Friday, June 3, 2011

6 Reasons Why Internet/Social Media Should be Used in Classrooms

It's no secret that students with laptops in class, with the excuse of "I type notes faster on my computer," are surfing away on the Internet while trying to look focused (or in some cases they won't even bother.)  Many professors, or parents even, have long debated whether Internet use in class is distracting or helpful at all.

Of course, very soon professors realize that students are IM-ing or Facebook-ing more often than typing down everything they say, so some professors have gone as far as to prohibit laptop use AT ALL, (or try to ;) ).

But here's how I see it. If put to good use, as most over-achieving college students or at least ones with a tiny sense of pride do, Internet actually facilitates learning in the classroom. I mean who enjoys being embarrassed in front of the class when asked a question you don't know the answer to?

1. Internet can be your quick tutor
Unfortunately, not every student are prepared for class every single time. Some oversleep their alarm clock for the early 30 minutes read before class; some too wasted from last night to care until the embarrassment of class discussion; some honestly just forgot about it.

But as a good college class should be, the content covered is always beyond the textbook. The textbook is the basis of class discussion/analysis, so I didn't read what?

I can either
1.) Sit here and day dream to the gibberish in the background, 
2.) leave, or 
3.) I can quickly sparknotes/google it. 

Option 3 allows me to have the basic understanding to what the professor is going on about. I mean my parents DID pay god knows how much money for me to be here.

2. Participation in Class
Don't you hate that kid on your left that just rambles on and on about nothing hoping that the teacher won't notice that he didn't read the material? Yeah, some would prefer to be silent than to be him With the aid of Internet however as mentioned above, you get the gist of the material you didn't read, and if you listened really carefully to what your professor said, it's much easier to join in with some useful comments. i.e. Internet can help encourage participation (apart from the scenario where you're just completely indulged in last night's pictures someone just posted on Facebook.)

3. Imagination and room for debate
Many students like to look up topics or controversial arguments online brought up by the professor during class. What then happens is you find a completely opposite view, feel smart, and challenge the professor on what he just said. This usually prompts a fairly insightful debate in class that helps you use information you already know at hand.

4. Keeping my attention
Personally, I have quite a short attention span. I have to be doing quite a few things at the same time for me not to fall asleep, so staring attentively at the professor isn't a choice for me. Random clicks on Facebook or Google actually helps me focus in class. Anyone feel the same way?

5. Information sharing
Many professors actually provide relevant, timely, or funny materials that students enjoy. I've tweeted many inspiring quotes, videos, and food-for-thought type content I got from class. This helps share the knowledge to fellow students and encourage learning.

6. Calming my worried mother who still forgets the time difference
Relevant to most international students. Many times my mother who lives in Hong Kong forgets the time difference and decides to Skype me while I'm in class. She hasn't reached me for a while and types "pick up! where are you!" And you know how mothers are when they can't reach with Internet in class, you can easily answer the call, turn on the webcam to show her you're listening attentively in class and thus calm her and have her feel safe for another week or two (i.e. she won't call you.)

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