Have opportunities they might not otherwise have. Social media

Have you ever wondered why schools block devices from accessing social media? Or how teachers can use social media during school hours, but us students can’t? Yes, it can potentially impact marks and performance. However, the advantages which social media presents and promotes certainly outweigh the potential setbacks. It can be used as a reward/compensation system for certain students, provide another learning tool for the classroom, and let students see videos/images/experiences they might not otherwise see in a social media free classroom.First of all, social media provides students with opportunities they might not otherwise have. Social media provides each individual student with a chance to express themselves in their own way, letting them use their creativity and imagination, rather than having classroom guidelines and rules imposed upon them. For example, letting students see pictures of a country/region, or even an event like a phenomenon/festival/celebration could help with better understanding and a visual representation of the topic which is the focus of the class. This let’s students better associate facts with images, and can help with memorization and improved understanding by giving a visual reference.Similarly, social media also presents another opportunity to students they might not have: a means to hand in their homework. This is where my idea of individual freedom comes in: with loosened or without any restrictions whatsoever, students can express themselves in whatever manners and using whatever tools they wish, obviously beneficial, especially considering when creativity is very rarely expressed and rewarded in school these days. For example, perhaps during visual arts, instead of submitting their artwork in person, which presents all kinds of problems in itself, students could submit pictures of their work via Instagram. This lets the students have fun drawing and submitting their work, as well as lets the teacher view all the submitted works just from one device, instead of having to mark them in person. This also greatly reduces the chances that one of the works will damaged, and helps organize the work of all the students. Social media can also be used to reward exceptional students, and their work! Using a periodic reward system, where the teacher can use a sharing platform to highlight certain students who have done an exemplar job in a certain subject, and encourage others to do the same. This fosters a close relationship between students and teachers, as well as motivates other students who are in the same class, or taking the same course, to put in more effort to have their work “highlighted”. Many classes at our own school already have a similar system, but putting it online makes it much more accessible, saves paper, and will usually be permanent unless the teacher decides otherwise. This is simply an improvement to what most classes already have, except it’s online instead of in person.A second point I would like to mention is how many activities can be greatly enhanced using technology, rendering them more hands-on and engaging for the students. Activities such as designing your own website, or creating a classroom website/page can easily be made to involve the entire classroom. For example, students can set-up a class Instagram page, perhaps letting students know what’s their daily homework, what projects are due, upcoming events/presentations, etc. Similarly, this account can be used as a method for handing in homework, perhaps sending via Direct Message (DM’s) their work, or providing a link. This is just an example of what kind of activities can be done using social media.The school shouldn’t block personal devices from accessing social media either! Social media provides a great amount of information for research, projects, etc. It helps students keep track of current world events, and contrary to popular belief, there are definitely reliable sources of information on FaceBook, Instagram, etc. Also, using students personal devices reduces the need for devices provided by the school, and could potentially save the school money, diverting it to other regions of the school (hygiene and sanitation, classroom tools, etc). It also wouldn’t be social media without mentioning ads! The average person is inundated with advertisements every single day. Most of these are subconscious, without you realising they were ever there, but they can still influence you greatly. Using social media, teachers can better educate students, pupils and others  on recognizing advertisements on a day to day basis, as well as their effects. Considering that 2 out of every 3 Canadians have some sort of social media and networking, and that 58% of ALL Canadian business have some sort of advertising online, social media is a common source for ads. There is no reason for a school to block a potential learning tool, especially not as one as common as social media. Many schools already have their own social media page (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)! Designing an intriguing social media page for the school can be a fun and inclusive challenge for everybody involved, as well as gives newcomers a sense of inclusion and more information about the school itself. The school’s account won’t be useless either! It can be used to inform parents/staff/students/teachers about upcoming events, outstanding accomplishments, and other important news. The difference and benefit of this compared to what most schools have right now is that it’s more accessible, and will reach a larger audience. Having a “bulletin board” (what we have in Laurier) as a means to inform the school won’t necessarily reach everybody, and many people might not even know it exists! However, putting it online means it’s accessible everywhere, not just at the school, and everytime there’s something important, notifications will assure your audience that they know about it! Finally, it’s important to recognize that social media can also be used as a way to educate students about the future, and their own wellbeing. Cyber-security is a very important aspect, often overlooked by schools. Teachers should educate students on how to make a safe password for accounts, for example, or how to be safe when you are browsing online. On the YRDSB document of Appropriate Use of Technology, page 12, paragraphs two and three, the Board highlights steps on how to develop a strong password, something schools never teach us.  The Cyber security should be a topic at school, as it has some very real-world, practical uses and applications. Even the beginning paragraph states, and I quote: “This procedure outlines the appropriate use and maintenance of passwords. It will help users understand why strong passwords are a necessity, and allow users to create passwords that are both secure and usable. This procedure will educate users on the secure use of passwords. This procedure applies to all York Region District School Board STUDENTS, trustees, staff members, school councils and others.” Even more ironic, is that on the very same document, it states that “Instructional Staff Members” (teachers) are allowed to use social networking tools, even during school hours, albeit for professional reasons only. As well, many teachers at Laurier ourself has a Twitter account they often use! Within a few minutes of browsing, lacking a Twitter account myself, finding the Twitter account of two of our teachers here was no hard task,! The point is, why should students be prohibited of using social media when our own teachers can? This also has the benefit of transparency, as most parents these days have social media as well. Letting parents follow along with class activities lets them see what their child is engaging in, and can help parents give critical and constructive feedback, further improving the education their child is getting. Also, this removes the need for parents to sign a test/quiz/worksheet, as parents can use social media as a way to communicate to the teacher and to acknowledge they are aware of their child’s progress and marks. This reduces the hassle of having to bring everything home in person, as well as saves paper and time. The point is, social media can be used as a means of communication, and let’s parents follow along with their child’s progress.Our world is evolving every single day, and in a world where more and more of our lives is online, it seems fitting to let social media into another part of our lives: school. Can social media be used as a distraction during educational time? Of course! However, can it also be used as another source of information, learning, and sharing! It can be beneficial to all users, be it a teacher, a student, or a parent. It’s easy to use, keeps everything organized, educates students more about the world around them, and is an overall overlooked and underestimated tool by many. Social media should be allowed in school, on ALL devices, without restrictions, as it will be very beneficial to everybody!

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