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Social Networking for Higher Education: The Burden and the Need for Unity

Written By: Emily Zakkak

Without a doubt, social networks have become an integral part of our daily lives. Most people are becoming increasingly attached to these services, whether it's texting your friends or working with colleagues. This stimulus serves to keep us engaged in interacting with others in a variety of situations, both personal and professional. But what if factors such as fear or anxiety are taken into account?

Social networking, by definition, is the technological medium through which we interact with others. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Discord are some examples of social platforms.These are just some sites that we are all familiar with as a result of our everyday use. Similar to how we use these in our personal lives, students often use social media for classmate interaction. Whether it is the most effective in this environment is debatable. More often than not, students psych themselves out from engaging in educational interactions through these platforms. They are simply too close to our personal lives: it becomes difficult to associate with them professionally.

Although learning management systems can combat this issue, there are better ways to implement them. Canvas, for example, includes features such as an inbox, calendar, and more. As a learning management system, Canvas is well suited for its primary purpose, but integrating a good social network can bring it to the next level. Currently, students like myself must use another social network, such as Discord, to communicate with their classmates. As a result, some students who avoid all forms of social media unknowingly place themselves at a disadvantage. Introverted students especially can be left out of the conversations being held by their peers outside of the classroom. It can be difficult for some to get the help they need in a community that is not held together by the educational institution.

I remember using Edmodo for class discussions, networking, and homework in my sixth-grade English class. Edmodo is a global education network that helps connect teachers and students, and it's a great example of social networking in the classroom. It facilitates communication between students and teachers in such a way that nobody gets left out. The excitement of collaborating with peers, and motivating each other are important to note. This is an example of a classroom that is being held together inside and outside of school. It fosters community by forming a cohesive link in which students may get to know and work with one another virtually and in-person while simultaneously promoting soft skills and active participation. With an educational platform that integrates social networking, there is a greater purpose for interaction and motivation for peer networking.

There have been classes when I never felt compelled to collaborate with others. The school system assumes that everyone has learned to be extroverted, which may not always be true. It is not always easy to recognize that mentality can affect the way and extent to which we communicate with others. Without the right tools and encouragement, it may be tough to navigate new situations and people. Networking among classmates should be vital to the college experience, as opposed to occasional communication. Students want to see a greater community where people empower one another to overcome social anxiety and be recognized.

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