Monday, July 30, 2018

SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE TEACHING OF PSYCHOLOGY: REFLECTING UPON TEN YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

Teaching is not restricted or limited to the classroom. With the advancement in technology and the increase in internet usage, over the past few years, teaching has gone way beyond the classroom.In recent times, blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter handles have become popular educational tools. For students, such social media platforms have become types of asynchronous communities, where they can get relevant information and even share it with others. Information from such platforms is very easy to access, and with just a click it can be shared to multiple people. In this way, the same information is accessed by multiple people almost at the same time.
Generally, on such platforms, information is given in a much simpler form, which makes it easier to understand, as compared to text books and journals. In this way, they become very good additional educational resources. Further, due to the short attention span that many of the students have nowadays, reading from books is found to be taxing and too demanding for them. In such cases, reading from blogs and Facebook pages, in which information is given briefly yet comprehensively, brings about a lot more interest.
If students find social media to be a quick and easy way to learn, teachers find it to be a fun and exciting way to teach. Formal teaching requires teachers to mostly stick to the given syllabus. They can surely improvise and deviate sometimes to make it interesting, but eventually, keeping in view the limited number of classes in a semester, they cannot go beyond the syllabus. This is where teachers can make full use of social media.
There are always some exciting and fascinating information out there that a teacher may want to share with students, but is unable to do so due to time constraints. Using blogs and Facebook pages, authored and created by them, teachers can exactly do that. By sharing information on their own blog and Facebook page, they are able to give an idea of their real interests regarding the subject. It helps to display a sense of individuality, and the matter that they are sharing may also reflect on some hidden aspects of their self, giving out a personal touch to the information that they are sharing.
On May 27, 2018, my blog Life And Psychology (www.lifeandpsychology.com) completed ten years. For the past ten years I have been consistently writing on the blog about topics like mental health, relationships, individualdifferences, feelings and emotions, cognition, culture, lifestyles, communication, among others. Writing about these topics has helped me to articulate related topics in a better way. I have often been able to use many of such posts and relate them to my teaching in the classroom, making my classes to be more interesting.
Students who have read my posts, quite a few times have had discussions with me about those topics. In this way, it has also led to better teacher-student interactions, and also increase their interest in psychology.
Apart from being useful academically, a number of individuals, from different parts of the world, have expressed to me how reading my posts have helped them to understand them in a better way and how it has helped them to feel positive about themselves. People have, especially, found the posts on emotional hijacking, self-satisfaction, introversion, inferiority complex, loneliness, and social motives to be very useful and helpful. The blog, therefore, is not only an educational tool, but also a platform for understanding and being aware about mental health, which has taken teaching to a different level. Over the years, this blog has gained a lot of popularity and has readers from over 150 countries.
Along with my interest in psychological issues, I am also fascinated with the origins of psychological concepts, which led me to start my blog called History of Psychology (www.historyofpsychology.net), on May 3, 2015. This blog is all about how ideas, concepts, and perspectives, in psychology, have emerged, how one perspective led to another, who were the proponents of important ideas, and what led psychologists to come up with a specific idea. The writing style on this blog is simplistic so that theories and concepts are understandable. The topics on this blog can be very technical and that is why a simplistic writing style is maintained in order to make it readable to a wider audience.
Through this blog, I try to cover various aspects of the history of psychology such as structural and functional psychology, psychoanalytic psychology, clinical and abnormal psychology, act psychology, and so on. I write about topics that are generally not covered in the syllabus, which, thus, gives an opportunity for students to learn about theoretical considerations in an easy, simplistic manner. 
From a teaching perspective, it helps me to simplify the technical, theoretical aspects of the history of psychology, making relatively difficult topics easier to understand. This turns out to be challenging and stimulating, which works to enhance my enthusiasm and interest in psychology. The blog creates a bridge between the traditional and the contemporary, which turns out to be of great interest and encourages critical thinking, which is a highly important aspect of education.
To quite an extent, my Facebook page, InterestingFacts About Psychology (www.facebook.com/InterestingFactsAboutPsychology) deals with a similar purpose. On this page, I post relevant, thought provoking facts related to psychology, on a regular basis. I began this page on November 4, 2010. So far, I have posted more than 900 facts and the page has got more than 20000 likes, from over 50 countries. The information that I share on the page, are related to pre-modern, modern, and contemporary psychology. It is a quick, fun, and enjoyable way of learning psychology for the readers.
Generally such information can be gained by in-depth reading of books and journals. However, through this page, I provide a platform for readers to get such information with little effort. It is useful not only for people who have a psychology background, but also for those who are interested in psychology but are from other disciplines such as Management, Engineering, English, Philosophy, Education, Biology, etc. As I share information on this page every three to five days, it requires me to update my own knowledge in psychology regularly, which is always useful for a teacher and for someone who is in academics. I have also created a Twitter handle (www.twitter.com/FactsPsy) of this page, which allows me to share information to a much wider audience.
I share all the posts on my blogs and Facebook page on my own Twitter handle (www.twitter/saiffarooqi) so that it can be viewed by people who may not have direct access to the posts. I have also created separate Facebook pages for both of my blogs (www.facebook.com/LifeAndPsychology, www.facebook.com/HistoryOfPsychology) to make the easier to access.
In this way, over the past ten years, I have been using social media platforms like blogging, Facebook, and Twitter for teaching psychology. As a teacher, I have found social media to be a very useful educational tool. I have found it to be a fun, exciting, and motivating way of reaching out to students and other individuals with whom I do not have an interaction with on a day-to-day basis. 
Being consistently writing on my blogs and Facebook page, has helped me as a teacher academically – it has enabled me to increase my knowledge and articulate my ideas in a better way – and in the process has added to my personal growth. Through my fulfilling ten years of experience, I have decided to promote the usage of social media as a useful method of teaching.

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