Social Psychology and Online Communication

How do you perceive simulations, including telepresence, influencing education, and training in the future, in response to your social media readings and discussions?

As it is known, nowadays simulations and online communication have become a part of many people’s lives; they are already used in many fields. One of such fields is education. But there are even more perspective uses of modern communication technologies in the educational area. For instance, there already exist multiple online educational courses, many of them rather high-quality (such as Coursera (n.d.)).

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It is possible to speculate that more such courses will appear in the future; perhaps some type of electronic universities will emerge, ones that will offer systems of online courses upon completion of which a person will be able to get a degree. It is also possible that universities will conduct studies via such technologies as Skype (or other telepresence software).

Perhaps some institutions will transfer to online education completely (or new institutions offering such an option will emerge), because this should be convenient, and might be especially useful for overseas students. Besides, it is known that online technologies, social media, in particular, contribute to the creation of communities where people develop quite close ties and trustful relationships (Canhoto, Clark, & Fennemore, 2013). So, it is possible to assume that closely-tied online scientific and educational communities will emerge as mass online communication becomes easy enough and affordable for everybody.

How will ubiquitous computing, such as social media paired with handheld devices, become part of everyday life in the future? What are the consequences of this? Why?

We believe that ubiquitous computing (social media and handheld devices in particular) will make it even easier for geographically distant people to keep in touch and communicate with each other. It is possible to assume that technologies allowing for the simulation of physical presence not only through vision and sound but also via touch and smell will be developed; a consequence is shortening the distance between people even further. On the other hand, online communication is not going to replace face-to-face communication, for personal contact is still more valuable for many people than a computer simulation.

However, it is important to point out that communication via devices has already become a part of the everyday life of many people. We believe that there will not be significant qualitative changes in the way further development in the area will affect communication, at least about social media as they exist today, due to the limitations a person has. For instance, despite the possibility of having a thousand friends in a social network, one rarely keeps communicating actively with perhaps more than several tens or a hundred of them, remaining most closely related to those involved in their everyday activities (such as studying, work, etc.), because they don’t have enough time, energy, desire, or reasons to communicate with more people.

How would you, as a social psychologist, develop research to understand these trends and issues?

In the analysis of social media, it is important to collect a significant amount of relational data about those who communicate in social networks (Scott, 2013). It can be collected both online and via personal contacts with people (interviews, surveys). It is useful to combine both qualitative and quantitative research methods to produce a many-sided analysis.

In the process of collection and analysis of data, it is useful to utilize various software designed specifically for this purpose. Scott (2013) mentions two computer packages, UCINET and PAJEK, which could be used in such studies. Undoubtedly, other software can be found or created to be employed in the research.

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In most cases, it is also essential to gather data on how people communicate face-to-face. This is needed to understand the changes that communication between people, in general, undergoes due to the emergence of new technologies, as well as to better comprehend the role of newly emerged ways of communication in people’s life.


Canhoto, A. I., Clark, M., & Fennemore, P. (2013). Emerging segmentation practices in the age of the social customer. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 21(5), 413-428.

Coursera: Free online courses from top universities. (n.d.). Web.

Scott, J. (2013). Social network analysis (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

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