Blended Learning Part 1.5

Just a quick one here…

Was reading Bill Thompson’s blog on the BBC here. Discussing social networking sites he mentions:

About a year ago I asked my daughter, who was 15 at the time, if she would “ADD” me as a friend on MySpace so I could comment on her profile and be part of her online social network.

She refused point blank.

Not because she wanted to keep things secret, but because it would be unutterably naff to have your dad as a MySpace friend.

This reflects one comment that came up a few times at the Blended Learning conference… students don’t necessarily want their teachers/lecturers logging into MySpace (or the like) and ‘friending’ them – they generally want a separation between their online social and education lives. Really no different to how students have always wanted a line around their personal social spaces that they don’t want their teachers invading.

(I think Facebook is one that they might not mind sharing with educators so much… but it is a touch more ‘grown up’ than MySpace in terms of appearance and appeal. As Bill notes in his blog, his daughter eventually friends him on Facebook… but still keeps her MySpace)

Another way this emerges, as mentioned at the conference, is students who network with each other to seek solutions to problems – using IM’s for example – and only turning to official discussion boards and forums as a last resort. As was also mentioned, this is not a new pattern of behaviour for students, although the technology they are using has changed. (Certainly I recall that as an undergraduate my first port of call when seeking academic advice was more likely to be a fellow student than a member of the teaching staff.)

And I think this is one of the differences conceptually between ‘net generation’ and ‘digital native’ ideas…

Much of what has been written about digital natives seems to describe todays youth as being incredibly distinct from previous generations in a huge range of ways. The net generation concept seems to have more room to accept that generation gaps are not new and that todays students behave in many ways the same as yesterdays – even if the technologies they use have changed dramatically. Importantly, ‘net generation’ also removes the insinuation that the population can be divided quite so neatly into two distinct groups… the natives and immigrants that I’ve complained about so often on this blog.

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