Varying influence of social media to learners during pandemic

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Social media platforms are amongst the most widely used sources of information in the World, the easy and inexpensive access to the internet and a large number of registered users in these platforms make them one of the easiest and most effective ways to disseminate information. During major events, the overall response is usually a greater search for information be it a sports event, a disease, or a natural disaster.

Social media platforms can play an important role for teaching students already hard-wired into the tools and for advancing teacher professional development benefits of this include making students feel more engaged in learning, creating deeper interactions between teachers and students and expanding learning communities beyond school walls, it’s not surprising since students use social media in almost every other aspect of their lives.

Educators and teachers have had very little guidance on research-informed practices this has been a problem since a quarter of teachers surveyed turned to social media to interact with students when the pandemic began and were rapidly required to teach online. This will help educational professionals understand how their social media use can help students and support their own rapid learning during the pandemic and beyond.

According to research, it showed that through social media, teachers can enhance interactions between students, between students and teachers, and with people and resources outside the classroom. All are important for a student’s sense of belonging in an educational community. And by using social media themselves, teachers can receive professional benefits through just-in-time teaching-related resources and social or emotional support outside their own school or district. It also provides an understanding of the impact social media has on teaching and learning, which will help teachers prepare for a combination of in-classroom and online learning likely expected this fall.

Faced with uncertainty about what form their fall teaching will take, these insights on the advantages of using social media will help teachers address common teaching challenges, The constant challenges of promoting students’ active learning and sense of connection are issues that educators often struggle with, but especially so when they have to turn on a dime to recreate in-person classes online.

On a study in responses to COVID-19 in higher education: Social media usage for sustaining formal academic communication in developing countries”, published in Sustainability on 12 August, show that social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp have been used effectively to sustain formal teaching and learning in Egyptian public higher education institutions which lacked technological platforms and formal online learning management systems during the COVID-19 shutdown.

The study reveals that most faculty members used Facebook or WhatsApp as the sole tool for academic communication with their students because online meeting platforms such as Google Classroom and     Zoom were unfamiliar to students and no training was available.
For students, Facebook was the most adopted tool for formal academic communication, followed by WhatsApp – 69 percent, YouTube – 63.1 percent, Wikis – 50.2 percent and other social media – 19.4 percent, for example, blogs and Twitter. A low proportion of students used LinkedIn for academic communication – 6.5 percent.

Social media has advantages and disadvantages, the responsible use of these tools can help during a pandemic to quickly spread new important information, sharing diagnostic, treatment and follow-up protocols, comparing different approaches from other parts of the World to adapt them to our setting and available resources, with the downside of possible dissemination of fake data, myths, and pessimist information that combined with quarantine states may lead to anxiety, depression and in some extreme cases, the suicide. Therefore, it is advisable not to contribute to the infodemic and follow a responsible use of social media when disseminating information.

By Pia Licudine