Social Tools and Learning

There were several related and yet independent posts last week on some of the blogs I follow that were worthy of reflection. The first was by danah boyd (she likes lower case letters…) who responded to the THE ECONOMIST’s call for discussion on whether social networking would impact education or not. Her comment was:

“I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why social network sites (or networking ones) should be used in the classroom. Those tools are primarily about socializing, with media and information sharing there to prop up the socialization process (much status is gained from knowing about the cool new thing). I haven’t even heard of a good reason why social network site features should be used in the classroom. What is the value of knowing who is friends with who or creating a profile when you already know all of your classmates?”

Wow – that actually elicited a
response from me, as you can see if you check out the comments…and a response from her that she was focusing on K-12 rather than higher education. But it certainly got me (and many others) thinking about the tools versus the learning environment, and how online tools enhance or detract from learning.

The second post that caught my eye last week was from Michele Martin, who discussed the Social Media Spiral of online tools:

Social Media Helix

Her spiral to me really suggests that adoption of creative tools lags way behind passive observation of online activities. I wonder if that is true of our digital students? It appears to me that many youngsters today adopt online tools that allow them to express their creativity…and those same tools are either blocked or discounted by education as a whole. My question to all of us – how do we move ourselves into their world (…or should we?)?

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