In a new paper written by Darrell M. West, the Vice President and Director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education, looks at the effect of collaboration on education when students can use tools such as wikis, blogs, social media, and video games.

The author, Darrell West, cites Alan Daly of the University of California at San Diego who believes that education “is moving away from large-scale prescriptive approaches to more individualized, tailored, differentiated approaches.”

In considering the effect of social media on education West asks a series of questions:

  • How do these technologies affect students, teachers, parents, and administrators?
  • Do they enable new approaches to learning and help students master substantive information?
  • In what ways have schools incorporated electronic communications in the learning process and messages to external audiences?


Blogs represent a rapidly growing medium that encourages students and teachers to participate in their education. Currently, Nielsen estimates that there are over 156 million blogs on the Internet. Blogs are one of the most prevalent and accessible modes of communication. Many people feel that blogs have democratized the flow of information. They are also used in the classroom as a way for students to collaborate and communicate with other schools.

Unfortunately, there are still a number of schools that do not encourage two-way communications, students collaboration, or global networking within the school. Alan November of November Learning suggests that students need to be globally empathetic to become a global citizen.

There are a number of blogs that deal with the skills of education so teachers and administrators can work with their colleagues and share ideas on finance, assessment, standards and many other topics.


A Wiki is a website in which a variety of people can participate and collaborate on constructing the material of the site. Once somebody has started the site other people can edit and make additions. The interactions are a type of collaboration called “crowd-sourcing” which is a term created by Jeff Howe of Wired Magazine.  Wikis have been created by both corporations and schools to help develop creative ideas and design.

Social Media and Mobile Devices

Social media basically includes anything that allows people to communicate in discrete groups over collective interests. People have the opportunity to express themselves and react to what other people have said and have people respond to what they have written. It allows for a variety of people from all over the country and other countries to share ideas and share information. The Pew Internet and American Life Project survey reports that Facebook is a major source of discussion. Twenty two percent of its users comment daily on somebody else’s post.

There are many K-12 schools and colleges that utilize social media to extend the classroom walls. Education becomes 24/7. In some situations the social media is open to people from other countries and a wider set of comments and opinions are expressed. The knowledge of the community becomes vital.

Video Games

Video games are one of the largest consumer items in the commercial world. They are one of the most popular forms of mass entertainment. They bring in hover billion-dollars a year. The Pew Internet and American Life Project survey of American teenagers revealed the eight most popular game genres:


















For example, in the game, World of Warcraft, there are some 12 million users who have logged over 50 billion hours playing the game.

Many video games are made for both the entertainment and the education world. There are many skills and concepts that can become clearer through the game medium. Games have been used in the education areas of geography, science, mathematics, English, and logic. According to the scientists at the National Research Council, games “enable learners to see and interact with representations of natural phenomena that would otherwise be impossible to observe – a process that helps them to formulate scientifically correct explanations of these phenomena.”


The authors conclude: “Digital tools represent new ways for participation, engagement, and collaboration to take place. Through digital communications, students, teachers, parents, and administrators can share insights and reactions and develop a better understanding of instructional activities.”

Source:  How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education


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