Mark van’t Hooft, a technology researcher at Kent State University, has written an outstanding research article about students and social networks. The article entitled, “Schools, Children, and Digital Technology: Building Better Relationships for a Better Tomorrow” was written in the April/May issue of Innovate, the Journal of Online Education.
The article begins:
“While kids are not afraid to use innovative digital tools such as blogging and repurpose them for their own uses, adults are usually more cautious. In fact, rather than appreciating the varied and often creative ways in which young people make use of new technologies, adults tend to be wary or even afraid of digital tools and seek to strengthen restrictions on their use in schools and libraries. ”
Later in the article, he discusses how social networking for teenagers is a way of connecting with their peers which is not all that different than in the past.
“In the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, kids would run and bike all over the neighborhood with their friends, and teenagers would hang out at local hamburger joints, drive-ins, or, eventually, shopping malls… “By going virtual, digital technologies allow youth to (re)create private and public youth space while physically in controlled spaces” (Boyd 2006, “Digital Publics” ¶8).”
Still the classic differences between the digital natives vs. the analog adults. He goes on to suggest ways that schools should be involved in guiding students in the use of these tools.
“However, if schools do not take on the responsibility of teaching students how to use the Internet safely, ethically, and responsibly—and given the inability of many parents to do so—who will? According to many technology standards for teaching and learning, schools should play an important role in this regard.”
One of his concluding lines, which I will quote and re-quote, is:
“Digital tools will not have a real impact on teaching and learning until educators build more genuine relationships with both kids and technology. ”
The well researched article cites research from Danah Boyd, Andy Carvin, David Warlick, Will Richardson, and others. READ this article and then you’ll want to share it with the decision makers in your schools.