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Tag - education

What’s Next? A Double Major in Social Media?

Now schools have also noticed the importance of social media in our every day lives…
 
Social media…[sigh]…Where do we even begin to explain this phenomenon?   How did social networking become one of the main sources of information today?  How is it even possible that this simple mode of communication can make its way all over the world to be read by billions of people online?  Thankfully, it doesn’t matter if we know the answers to all these questions or not, it will still be the powerful communication platform that it is.
We can’t deny the fact that it is the digital age and social media is here to stay.  According to a May 2013 report by the Huffington Post, the top five social media sites alone have a combined 2 billion users.  Smartphone users check their Facebook status at an average of 14 times a day and 79% of them check their phones for social media updates within 15 minutes from the time they wake up.
This online platform is so strong that it is now also being considered a tool in the field of education.  A number of schools around the world have started to adopt this new technology into their curriculum, their method of teaching and their method of news dissemination.  A number of campaigns have also been pushing for the use of this platform around the world.  As a matter of fact, the same Huff report suggests that 80% of college faculty members use social media and 50% of professors use it in their classes.
Here are a few of the examples of how social media is being used in education:
Ngee Ann Secondary School Tweeting Answers
Singapore has grown to be an economic leader in South East Asia and as it embraces technology, the country’s government is looking into implementing social media in education.
Among the schools that already use this platform is Ngee Ann Secondary School.  In a report by Euro News, during one of the school’s math classes the teacher posts a question and asks the students to send her the answer via twitter in which she projects them on screen.  This form of online communication in schools is what the Singaporean government calls “future school.”
New York City’s Digital Literacy
As the social media continues to permeate the society, the city that never sleeps has also embraced the idea to optimise technology by relating it into education.
The New York City Department of Education has a new position called Director of Digital Literacy and Citizenship held by Lisa Nielsen. She is the very first person to hold the position. Asked what the nature of her work is, Lisa says:
“This year we are focused on helping teachers develop their own digital literacy. Next year, we’ll be focusing more on students interacting with each other online,” she told the Huffington Post. “I’m heavily involved in the use of social media and I’m not aware of other school districts who have a position like this.”
 
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Project edX

Is online content about to revolutionise education?
Online education is not new. In a country as big as Australia, using the Internet has become a convenient aid to distance learning and a key ingredient in helping people study while holding down full-time jobs. But online education has existed as part of the existing tertiary system – meaning it is generally only available to residents within a given country, and at a cost.
Now, though, that could all be about to change.
The BBC reports that two of America’s (and the world’s) leading universities – Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – have joined forces to launch the US$60 million online education platform known as edX. Which may sound unremarkable until you discover that the aim is nothing less than ‘revolutionising education around the world’.
A new education model
And how is this project going to do that? Well, as the Beeb reports: ‘edX will provide online interactive courses which can be studied by anyone, anywhere, with no admission requirements and, at least at present, without charge’.
Heading up edX is Anant Agarwal, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and one of the brains behind the MITx online prototype. Professor Agarwal says edX will launch in the northern hemisphere autumn (the traditional start of the education year) and is confident it will be a huge success.
He has every reason to be bullish given that the first online course from MITx (a 10-hour-per-week, automatically assessed electronics course using an interactive virtual laboratory, e-textbooks, online discussions and video lectures launched earlier this year), attracted almost as many students as have physically attended the university since it was founded in 1861.
Small wonder, then, that Professor Agarwal believes Internet-enabled online content has meant that the traditional university model has ‘crossed the tipping point’.
‘This could be the end of the two-hour lecture,’ he told the BBC. ‘You can’t hit the pause button on a lecturer, you can’t fast forward.’ Which raises the prospect of lectures recorded specifically for tablets or Smartphones or computers, with universities able to choose and incorporate into the course offerings the best available.
A good or bad thing?
Although it is promised that edX courses will be ‘as rigorous as anything else from MIT or Harvard’, they do not grant a degree on completion. Instead, successful students will receive a ‘certificate of mastery’ to delineate them from the traditional courses for which students are paying up to US$50,000 a year.
Which raises the question of how universities worldwide will compete should edX prove successful. Will they then have to follow suit, which may serve to democratise higher education (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given US$1 million to make edX available to colleges serving students from low-income backgrounds)?
Or will they ultimately be unable to compete with the privately funded super-rich institutions like Harvard and MIT, forcing them to close and creating a homogeneity of education that could be counterproductive when it comes to creative thought and the emergence of fresh ideas?
We’d love to hear your thoughts…
 
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