Our education system is rapidly changing day by day, week by week, year by year. As educators nothing excites as well as scares us more than the changing faces of social media and social networking sites. While they have their own benefits to our society, the bigger question we must ask here is: will social media be helpful or harmful to education in the future?

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The Classroom

The way we see our classroom is ever changing in this decade. The dynamics are slowly shifting toward a community of students able to access and use smart phones, Ipads, and other types of technology that we have never been able to use twenty years ago. Man educators find this to be beneficial to our schools because it gives students and teachers the chance to try new, hands on activities that benefit student learning and show measurable progress when compared to test scores from years past. But is technology really enhancing our education system, or is it hurting our education system? Let's take a look at both the benefits and the drawbacks of utilizing technology and social media in the classroom. 

Mobile Devices

First and foremost, mobile devices are great tools for learning because it gives the students new ways to explore and study information. With programs and apps such as Quizlet and interactive whiteboard apps, students are more engaged and immersed in the learning process. Let's examine some of the examples. Quizlet is an online study tool in which students can look at terms and study vocabulary for their classes. In the beginning stages, this website only had flashcards and short quizzes for students to take, but now, they have broaden their horizons to interactive games and other tools to help students study.

Another interesting app that students can use now is a survey app. The teacher asks the students a question, and they have a certain amount of time to text the answer to a number. Once they text their answer, the teacher can post the results up on the board and see how many people answered the question right or wrong. The survey tool is a great way for kids to see where they made a mistake and even reflect on how to improve their learning.

There are several thousand more apps that teachers and students can utilize in the classroom and many educators and scholars believe that these tools are the key to our successes in the classroom. So, what is the big issue that needs to be addressed here?

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One of the biggest problems with our education system today is the fact that we don't have enough funding to provide such opportunities for each and every student. The fact of the matter is, not every kid has a mobile device and therefore not every kid has access to such information. Teachers have to take this into account when they are planning any type of lesson that involves technology, and if it is not available, then they cannot explore these unique options to education. What makes this even harder is the fact that administrators are pushing for teachers to use more technology in the classroom, but when funding and supplies are obsolete, it is hard to imagine any of this working out in the long run. The expectation that we will be able to be fully immersed in this type of learning in two years time is just an unreasonable goal.

One example of such an unreasonable goal was a laptop test that they did at my school when I was in high school. Each of us received our own laptop, provided by the school. We had to take care of them and at the end of the year, if any damage was done, we had to pay for the replacement parts. They even said by our senior year, all of our textbooks would be on our computers, but that just didn't happen. Too many of us were blogging instead of taking notes in class and chatting with each other by getting through the internet filters. When you give kids access to this much technology, they are going to find their way around things. After the years' test, they didn't bring the laptops back the following year. They knew that the test had been a failure and it just wasn't reasonable to think they would have the funding to give every child their own laptop every single year. Plus, it but a burden on parents who constantly had to be paying for broken parts. (we weren't exactly careful with these things in the first place)

What Happens Now?

Even with all of these considerations, we still have not addressed the biggest issue facing our kids today; social media. Almost all students have smart phones nowadays and they don't make an effort to hide that fact when they are in school. In fact, most kids spend time in class browsing Facebook, taking pictures in class, and texting one another, all under the radar of the teacher who is trying to teach them important and valuable information. Because our youth is so distracted by these things, it is no surprise that the onset of ADHD comes now at an earlier age and kids have trouble focusing in school. They have trouble focusing because they haven't learned to focus. Everything that surrounds them, Facebook, Twitter, TV, is distracting. We live in a society now where the average attention span of a person can be at the most ten seconds at a time. We either win them over or lose them in those crucial moments. 

With that being said, I think it is time for us to take a step back as a nation and realize what we are actually doing to our children by exposing them to these things at such a young age. Instead of helping them further their successes in life, we are actually hindering their success. Kids need to be taught the importance of patience and persistence. These are two things that they have no experience with because the internet and social media reflects a society that is namely impatient. If we just took a step back and looked at what we were really doing, we could reverse the irreversible before it is too late. 

What lays before us now as educators, parents, and a society is our willingness to sit down with children and show them what really matters the most. While social media and technology may have its benefits in the classroom, it also has drawbacks. We need to sit down and seriously consider how we move on from this situation in the future, because, in my opinion, the reality of artificial intelligence and the things you see in science fiction movies is far from the classrooms that we will see in the future. The classrooms of the future should be filled with students that are ready and prepared for the world around them, whether they participate in the social media sphere or not. 

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