Thursday, August 7, 2008

5.*: More on social networking

Apologies for what seems to be a sole focus on the "e-Xtending possibilities" e-Primer... which is, itself, yet to be written! It just seems that it is this area that is most dynamic at the moment. I intend to place some further thoughts relating to e-Primer 1 soon.

Anyways, a friend passed on a link that led me to the latest findings of the "Annual Realtime Generation Survey" of UK 13-17 year olds. The main shift: toward social 'not' working (rather than 'net' ;o) ). There seems to be a shift by young people away from social networking sites, and, contra popular opinion in the blogosphere, a preference for face-to-face communications.

Further, in the context of the phrase, "the majority (29%) would prefer to have face-time with, for example, prospective universities, than any other communications or technology
medium", there could be an underlying acceptance by 13-17 year olds for lecturing or didacticism (although I hasten to add that this is not an exclusive endorsement for didacticism as a teaching technique) in HE.

The study further finds that the 'Not' generation (my term, it's a nice contrast!) "expects and demands the availability of [thelatest gadgets]" and suggests that "education establishments will therefore need to consider multi-channel communication policies that support the use of formal and informal practices". Here, I think, is where the issue becomes very clear. How can we best apply technology in ways that complement formal education practices? This is a different agenda from plotting how social networking might topple the formal establishments of teaching and learning and is, in my view, a much more progressive and helpful one.

The study, commissioned by an IT services provider (Logicalis), is not the first I have heard of this. A few years ago there was an article (somewhere out there) about US students in their mid-20s who were forsaking social networking as they grew into another stage of life. Social networking, it seems, is not a silver bullet for lifelong learning nor a comprehensive addition to higher education.

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