A Glimpse at the Future of Social Media, Education, and Digital Technology

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Coming into this class, I was interested in technology and social media, but also quite skeptical. Over the course of the semester, my view has changed, becoming more optimistic about the future of social media, education, and the workplace. Professor Kane was right in his TED Talk we watched at the beginning of the semester that “you haven’t seen anything yet,” as social media has turned out to be so much more than what I thought it was. It is challenging the existence of hierarchical organizations including companies, schools, and governments, leading to the transformation of entire industries, as we have seen with the sharing economy. Many companies are innovating and using social media tools to fundamentally change their business, becoming less bureaucratic in the process. 

As someone who is passionate about improving education, this class seems like a great model for the future. This was the first completely paperless class (or at least close to it) that I have taken.  The line was blurred between class and life, with the daily use of social media taking the learning experience outside the classroom. The fact that there was no test allowed me to focus on truly learning, rather than thinking of it as something required for class and worrying about which material would need to be memorized for a test. I learned so much each week from others both in person and online. I particularly found the blogs and class discussions to be most useful in encouraging people to open up and share their honest feelings, including the downsides of these tools. The blogs made me realize that social media can help improve interactions, as you learn things about people that you would not have necessarily found out in person. They also revealed how thoughtful and unique each individual is, rather than the sense of conformity that is portrayed on other social media platforms. This demonstrates the importance of achieving a sense of balance between face-to-face and online interactions, whether it is in the classroom, the workplace or personal relationships.

I also liked that we were given the freedom to explore areas that interested us, which for me included baseball and analytics. For example, I looked at how MLB’s innovative digital strategy is helping them engage with a younger generation of fans.

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One professor told me that their job is harder in this age of distraction, as they have to find ways to keep students engaged, when they have a number of alternative ways they can use their time. There is so much out there online that is available for you to access and learn on your own, but the job of the modern teacher is to curate this content, choosing what material is relevant and interesting and providing unique insights. I think Professor Kane did a great job in this class choosing engaging content that guided discussion and made you want to learn more.

This class has made me more comfortable using social media to reach out to individuals and share interesting information with others. For example, for my Sports Econometrics class, I wrote to a person on Twitter who was the source of data I was looking for. He responded within less than a minute and emailed the data to me. When I see articles relevant to other classes, I think about sharing it on Twitter then realize we don’t use Twitter for those classes. Therefore, I see value in this model being applied to other courses. I am excited about the future of education and hope that it looks something like this class.

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Social media and other technologies have become a significant part of our lives and will not be going away any time soon, so it is important to learn how to use them effectively and in moderation. As I talked about in first blog post, I envision a future where technology shifts into the background, enhancing our lives and becoming less of a distraction, aided by the automation of tasks. The sharing economy is a step in the right direction, as it uses technology to facilitate authentic real world interactions. Another example is Affective, a company that is using machine learning to understand facial expressions. Their software will allow you to share your emotion with others through technology, as if you were physically together. I can be also used by those with autism to help them read facial expressions, through an augmented reality product like Google Glass. More devices and tools are being designed for efficiency rather than prolonged use, by presenting you the information that is most important at a particular moment. Services like Google Now and Siri try to predict what you want without searching for it, based on location, preferences, and past behavior. The designers of the Apple Watch intended for it to reduce the amount of time spent looking down at your phone. Devices like these will allow us to be more focused on interacting with others and living in the present.

5 comments

  1. Yes! Totally agree this class allows us to focus on learning! Each semester in college I go into it thinking I will only focus on learning the material because we are so lucky to have all of these fantastic classes and top-notch professors. However, I soon find out that the psychology of it changes, as the pressure of grades becomes very apparent. The purpose of education is for us to retain this information as best we can which does not mean cramming for tests and jamming a bunch of information into our heads only to forget all of it a week later. My apologies for ranting, but this class finally gave us the opportunity to learn constantly and continue learning as we will all be part of #is6621 as alumni. As you mention, I think other classes can drastically increase students’ satisfaction and learning through the use of social media and a restructuring similar to Social Media in Business.

  2. I particularly like your point on using social media to reach out to individuals who share the same point of view – I think it goes both ways: you also attract people who are of similar interests to you. My followers increased much faster since I became more active on Twitter because of this class, and I discovered that most of my new followers are other MBA students and professionals in the same field. By following most of those people back, I had access to more information that’s beneficial to me. Such easy access to a large pool of like-minded people is one of the main point of social media, and the info sharing also speak to the whole “sharing economy” we talked about in class. If put in good in use, this will benefit our society greatly and significantly lower the cost of education.

  3. Great insights. I hadn’t really considered myself a “content curator” for this class, but I think that’s a good mental model for me going forward. I also agree that this model would work in many other types of classrooms, not all, but many. It has entirely changed the way I teach, though, so I bet others will be reluctant to follow.

  4. I love how you mention that this class blurred the line between class and life. I never really felt like I wasn’t doing something for this class. Whether we were in class or out of class, there was always great conversation. I apprecriated how engaging this class was, and felt like i was constantly learning by hearing stories and what other people were reading about. I have never had a class like this, and I definitely encourage other classes to take on the structure of this one!

  5. I very much relate to your insight about wanting to share articles with other classes, only to realize that they are not active on Twitter. This was a very well-though-out post and I really love all of the sources you so evidently drew from to write it. (great use of links embedded into your post, as always) I’d be interested to know if you continue to blog after class, you have a very pleasant writing style and write consistently informative posts.

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