Attempting to Use Snapchat as an Educational Tool

I was given a challenge to explore a new social networking tool to help determine how such tools can serve us as educators and learners. With the ongoing accessibility of social media and networking, anyone can have voice. However, filtering through those millions of voices to find ones that are credible and relevant to your interests and field can be challenging.

I decided to dig a little deeper into Snapchat. I’ve come to the conclusion that some sites, or social media platforms, are designed to be used socially and have many limitations to be used professionally. Snapchat, in itself, is very personal. Communication mostly relies on photos, with the optional filter, videos, and sometimes standard messaging.

You can subscribe or view featured stories as a user of Snapchat. Organizations and communities such as National Geographic, MTV, People, and BuzzFeed have been intentional about maintaining their social media presence. However, most of what I found for “Stories”, Snapchat’s way to allow individuals or groups to update a large following, revolved around celebrities, gossip, or similar ideas. I can’t imagine going to Snapchat to find credible, well-written, information. The two just don’t seem to align. Plus, aren’t we used to exploring books or research studies to find the most relevant information? The other thing to note is Snapchat’s anticipated audience. Users don’t expect to use this platform for networking, expanding ideas, etc. For the younger generation, Snapchat has actually replaced your standard messaging and phone calls. Snapchat can be used almost anywhere and is compatible with multiple devices and operating systems.

I’ve discovered that it is really difficult to find professionally advantageous users and resources on social media platforms. It is much easier to begin using these accounts for professional development when the users are recommended. For example, my instructor offered a list of users to follow on Twitter, which was highly useful in the beginning to make connections on what to expect and what to look for when following an account for professional reasons. It can be overwhelming to find useful accounts. Overall, it is difficult to have the discipline to use social media that is productive professionally. It is even more difficult when it feels that the platform itself is not designed to be used for professional development.

The Ongoing Discussion of How Technology Alters our Brains

Connectivism emphasizes the importance of networks and connections. In general, George Siemens and other advocates state that seeing connections between fields is a core concept and that learning involves the ability to navigate these complex networks. In many ways, Siemens argues that technology is altering out brains.

When reflecting on this topic, I noticed that I have become lazy! Social media and technology has made finding information easy and efficient. Search engines have been programed to provide you with the most relevant information. Though many argue that social media was created to spark active and engaging discussion, I’ve noticed that many users chose not to participant in this way. I hardly ever search for opinions or debatable topics, and I’m positive I’m not the only one. I’d say 90% of what I search is factual, like how many ounces in a cup, or how many kilometers in a mile. In fact, because I know I can just look up the information later, I hardly make an effort to remember these facts. On another note, I think I seriously lack the self-discipline to actually use my social media resources productively. It can be challenging to find relevant and useful thought leaders in your field. Not only this, but I enjoy “checking-out” when I scroll through these platforms.

If there is one educational benefit to these platforms, it’s that they have sparked my curiosity on credibility. I’ve become rather critical and I’ve learned to question whether the information I am reading is credible. With the accessibility of these resources, anyone can really post anything. There are hardly consequences to if that information is accurate. Perhaps a next step involves educating users of ways to use these platforms productively.