Educating the Masses About Social Media

While college professors are teaching their students the new wave of media through in-classroom assignments and projects, what can be done to educate the public about the new ways media will be presented? It is significant for a communications majors at college campuses to learn the new tools of the trade, but where and what does this mean for the public?

Many of these tools such as Facebook and Twitter are user friendly and easy to get started.  Sometimes the best method to go about it is trial and error. But for the non-technology savvy people, it will be up to educators to let their students know from an early age that these Web sites are powerful online tools to getting news.

Because Facebook (specifically) is practically more open to anyone than ever before, incorporating it into the grade school computer classes should be a focus of teachers. Much like when I was in grade school when we were encouraged to get e-mail addresses and play with the features online communication, students today should be encouraged to experiment with social media and perhaps get a Facebook or Twitter account (when they are mature enough to understand Internet privacy and public information). And instead of being used to keep in touch, educators should emphasize following key figures in the news and organizations that provide news.

However, before teachers can mandate students to get Facebook or Twitter accounts as part of their class curriculum, they need to stress that social media is more than just a way to keep in touch with friends or finding lost sheep to further advance their online farm. Educators need to be be put in the position to show how Facebook can relate to the real world and be used as a new form of media.

From an early age, I can remember learning the importance and significance of news by learning about the function of the press and newspapers, being required in some classes to keep up with current events and by being influenced every morning before morning announcements to watch Channel 1, a daily topical 15-30 minute program that brought news into the classrooms nationwide. This should be no different for the youth of today, however the medium has changed. Instead of reading a newspaper or watching a broadcast, educators can show how and why to use the new tools (social media, blogging and YouTube) to keep their students updated with news.

As a result, the students who grew up with the technology and ability to follow trends and news on the sites will always be ahead of the curve and understanding how media relates to them. However, again, how will the educators be brought to the new technology if this is something they haven’t experienced before?

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