The Brain and Social Media

The brain is no doubt a very complex part of our body, processing complex information of a daily bases.  It allows us to express emotions such as happiness, sadness or just being in love.  It is essential to use and I think this You Tube Video “Ode to the Brain!” puts a lot of things into context.

An article in the Guardian Newspaper by the science writer Martin Robbins, titled “Facebook will destroy your children’s brains“.  Before exploring this concept, a look at the original purpose of this social media site might help the reader to visualise some of the arguments.

Does Facebook or other popular social media sites such as twitter destroy the brain?

According to some “top scientists” the younger generation could undergo an “identity crisis” craving for attention.  The outspoken british scientist and writer Lady Susan Greenfield certainly has a lot to say on the matter: suggesting that repetitive exposure could effectively “rewire” the brian.  Ben Goldacre the author of the website, Bad Science, suggests that Greenfield has no real evidence but is riding on excess panic, speculations and mere ideas.

The use of social media by scientists can certainly cause a stir and without further investigation by the reader, could certainly mean ‘take on this misconception’.  It appears at this stage there is a lack of evidence to suggest the children’s brains are rewired.  Perhaps at this stage we should investigate the dependence of people of these sites and their need to keep an online log of their lives and opinions of others.

Social Media and 21st century Learner!

In my culture, we have a traditional proverb tells us that:

“One stick is easy to break, but sticks in a bundle are unbreakable”

I believe this is a perfect metaphor to the power of social media, particularly in the relation to the positive impacts of these tools in education and learning around the world.

The above proverb strongly presents the manner of collaborative learning and sharing. We can interpret the saying, as “None of us is as smart as all of us”. As the power of social network is more fully available today than in any other point in history, it is not surprising that we – the new generation adopt the use of digital media in developing learning styles that are heavily dependent on social media and the web. We can see that, our university and in particular the unit of Science and Media have embraced a variety of social media tools in their academic teaching, such as: podcast, digital movie, media release and blog.

Let’s look at this video about “A Vision for 21st Century Learning”

In the past few years, the boom of social media has grown from a phantom to an undeniable power of collaborative learning and sharing. During this time, new concepts like class blogs (e.g., WordPress) and micro-blogs (e.g., Facebook) together, help to achieve social learning. Plus, it is obvious that social network has become the central role in the daily life of our generation and so the next generation.

Let’s see how many of these social networks you can recognize!

It is undeniable that social media tools provide communication dynamics that offer new ways to create, interact, collaborate and learn new concepts. Therefore, schools and universities should consider implementing social media to improve efficiencies in the delivery of learning, as these new technologies might help to spark creativity, excitement, interaction, learning and sharing by students.

It’s not that I abandon traditional learning in favor of the new digital media, but it is about striking the right balance of both. When one learns basic manners, such as patience and self-discipline first, then the technology and social media can kick in to maximize its potential.

In my country, which is Vietnam, our teaching and learning techniques are different (or may I say behind) compared to Western societies. The main reason is because of passive learning (e.g., course lectures, papers, and the reading of a textbook) without interacting much with the digital media as well as the social media. For such thought, I have chosen this topic for the blog post.

So do you agree with me that educators should utilize social media in the right manner to deliver a more engaging style of learning that can accommodate digital learners?

Betty Bui Do

Reference: Wankel, C. (2011). Teaching Arts and Science with the New Social Media   Retrieved from http://UWA.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=678578