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Social Media Now A Part Of School Curriculum

OCR Includes Study Of Social Media In Sociology Course

Social media is to become a part of the school curriculum, following an announcement from the OCR Exam Board that it will take into account ‘how people are responding to the new rules of the digital global village.’ Students will now study and be tested on social media, online security and privacy, and the culture of selfies.

The decision applies to sixth form students studying Sociology for AS and A level, a combined number of around 80,000 students each year, and will take effect from September 2015.

OCR is one of England’s largest exam boards, and this decision is sure to have an impact on the way in which the study of sociology is considered across not only different boards but beyond – 7,000 people graduate with a degree in Sociology from UK universities every year.

It is not just Sociology which will be affected. Those students who study Sociology for A level go on to a wide range of degree courses, and by including a discussion of social media at this relatively early stage such thinking is sure to inform disciplines like history, literature, and even more traditionally science-based subjects like psychology.

The course will look at traditional sociological concepts such as identity, power, and community through the lens of social media, bringing a modernity and immediacy to the subject which is seen by some to be lacking. OCR’s subject team manager, Victoria Hunter, said that the board has ‘brought [their] syllabus bang up to date with exciting new content that tackles some of the biggest issues facing societies today,’ and hopes that this move will reverse the trend of Sociology being seen by some as a ‘soft option’ for A-level students.

The use of social media in the actual process of education has been acknowledged for some time, with students using services like Facebook and WhatsApp to communicate and co-ordinate projects and even to stay in touch with teachers outside school hours. Many courses, particularly at university level, take place wholly online, and so for students to have some grounding in not just the practicalities but the theory and history surrounding social media would be apt not only on an intellectual but also a practical level.

This may be where the difficulty will lie as far as the individual student is concerned. Separating one’s personal experience of social media from a detached intellectual analysis of it will not be instinctive, and it is perhaps this – the ability to distinguish between social media as an aspect of daily life and its place within a broader socio-historical context – which will be of the greatest long term benefit to students.

Use of social media inherently encourages critical thinking, as the famous ‘Facebook gap’ between people’s real lives and how they present themselves online becomes an established phenomenon, and the codifying of this in the educational establishment is an important step towards widespread recognition of this fact.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Social Media Now A Part Of School Curriculum Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, July 24, 2014 Rating: 5
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