Initially, social networks were created to communicate with friends, but now they are increasingly being used for the purposes of education and business communication. The term «Personal Learning Network» may seem quite complicated and not so easy to understand. Probably, that is because it is still not so popular with the masses.
Nevertheless, websites are being developed; new smarter devices appear on the market; the purposes of why people use social media begin to be more varied. Now there is no doubt, that social networks are great platforms for learning and studying. Advanced technologies make the learning process more productive, brighter and more accessible, allow to acquire knowledge easier; it is more understandable for the young generations; such method increases the degree of involvement. Usually education through social networks consists of individual educational activities of a person, which are a part of his daily life, and do not have a purposeful character.
I have already described Twitter and some educational websites. Another important trend on the Internet today is blogging. The authors usually have a number of practical skills, the most important of which is the massive use of hyperlinks to other sources connected with the topic (for example, to other blogs). These relationships between blogs allow you to build your own world, which is called the «blogosphere».
Another popular social software Web 2.0 allows to share online resources in the form of scientific publications (CiteULike), photos (Flickr), music (Last.fm) or video (YouTube). It is based on the same principal: one can find and connect to users, who share same ideas and interests, with the help of content description, hashtags, and so on. As Web 2.0 allows to create and distribute content easily, now there are more and more networks and blogs appearing.
Using social networks for the purpose of education has several advantages. First of all, one can get access to a huge number of credible sources for free. Second, functions of social services make it possible not only to store, but also to create and share digital content, which allows users to participate in the creation and sharing of knowledge. Third, it is easy to present the material in various forms with the possibility to include audio, video, or images. Fourth, learning through social networks helps students of the XXI century develop skills to not only find information, but to edit it and use it to create a new one.
The most important advantage of the use of social networks, in my opinion, is that it develops new teaching styles and strategies. For instance, creation of a social platforms, where students can communicate with the teacher, as well as with each other. Such improvements in the use of social media have brought a change to the whole educational process. Now focus is put not only on the results of studies but on the process too.
To conclude, it is important to look at social media not only from a perspective of communication with peers and entertainment, but to view it as a useful and progressive tool in education.