Friday, August 10, 2007

Waitasec, is "Social Networking" What We Want for Schools?

To be sure, the NSBA's report, "CREATING & CONNECTING//Research and Guidelines on Online Social — and Educational — Networking," is a step in the right direction in toning down the moral panic over online safety. I have a few critical thoughts, however.

If Microsoft and Verizon are going to chip in on a study like this, can't they frickin' afford a better study? I mean, they're hardly poor. This is predominantly based on an internet survey. I don't regard internet studies as very reliable in general, and particularly if it is an internet survey about internet use there would seem to be a built in selection bias. I haven't dug into whether or not they controlled for this somehow, but on the surface it doesn't look good.

This is another time where I feel like the complete absence of clearly defined terminology may sink this entire "movement." A lot of creative activity and publishing is discussed in this report, but it all gets put under the umbrella of "social networking." In my opinion, the case for embracing the use of closed, commercial social networking sites in K-12 schools is weak (whether or not they should be not blocked is another question). The case for creating school-administered "social networking" sites in schools is also dubious. I mean, does the school want to literally get in the business of helping kids explicitly define who is and is not their friend, to directly facilitate clique-y social machinations? I suppose it is not that different than hosting a school dance, but it is not a can of worms I'd want to open.

The case for web publishing (blogging, podcasting, etc.) is pretty straightforward. The case for online discussions of various sorts is as well. I don't know what the case is for schools facilitating "social networking," unless social networking is defined broadly enough to be meaningless.

1 comment:

Miguel Guhlin (@mGuhlin) said...

Posted something here...

miguel Guhlin
Around the Corner