A. Nambiar

California State University - Fresno (UNITED STATES)
In today’s interconnected and inter-networked world, social media is fast becoming the primary communication channel for advertising products, exchanging information, hiring future employees, running political campaigns, sharing news and pictures, and many more. Significant improvements in technology have enabled improved access to Internet. This combined with the rise in popularity of mobile devices has had a catalytic impact on people’s communication habits. Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has more a billion active users on a monthly basis and nearly 700 million users on a daily basis. Twitter has seen tremendous growth rate in the seven years that it has been in existence with nearly 200 million active users and more than 400 million tweets sent on a daily basis. YouTube has nearly with more than 72 hours of video being uploaded every minute. Users worldwide are spending more and more time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter every day. Statistics show that nearly 98 percent of the people in the age group 18 to 24 use at least one of the many social media tools.

Thus, it becomes imperative for faculty to harness the power and pull of social media to provide an enriching learning experience for students. However, it is important not to hop on to the social media bandwagon without serious thought and adequate preparation. Social media is a double-edged sword that can at once be beneficial and detrimental to student learning. This paper will explore the use of social media in classroom. It will first examine the importance of social media in education and how social media can be leveraged to foster student engagement and enrich their learning. It will then identify some of the best practices to adopt and pitfalls to avoid while incorporating social media in the classroom. These findings are based on the author’s experience with incorporating Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in a variety of classes.