Instagram as an Educational Means

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Instagram is one of the most popular social media, and it may be considered an entire independent organism or structure full of interdependent processes. This photo sharing system is a part of the contemporary art detection, education, and culture as a whole. It provokes users to feel like photographers and to reveal their emotions by giving the opportunity to publicize personal memories through photos. People of different age use Instagram to become more successful, to gain new knowledge, develop business, and utter personal opinions, attitudes, and ideas. Instagram can develop thinking, deepen one’s knowledge, enhance personal qualities, and business, which is why it can be considered a tool for business, training, and educational purposes.

Instagram appeals to social and personal values and provides the opportunity to conveniently influence customers’ desires and reach consumers’ demands (Howard, Mangold, and Johnston.  657-65). Many companies consider Instagram an essential part of their marketing strategy, especially those that represent food and beverage industry and assume the tool an inexpensive branding way. McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Shredz, Ben & Jerry’s, and Oreo engage it to express their identity through photos (Ginsberg 78).

On the other hand, Instagram is an educational tool as it develops the new meaning of photography. As the art theorist Walter Benjamin underlined, Instagram should help with elucidation of experience and emotions (Sharp n.p.). For instance, foodstagramming enriches simple photos of food with spiritual meaning. The process affects cultural and social experiences of users (Ginsberg 79). Moreover, it becomes the textbook of modern food history.

Moreover, Instagram gives the insights and glimpses into the author’s personal life by revealing his or her memories, experiences, and evoking images. Viewers effortlessly use Instagram to enrich their everyday routines. It colorfully welcomes users to dive into authors’ unique world perception of reality. The choice of phrases in comments is not accidental one and it highlights the processes relevant to today's society. Instagram expands knowledge on history, social changes, and famous people. The stories can be considered manifestations of contemporary literature and poetry. Social media tend to abstract; thus, people have to learn to interpret photos like paintings and music (Ginsberg 83-84).

It is necessary to stress that Walter Benjamin argued for educational and cultural changes (Sharp n.p.). The modernist stressed that logical reasons could not explain the person's experience (Sharp n.p.). It is especially obvious for self-representation with the help of art (Sharp n.p.). Photography has changed its meaning, and photos are comprehended now as the means of information and knowledge transfer. Not only do they tell the audience about history as it was before, but also reflect and teach about specific spheres of life. Thus, Instagram can be a new way of educating.

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To understand how to use the system for training, educators should be aware of users’ purposes. The scientists of Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) found a significant difference between using Instagram by teenagers and adults (Koons n.p.). The researches Kyungsik "Keith" Han, Dongwon Lee, and Jin Yea Jang, conducted a comparative analysis of 27,000 users and their goals for the use of this application. For their study, researchers used a textual pattern recognition algorithms and an online device called Face ++. It revealed the ages and sex of the people in the photographs. The project has brought unexpected results. In particular, it was found that adults uploaded more photos on Instagram than teenagers. Scientists believe it happens due to the possibility of adults to be in different environment. The research discovered that teenagers used Instagram as a means of expression and communication. The significant differences on topics that are essential for adults and young users have been revealed. Teenagers’ photos convey mood, emotions, lifestyle, and encourage following the certain behavior. Many adolescents upload their selfies to enhance self-esteem and expand their circle of communication. In contrast, adults showed a more conscious attitude to the content of photos. Their messages concern science, education, art, culture, and society. This application is a visual tutorial for them (Koons n.p.). The results of the study allow concluding that Instagram can be used for educational and scientific purposes. In particular, photos can teach teenagers ways of increasing their self-esteem, self-representing, and developing emotional intelligence. It will lead to sustainable development of a personality and society. As young users browse adults’ photos, educators and parents can use this fact to deepen the knowledge of their children about the environment, social processes, cultures, financial management, and the first steps towards a successful career.

The idea is confirmed by the research conducted by scientists Yuheng Hu, Lydia Manikonda, and Subbarao Kambhampati of the Department of Computer Science, Arizona State University. They argue that Instagram manifests increasing popularity. This photo and video sharing service has attracted 150 million of users uploading 55 million photos a day. The scientific approach to Instagram can give insight of social issues and people's activities. The researchers used qualitative and quantitative analysis to determine and categorize types of photos and their content. By using the method of clustering, the scientists identified the most popular categories of photos (Yuheng, Manikonda, and Ambhampati n.p.). The research discovered 8 distinct types of photo content. They are friends and self-portraits, activities, photos with memos, food, gadgets, fashion, and pets. Activities captured 15% of the photos, which shows the interest of people to the way of life of other individuals.  Thus, the photos of such content can efficiently influence the promotion of healthy lifestyle, sports, and education. Selfies and Friends category includes more than 46% of photos; therefore, Instagram reflects social relations and it can be used to influence one’s attitude to life. Instagram’s positive feature is promotion of friendly relations and development of emotional intellect. Photos of food can teach children to be accustomed to a healthy lifestyle and quality food. Engineers, programmers, designers, and constructors use viewing photos of the device category for personal training. The latter two categories can be applied as instructions and manuals (Yuheng et al. n.p.).

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Participatory sensing systems (PSSs) are an excellent tool to achieve educational and training purposes (Silva and De Melo n.p.). A modern teacher must be able to motivate students to positive activities. The best example to follow is the teacher’s attitude to sports, health, society, volunteer activities, and training. In particular, educators can use Instagram to promote reading. After reading a book, students make pictures of it in Instagram, and, thus, engage others into reading it. Moreover, even math filled with formulas and numbers can be turned into an interesting subject with colored posts, photos of mathematicians, and appropriate schemes. In geography class, Instagram can be used as a supplement to the textbook as various photos will teach to understand the diversity of other cultures, national traditions, manner of eating and cuisine, religion and ethnic characteristics of different groups of people. In natural science lessons, using Instagram can turn a laboratory work to the interesting process. Teachers can choose posts to talk about the structure and composition of substances and different species of plants and animals. Photos help develop a sense of responsibility for the preservation of the nature, the restoration of endangered species and desire to become a volunteer in the field of environmental protection. With the help of Instagram, parents can constantly monitor child’s achievements, demeanor, and level of socialization in society.

It is important to pay attention to today's issue of equality in society, at work, and in educational establishments. During social studies class, the positive photos representing different cultures develop in students a sense of tolerance, dignity, and their own national identity.

Instagram is an excellent means of promoting healthy lifestyle and activity. Photo of classmates and teachers participating in sport events encourage to go in for sports (DeNeen n.p.). Instagram offers a number of methods to contextualize the visual information needed for work in language classes (Al-Ali n.p.).

To conclude, since the functions of the platform can develop intellectual ability, emotional intelligence, and deepen knowledge from different disciplines, Instagram can be used for training and business promotion. It enables users to communicate with people of different nationalities and cultures, to learn to be tolerant to other ideologies, religions, and ideas. Photos exhibited in this social media reflect economic, cultural, and social processes in society. Instagram is used by the representatives of different professions for their own popularity, business development, and education.

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