Teaching the Facebook Generation

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Lifelong Learning, Date: 28 Feb 2011

Great article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald about how teachers and schools are adapting to using social networks (or not...). 

Web to Classroom Workshop

Web to Classroom Workshop
Photographer: Helen Wheeler © Australian Museum

Teaching the Facebook Generation makes some salient points about how educationalists need to embrace social networking in order to guide students to engage with these sites in useful ways without compromising their privacy. Some things I picked up:

  • Teachers (and I suggest employers too) need to be aware of their social networking profile and think hard about what they post and who they friend.
  • Even if these sites are blocked at the workplace people will find ways around it, therefore why not just allow access and monitor it?
  • Blocking and privacy fears can overcome the educational benefits of using social networking sites, and there seems to be a consensus that banning these sites is detrimental: “…the best way for students and teachers not to fall victim to technology is to use it and understand so they can control it”. Also teachers say that “… the ban also fails to take into account the role social networking has had in real-world events - most recently the civil uprising in Egypt - and dismisses some of the rich and meaningful ways students use it, including to display grief and to rally for causes.”
  • Bans often focus on the (often small) instances of misuse, rather than on educating users about protocols of being in these spaces.
  • Students will find ways to access these sites, even if impoverished, through libraries, friends, borrowed mobiles, etc.
  • Attitudes are relaxing towards use of mobiles at school: “Along with the relaxing of social-networking access at some schools, attitudes toward iPod and mobile-phone use in classrooms have also shifted and educators are finding creative ways to incorporate such devices into the classroom.”

The article mentions Lisa Nielsen, who writes a blog called The Innovative Educator. The post Kids and teachers are interacting. Everybody panic is well worth a read.

In our Web to Classroom workshops we also found that teachers were really engaging with these tools and finding innovative  ways to use them, even if blocked, and an acceptance that it is important to understand this world.

The upshot is, as stated above, if you’re not in these spaces you run the risk of being out of the loop. But you’ve all heard me say that before, right?!