Social media is commonly understood to be a double-edged sword.
While it provides benefits and advantages, it can also simultaneously create issues.
Social media has emerged as a powerful tool in different circumstances.
It exists for recreational use, for work-related reasons, for self-expression and also more recently, for educational purposes.
Some of the current most-popular social media websites include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, among many others, according to webtrends.com
But what happens when these social media sites start to become integrated within the classroom? Many may wonder whether it enhances the learning experience for the student, or if it burdens them?
Keene State College Communication and Philosophy Professor Brian Kanouse is one of many KSC professors who has used social media websites for his class.
“I have used Tumblr and Facebook at times to help with communication between the group, to develop group identity and ways of expressing themselves that they do more in their social lives,” Kanouse said.
Kanouse continued, “It can be a little hypnotic. It can help the student engage in a way that is a little more comfortable, but also can produce more interaction with the course.”
While Kanouse said he recognized the problems that using social media may pose, he also said that he believes, for the most part, it can have a positive influence on a student.
“It’s a technology and like anything else, it’s kind of neutral. For the people that get carried away with it, certainly it’s a problem, but a lot of students use it very positively. Overall it’s still pretty neutral,” Kanouse said.
Kanouse continued and said that, in his opinion, the more exposure students can get to it, the better.
The more comfortable they become with it the more it can enrich their learning experience.
“The more that we can use it for positive academic services without it being cheesy, the more it can be ingrained into everyday use—the better it’ll get,” Kanouse said.
Utilizing social media in the classroom also comes with its disadvantages according to some KSC students.
Although most students may be familiar with social media sites and how they operate, there is one factor working against them—distractions.
KSC junior Samantha Provencher said she is an avid social media user, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Despite her love for social media, she said it’s challenging to get work done when she constantly has the urge to check what’s new on Twitter, or Instagram.
“I know with myself just to sit down and write a paper, it’s every five minutes, it’s like an attachment with my phone. Every five minutes it’s like I need to check social media, it’s super distracting,” Provencher said.
Despite this distraction that lingers among nearly all college students who have social media accounts, many of them have also found it to be very useful to use social media within the classroom. It’s something this generation of college students have grown to know and love, and to extend the use of it to the classroom has brought about some interesting things.
Provencher is enrolled in a social media class where she creates weekly blog posts which she has different people from her class write for or post responses.
She reported nothing but positive feedback about how this course is going for her.
“I like social media. I think it’s a good way for people to market themselves,” Provencher said.
KSC junior Matthew Pereira reinforced this notion that social media use poses many challenges when it comes to concentration.
“I know that when me and my friends are doing homework and everyone’s on Twitter, everyone’s on Facebook. And personally when I study I do like two minutes of work and I’m like ‘Oh okay time for a break, let’s check Twitter, let’s check Facebook,’ it’s definitely a distraction,” Pereira said.
Getting past the distraction aspect of social media can be difficult for many.
But through these distractions, exploration of social media and what individuals can make of it, many hidden benefits may be discovered.
For some, it can even lead to job opportunities. That’s exactly what happened to Pereira.
What started out as simply signing up for VH1 surveys, finding out what he would like to see more of on the channel turned into something much greater.
Pereira is now sponsored by VH1 to log-on to Twitter and live-tweet during certain television shows and, in the end he is rewarded for it.
Once he receive his reward, Pereira said he must take a picture of himself with the prize and then tweet at VH1, thanking them for the gift.
Pereira said it is essentially product placement for the television network.
“Social media has really impacted me personally in a good way. I’m obsessed with pop culture and celebrities, so I kind of use my Twitter as a vice for that,” Pereira said.
Sabrina Lapointe can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.