Education Leader Says Social Media is ‘Missed opportunity’ in the Classroom

Education Leader Says Social Media is ‘Missed opportunity’ in the Classroom

The use of social media platforms amongst children and the use of this form of technology in the classroom has long been a complex area of discussion. However, the latest research by education expert Dr Ryan Thomas Williams suggests that not only does social media belong in the classroom but could be key to facilitating improved engagement and better learning outcomes.

The University of Sunderland Senior Lecturer’s latest paper, A Missed Opportunity? Social Media and Pedagogy as Teachers Returned to School, examines the current state of classroom education in the post-pandemic landscape, shining a light on the new challenges that are being faced, and the role that digital platforms like social media could play in tackling them.

Social media in the classroom is the topic of much debate, with fears that its use in educational settings could create distractions for learners, detract from human interaction, increase access to inappropriate content, and promote the use of such platforms amongst young communities. However, Dr Williams’ research suggests that these fears are due to the use of the technology in its own right. Instead, he recommends that educators focus on the technology merely as a driver for developing new pedagogical strategies to improve learning outcomes in the vulnerable post-pandemic educational landscape.

Dr Williams says, “While an increasing number of teachers are using YouTube as a resource in the classroom, professional development in this area is severely lacking. We’re already seeing evidence of how digital platforms are being embraced by many other sectors, including medical. Now, in education, we must be developing our CPD offerings for teachers, and supporting them to support their students with technological opportunities”.

The COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures had implications for young people that are still not fully understood. Children were isolated from their peers, from their mentors, and from authority figures, living in closed bubbles separated from the wider world. Dr Williams believes that in order to reverse the damage done by isolation, teachers need to be providing children with access to a broader community of people, and to a wider range of learning resources, beyond what can be offered within the four walls of the classroom.

“There is a weak link between pedagogy and technology, and in the post-COVID landscape especially, this is having a major impact on young people, stretching from their ability to develop leadership qualities right through to their understanding of health, nutrition, and their place in the world” says Dr Williams. The lecturer believes that the lasting mark of isolation will be a generation that struggles to understand others, especially those that are different from themselves, and the role that they play within society.

Many social networking sites have been thought to break down traditional hierarchies in terms of society and global geography. Twitter, for example, empowers learners to engage with individuals from all over the world, and from all walks of life, offering what are essentially free learning resources.

For example, through social media, children in a classroom in England can watch cooking demonstrations from children in a school in South America, not only learning about different cultural traditions, but also about how different communities approach nutrition and healthy eating. Ultimately, social media is a way of boosting awareness of critical subjects at a time when children have not had opportunities to be exposed to these ideas because of lockdown, and the missed learning we’re striving to recover.

To find out more about Dr Williams, visit