Creating & Connecting – National School Boards Association

March 27, 2008 at 6:27 pm (social networking)

Part of the benefit for me of ubiquitous computing and wi-fi internet is “hitchiking” with David Warlick as he live blogs (also called mobile blogging or moblogging) while at Educon 2.0, attending a session that referred to a National School Boards Association study Creating & Connecting//Research and Guidelines on Online Social–and Educational–Networking (pdf).  Of course, I checked it out.  These are some of the points that stood out for me. 

  • 9-17-year olds spend almost as much time using social networking services & websites as watching TV
  • 96% of students report having used social networking technologies (eg. chatting, texting, blogging and visiting online communities such as Facebook, MySpace or Webkinz.) 
  • 60% talk about education topics online; 50% talk specifically about school work
  • 21% post comments on message boards everyday; 41% once per week

This actually left me with a number of questions:

  • Aren’t they on the computer and watching TV simultaneously?  I thought they were multi-tasking?  (or is it, as Jenn mentioned early in the course, continuous partial attention, a term coined by Linda Stone, a former Microsoft VP, found in Social Machines)
  • The use of 28 social networking technologies were surveyed – Wow!  This is a really broad definition of social networking, one that David Warlick prefers as it is far less limiting than the likes of Facebook.  What were the 28 different social networking technologies surveyed?
  • Did the 50 or 60% who talked about education online do so exclusively?  I doubt it.  They’re multi-tasking.
  • Of those who posted messages, what tool were they using – blogs, wikis, IM, etc?

Most interesting to me was the discussion surrounding non-conformists

[S]tudents who step outside of online safety and behavior rules–are on the cutting edge of social networking, with online behaviors and skills that indicate leadership among their peers.  About one in five (22%) of all students…and one in three teens (31%), are nonconformists, students who report breaking one or more online safety or behavior rules, such as inappropriate language, posting inappropriate pictures, sharing personal information with strangers or pretending to be someone they are not. 

Nonconformists are significantly heavier users of social networking sites than other students, participating in every single type of social networking activity surveyed (28 in all) significantly more frequently than other students both at home and at school–which likely means that they break school rules to do so. 

I can’t help but think of non-conformists as early adopters instead of in the negative rule-breaker sense identified above.  Are they considered to be non-conformists because they are following the old rules of the digital immigrants?  Like the teachers who find and download YouTube videos to memory sticks and bring them to class to initiate discussion, is that the kind of rule-breaking that we are talking about?  I can’t help but think of one of the slides in one of Valenza’s PowerPoints where she says “We are working ahead of the rules.”   

If we’re talking about some of the more risky online behaviors of sharing personal information or images, those are topics that need to be addressed in school so that students understand online safety.  Although, my feeling from this report and from Frontline’s Growing Up Online, students are more internet wise and savvy than they used to be.  I could be wrong in this assumption.  

Most interesting to me was this part:

These students seem to have an extraordinary set of traditional and 21st century skills, including communication, creativity, collaboration and leadership skills and technology proficiency.  Yet they are significantly more likely than other students to have lower grades, which they report as “a mix of Bs and Cs” or lower, than other students.

This leads to the conclusion that:

“…schools need to find ways to engage nonconformists in more creative activities for academic learning.” 

Are the grades of the non-conformists lower because their skills are not valued?  Not assessed?  Not understood?  All three combined?  Constructivist, student-centred, technology infused, inquiry based learning can serve to engage all students including non-conformists.

Back at his blog, Warlick (Jan. 27) identifies some of the questions being asked in the conversation surrounding the National School Boards Association Creating and Connecting document, social networks and social networking:

  • What are social networks and social networking?
  • Do we need to integrate social networks(ing) into our classes?
  • Do we need to create assignments or work for out students that demands them to use social networking?
  • How do we bring in the technology and protect kids?

The Horizon Report 2007 answers some of these questions.   

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1 Comment

  1. Revisiting Creating & Connecting « InfoTech4Lrng said,

    […] me think about something I blogged way back in March 2008.  It was after I had read a study from The National School Board Association’s entitled […]

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