to the YouTube pro’s success.
Unintentional and self-directed learning, according to Dyosi & Hattingh (2018), is an important component of social media learning since it allows for informal learning at home and in the context of social activities. Informal learning using technology assists users in developing constructivist, experiential, and contextual technical knowledge and skills. Many people appreciate the advantages of utilizing YouTube as an informal tool since it has grown into one of the most important sites for educational information (Somyürek, 2019). Open-ended, non-threatening, and explorative characteristics of informal learning environments that have instructional and pleasurable value. As a result, YouTube is a good fit for an informal learning environment (Endres, 2020). YouTube is intriguing as a medium for informal learning because it allows people to express themselves in an unregulated area with few restrictions.
Teachers in various locations across the world work hard to cultivate and sustain pupils’ enthusiasm for science. Science does not appear to be as appealing to many children as professors would like it to be. Parallel to this, there is a kind of scientific instruction and communication increasing and gaining increasing traction among young people: YouTube science documentaries and videos. Several YouTube Science channels have tens of millions of followers, with millions of views on each video (Somyürek, 2019). People watch them for various reasons, but one thing is certain: people are studying science through YouTube. Learning how science is presented in these videos may aid formal education in boosting scientific teaching efficiency by increasing learners’ passion for science. The contrast between YouTube and school is that in practice, neither the instructor nor the student has a say in what is taught or learned in school, but YouTube allows both (Endres, 2020). The link to knowledge in school is established a priori, but the relationship to knowledge on YouTube is based on the learner’s willingness to learn what he wants.
Social media and other open, online settings have become a staple of lifelong informal learning. People can use social media like Twitter, a popular social networking site where members may send and receive short messages called tweets and retweet and comment on other users’ tweets (Kumar & Gruzd, 2019). One may also follow others to study entertainment, economics, politics, sports, breaking news, and daily activities. Thus, people can utilize social media, such as Twitter, to gain information, discuss ideas, and interact with other participant-learners with similar interests. Since its inception in 2006, Kumar & Gruzd (2019) argue that Twitter has grown significantly in popularity and continues to be one of the most popular microblogging social networking sites.
Through interactive, effective communication procedures, course moderation and assessment, and professional advancement opportunities, Twitter has been shown to enhance teaching, learning, and learning methods. It has long been known that it allows for multimodal learning settings and collaborative chances for instructor-to-instructor, instructor-to-learner, and learner-to-learner interactions (Kumar & Gruzd, 2019). Teachers will find Twitter a rich and open online environment to enhance teaching techniques and individual learning objectives both within and outside of traditional classroom settings. Tutors, for instance, are not primarily concerned with formal education when they are using Twitter. Rather, they use the platform to exchange resources with their networking opportunities, publish information about academic tasks, seek support and guidance from others, engage in social commentaries and debates and connect with individuals who are not in their networks.
Facebook and WhatsApp
According to studies, faculty personnel is also using social media for academic and professional purposes. According to research, adding social media into teaching and learning contexts can result in new forms of collaboration, discovery, identity work, interaction, and beneficial intellectual, social, and emotional outcomes (Cain & Policastri, 2011). Some most well-known social media sites for academic communication are Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp. For numerous scholarly reasons, Greenhow and Lewin (2016) believe that Facebook and WhatsApp are the most commonly utilized technologies in higher education. Nonetheless, a number of research have been carried out to assess the usefulness of social media platforms in aiding student integration into higher education.
According to Goel & Gupta (2020), social media, such as Facebook, is an excellent tool for boosting student performance, boosting learner’s engagement, and raising student awareness of their learning experience. In fact, during the COVID-19 closure, several public higher education institutions that lacked technology platforms and official online learning management systems used social media sites like Facebook and WhatsApp to maintain formal academic contact (Sobaih, Hasanein & Abu Elnasr, 2020). This is online meeting tools such as Google Classroom and Zoom was new to students, and no training was provided; most faculty members can utilize Facebook or WhatsApp as their only means of academic contact with their students. Nevertheless, there is a strong link between students’ academic achievement and Facebook for learning. Additionally, social media sites like Facebook and Youtube provide:
• Opportunities for social interaction, close cooperation, information, and resource sharing.
• Building confidence and rational reasoning.
• Enhanced peer support and interaction about course content and evaluation.
• Intercultural language learning.
• Positive impacts on the expression of emotions.
Criticism of Social Media in Education
Although social media has numerous advantages as a learning tool for people of all ages, it is also crucial to remember that it has certain drawbacks and offers some hazards and security issues to its users, with youngsters being the most vulnerable. Although social media sites have played an important role in official and informal education, particularly during the COVID-19 epidemic, some academics have cautioned against using them for learning and education. Facebook has been associated with low academic performance among students. Moreover, excessive Facebook use tends to be a poor predictor of student participation. Also, spending too much time on Facebook, according to Cain, & Policastri (2011), has a negative influence on college grades.
Furthermore, according to research, using Facebook while doing schoolwork had a detrimental impact on their overall grade point average (Garcia et al., 2015). Besides, extracurricular use of social media among learners was shown to be disruptive to study in a research performed by Mpungose (2020), specifically among slow learners. Additionally, most of the students may opt to use the platforms for non-academic matters and socializing rather than as a formal learning tool.
