Talking to the darkness


Tonight I linked to Twitter and found a debate about Facebook and Holocaust denial;

This added to some thoughts I had already had about the readings we have this week. It was the discussion about the rush to blog in classrooms that made me think about how education seems to use technology. There is the run and hide; oh I am no good at technology and it is all corrupting and damages the brain, or , lets use it as this will reach the students who feel excluded from education, without any thought at all. I was at a meeting last summer, about Key Skills (English, Maths & ICT), when there was a discussion about using Facebook to post completed work. It never happened but at the time there was such a shocked response from staff we did not even argue. Looking back I wonder if at the first meeting it was a blog site that was suggested and then through translation it became ‘Facebook’. Oh yes that will make students who cannot write suddenly write an essay with no more that 3 spelling or grammar mistakes! Imagine that had happened, somehow we are submitting work via Facebook, then Facebook becomes involved in a debate about Holocaust Denial. Oh whoops. Which brings me to the next Facebook/Education debate of the day. A blog (yes one of those) by my children’s Headmaster pointed out that you can leave an anonymous message, on Facebook, about what you really think about someone else. This, he suggested, could be a simple way to start cyber bullying. Now I don’t know about secret messages or how to do this so I would be interested to know if this was true or not. Getting back to my original point, there was a rush to blog, a rush to use Facebook, perhaps there should be a rush to check whether it was the being able to write makes the difference rather than where you write.


One response

  1. Shaku

    You outline the two poles of cyber optimism and cyber pessimism or panic very succinctly here. I have written about both elsewhere, as has David Buckingham in Beyond Technology. But that’s for another day.

    You are quite right. The absurd idea that because young people or people in general (sic) like doing something – going on facebook, rapping, whatever – this activity + education will suddenly engage them in an activity hitherto thought boring is completely preposterous. Yet so many academics hold this view. And at the other end of the spectrum, the moral panic one about dropping standards of thought and interaction if it is allowed to happen via media…

    One needs to separate new media fads from education + new media fads.

    People keep telling me that blogging is ‘so yesterday’ that social networks are ‘on their way out’ that Twitter is the new ‘facebook’, etc, etc.

    All I can say is what most teachers probably know in practice – a new thing does not supersede an old thing: instead you have layers of use and layers of meaning, people with a greater range of choices in terms of how to express themselves with the same (limited?) range of discourses, rhetorics, words and motivations. What keeps me coming back to things like Facebook, or perhaps even blogs, though not strictly in education, and certainly to television, books, the internet, radio etc, etc, is the different kinds of communication experiences enabled by each. If there’s even one child in a class who writes better on a blog than they do in a notebook, or who gets a better mark because we allowed them to evaluate their own performance orally and tape it than to write in a notebook, than that’s the reason it’s worth giving them the option. But instead, we have this rush to revile or adopt wholesale…and the idea that what one parent/student/school/teacher/department/business is doing successfully must be the answer for everyone else…

    May 16, 2009 at 1:45 pm

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