Guide to Using Social Media for Educational Purposes

Any advancement in our means and ways of communication directly benefits the education sector, because it essentially depends on the transference of information. Originally, social media was seen as a way to catch up with friends, connect with people and pass time. However, given the speed with which it has grown, it has become a viable method for sharing and exchanging information and knowledge throughout communities and networks.

Research has also shown an increasing use of social media in our educational system. Each year, most learning and research institutions put out the results of an annual survey of social media use in education.

Across the board, educators are using social media more now than they did in the past. This is attributable to the popular use of social media as means of disseminating information across the globe fast and cheap. Let’s take a look at how social media is and can be used for educational purposes.

Social Media Tools Used

The tools used are:

  • Blogs & Wikis
  • Podcasts
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


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    Advantages of Social Media

    - Highly qualitative
    - Wide reach
    - User friendly
    - Geographical divisions
    - Cross cultural communication
    - Multi-media sharing capabilities
    - Minimum technical requirements 

    Benefits for educators

    - Professional Community of educators
    - Exchange of ideas, information and best practices
    - Encourages collaborations and networking
    - Exposure to technology based ideas
    - Encourages professional engagement, training and continuing education
    - Promotes inter-cultural and cross-cultural interaction

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    Managing social Media for educational purposes

    There seems to be an increasing trend towards the use of social media monitoring tools that allow educators and marketers to track, inform, educate and analyse discussions on the web about their brand or topic(s) of interest. This could be useful in general public engagement.

    The honeycomb framework defines how social media services focus on some or all seven of the functional building blocks.These building blocks help explain the engagement needs of the social media audience.

    For instance, LinkedIn users are thought to care mostly about identity, reputation, and relationships, whereas YouTube's primary features are sharing, conversations, groups, and reputation.

    Many companies build their own social containers that attempt to link the seven functional building blocks around their brands. These are private communities that engage people around a narrower theme, as in around a particular brand, vocation or hobby, rather than social media containers such as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

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    Six Ways to Use Social Media in Education

    - Gathering and sharing data collected with mobile devices during field work or travel abroad.
    - Aggregating images and information to share with classmates or with other interested groups.
    - Creating a public profile to showcase personal research interests and to connect with a broad audience.
    - Using Twitter in class to keep students engaged and to get a sense of what students are thinking about during lectures.
    - Adding social tools to e-textbooks.
    - Forming student study groups with the use of Google+ Hangouts and other social tools.

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    Social media offers tons of opportunities for advancing educational programs and facilitating both students and teachers. If the available tools, which include social networks and web applications, are used properly, there is much to be gained in the field of education.

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