How Social Media Works to Democratize Education

Today’s social media landscape includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, and numerous other hubs that assist in the dissemination of entertainment and ideas. Social media is also increasingly important in making education available to far larger numbers of people all over the world than at any previous time in history. Through Skype, videoconferencing has brought students of all ages together and aided interaction between teachers and students even when class is not in session.

In earlier generations, higher education was available only to the privileged few who had the means and the leisure to pursue it. Those who spent most of their time working or caring for families were effectively prevented from entering the educational community to the fullest extent. Today in the developing world, technologically based educational tools are enabling more people to learn English, increase their job skills, and broaden their personal horizons. And distance-learning options, in which students earn official credit for online courses, have provided the formal validation of education that is essential to personal economic advancement.

Through the use of micro-blogging, social media bookmarking, file sharing, and other networking techniques, students and teachers are building an ongoing international learning community that exists in real time. Over the last few years, conferences for professional educators have caught up with the trend, offering sessions demonstrating the effectiveness of online and social media connections in learning. As technological advances continue to transform the educational landscape, serious hurdles remain. The task of ensuring equal access for everyone and getting new tools into the hands of underserved populations will continue to challenge society’s creativity and dedication.