Social Networking in your Pyjamas #7

By Ailish Irvine.

As a wife and mother passionate about education and opportunities for women and people living in rural locations, I would like to share the way that I see new means of education being opened up to the world. How technology is bridging the gap and offering affordable, accessible educational opportunities to many more people who were isolated from returning to learning. If you can’t afford to return to education, live too far from a college, are raising toddlers, don’t have any connections, How can social media connect you to the world of learning?

Once upon a time a student sat at the back of the class. They did what they were told and they spoke when they were spoken to. There was an unwritten rule that the students knew less than the teacher and they knew that if they knew more, they should probably keep it to themselves. Know -it -alls were encouraged not to tell anyone what they knew as nobody liked a know it all. I had the pleasure of attending a workshop a year or two ago where Professor

Dean McCraith president of DCU spoke about the nature of educational institutions and how they are changing.  He said that originally universities were places where knowledge was dispersed. All of the information originated in the university and students were able to access it and hold the key to all the new found knowledge. Now we can access whatever information that we like through the internet. Universities now have to change their focus and encourage and facilitate innovation and new thinking.

Knowledge must be shared, be collaborative, entertaining and dare I say it enjoyable and interactive. Traditional learning wasn’t always perceived this way. He is quite the inspirational speaker and very active in influencing how the academic world is changing in Ireland.

I discovered in my 30’s that I’m a visual learner, i.e I learn faster by watching visually stimulating materials, be they video, infographics or cartoons. They grip me, they appeal to my extremely low boredom threshold and they make me want to keep learning.  Discovering that I was capable of learning a lot more courtesy of the internet has changed me completely.

Learning through social media has reengaged me with education and opened up an interesting world of learning.

In 2012 as my mid life crisis was starting to kick in I enrolled in an online diploma in Italian with NUIG. Social media means that from the comfort of my home in Mayo I can attend lectures online, discuss via Skype, Facebook, Edmodo all the latest content from my course. I have access to tutors in Florence, Galway and Palermo and through European Collaboration Projects, the results of shared research has meant I can access cutting edge technologies to enhance my learning experience. Part of our course work is to create content in Italian through revoicing through new packages like Clipflair and Praat. After lectures we interact a lot more with one another as the social aspect of sharing our knowledge with one another is very much encouraged and an integral part of the learning process.

The recent emergence of where the top universities in the world now allow students to enroll for free to certain online courses has revolutionized education. The argument here however is that these courses are not accredited. I would argue that being able to access material from some of the leading world universities, understanding it and enjoying it, only boosts student’s confidence and propels them back to education.

One of the latest trends in education (I found out on Twitter) is the concept of the flipped classroom. The idea that you do your learning at home and your homework in school. Who knew? Quite revolutionary. Social media allows you to connect to those people who have the knowledge that you would like. They are also happy to share it. You can network with influential knowledgeable people, all from the comfort of your couch. You can network in your pyjamas and when you get bored, you can yawn openly.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie