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The influence of social networks on virtual education
Social networks have great potential in online education. Many people perceive them as an updated source of information about friends and the world, while for others it is a tool for communication, self-promotion and presumption of achievements. The rise of social media sites and the general interest in student -centered pedagogies have attracted attention to the use of popular Internet tools to improve distance education. This essay specifically explores the most popular social networks: Facebook and Twitter, and an overview of the main benefits and risks of applying these tools and services in the online learning process is provided.
Virtual education needs the use of collaborative pedagogical strategies capable of dissolving the barriers inherent to the modality. The distance learning model assumes that students are not physically in a space or specifically in a time, nor are they found with a person who directs training;In addition, the course materials, content and tasks are delivered through the use of new technologies. Therefore, social media websites offer the possibility of creating a sense of presence and belonging, creation of communities, student participation in interactive discussions and allow the joint construction of knowledge.
Specifically, most people are familiar with Facebook, a social network where it is possible. Research about the use of social networks in education, have shown that teachers’ opinions on the use of Facebook for educational purposes are positive. The results show that the virtual class through this medium allows to carry out various activities and suggest that this learning environment not only helps improve students’ teamwork, but also helps them achieve better results inLearning since participation and motivation increases, students can know each other better and generate the self-regulated appropriation of knowledge at their highest level, creating richer learning environments benefiting from different web tools 2.0 iOS and Android, and various mobile technology applications adapted to Facebook.
On the other hand, Twitter: the social network of microblogging, originally designed to publish answers to the question ‘What am I doing?’In less than 140 characters, it has certainly now become much more than that. It is useful for advertisements to students, especially if they use hashtags to share information. The hashtags begin with the # symbol and are useful to return specific results from a search. The ‘short url’ services, as bit.Ly, help maintain the limit of 140 characters shortening the URLs to 20 characters or less and facilitating their diffusion. However, although it allows people to be in constant contact, their value in the educational context is less clear. An investigation, which examines empirical studies on the use of Twitter in teaching and learning for 10 years, with the aim of understanding whether or not its implementation would benefit students or not, revealed that Twitter was the most commonly used social network for the purposes ofCommunication and evaluation, but the causality between the use of Twitter and the learning performance has not yet been established conclusively. Currently, the most beneficial use of Twitter is probably that of a ‘thrust’ technology, such as the instructor who sends important information of the course, the tasks and deadlines of the tests to the students, as well as that of a platform for the interactionAmong partners. There are still many challenges in the use of Twitter for teaching and learning. However, with more research and careful application of media literacy, Twitter is likely to become a useful complement to more personalized teaching and learning.
Despite the multiple benefits involved in the use of Facebook and Twitter in virtual education, researchers offer a long list of potential risks. These include extraordinary workload concerns for teachers, trainers and facilitators because there are a number of actions to be undertaken so that the application of social networks generates a successful learning environment, some of the main ones are: to keep in frequent contact with Participants, moderate, include group tasks, create an active learning environment by providing constant feedback, respect the diversity of participants’ work styles, organize “virtual meetings” for the creation and exchange of information, among others. Other potential risks are: the lack of confidence in the feedback of the classmates, uncertainty in the veracity of the information published by other people, property rights problems, difficulty adapting to the available tools, misunderstandings between the actors and difficulty in protecting Student’s anonymity and personal privacy.
In conclusion, the use of social networks online in the educational process has been supported by numerous educational technology researchers, who have highlighted the benefits of participatory technologies in virtual education environments. Facebook and Twitter encourage the contribution of all interested parties, are public access and achieve dissemination and information exchange. While traditional media are "transmission" of content, social networks are considered a bidirectional conversation. In addition, they allow information to be distributed rapidly and communicate within communities share common interests using links to other sites, resources and people. However, the use of social networks in the educational field entails potential risks, so they should be used carefully.