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Saturday, 7 January 2017

Social Networking as a Tool for ELT

Advantages of Social Networking

found pic @ ATL&S
- Educational tool:  most students nowadays are fluent in Web and social networking technologies. Teachers must leverage this knowledge to enrich the learning experience. With social media, educators can foster collaboration and discussion, create meaningful dialogue, exchange ideas, and boost student interaction, especially when they are moving inside a new linguistic code.

- Enhance student engagement: students who rarely participate in class may feel more comfortable expressing themselves on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Social networking platforms enable teachers to establish “back channels” that foster discussion and surface ideas that students are too shy or intimidated to express themselves.

- Improve communication between students and teachers: Facebook and Twitter can enhance communication between students and teachers. Educators can answer students’ questions, post homework assignments or lesson plans, send messages and updates, schedule or announce upcoming events, and share interesting Web sites or multimedia content. Students can use Twitter to get help from instructors or other students. A great way for instructors to give participation points in addition to in class participation is by having students tweet about something that was discussed in class.

- Preparing students for active life: students entering the workforce can use social networking sites to network and find employment. With LinkedIn, students can establish a professional Web presence, post a resume, research a target company or school, and connect with other job seekers and employers. Students should follow professional organizations on Facebook and Twitter to be updated on new opportunities.

Disadvantages of Social Networking

- Social Media can be a distraction: tools like Facebook and Twitter may actually divert students' attention away from what's happening in class and may be disruptive to the learning process.

- Cyberbullying: While social networking sites provide a way for students and teachers to connect, they can be a weapon of malicious behavior. Teachers who use social networking tools as part of their activities must be aware of potential dangers and plan to intervene on minor incidents before they become more serious.

- Discouraging presencial communication: while real-time digital stream may create a safe harbour for students who are uncomfortable expressing themselves, students are missing valuable lessons in real-life social skills.

Now more than ever before the role of social media in education is under discussion. Advocates point out the benefits that social media provides for today's digital learners while critics call for regulation. Finding a middle ground has become a challenge. As an educational tool, social media enriches the learning experience by allowing students and teachers to connect and interact in new, exciting ways. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn provide a platform where users can dialog, exchange ideas, and find answers to questions. These sites are designed to foster collaboration and discussion. Despite these benefits, critics argue that there are serious risks to using social media in the classroom. The main issue is: do these risks outweigh the potential for opportunity?
While the discussion goes on about the pros and cons of social networking in ELT, no one can argue the influence ICT has on our students. This new-millenium generation conducts much of their life through social media. They are already using YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter as tools for learning. They expect their schools and their teachers do it, too! Let's not forget that a new reality should be faced with a whole new attitude.

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