Sunday, February 3, 2008

Learning how to function in an online environment

I found Kate Olson's recent blog posting called "Finally Facebook" very interesting and relevant to the recent FB discussions I've been blogging about here.

In "Finally Facebook", Kate describes how she has just started a Facebook (FB) account "
in the name of research" for a parent workshop she is holding at her school on “what kids are up to online these days”. Kate felt that she couldn't teach others about FB without actually using it herself, as she is keen to help 'educate' your students' parents about Social Networks.

Kate writes:
"In no way will I be conveying that social networks are something to be scared of - I will be emphasizing parent awareness, monitoring, and open communication with teens and referencing much of Danah Boyd’s work.

I believe every parent (and TEACHER, but that’s another post) should at least understand what social networks are, even if they aren’t interested in using them for personal use. Not because social networks are something to necessarily be worried about, but we need to understand how our kids work, interact, and think. It’s just simply NOT ok anymore for parents to say, “I hardly even know how to email, ha ha” and have that be just cute and a sign of the times. We need to wake up and figure out where this generation is spending time.

- Why doesn’t every single school have parent education courses?

- Why aren’t all teachers REQUIRED to learn and discuss how social networking affects learning and interacting with teenagers (students’ personal, not educational use)?"
Kate also includes some really good links to "educational writings on social networking".

And since using Social Networking Sites like FB has been high on the agenda in the e-learning circles at TAFE SA this week I thought that I would include my comments to Kate's blog here, so that I can start to gather a 'repository' of information which can help us 'massage' people's understanding of the importance of 'learning how to function in an online environment'.

This is the comment I left on Kate's 'Finally Facebook' blog post today:

"You're spot on here Kate - the message to parents is - 'get amongst it' - because it is only once you're in the social networking-sphere that you can truly understand what's going on.

Like you I create a MySpace account a while back, and then the next time I went back to it I had 6 friend requests - I was so excited - 6 strangers wanted to be my friend :). However, upon opening up the 'requests' screen I had 6 men wanting to be my friend - hmmm - perhaps they mis-read my desire to 'network'. I was shocked and quickly rejected all of them.

However, it did bring home the question:

- how do young adolescents deal with this kind of thing?

A work colleague mentioned that her son wanted to get a MySpace and that she wasn't going to let him. I asked her how she was going to stop him, and suggested that she actually got her own MySpace, so she could at least understand the attraction of these sites to young people, and then start the 'conversations' needed to guide young people through the digital world.

Social networking is such an emerging area - so we all need to be in it together, so as a community we can shape it into a healthy and vibrant place to be.


Rash Kath said...

Hi! Allison
I am a mathematics teacher, working in India. Recently, I got to read about you through my twitter colleagues. It am enriched by your shared ideas.
I have created a group of passionate teachers and educators like you, who are sharing their ideas and thoughts about e learning strategies and using technology in classroom. I welcome you to join the group. I think together we can achieve more.With many success stories around we get strength and energy to strive for excellence.

Rash Kath said...

I fogot to mention the link
It is

KerryJ said...

My sister has considered banning my niece from using Facebook. She knows nothing about it, yet has somehow come to the conclusion it's evil. Uneducated opinions when it comes to what's best for kids irritate me. Laziness irritates me. People need to go out and find out about these places and tools -- and stop taking the mainstream media's word as gold. They're trying to peddle beer, sex and food and fear sells.

theother66 (formally MadMiller) said...

Thanks Kerry.

Have you suggested that your sister start her own FB account?

She'd probably love it once she became hooked and saw all of the possibilities of hooking up with you and her friends.

Have you discussed the fact that your niece will probably create a FB account anyway (or a Bebo or a MySpace) and really the best thing for her and her daughter is to 'get involved'.

The frightening thing is that your sister and my colleague are only a few of many parents who are putting their head in the sand in hope this whole social networking/web 2.0 thing would just go away.

kolson29 said...

Allison -

Wow, thanks for referencing my post! I look forward to seeing the comments you receive on this topic and I'll share my experiences with the parent workshop. I'm interested in finding out how the parents are viewing this issue.

Kate Olson