Student engagement in social software outside school context
Student engagement in social software outside the school context is / will be different to the interactions within school. Take, for example, the average MySpace or Beboer. Look at the people they are friends with through their profile. Don't they look alike, like the same things? In school, though, in a classroom there is far less choice as to whom you connect to, so groups perhaps reflect more diverse types of person. But is it education's job to wade in here and try to help students better decide how they use their social space, what information to share, how to use it to learn?
It would seem logical to involve students' MySpace or Bebo - their 'real life' online space. If we don't, and therefore devalue their private online space by insisting on sole use of the institutional online space (school-run blog or wikis for example) for 'serious' school work, will kids not do what kids do, and use their own space to do what they want anyway? And will what they produce on the 'serious' learning space not be false, of a lesser quality, because it's not at all integrated into their own private life?
So how could we get students' online spaces to be more integrated, whether they are official (in school) or personal (on MySpace or Bebo)? One solution, suggested by Ian Usher, IT coordinator from Buckinghamshire, is just to get people to know how to tag things. If a student wants something to appear in their personal e-learning portfolio they just have to tag it in a particular way. That way, the students can work on their own personal space almost exclusively (such as MySpace) but contribute simultaneously to their 'serious' area.
My head's throbbing, but I'm going to add to this as the session goes on...