Amelia Orjuela Da Silva | Special to PantherNOW
From Canvas to Instagram, students depend on technology to get an education, have fun, and network with their peers.
Ana Alonso, a junior pursuing a psychology major, thinks that social media apps and platforms are excellent tools.
“It’s really good to get information about your future career,” she said. “But also because of the connections you can find when networking, and to find hacks you can use in the classroom.”
FIU students can benefit from the wide variety of apps and technology available–here’s what you should know.
According to the University of Oxford Saïd Business School, social media has negative and positive effects.
The university conducted research that involved about 2,000 people and concluded that social media could impact psychological well-being positively only when there is “genuine social interaction.”
Among lockdowns and drastic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, people took to social media to find genuine connections with others. This is especially true for students, who experimented with these changes due to the shift from in-person to online classes.
In school, students’ social interactions changed from talks in the cafeteria to video calls through social media apps like Zoom or WhatsApp–and so did learning.
Since then, many digital media platforms have been added to the classrooms. The University of Arizona stated that social media has become a learning tool for students and teachers.
The university’s website states that social media shapes and presents information differently than traditional learning tools, which keep students engaged.
Here are some social media apps and platforms that FIU students use for entertainment, taking a break from classes, and getting help in their learning journey.
Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace
When talking about computer software, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace are the two most commonly mentioned.
Even though these two have very similar features, Microsoft Office has been the to-go software for FIU students since the university’s switch from Gmail to Outlook.
However, it also depends on the student’s preferences. Daniela Martinez, a junior majoring in graphic design, says, “I’ve been using Microsoft Office since I started using a computer, so for me is very easy to work with it because I know the format already, while Google Workspace is kind of new for me so I don’t use it that much.”
The well-known online grammar checker is many Panthers’ best friend. Along with features such as a plagiarism and spelling checker, this app rates the paper’s overall performance by evaluating the writing quality.
“Grammarly has benefitted me a lot,” said Alonso. “My first language is not English, so of course, with grammar, it’s always gonna help me put a comma when I don’t know where the comma goes, or correct a misspelled word, and maybe say how it would sound better.”
Canvas LMS is the online platform FIU and many other universities use to manage digital learning, in which professors create online assignments and lessons.
At the same time, students engage with the courses they take and receive feedback about their development in the courses.
Canvas also has a mobile app that allows students to check their calendars, grades, upcoming assignments, and announcements at the click of a button.
LinkedIn Learning gives students access to a vast library of instructional videos covering in-demand topics and provides a personalized learning experience suited to each student.
Students at FIU have free access to this platform with their FIU credentials. Although LinkedIn Learning is not required for learning, some professors add it to their courses as textbook material instead of physical books.
Elio Arteaga, adjunct professor at the Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media, uses this platform for his classes, describing it as an “open educational resource.”
“I love LinkedIn Learning,” said Arteaga. “Unlike textbooks, which go out of date, LinkedIn Learning videos are constantly revised and updated, and older videos are retired.”
Moreover, Arteaga affirms that students have saved thousands of dollars in textbooks that, once the semester is over, they will not use again.
“The result of specifying LinkedIn Learning materials to replace expensive textbooks is immediate and tangible,” said Arteaga .”Students know they are saving money because the course has no further expenses other than the tuition.”
Especially helpful to juniors and seniors, Handshake is an online recruiting service that helps students launch their careers with personalized job recommendations from recruiters partnered with universities.
Through its partnership with FIU, Handshake allows students to register for events such as career fairs, professional picture booths, on-campus interviews, and resume workshops.
“I think it is a good tool; I use it to find career fairs on campus or events and to messaging with recruiters that offer interesting internships,” said Jose Matos, a junior information technology major.
Quizlet boosts student learning through study tools such as flashcards, matching games, online assessments, and live quizzes. Students can also create their own flashcards to study or browse millions of other topics for an easy and accessible learning process.
“I feel that Quizlet prepares me for tests, and the flashcards help me take my notes and learn meanings or the correct answers,” said Martinez. “I mostly used it when I was learning English because the flashcards helped me study a lot.”
Entertainment and Connection
WhatsApp group chats are excellent for discussing group projects or challenging assignments and creating connections.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln stated that it “allows learners to form groups, allows them to communicate among themselves, facilitates social interactions, creates dialogue, and encourages sharing of learning materials.”
The popular, entertaining short video app can help students in their learning journey. Martinez explains that it depends on how students intend to use the app, whether they use it for leisure, as a source of schooling help, or both.
“I use TikTok for enjoyment but also to find some tips about my major,” she said. “Sometimes I find many helpful hacks about how to create a logo or things related to my career, so I’m entertaining myself while learning tips that will help me in the future.”
Instagram is the must-have entertainment app college students should have to take a break from assignments. With this app, students can show their #collegestudentlife–for example, by posting their daily coffee break at MMC–while being as creative as they want.
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