Advances in technology are providing expanded opportunities for student communication, interaction and collaboration and leading to emerging transformations in methods of learning and education. While experiments with online education through the World Wide Web have been taking place for two decades, the introduction of social networking technologies in the classroom is a quickly growing trend that is introducing new innovations in when, how and where students learn. The interactive, participatory, and open nature of social networking technologies presents a number of opportunities for learning and innovation. Social networking tools are already facilitating unprecedented innovative educational practices that center around collaboration and information sharing.
A recent survey conducted by the Dubai School of Government gives insight on perception of social media usage for educational purposes in the Middle East.
The survey found that people in public schools (and people with children in public schools) were less satisfied with the level of technology incorporation in the classroom than those in (or with children in) private schools.
Around 44% of private school students had no technologies available in the classroom, while 60% of public school students did. Despite a clear lack in technology in the classrooms of almost half of respondents’ children, there was a desire for technology to be incorporated into primary and secondary education. Many respondents cited practical reasons, such as reducing the burden of carrying books and increasing access to information, but also a need to raise schooling standards to a level that is globally competitive. When asked what kinds of technologies should be used in primary and secondary classrooms many respondents said they would like to see the internet, laptops and tablets introduced.
Similarly to the regional average, Facebook and Google+ groups were the most used, followed by video sharing sites (with the exception of Saudi, where the largest percentage of teachers relied on video sharing sites like YouTube). The UAE also had the largest percentage of teachers who use social media in the classroom, at 78% compared to an average of about 46% for the remaining countries
Interestingly, the findings indicated that students agreed with teachers and parents on what they should be allowed to do in the classroom, and had similar responses across the board.
Graph Source – Arab Social Media Report