Social media cannot really replace the traditional learning

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: March 6 – The means of disseminating knowledge to the Generation Next will keep evolving with the advancement of technology, which bring people through a borderless world. Just like we have no control over the source of information, we also have no say when it comes to the kind of information that is passed on to the children. The beginning of this decade gave birth to the two-way interactive Social Media, where anything under the sun, barring physical parcels, can be exchanged without restrictions. This means that while children need not depend on teachers and parents as a source to receive knowledge, at the same time they are exposed to information that can be potentially harmful.
According to usage statistics by Ofcom, 66 per cent of all adults aged above 16 have a profile on at least one social networking site, and though the report doesn’t break down these figures by age group, it’s reasonable to assume that among those of university age, that percentage could potentially be higher.
Teachers also tap into the potential benefits of social media in education as nearly 75 of students admit to being on a social site most of the time. It is in this context that the Observer recently hosted an exclusive discussion on ‘Social Media as a new tool in education.’
The discussion moderated by Lakshmi Kothaneth, had on the panel some of the popular social media minds — namely Ahmed al Shukaili, Mutasim Sultan, Abdullah al Bahrani and Omar al Harthy. All of them are big achievers in their own right, in the respective fields. The discussions centred on how these platforms can be effectively used to our advantage, provided we know some of the simple tricks that may do the difference.
According to Bahrani, never jump into social media until you are ready for it and he added that it is important to be open-minded while interacting on these platforms.
947376“One should be ready to accept likes and dislikes, criticisms and appreciations with same heart.”
Still Bahrani said that social media is an ideal platform to share ideas and information and entertainment, but at the same time he emphatically said no to social media in classrooms or for study purposes.
He added it is also emerging as a powerful tool for direct marketing of products and messages as on an average most people switch on to their phones 250 times a day.
Again, he stressed on the fact that social media cannot be a tool of education because its claims and advantages are often exaggerated  from the ground reality.
Ahmed al Shukaili, a physiotherapist at the Ministry of Health, said it is important to do at least 30 minutes of exercise given the nature of social media usage, which may restrict oneself to a seated position for hours.
He revealed that most youngsters of today are facing neck-related problems and the staff at the ministry has been told to teach their patients about the impact that excessive use for gadgets for social interactions can have, which he termed the Ipad Syndrome.
According to global health experts, iPad users have been subject to strain injuries, such as aches and pains in the hand they hold the device with and in their fingers after typing on and swiping the screen, in addition to arm and neck problems associated with holding their iPad on their knees.
Users have been warned not to type on an iPad for long stretches to avoid the I-injuries.
Mutasim Sultan said to be ignorant of any topic these days is inexcusable, because knowledge is easily available in the cyber world, but also felt that today’s generation wants shortcuts to gain knowledge.
At the same time he said social media is designed to be addictive and it doesn’t incite curiosity like the traditional ways of communication.
So social media cannot really replace the traditional learning was the general view point.
On a different note, Omar al Harthy, founder of EDAL, a platform for training, said social media has extensive potential in passing on knowledge.  They have been successfully achieving in increasing the number of students on line.