Social Teaching: The next phase of pedagogical evolution

Social Samosa
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There was a time, not too long ago, when the use of mobile phones in a classroom by students was frowned down upon, and usually meant trouble if caught by a teacher. But then again, times have a way of moving very fast indeed.

The technological revolution that has transformed almost every aspect of today’s life has not left the field of education untouched. On the contrary, it has completely changed the way education has traditionally been approached.

If you are skeptical of the impact that social media has had on pedagogy, consider this: students no longer have to rely on physical assignments to be handed over by their teachers. Instead, the assignments get circulated within WhatsApp and Facebook chat groups and are usually followed by updates on the deadlines, tips, guidelines and so on. Relevant reading materials are also often shared within these groups.

How does it help the cause of education? For one, it extends the learning experience well beyond the constraints of a classroom. Moreover, it helps build a more open two-way communication channel between teachers and students and fosters a more collaborative approach within the student peer group themselves. But like the tip of an iceberg, this commonplace example serves barely as an entry point into the world of social teaching. More than just a tool for sharing assignments and educational material, social media has transformed the very way classrooms are now approached.

Take, for example, the concept of flipped or inverted learning. Traditionally, classrooms have been serving as places for teachers to dispense the lectures to their students. These lessons are generally followed by homework assignments that students must complete referencing the lecture delivered in the classroom. Flipped learning, true to its name, flips this approach right on its head.

Instead of the lectures being delivered in classrooms, students are given leave to peruse through educational material shared through social media platforms at their homes. The ‘homework’ assignment is then tackled within the classroom as students share ideas, theories and knowledge they have gained with their peers to solve the assignment. Needless to say, with an active learner involvement, this method of educating allows students to derive more knowledge from their learning experience.

Flipped learning is now giving rise to the re-flipping of the educational model. Teachers are now actively employing social media tools within their classroom interactions, sharing educational videos, audio lectures as well as text-based content on the various platforms. Moreover, there is a dramatic shift from just consuming educational content to creating educational content – students are being encouraged to generate their own content by translating their learning experiences onto a digital medium. Interactive videos and student blogging are gaining popularity, as it allows students to explain concepts to each other from a student’s perspective. Student-generated memes are on the rise, as are Instagram photos; these modes of learning allow learners to understand a particular concept through text-visual correlation and have a better recall value.

The frequent use of social media has also given rise to a newer trend of peer-to-peer or P2P learning. This new development lets the learners take on the role of teachers within their peer groups. Through chat groups and online discussion boards, learners post questions on the topics that they require assistance with, which are then answered by their fellow students. This method of learning has gained much appreciation due to its high success rate; nearly 90 percent of the answers are absolutely spot-on.

The benefits of social learning are quite obvious. Education is no longer passive, and neither is the students’ role in it. By actively involving students in the process of teaching, educators nurture a more open learning atmosphere that grants students the freedom to create a different perspective towards problem-solving.

Moreover, the use of social media platforms in the educative process allows both students and teachers informed about the latest developments in any particular field through access to hyper-relevant resources which are not constrained by geographical or physical limitations. In fact, teachers are leveraging the power of social media by implementing the BYOD model in their classrooms to drive learner engagement. Given the success that such social learning practices have had, several learning management system or LMS providers are now providing integrations with popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc to allow students to share their creations with their peer groups across the world.

Once considered a distraction to quality education, the impact that social media has made in the field of pedagogy is immense, but it is nothing compared to what the future holds. Newer ways of integrating social media and mobile-based learning are constantly being explored while the existing approaches are being dynamically transformed as more innovations are brought into the fray. Education is truly turning social, and the day isn’t far when the two concepts will be inseparable.

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