Studies Show Social Networks Help Students Learn

Studies show social networks help students learn.California Watch recently reported on new research from Professor Christine Greenhow at the University of Maryland that proves spending time on social networking sites like Facebook actually helps kids in school. The study found that through connecting with schoolmates on social networking sites, students build important relationships, and when they feel connected to their classmates, students do better in school. Social media helps students engage with each other, provides accessible platforms for social sharing and fosters collaborative learning. This study is just one of many that repeatedly show the power of integrating social media into education.

The study surveyed about 600 low-income high school students and concluded that in addition to strengthening relationships, some students used social networking to solicit tips about college and career options. Additionally, students’ creativity and technical skills were improved through the use of social media websites. 

While there are certainly concerns about students using social media in the classroom - such as cyberbullying, harassment, and distraction – the positive aspects continually highlighted in studies cannot be ignored. Many sites have procedures to address privacy and safety concerns, and Facebook has even published a guide for educators on how to use the social network to enhance learning, as well as safety tips for parents.

The Digital Divide Leaves Students Behind

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education released its National Education Technology Plan, which included a proposal to use social networking as a platform for learning. The plan urges educators to utilize modern technology to not only engage students, but also because this technology will be vital to their lives and futures.

Once again, these studies reinforce the need to close the digital divide and guarantee that every San Franciscan and student has equal access to the Internet. We simply can’t tolerate a new divide – between the Digital Haves and the Analog Have Nots. We know the power social media tools have in our daily lives and in education. That’s why Reset is pushing so strongly for Guaranteed Access to the Internet for all San Franciscans.



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Phil Ting's picture

Social Networks Help Connect People

With everyone so busy, its harder and harder to connect with people. Social media a great way to stay connected in our ever busier lives. People can log on when they want - whether its late at night or early in the morning - and still connect with any community they are part of. Thats why we created Reset San Francisco so people could engage when its convenient for them, not just during City work hours.
Regarding cheating - yes - cheating has been going on long before the internet and social networks.  While technology has made it easier to share information in a faster more efficient manner, it has also helped those folks who like to cheat.  This shouldn't take away from the fact that information is being distributed more widely and efficiently.  It was great for me to do research on a particular topic at all our libraries on campus, but it would have been much better for me to be able to do it online like I can today.
Better technology and vocational ed are not mutually exclusive.  We need both, which is why I'm a huge fan of our CityBuild program which is a collaboration between City and County of SF, City College and labor unions to train people and get them to work.  We need more of these program all over the state.

MartinZehr's picture

Studies Show Social Networks Help Students Learn

Be very wary of these kind of studies and pay close attention to exactly what it is saying. It provides support on an individual level. it also helps students cheat which is not mentioned. It does not develop thinking skills or increase the reservoir of student knowledge which can be applied to problem solving or advanced thinking skills as needed. There has been a tendency to essentially substitute the technology without being able to address the real drawbacks. I mentioned cheating, there is also getting papers online. Direct instruction requires student classroom engagement and teacher-student interaction. The monitoring of student computer use remains problemmatic as class sizes increase. It is all very nice to show the upside but until there are empirical data that demonstrates it, collaborative learning on social networks may end up as simply letting one person do the work and others following. This is easier to monitor within the classroom in such activities. Further, it is not good of us to ignore the substantive data of the testing. At some point student performance has to made the student's responsibility to apply him or herself. Specific task directed activities can use social networks for interactions but I remain skeptical about concluding anymore then that. Dropout rates are related more to the lack of relevancy for students not moving on to college than the technology used. After 9th grade students are shutting down because education has nothing to do with their future.  Bring back vocational education in San Francisco schools to address all students and give them a real reason to stay in school.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137