According to Greenhow et al. (2019), the are four roles that the use of social media has on education: its potential for facilitating students’ active learning, collaboration, and community connections; its role in fostering teachers’ professional learning through resource exchange, community building, and addressing individualized needs; opportunities to enhance educational research with social media–enabled digital traces, scalability, and digital methods; and the benefits of social media for doing and communicating scholarship. The use of social media gives students more choice and agency in deciding what their learning journey is going to be. This can only happen if the teachers are supported emotionally and financially for this immense flexibility that they want their students to have, and this support has to come from the institution through the relevant professional development. And to match these two points, the educational and ethical research being conducted on social media needs to go beyond just the adverse effects it may have on a student’s learning journey, and instead, focus also on how the social media affordances can be used effectively to enhance it. So far the research that has taken place on social media uses in education have focused either on the students or the teachers but not necessarily the two together in connection, and this triangulation is essential before building educational policies on how social media can be integrated with the curriculum.
However, the issue of technoethics that revolves around the use of social media, especially in K-12 classrooms, and these issues of ethics, and how to tackle them is what Krutka et al. (2019) address. In order to challenge the high profit margins that social media companies have enjoyed over the years, competition needs to be created for them. There need to be more social platforms created that offer better features, especially those that can be used effectively for educational purposes. This was a point I remember Abdu bringing up in one of our discussions in an earlier week. If this were to happen, would the existing social media platforms enjoy the nature of popularity that they have had so far? What is also needed is more regulation on the use of these sites, and Technoethics as a field to be developed in order to understand the new and far-reaching issues cropping up in the use of social media for educational purposes.
Technoethics is essential because its development will in turn, impact the formulation of technology acceptable use policies or AUPs. These AUPs were first systematically studied in the work by Ahn et al. (2011) about a decade ago, when the world of social media was booming and had expanded perhaps in its highest scope since the advent of Web 2.0. This paper was written at a time when the use of social media in classrooms was considered to be highly unethical, more so because it “blurred the lines between the classroom and outside”. However, this idea that the school and outside world are two distinct entities is problematic because education is, after all, supposed to prepare individuals for their navigation of the outside world. Therefore looking at school not as a subset of the world, but in isolation was perhaps not the best idea. This was of course, challenged with time as social media grew in its scope and popularity and ended up becoming thoroughly integrated with almost all aspects of our lived experiences. This was even more true when all of learning shifted online due to the pandemic. The authors of the paper predicted how the initial ethical challenges of the time could be combated by making technology not a sign of privilege, but as a relevant component of the teaching and learning process. By doing so, it would change the light in which digital technology in the education world is seen, and how this is not good to have but need to have.
In your response, you argue that our efforts on the (educational) policy front should be focused on gathering evidence on the relationship between teaching with social media and its impact on students’ learning or students’ learning with social media outside of school and its implications for teaching. Such investigation and triangulation could then inform policy considerations, such as acceptable use policies, for the integration of social media in curriculum. This is an excellent point. I think your post as a whole points to the out-of-date nature of our current legislation and policies, yet bringing them up to date should be a top priority. The pandemic drove home the need for better regulation and education concerning technology infrastructure supports for schooling. See my response to Betul for new legislation being proposed to address children’s online privacy, which gets at the ethical dimension you raise.
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