DepEd discourages use of social media in classrooms; potential cyber threat cited

Published July 1, 2019, 9:50 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot 

Recognizing the potential problems it may cause to both learners and teachers, the Department of Education (DepEd) is discouraging the use of social media in the classroom.

Department of Education (MANILA BULLETIN)

While social media is the “easiest mediums to deliver information in this digital age using the latest on-hand technologies,” the use of the platform also “opens one’s identity to the world wide web making young learners exposed to different cyber threats,” DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua explained in a memorandum dated June 28, 2019.

“Social media, as a tool for collaboration and communication, could defeat its purpose if not used properly and may cause serious problems,” Pascua said.

“It can also be a tool that could provide gaming applications, marketplace, or online services, and viewing of different multimedia content which are not appropriate to the level of maturity of young learners,” he added.

Overall, Pascua said that that the use of social media in the classroom “could promote” problems that the “school may not be aware of or be caught unprepared for.” For instance, social media has a group chat feature that has “adult content which can elicit malicious content and incorrect values to learners.”

Likewise, Pascua noted that social media may also “open doors” for cyber bullying, identity-theft, online gambling, pornography, and market fraud that can cause “self-isolation, humiliation and trauma.”

DepEd also expressed concern that the use of social media can affect the study habits of learners and “they can be distracted with the many available materials posted on social media.”

Moreover, Pascua warned that that the use of social media “can result in deceit of parents because children who are attracted to social media can easily say that they are waiting for the teacher’s assignment post.” This, he noted, will eventually “result in poor performance in school and poor value formation.”

Pascua explained that in the case of Facebook, users should be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. Thus, “creating an account with false information is violation of terms.” Given this legal impediment, he noted that “all elementary students, 6th graders and below, are legally barred from using this social media platform.”

While 7th to 12 graders are allowed to use Facebook and other social media platforms, Pascua stressed that there is a “proper medium” for schools to use in disseminating assignments, test materials, and even instructional tools for e-learning mode of lesson delivery.

“Social media is not the proper outlet to support needs of learners,” he explained.

DepEd also noted that the use of project-based “likes” in social media is “highly-discouraged” or “outrightly prohibited” as it does not “entail a deep sense of linkage in the mastery of lessons and skills.”

This method, Pascua said, “reinforces a distorted concept of the learning process.”

While social media may be the “brightest innovation of this era,” DepEd urged educators to “look at the bigger picture where the reality if that social media in itself is not the proper medium for schools to use especially in connection to the delivery of lessons especially since there are many options specifically designed for educational use.”

Other options

DepEd noted that there are existing open-source Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Edmondo, Schoology, Google Classroom, Nearpod, and Socrative that “schools can use” to support the e-learning requirements of an institution.

These, Pascua said, perform functions “appropriate for educational purpose and features to support the delivery of instruction and learning materials inside and/or outside of the classroom.”

Given this, DepEd urged academic institutions to “learn and invest” in capacitating their teachers to “understand the use and advantages of pertinent technologies” and “create a more child-friendly and safe environment free from risks of cyber threats.”

Meanwhile, DepEd officially announced the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) Project to promote “equitable and quality education” to all Filipino learners.

As early as 2002, Pascua explained that OERs were introduced as a very potent tool for enhancing the quality of and access to education.

“OERs, with its inherent purpose, reduce costs by reusing learning materials,” he said.

OER refer to free and/or available educational materials that comes with the permission for anyone to use, modify or share.

“The use of OER results in tremendous cost savings to benefit families of students as well as impact their performance and completion rates in school,” Pascua explained.

“Considering the geographical terrain and locations of remote islands in the Philippines, there is a widening gap in terms of having equal access and opportunity with the aid of technology,” Pascua said.