Digital online programs can deliver world-class education specifically tailored for the remote learner, while allowing students to expand their network at a global scale. More programs are offered online every year and, according to a 2014 Report to the European Commission, digital education will account for 30% of education within the next 10 years.
The digital networking space means that professionals, instructors, and students are more reachable than ever. Opportunities for online collaboration and interactive peer-to-peer learning are powerful and organic ways of developing networks. Interactions take place between people from all over the globe. They offer huge potential for expanding students’ worldview and create new opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Thinking about social media as a collective learning opportunity
As the online community grows and increasing numbers of people are linked across a vast and complex web of digital interactions, the professional networking opportunities are boundless. But students are also increasingly harnessing the practical solutions the digital world offers for facilitating learning. For example, according to another report, European, Canadian, and U.S. students use social media for similar purposes. More specifically, they want to keep up to date, share their views, and make useful connections.
Hugely popular social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube make it easier than ever before to create and expand your learning opportunities. GoogleHangouts and Skype also provide real-time video connections to facilitate webinars, study groups and collaboration. There is as much opportunity to share your knowledge and experience as there is to learn from others.
Less well-known tools, such as VoiceThread, is a multi-platform social tool that is ideal for learners. You can upload and share documents, videos, and images. Online conversations about your posts take place through video, audio, or text posts. This range of options allows people to choose to communicate at their comfort level, or branch out and try something new.
Cultivate your online learning presence: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube
Millions of people have Facebook accounts. They use them to easily keep in contact with family and friends and to reconnect with old acquaintances. But many also use the social media site to promote learning and educational interests, from literary journal pages to class lounges arranged for informal discussions.
Twitter users meanwhile, can make new connections by following others. They can extend their social circle by setting their Twitter accounts to post tweets to Facebook and vice versa. Following a favorite author or business person brings you into contact with others who share your interests and opens up valuable networking opportunities.
Most people know LinkedIn as a site for professional or business-oriented networking. Its layout allows users to highlight their business or professional history, and to actively engage other users via blog posts and status updates – and in multiple languages. LinkedIn also bridges the gaps between Facebook and Twitter, so if you create a presence on all three sites, you can leverage your connections by cross-linking your accounts.
There is one more platform to consider: YouTube. It might seem peculiar at first to think of YouTube in terms of social networking, but when you consider that video and live streaming are increasingly popular modes of social media communication, it is, in fact, a natural extension of the more traditional social media platforms. YouTube is no longer a site simply for clips, vlogs, music videos or beauty and fashion tips. In the education space, instructors post videos for their students, major universities post course lectures, and organizations like Khan Academy offer tutorials.
The social media territory is large, complex and constantly growing. Savvy students can leverage it for educational and professional needs by seeing it as a prime opportunity to learn and flourish.