A BA in………Facebook studies

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Students spend nearly 25 percent of their internet time on social networking websites (Jacobsen, & Forste, 2011). It is estimated that Facebook alone is responsible for one is seven minutes users spend online. Its one of the most popular sites, estimated to be worth between $75 billion and $100 billion. With one billion users 50% of which log on every day, or one in seven of the words total population, Facebook without a doubt is big business. But with 96% of students using facebook, is there really such a thing as the ‘facebook effect’ and if so does this have a positive or negative effect on a students education?

Wang, Chen, and Liang, (2011)  looked into the effect of social media for example Facebook, YouTube, Blogs, Twitter, MySpace or Linkedln (Martin, 2008) on college students and found mainly negative results.  Social media sites promote negative behaviors in teenage students for example procrastination, additionally they found that these students were more prone to getting involved with alcohol and drugs (Schill, 2011)

Research shows quantity of social media use has a negative effect on grades. Approximately two-thirds of students said they use electronic media during class, studying, or while completing homework (Jacobsen, & Forste, 2011).”This multitasking likely increases distraction, something prior research has shown to be detrimental to student performance’’. As social media sites, for example become more popular, they are ever more harmful manners of procrastination when students should be studying. Of a survey conducted on 102 students, 57% said that social media had resulted in them being less productive. 

Another study has looked at the effects of social media on grades shows students who use Facebook set aside less time to study and receive lower marks compared with students who don’t use these social networking sites (Kalpidou, Costin, & Morris, 2011). Also, college students who are part of the 500 million member social network receive much lower grade-point averages (GPAs) than those who don’t  (Karpinski and Duberstein, 2010).

Social media is also extremely addictive. University of Maryland students who were deprived of social media for 24 hours felt feeling of craving and withdrawal symptoms similar to alcohol or drug addiction.  Facebook addiction was said to be 350 times more addictive than cigarette addiction. So maybe its too late we have a population of addicts and social media has to either be pushed away and denied or be accepted and utilized in positive ways to benefit education.

Nevertheless other studies do not support such negative corellations between social media activity and students’ academic performance. Social media technologies have attracted the interest of individuals from higher education who require ‘manners of engaging and motivating their students to be more active learners’ (Hughes 2009). There is an interest in combining certain social media tools (such as blogs, microblogs, video-sharing sites, and social networking) with the learning process (Grosseck & Holotescu 2009; Rankin 2009; Ebner et al. 2010; Schroeder et al. 2010), particularly by faculty members with a plan of using the latest technology in education (Crook 2008).

 Another interesting ability of social media is to increase individuals cognitive flexibility. For example when people are updating their facebook status, instant-messaging friends, or answering text messages and emails, while they’re doing something else. Dr. Kuhl (2009) ‘said this multitasking, where people are stimulating new patterns of sequential processing, could reap the same benefits as bilingualism’. If this is not the case— then networking online is to some extent ‘acting as a brain innovator, promoting new paths of discovery and interactivity in the brain’.

Already we can see education seeping onto facebook and other form of social media, as without a doubt it is an invaluable way to reach students. For example this module has certainly motivated me personally to read more papers and engage with academic material, as we are being assessed on our blogs and receive comments from our peers and Jesse, which is just another form of social media. In my opinion knowing that my work is being published for all the online community to see (if they so care) motivates me to better myself through my work ever week. This in itself can certainly be one positive aspect of social media on education.

I came across a wonderful idea on TED created by Neha Gupta that harnesses social media for example Facebook and the fact that many people waste many hours on these sites to create something positive, to link them with students who want to be taught through skype. In my viewpoint as with many things in life social media can be both harmful and beneficial it all depends how you harness it. Without a doubt social media has great potential to enhance education by engaging, motivating and making students members of a global learning community.

 

 

 

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Cock- a-doodle do or do not!?

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Throughout primary and secondary school I was constantly told to stop doodling during classes as ‘I was not focusing on the lesson’! But the creative process of doodling has a potentially valuable place in education to aid our concentration, motivation and our process of understanding .

The word doodle first appeared in the early 17th century to mean ‘fool or simpleton’ supposedly taken from the low German ‘dudeltopf’ that meant fool. This led to the formation of the verb ‘to doodle’ that was used in the beginning of the 1800s that means “to make a fool of, to cheat or swindle”. The Oxford English dictionary defines doodling as scribbling or drawing idly or a meaningless scrawl. Or to dawdle or waist time.

So in spite of its negative connotations if teachers are constantly giving out to us for doodling why do we often feel the urge to carry on and does doodling have a role to play in aiding our learning, or is it really as the teachers believe directing our attention away from the task at hand?

Doodling  can be seen as a way for our minds to concentrate on the present moment when we begin to feel ourselves getting bored by a particular stimulus, or in intense information environments, so it grounds us in the present moment which prevents us from daydreaming. It allows our brain to work through understanding novel material in a different way. It also engages all four learning modalities at the same time visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and reading and writing along with the potential for an emotional experience required for  processing and comprehending material.

According to a recent study the act of doodling caused better concentration improved retrieval of past memories and  it focused the mind on the present task at hand. ‘The doodling group performed better on the monitoring task and recalled 29% more information on a surprise memory test. Unlike many dual task situations, doodling while working can be beneficial’ (Andrade,  2009).

