While I was living out in Amherst, MA I worked for the computer science department creating math problems in Adobe Flash (well it was Macromedia at the time). The project was called “Wayang Outpost”. It was a virtual SAT tutor that toned in on a students problems and presented exercises to help fill the gaps. It was a lot of fun to be part of.

Now I want to discuss some of the ways we contribute to a more organic form of learning. Social media provides its own set of E-Learning tools in the form of online communities that, once fully understood, can be a mecca of untapped knowledge. Between blogging, social bookmarking, micro-blogging and social networking we have multiple avenues through which to tap into this wealth of information. Once one learns how to efficiently navigate the virtual scholastic tubes, the possibilities are endless.

Our Learning Tools

First lets look at Twitter. I like to see it as a collection of experts. What they’re experts in is of little matter to me because I am not approaching them directly. All I have to do is bring up a topic and those closest to it will speak up and present their two cents and possibly point me to resources. Another approach is to only follow those who are experts in a topic that I am interested in. Like minded individuals sharing knowledge in real time 24/7.

Now I’m off to my virtual library. Or in the case, a social bookmarking site. I could go check out the most popular section on Digg or head over to see what StumbleUpon recommends for me today. These technologies are evolving to become reliable means of obtaining the information I want …. and fast.

And finally we have Blogs. Be it personal or on a specific topic, the blogospehere is notorious for putting out abundant information across multiple topics in epic proportions. Main stream media has already begun to tap into this emerging resource.

Can’t schools also use this information?

College’s and Universities are starting to tap into this massive resource. More specifically, a group of UMass students were instructed to monitor Twitter traffic concerning the presidential debates. It may still be early in the micro-blogging game to call Twitter a reliable means of obtaining and filtering information but it is truly a great start.

Problems?

There is reason to be weary however. I mean how can we validate any ones expertise online. How do I know your not just feeding me crap. Well I am a firm believer that the crap filters itself out when you have millions of users sorting through this content daily. This is where the means through which you find the blog becomes important.

Social Media is well on its way to becoming one of our main means of communication with the world. The potential is greater than ever for those willing to seek it out. The sky is finally the limit.

– Photo by foundphotoslj

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