Till recently we considered social media as a platform to network or have fun. It was never associated with education or learning but this was before YouTube. However it never really went beyond YouTube; so much so that being friends with teachers on social media didn’t really go down well in social convention.
But with the COVID lockdown and the subsequent school closure, it became important for students and teachers to continue learning and education. While some schools migrated to learning online, the others were left with searching for options. Even today, nearly 8 months after the school closures, there are a lot of schools and organizations that are struggling to find a way to communicate and continue learning. The lop-sided government directives by various states about this matter aren’t helping anyone, so how can students continue learning even in a pandemic? And I am not talking about schools in the cities that can and have moved to online learning mediums.
What about –
– government schools that cannot conduct online learning?
– Private schools in smaller towns and villages that do not have the budget or funding for online learning?
Let us consider some other problems that are genuine and probably not being given enough thought.
- Only one parent might have a smartphone in the family
- There could be more than two children in the house with access to just one device
- The parent might not be educated to help the child
- The parent is also working during the school hours so live classes are difficult
- The parent is a COVID warrior and needs his/her device for the most part of the day
So, will children facing these or similar problems miss out on education and learning this year?
I think it is time for schools and communities at the local level to think differently and leverage social media for education.
Is the idea of leveraging social media as an educational tool relevant?
I know this isn’t conventional, but hear me out. If you simply consider the active social media percentages in India, you might start to think that I am making sense
Most active social media channels in India
- Facebook – 89%
- YouTube – 93%
- WhatsApp – 82%
Almost 71% of Indians between the age group of 18-34 years use Facebook.
There are 265 million active users on YouTube
In 2019 there were 400 million Whatsapp users in India
These are staggering numbers and we should consider these seriously to leverage them for education.
I know, you might immediately point to the negative effects of the screen or probable distractions on social media as they are not designed for education. However, if you consider the fact that they might be able to learn at least 50% as compared to NIL at the moment, I think it is worth the effort.
Why should you consider social media as a tool for education?
All social media channels are free to use
They have a high penetration in India, evident from the numbers above
Most people educated or not are well versed with at least one social media platform
Technically these social media apps are light and hence can be accessed over poor network connections as well.
They are easy to use and intuitive to learn which makes their adoption easy.
How can we leverage social media as a tool for education?
I believe to make this successful, the school will have to work with local communities but this is possible. I have just put some ideas that I can think of if you have any ideas do share them. Collaboratively we might be able to come up with a cohesive idea that can help a lot of students.
- Schools could create a private FB group and add all the students or their family members to the group. Let teachers shoot a video and upload them on YouTube. Alternatively, they could even share existing videos that are available on YouTube on various topics and add their inputs and explanations around it.
- Facebook has the option of adding learning units. These videos could be added there for better access and understanding.
- Share audio notes on WhatsApp that teach a particular topic. Teachers and students can decide a particular time and exchange voice notes on WhatsApp for resolving doubts. There could be the sharing of videos, extra notes, images, and more.
- Alternatively, if teachers are comfortable they can hold a Live Q and A session on the Facebook groups
- Students can be grouped into smaller learning groups on WhatsApp with a student from an older class as an admin and moderator. This group can have students discussing the topic and the older student resolving doubts and offering refreshers for the subject.
- Teachers could record podcasts with a couple of students who can ask regular doubts. Teachers could share these podcasts that detail important points about a concept or lesson.
- Students could be given projects and experiments to understand the concept better. These could be created using the materials regularly available in the house. This way a child can continue learning even where there are no devices available. Students can share their project images or videos on the Facebook group.
As India continues to fight COVID and its related repercussions, it is time to take education seriously and let children continue learning. Apart from these, there are a few links that have a lot of study material online. I am sharing a couple of links in hope that this will help some students get back on track with learning.
Links that are useful for home study and educational resources that can help students in the current times.
If you have more information on how children from lower strata or those with poor connectivity can continue learning, please share that in the comments.
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