Social media in the classroom
The announcement by the Tunisian Ministry of Education in late November that it is introducing courses on social media in the public school syllabus does not come a moment too soon in the North African nation — or the rest of the Arab world, for that matter.
The number of social media users is estimated at 1.5 billion-2 billion.
Around the world, students are being taught how to best use social media to conduct collaborative schoolwork, develop digital literacy and communication skills and improve awareness about current domestic and global issues.
Students are also taught how to use social media ethically, responsibly and safely. Classes teach youngsters the meaning of copyright regulations and the importance of privacy considerations in the information they share.
In Arab societies where parental oversight is increasingly challenged by peer-to-peer influences, teachers could also instil students with the caution they need to be wary of online radicalisation and other abuses of the internet such as hate messages, defamation and the dissemination of fake news.
The need for that type of caution will have to be universal. Sue Beckingham, computer specialist at United Kingdom’s Sheffield Hallam University, rightfully notes: “It is very important that students are educated about [responsible social media use]. Learning how to stay safe online, what not to share and how to adjust security settings are important skills to learn.”