Learning through social media

Outside schools and colleges, people learn less formally. Some use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to share ideas and engage in conversations. These sites can offer a range of learning opportunities, to access expert advice, encounter challenges, defend opinions and amend ideas in the face of criticism. Unfortunately, the same sites may present learners with inaccurate information, biased comments and hostile responses. Some organisations have set up social media specifically to offer learning opportunities. Learners are helped to share experiences, make connections, and link these with teaching resources. Other educational sites are based on projects, such as ‘RealTimeWorldWarII’, ‘The Diary of Samuel Pepys’ and NASA’s ‘MarsCuriosity’ Twitter account. Educators on these sites have multiple roles that differ from those of a classroom teacher. These projects require expertise, as well as the time and ability to take on different roles. Anyone can engage and leave at any time, but a skilled facilitator who takes on the tasks of filtering resources and engaging people can keep a social media project running for many years.

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