Social Media Expands Within the School

A student pulls out his laptop to start some research for a different class, while another starts to discreetly use his phone to text his friend who stayed home. Whispering to each other over the latest gossip on Twitter, two girls giggle about the most recent celebrity tweets. Three boys try to keep the noise down as they laugh at the downloaded comics on a friend’s iPod. The teacher, in an attempt to engage the students, decides to play a YouTube video about the influence of the internet, but it would seem that no one is listening.

Various types of social media—such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Reddit—have become prominent in today’s world. They can be used for various things such as advertising, fundraising, getting together with friends, staying in touch with students, clubs or volunteer groups, and even introducing a new dynamic way of teaching. Since the popularity of social media has been on the rise, the school has decided to take advantage of the new way to stay in touch with students.

Ramletics, for example, has a Facebook and Twitter account to help keep students informed about sports events. Robinson Compliments is a Facebook group that was created to “spread some love across our school” and is a place where students can leave anonymous compliments.  Carousel, the school’s Art and Literary Magazine, has a Facebook group to help keep them connected and up to date on news; Latin Club, Robinson Crew, Robinson Wrestling and the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) all have Facebook groups that help keep them organized. SGA also uses social media to help advertise events such as the Mr. Robinson show and Icefest, as well as using it to keep SGA’s members connected with one another.

“They [the SGA] have a Facebook page and Twitter feed that they use. Some of it is through our unit, and some of it is just through SGA,” SGA Sponsor Allison Neun said. “Students don’t always pay attention to announcements or posters or flyers. We’re always looking for new ways to advertise when events are going on, or if we’re supporting a certain cause.”

Though more attention is going towards the technological ways of education and advertising as compared to the more traditional customs, they can also become a big distraction in the classroom.

“I do not have a problem with kids using technology in class. In a lot of cases, I encourage them to use technology in class, but when the teacher is trying to do instruction, I think that they ought to be paying attention,” Creative writing teacher Crosby Mouzavires said. “It’s disappointing when I feel like students are not taking advantage of their opportunities.”

Conversely, there are many tools online that can be used for education. Resources like YouTube can be used to find interesting documentaries or informational videos to help students learn in a different way. Since the internet has become faster, easier to use and more accessible through smart phones and laptops, it certainly does seem that students are focusing more on what they see on those devices than at what is on the chalkboard.

One of the advantages that social media has is that instead of being restricted to an area, or a time, it can be seen around the clock wherever you may be. This can have both positive and negative effects. Teachers occasionally use Twitter, texting, or Facebook to keep in touch with their students because they know that it’s more accessible to them. However, this also means that students can take advantage of this privilege of convenience and use social media during class to ignore the learning environment.

“It’s good to have the freedom to contact your parents in case of an emergency and everything,” Junior Caitlyn Ford said. “But there are also people who are abusing the right and being able to bring out their phones and are texting other people. They’re not really learning as much as they should.”

Social media seems to have had a positive effect on the school, encouraging students to keep in touch not only with their clubs and individual friends and teachers, but also to be up to date on current events. It’s raised awareness by helping to advertise more thoroughly and helped to facilitate student involvement in our school. However, there are also some negative effects, such as being a distraction in the classroom or propagating cyber bullying.

“I personally found out that someone on my team was cyber bullying five different people and threatening them, and it’s kind of surprising to realize that it’s taking place in your sports group and no one is talking about it,” Ford said. “It’s up to the students and kids to have better morals and ethics than cyber bullying someone.”

Overall, it seems as though social media, both inside and outside the classroom, can have positive or negative effects. Appropriate timing is something to be considered, as during lunch is it considered okay to use your phones, iPods, or other electronic devices, but in the classroom it is a distraction and unnecessary. Not only can the devices themselves be confiscated, but it can be disrespectful to the teachers if their students are not paying attention. Cyber bulling is an issue in every school, and it’s up to the student body to discourage and prevent it from continuing. However, there are many opportunities for social media to be used in a positive way, especially educationally, whether that’s listening to TED talks, watching YouTube videos, or using methods to keep track of student progress, which can be done through sites like Khan Academy. Google Docs is a site that is able to save and store essays, PowerPoint, research projects, and more that your teacher can look at as well, along with sites such as Noodletools that let teachers interact with student work.

Whether or not people may enjoy it, technology is progressing at an extremely fast rate, and education is becoming more online-based. Though there are many wonderful occasions in which social media can be used for education, people may misuse it and turn it into a distraction in the learning environment. Social media is a privilege that has both pros and cons—it’s up to the teachers and students as a group to decide whether or not that privilege will be utilized, or abused.