Education and social networking websites. Do they sound like antonyms to you? To many educators, teachers and schools in India, they do. Education generally evokes an image of scientific diagrams and a large of pile of books and social networking, on the other hand, evokes an image of leisure and a clock ticking so loud as to remind us of the time flying by! But what if I told you that social networking belongs in the classroom?
In India, laptops are banned in school. And access to social networking sites from school computers is denied. But as technology progresses, the internet can be put to use at schools, in very interesting and effective ways. Here are some ways to integrate social networking into the classroom:
1: Building a community space:
Forming a virtual community space has never been easier. A couple of clicks and voila! Your classroom has a URL. Facebook pages and groups are convenient options. You could create a page, invite all your fellow students or classmates and share the information away! Not all comfortable with Facebook? Google is among the many competent options too. Google Plus has dazzled the world with “circles” and it’s your turn to “circle” your class. (Don’t worry, if you don’t have an invite yet, Google Sites will save your day!)
2: It’s homework time!
Every day, students use tonnes of paper for schoolwork. We carry heavy loads of books and notebooks to school. And teachers too, must accept a pile of notebooks to read their students single-page essays. Why invite so much trouble? Teachers could announce their homework on the class webpage and students in turn, could type the homework and upload it to the site, email it to the teacher or share it on Google Docs! There’s a perk to this tech, typed homework helps keep plagiarism in control. Now the teachers can also simply ctrl+C, ctrl+V into the Google search bar to check for authenticity.
3: Virtual Discussions:
Didn’t have enough time to conduct that discussion in class? Say hello to Facebook discussion, group chat or Google+ hangouts. Teachers can initiate discussions and let students participate in them. Various professors in Harvard, Wharton and few of the top universities around the world are now interacting with students via Twitter and Facebook to answer queries and spread knowledge.
These are just a few ways in which social networking sites can serve as jewels of the “online classroom”. With the Google products now integrated under one umbrella toolbar, Google mail, docs, plus, sites and blogger are all at our service. Moreover, sites like Weebly are taking the concept of online classrooms to a whole new level. All we need is some awareness, interest and creativity to turn “harmful” social networking websites into effective “educational” tools!
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.