Advantages of Social Networking in ELT

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Advantages of Social Networking

found pic @ ATL&S
- Educational tool:  Most students nowadays are fluent in the web and social networking technologies. Teachers need to take advantage of this knowledge to enrich the learning experience. With social media, educators can foster collaboration and discussion, create a constructive dialogue, exchange ideas, and stimulate student interaction, especially when moving within a new language code.

- Enhance student engagement: Students who rarely participate in the class may feel more comfortable expressing themselves on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube. Social networking platforms allow teachers to establish "return channels" that promote discussion and surface ideas that students are too shy or intimidated to express themselves.

- Improve communication between students and teachers: Facebook and Twitter can improve communication between students and teachers. Educators can answer questions from students, post assignments or lesson plans, send messages and updates, plan or announce upcoming events, and share interesting websites 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 participating in class is to have students tweet about something that has been discussed in class.

- Preparing students for active life: Students who enter the job market can use social networking sites to network and find a job. With LinkedIn, students can establish a professional web presence, post a resume, search for a targeted business 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 can actually divert students ' attention away from what's going on in the classroom and can be disruptive to the learning process.

- Cyberbullying: While social networking sites offer 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 the potential dangers and plan to intervene on minor incidents before they become more serious.

- Discouraging presencial communication: While real-time digital flux can create a safe port for students who are uncomfortable expressing themselves, students lack valuable lessons in the real life of social skills.

Now more than ever the role of social media in education is under discussion. Advocates underline the benefits that social media provide to today's digital learners while critics call for regulation. Finding an average terrain has become a challenge. As an educational tool, social media enrich the learning experience by allowing students and teachers to connect and interact with exciting new ways. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer a platform where users can chat, exchange ideas and find answers to questions. These sites are designed to promote collaboration and discussion. Despite these benefits, critics argue that there are serious risks to the use of social media in the classroom. The main question is: do these risks outweigh the opportunity potential?

While the discussion continues on the pros and cons of social networking in the ELT, no one can support the influence of ICT on our students. This generation of new-millenium is leading a large part of their lives through social media. They already use YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as learning tools. They expect their schools and teachers to do so too! Let us not forget that a new reality must be faced with a whole new attitude.

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