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Students Crave Social Media in Online Education

It’s not uncommon to think ‘geez, what’s next?’ when you consider the thousands of new social media applications that surface daily. As a society, our astonishment with the basic utility of networks like Facebook and Twitter has become feeble and impatient.

Today, excitement is fueled by stellar advancements in emerging technology such as the iPad, while the hype regarding simple applications like BreakkUp and Pandora is usually generated partially by the anticipation for something – anything – new.

Degree of public interest aside, the overarching commonality among all forms of social and emerging technologies is the simple fact that they connect users through an endless span of preferences, thoughts and searches. In fact, this newage trend is garnering public interest Webby-worthy technologies and the possible integration of these elite systems into the online platforms of crucial American industries – specifically education.

As the nation’s second largest enterprise (just behind healthcare), higher education – according to Mashable.com – is “experiencing a similar shift as it struggles to adapt traditional design and delivery models to the demands of modern audiences who are accustomed to digital interactivity.”

The Sloan Consortium reports that “two-thirds of post-secondary educational institutions are seeing an increase in online courses and programs,” therefore, it’s a valuable sector that educational hosts simply can’t ignore. However, as these facilitators strive to meet the growing needs of the market, it’s important to start small, focusing on quality of the courses and not quantity.

“It’s not enough for a course to be accessible online, it must also be designed in a way that keys into the digital pulse of current events, trending topics and insider knowledge endemic to the web. The three-quarters of 18 to 29 year-olds who have profiles on social networks are likely wondering why online course offerings aren’t nearly as enticing as the content that they find on their favorite social websites,” reported Mashable.com.

So, how can educational institutions begin to make major, yet realistic, steps toward revamping their online presence?  The key is to recognize that the web is a real-time medium that encourages users to create innovative courses to be used for the rapid delivery of education.

Remember, keep it current! Get started by introducing relevant and newsworthy events, insights and research into your online platform and then, once you have established a comfortable rhythm for prompting discussion about these events, integrate these hot-button issues into your coursework.

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