This past October, Ito spoke at the New School’s biennial conference series, The Politics of Digital Culture. In her talk, “Learning with Social and Mobile Media: The Positive Potential of Peer Pressure and Messing Around Online”, she examines the diversity of youth experience with new media and how it relates to questions of equity, access, and learning opportunities.
“We can debate outcomes of engagement all we want, but the thing that’s really important, I think, to have on the public agenda is really the question of ‘Who is getting access to the kinds of experiences that are productive and engaging, and who is not?’ And what are the factors contributing to that?”
I’d like to toss out a few general scenarios for you all to consider:
- Students create and organize their own Facebook group for a specific class; the classroom teacher is invited to participate. Should the teacher be the admin of the group, merely a member, or even a participant? And whether or not the teacher is part of the student created class group, should parents be admitted to the group?
- A teacher creates and organizes a class/course Facebook group for students and is the group admin. Parents request to join the group—should they be admitted?
- If a teacher is posting content to a student organized Facebook class group, such as an informal discussion question that is not a graded assignment, is the teacher obligated to cross-post that discussion on the “official” course page?
- If a teacher posts class content (as a member, not an admin) on a student organized Facebook class group, is it reasonable for a parent to assume that once that teacher posts class content in that space, “he/she has changed the nature of the page, and parents should have access”?
- Is it reasonable for parents to equate a teacher moderating or participating in a student course Facebook group with “friending” students?
These scenarios could also be applied to those who may be using circles in Google Plus, Google Groups, or other similar networks. The need for students to have a space they feel they can share information and express themselves openly is an important one; at the same time, transparent structures that encourage and allow for parental participation and involvement are also important. How do we negotiate these tensions while respecting the needs of both teens and parents, particularly when the communication medium is one like Facebook where students gravitate and dwell?
What are your thoughts on these questions? Does your district have any formal policies for teachers in place about the use of social networks like Facebook whether the network is administered by the teacher or not? If you’re utilizing Facebook or comparable social network tools for learning and/or class conversation, what policies or protocols do you observe?
About two days ago, I noticed a flurry of postings from my local friends to a Facebook group called, “You’re Probably from Canton, GA (Cherokee County) If You Remember??” in which people were reminiscing about places, people, and traditions gone by in the local town and surrounding communities of Canton. Out of curiosity, I began perusing the posts in the group this evening and am fascinated by the phenomenon I see happening here: over 900 members are sharing collective memory, legends, lore, photographs, and remembrances of life in the past of Canton.
People are sharing musings and engaging in threaded conversations around historic photographs, school days, local events that no longer take place, “urban legends” (including one about one of my high school teachers, Miss Mauldin, who supposedly became distressed when she could not find her classroom after a group of mischievous teens pushed the lockers down the hall and concealed the entrance to her classroom), local figures, traditions, and cultural institutions of life in what used to a be fairly small north Georgia town. Most of the memories center on life prior to the 1990s, a decade in which a population explosion changed the physical and cultural landscape of the community in many ways.
As I am browsing through the posts this evening, I can’t help but wonder what libraries and educators could take away from this kind of phenomenon of crowdsourcing collective memories; I’m intrigued what an ethnographer might also be able to take away from this collective narrative as well as individual narratives that are shared in this public space.
- How can libraries and educators harness the power of social media to help people build a rich narrative?
- Whose voices seem included and what groups might be absent from the conversation–and what might that in and of itself tell us about the culture of the community?
- What can we learn from the stories that are shared in a medium like this and how could this be a medium for multiple voices telling the history, the story of a shared place?
- Could we view this Facebook group as an alternative or emerging form of text?
- What can we take away from this kind of narrative to inform our understanding of digital storytelling and digital composition?
- Is Facebook a medium for curation, and if so, what are the benefits as well as challenges for using it as a curation medium? How might libraries weave narratives from a group like this into a larger digital text using a tool like Storify?
- What qualities engage and compel people to contribute to this conversation? I saw numerous comments along the lines of, “This is fun! I could do this all night!” or remarks about the number of hours people were devoting to sharing and reading the posts and comments in the group. Clearly, people are experiencing flow in this learning and shared story space–how can libraries and educators tap into the power of shared storytelling and construction of local history/memory?
- How is this group functioning as a site of participatory culture?
- Do groups like this encourage people to use social media who may be reluctant to join a social network or who may not feel a sense of agency or desire to participate in social networking?
- What motivates people to establish and engage in sustained participation in groups like these?