There was a really rich forum discussion thread about teachers and social networking on this ning site. This blog post is kind of a repeat of my post to this forum discussion, but I feel pretty strongly about the issue:

Here's the thing that Will doesn't really bring into the discussion. Look at the psychology of a young person. It's all about the "friends".....the more "friends" the better. The compelling part of being part of a social network is to participate in the community because "hanging out" with people their own age is part of the emotional and psychological makeup of a younger person. When kids reach their teens, their focus becomes their peers. That's part of how they are wired.

A middle-aged teacher like myself, with a husband, three kids, a dog, and a full time job....the motivation to participate in social networking would have to be pretty compelling. I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that when you get to a certain point (or age) in your life, you stop caring about the opinion of your peers to the point where you have to go on line and check your social networking site 5 times a day (like my kids do).

I have a great deal of respect for Will and his work. I read his books and his blog. I read a lot of blogs for that matter. I just think that he needs to take a step back and reflect on the underlying reasons why kids do something and grownups do not.

As with many of the posts in this thread, I do think teachers need to capitalize on the way their students use the internet. Teachers are really missing the boat when they don't use the web 2.0 to extend the classroom and engage the students using their own medium for communication.

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Comment by Laura Gibbs on July 24, 2007 at 8:08am
hi Nadine, this is a really interesting post - I think intensity and mode of use is definitely an important factor.

for example, I was reluctant to use Twitter because I thought it would be some crazy time-wasting thing that I would play with all the time, since I had read about so many people becoming Twitter-addicted. I was surprised to find out that it is really fun to use Twitter even if you just tweet once or twice a day, not every ten minutes as some people seem to do. I really like Twitter... but I'm not using it the way I would guess many of my students would.

I guess the way I would characterize my use of online resources is that I like to SCHEDULE my time, since I always feel so short of time as it is. so I love the way that Bloglines saves up all the stuff for me to look at when I want to look at it, the way Google Notifier lets me know how much mail there is in my Inbox, but I don't have to actually go to the Inbox until I decide I want to, etc. etc.

this applies not just to online stuff, of course - in the same way that I do not like to use IM (ugh), I also do not like telephones and never have. when I need to use the telephone it can be a lifesaver but gosh, I have never been one to drop what I am doing and answer the phone. if I'm cooking, I'm cooking... if I'm reading a book, I'm reading... if I'm driving a car, I'm driving... and I'm not going to answer the phone while I do that!

anyway, very interesting - I think it is useful to think about how the same technology, like the telephone, can be used with EXTREMELY different modes and levels of intensity.

it's very lucky I see now that I am able to use some web2.0 tools in my "fuddy duddy" middle-aged lady way, while my students are using the same tools for a total social immersion experience!



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