Nowadays students go to colleges with established social media presence and social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter are commonly used among them. This factor leverages the effectiveness of the use of social media in the post-secondary classroom. Today social media has immersed deeply into the curriculum of many programs at post-secondary levels. Social media provides the opportunity for post-secondary students to open a communication network with not only students and teachers in the classroom but also a larger academic community outside the classroom. Learning in the open is the idea that social media is utilized to publicize student’s work to the outside of the school community. There have been arguments about the pros and cons of this type of open education, particularly in post-secondary learning.
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In college, when students share their work online and ask for comments and feedback from other students via social media, they are exposed to a high risk of vulnerability and embarrassment. Vulnerability and embarrassment can be in the form of cyber-bullying and abusive behavior. In some of the art program such as film-making or photography/ animation, students usually share their works via Youtube or Instagram and this means increased visibility to the public. Unconstructive feedback in the form of mean comments and trolls can diminish the student’s motivation to learn. In addition, I have seen incidents where some people turned a student’s artwork into sarcasm. When a student is exposed to vulnerability and embarrassment once, he/she will likely be afraid of having their work shared via social media again.
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On the other hand, open education is believed to bring positive effects since some students might feel more confident and be able to express themselves fully in online contexts. This enables these students to collaborate publicly with outside classroom community in a comfortable way and they can voice some of the perspectives that they might find it’s too shy to say in the face-to-face classroom. Open education can create a sense of embodiment and community when students can discuss their work with peers and even people they have never met, by clicking “follow” or “like”, students can receive regular updates and keep up with further dialogs with the online educational community.
(Image from Digital Lahore)
It’s worth it to invest time in developing open education in the classroom. We, educators, need to keep up with the advances in social media and open education learning even though we might find there are plenty of potential risks associated with this type of learning. Before engaging students to learn in the open, professors need to introduce students to an established media guidelines and policies that clarify the appropriate use of social media tools. In addition, professors in open education learning must follow up with students frequently and give immediate support and guidance when students experience vulnerability or embarrassment during their learning via social media.