The purported low quality of YouTube’s vernacular videos has been criticized. Others have argued that the uneven quality of the videos on the platform inspires new video-makers to begin creating and sharing videos. According to Kumar & Gruzd (2019), the site has a “discourse of quality” whereby members of different abilities, from beginner to specialist, dialectically debate ways to enhance their tasks in both technically conventional and socially newly emerging interactive ways, as evidenced by the large number of videos and comments about improving video creation work. These chances for informal communication, however, lead to a participation dilemma. This phrase reflects the reality that, while vernacular media creators are frequently urged to engage on sites like YouTube, they are typically chastised rather than praised for their alleged disregard for artistry, aesthetic quality, and participation ethics (Lange, 2019).
New members are also placed in an awkward learning situation in front of others due to the participatory issue. One illustration of collaborative types of informal learning is posting work online to gather feedback from viewers and other media creators. However, sharing work while learning a new talent exposes a creator’s possible flaws and opportunities for development (Lange, 2019). While some academics regard YouTube as a platform that celebrates linked and collaborative learning, others are worried that the site creates a vulnerable environment for learners experimenting with new abilities.
With some producers, video tutorials have a negative connotation since they promote technical identities that prioritize some types of learning above others. Tutorials are a legitimate method of learning for certain learners. Still, they are a less useful or socially acceptable way of obtaining new media skills for more technically oriented participants, according to Drotner (2008). For in-depth and socially acceptable types of information, technical participants generally prefer trial and error learning over artifacts such as tutorials. Furthermore, instructional authors may disregard viewers who require tutorials because more technically competent users regard tutorial viewing as a low-status form of duplicating learning, which may obstruct rather than facilitate advancement (Lange, 2019). Although video lessons and other informal videos are helpful to many people, they may also be used to boost views and promote an artist’s personal profile.
To date, nearly all of the study has been on learning processes informal educational settings with student cohorts. While academics recognize the value of social media platforms like Twitter in facilitating asynchronous coordination and interaction, it is also important to recognize that observing informal learning processes in open-online contexts necessitates developing more refined and accurate tools for learner conversation assessment (Kumar & Gruzd, 2019). On the other hand, Twitter-based communities are frequently loosely organized and enable various learning processes outside of official education venues and student learner groups.
Social networking sites, in particular, lead to mental distractions and impediments. These sites make students less focused on their academics and devote most of their time to social media instead. All of this leads to a wastage of time with little return on investment. Learners frequently forget to complete their assignments on time due to their interest with social networking platforms. Furthermore, using social networking sites irresponsibly can have both mental and physical health consequences. Students spend too much time on their phones or laptops, miss meals, and do not get enough sleep, all of which can have disastrous consequences. As a result of such activities, learners get drowsy and uninterested in studying or even meeting new people. Thus parents should keep a close check on their children when they are online. Excessive social media usage can negatively affect students, including eye strain and physical and emotional stress. Furthermore, as students rely on social media platforms for information and knowledge, their reading habits and research abilities grow.
Through digitally interactive cultures, social media has a propensity to connect formal and informal learning. Most young people have chosen the consumer role rather than the participation one. Researchers have proposed that social media can be used in formal and informal learning to improve learning techniques. Social media offers several distinct and strong elements that make it easy to interact with others through sharing and community assessment, resulting in participatory involvement in successful, multimodal learning communities (Drotner & Schrøder, n,d). Young people might use social media to tap into the network’s strength and seek out appropriate knowledge. Furthermore, social media usage generated unanticipated network effects outside of the classroom through interactions with peers, impacting young people’s knowledge generation in unexpected ways (González-Padilla & Tortolero-Blanco, 2020). However, there are several challenges that educational institutions, such as schools, must overcome to realize the potential benefits of digital cultural instruments.
Typically, some young people are completely engaged, beginning self-directed learning activities that fully utilize the possibilities of participatory and collaborative technology, but they are in the minority. Using social media’s learning features to enhance young people’s learning experiences in institutional settings might be of significant benefit. Nevertheless, there is a need to properly analyze the challenges that might be experienced in learning environments to comprehend how to confront and destabilize institutional policies and practices while minimizing the repetition of technology-based power structures.
People use social media for a variety of reasons. Learning and teaching are two of the most important. Many researchers, professors, and learners who want to access and share online information on any subject, topic, or event have turned to social networking sites. Users can use social media platforms to ask questions, discuss and debate issues, learn, and find related resources. Unfortunately, the usage of social media sites informal education has received little attention. Learning management systems are the most often researched and utilized eLearning technologies in formal education. Despite the lack of definitive explanations for the educational value of social media platforms, studies have shown that social media sites have a distinct advantage over current learning management systems in terms of sharing collaborative learning capabilities, ease of use, increased student/teacher engagement, and educational resources, among other things. Furthermore, despite the fundamental learning management functionality that social media sites lack in supporting formal educational activities, the quick growth of famous social media sites introduces wonderful characteristics that might replace the basic learning management functions. Nevertheless, it is crucial to understand the problems that social media pose to students.

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