Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Danah Boyd - implications for Online IT Student community

The audio of the Danah Boyd presentation for the Education.au series of seminars is broken into 3 parts each of about 20 minutes in length.

She provided
  1. a great insight into the history of online social networking, starting with usenet. So this social networking technology has been evolving and morphing since 1980.
  2. an understanding of social norms so that we can relate this concepts to the online spaces
  3. information about the three main components that make up a social networking space - a profile, friends (a public display of our connections) and comments.
In the past youth were free to hang out with each other in all sorts of physical places that is not happening these days. Parents fear that their kids will be kidnapped, assaulted and so on. Online social networking provides kids with the place to hang out and socialise. She sates that there are four main differences between the old hanging out in physical places and the new online social spaces.
  1. Persistence - what you say sticks around. It is my view that once something is said it can not be unsaid. What you say has always been persistent but the online persistence is in a more physical sense.
  2. Search ability - information about you is search able by anyone from anywhere
  3. Replicability - what you say in one online space (eg chat) can easily be replicated into other spaces
  4. Invisible Audiences - what you say can be seen by people you have no idea about and used in ways that you have no control of
She is saying that youth are learning to deal with a public life that only mega stars had to deal with in the past, only in a scaled way. What happens in these online spaces impacts on what happens at school.

It was interesting that the way that adults are dealing with this is different in the Western world vs Asia. The key seems to be the consequence of what she calls 'Age Segregation'. In the western world we encourage people of similar ages to hang out. It is generally seen that there is no real reason why a young person would hang out with an older person and visa versa. This has implications for online social networking whereas in Asia people of all ages are welcome and part of a persons network and this is seen as acceptable and correct.

In Asia social networking is being embraced and in the western world it is being banned.

This phenomena could have implications for the thinking around making an online IT student community. In this idea I have suggested that it would be good to have senior secondary, post secondary, industry, teachers, lecturers, etc all involved in the community. The social norms built around age segregation will certainly create issues for successful implementation of this concept.

Danah suggests that it would be better for us to embrace online social networking and open up the conversations that promote the growth of ethical and moral learning.

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