Web and Social Media for Student Learning

Introduction

The following is a brief analysis of blogs, wikis, and social networking tools. Through the internet, social networking has become one of the most influential and powerful modes of communication in the twenty-first century. With more than two billion people having access to internet and computers and the increase in the number of people using computers in their work, the need for networks, the blogs, Twitter and Facebook cannot be underscored. This essay looks into some of the attributes of social media and its contribution to the learning experience among students.

A brief analysis of blogs, wikis, social networking, and social bookmarking tools

Currently, social networking accounts for 22% of the time that US citizens spend online. In the year 2011, Twitter processed more than one billion tweets. In May 2012, Facebook had 912 million users, and in every four minutes, a video is uploaded on YouTube. This shows the prevalence and influence of social media all over the world (Richardson, 2012).

The blogs are mini-websites, where people share their experiences and information to the public worldwide, and information is accessible to anyone who views the website. The blog has become a great forum where individuals share opinions on different issues. The wiki is an important source of information on the internet, which provides scholarly information on people, subjects and objects. It is an online encyclopaedia. Social networks refer to groups of internet-based technologies that allow the exchange of user-generated content to communicate to groups, communities, and individuals (Rheingold, 2002).

The above social networks have attributes that differentiate them from the traditional media with the first one being the scope, which the social media reaches. The social media have a global presence in the sense that information posted on the websites can be read by people in different parts of the globe (Richardson, 2012).

The second attribute of social media is that they are accessible to different people. The applications such as Facebook, Google, Twitter are accessible via the phone. Since over three billion people have mobile phones with social media applications, it becomes available to people in different parts of the world.

The other component of social media is that of usability. Little skills are required for one to communicate via social media. Unlike the traditional media that requires complex skills to communicate, social media requires none of such complex skills. Websites such as Facebook provide ready audiences for Facebook pages, and anyone can interconnect with people (Richardson, 2012).

This blogs sites as YouTube also provide a component of immediacy where one uses the site to report what is happening in real-time. One can report of the happenings in Syria through a blog or by uploading a video showing the progress of the fighting factions.

A personal perspective on professional learning communities and the potential of online collaboration

Professional online collaboration through online learning communities has increased the opportunities for learning. It is now easy to acquire information from sites such as wiki and search engines such as Google. This collaboration has made it easy for students to access materials such as books online, which would have been expensive if bought from the bookstores (Rheingold, 2002).

The social media presents an employment opportunity for young people in future due to companies that need to develop an online connection with the online global audience. Companies are therefore employing people who can monitor and track online comments about the company, post about the company’s activities and other public relation issues. This has made it necessary for students to have social knowledge using different tools to develop stories and discussions online. Ability to share comments, build the Facebook page, develop Twitter, blogs, WordPress blogs is important (Benkler, 2006).

The other personal experience with social media is that it enables one to network with like-minded people or people with similar interests or professions. By networking with such people, one learns new trends in the profession, emerging markets, and creating new professional contacts that are critical in the advancement of career prospects (Benkler, 2006).

The strengths and weaknesses of the course

This course was imperative in that it created the necessity of the students to participate in online communities. This is because, in the twenty-first century, technology has integrated communities, as well as society and professionals, must use social media. Therefore, training the students to use social media applications blogging is preparation for a future sense of professionalism and interconnectivity with people (Benkler, 2006).

The weakness of this course is that more time may be spent on social sites than in actual learning. Learning how to use the internet applications without having the discipline to disengage from the internet when necessary may affect one’s study negatively as one may spend more time on the social sites socialising, commenting, sharing pictures rather than learning (Richardson, 2012).

Personal experience using the above tools

My personal experience when using the above tools is that the tools harness social presence by participating in online conversations where one provides opinions and commentary on what is happening across the globe. The tools help to interconnect with friends and people who are in different parts of the globe. This presence is advantageous as it enhances relationships with people due to constant communication.

Participating in the online community forums also makes a person familiar, and the online communities are of great help especially when one is advocating for a particular cause especially charity issues where the online community can assist financially (Rheingold, 2002).

The online community also presents an opportunity for personal branding. Individuals who wish to be viewed as experts in their professions can start to harness their expertise by contributing to the opinion blogs and journal websites. One can also contribute the expertise by sharing ideas and concepts via the social media and therefore create a perception to the online audience that they are professionals in that particular field, which may, in turn, increase their business and professional rating (Richardson, 2012).

Conclusion

Social media has become an important component of modern-day life, which everyone needs to be aware all the time. Many people today cannot spend a day without visiting Facebook and other social sites such as Twitter to make comments or interconnect with friends. Social networks have played a major role in the dissemination of information and improving interconnectivity and the integration of people of different cultures across the globe.

References

Benkler, Y. (2006). The wealth of networks. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Rheingold, H. (2002). Smart mobs: The next social revolution. Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press.

Richardson, W. (2012). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. California: Corwin Press.