Another study has looked at the effectiveness of doodling in helping novice computer programmers to understand the material they are learning, there results are in line with previous studies on the usefulness of ‘external memory aids’ on students remembering and understanding complex information (Davies, 1993, 1996, Hegarty and Steinhoff 1997).

 An article in “Science” highlighted the usefulness of drawing in science education as it’s inclusive to different individuals learning styles and inspired students to connect and investigate the material in a more consequential manner. Additionally learners did not just benefit from an improved understanding of ideas by drawing, but it allowed opportunities for innovative and divergent ways of thinking.

In terms of implementing and encouraging doodling in a classroom setting I found an interesting link to a site that shows how doodling can be used as an innovative strategy alongside classroom activities, to engage students in subjects such as mathemetics  Vi Hart’s Math Doodling. There are various videos that students can follow for example Binary Trees, Snakes + Graphs, and Infinity Elephants. These videos allow students to engage with the sometimes monotonous content of images and words in a syllabus in a novel way by allowing them to engage their visual thought processes to understand a particular concept.

Personally I do not believe that doodling should replace learning the core content of a particular subject and traditional forms of teaching for example writing, talking and reading, but implementing these strategies from time to time would be beneficial. Doodling can liven up the classroom setting and complement what students are learning. Allowing them to test their knowledge by engaging them with the content in a different way, and without a doubt encouraging improvement of students engagement, motivation, retention and understanding of the material can only be a good thing.

One size cannot fit all

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The fascinating talks by Sir Ken Robinson (2006), in particular his  talk on ‘how schools kill creativity’, has got me thinking about education in terms of a ‘one size fits all’ set up.  Whereby education disregards the creative minded and results in them being tossed aside to feel they are just not clever simply because they do not fit into this narrow system. I really liked his comment on how children as they are growing are taught increasingly from the waist up,  with an emphasis on their heads and then slightly to one side (Robinson, 2006). Also his comment on how disconnected we have become from our own bodies and their wonderful creative capacity, for example as he points out is the case in many university lecturers (Robinson, 2006). Of course it is these very lecturers or teachers who are the primary source of knowledge in a University or school that believes in an information scarcity view of education.

When I think back to my experiences of being educated in Ireland it is interesting to apply this viewpoint. During my time studying I had a peer who was an A star student, she flew through school as she had the ability to regurgitate information and tick the boxes in terms of what the examiners wanted to see. But to be perfectly honest she was not a particularly good communicator and she was disinterested in any form of creativity. Another peer I knew on the other hand was a wonderful communicator, a very bubbly person who thoroughly enjoyed the arts, but she struggled throughout her education in the core subjects for example Irish and Maths. But through working very hard she completed all her exams. The first peer got accepted into a top teacher training school in Ireland the second did not purely based on her weakness in terms of the ‘core’ subjects. After finishing school she had a general feeling of failure, although sadly it was the system that had failed her not the other way around. Firstly surely an individual who has struggled throughout school but come out on top in the end would be more sympathetic  and better able to communicate effectively with the students than a teacher who has flown through school with no trouble at all. Surely what it boils down to is what Mr Robinson mentioned about the belief that there are two types of thinkers in the world creative and academic (Robinson, 2006). In this case as is often the case in a ‘one size fits all’ education system the Academic minded came out on top.

My question is, do you feel it’s right for these individuals who are the winners of a broken system to be ruling the majority of our education system and educating many of our children in the western world?

Additionally how is it fair as Sir Ken Robinson touched on for individuals to feel that ‘maths, and Irish’ should be the core subjects. One would have thought we have learnt enough about the multiple areas of intelligence and how it branches across many disciplines to appreciate the importance of other subject areas too. How intelligent an individual feels they are at school boils down to whether their type of intelligence fits in with the narrow box of what is being considered and assessed within that education system. Research by Dr. Howard Gardner (1999) proposed the theory of multiple intelligence which highlighted that peoples intelligence is far more complex than anything that can be measured by a simple IQ test. Dr Gardner indicated that there are eight different types of intelligence, logical mathematical, bodily kinaesthetic, visual-spatial, interpersonal (or emotional), intrapersonal, musical, verbal-linguistic and naturalist intelligence, Gardner (1999).

Clearly as Sir Robinsons (2006) talk and Gardeners (1999) evidence shows, it is time to utilize and embrace our creative capacities and multiple intelligences allowing them to flourish instead of being suppressed, as in the majority of children as they go through their education. Sir Robinson gave a good example of this by highlighting a study conducted on children’s ability to think of uses of a paper clip, whereby success rates decreased with increasing age Robinson (2006).

According to the The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) each child has the right to an education that develops their “personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential’. But surely by implementing the ‘one size fits all’  education system this fundamental right is not being taken on board?

 

 

American Psychological Association (1996). Resolution on school dropout prevention. Washington, DC: Author.

Gardner, H. (1999). The disciplined mind: What all students should understand. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster

Robinson, K. (TED talks). (2006). Schools kill creativity. Available from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

Convention on the rights of children (1989). U.N. General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25 (12 December 1989) with Annex Retrieved from http://www.hrweb.org/legal/child.html

 

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