Tuesday, July 18, 2006

MySpace & FaceBook - Real & Rhetorical Questions

New Internet “activities” MySpace and FaceBook are spreading faster and further than their predecessors -- especially among people less than half my age.

REAL QUESTIONS: Can we find ways of using these new “Social Networking” or “Web 2.0” tools responsibly? To improve teaching and learning?
Do you know examples of constructive educational uses of MySpace or FaceBook?
RHETORICAL QUESTION: Does it make any sense at all to try to address these issues without the help of students?


Here we go again. Just as I’m BEGINNING to figure out how to take advantage of blogging, podcasting, RSS Feeds, etc.! FaceBook has already become the FIRST “place” my undergraduate daughter goes for communications with her friends from college and elsewhere – often BEFORE checking cell phone voicemail, text messages, instant messages, and email.


3 PROVOCATIVE EXCERPTS:
1. STUDENTS' NEW WAYS?“Most students today arrive at college assuming that a Google search is the first choice for doing research, that MySpace is the model for creating online content and building peer communities, and — perhaps most important — that multitasking with various electronic devices, often from remote locations, is the traditional way to do class work.” - “Beyond Google: What Next for Publishing?” Kate Wittenberg of EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia U.,< kw49@columbia.edu > – see below for more text, citation, link.

2. ANYTHING GOES?[From a middle school teacher] “Unlike my generation, which tends to use MySpace to keep in touch with friends across the world, the generation of students I teach uses MySpace as a prolonged, entirely unsupervised locker break. This adolescent MySpace is filled with profanity, dangerously personal information, sexually explicit pictures, drug references and, in some cases, even pornographic videos. Usually these posts are riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors. But the message is clear: Anything goes. During this locker break, there are no hall monitors, no teachers watching for trouble and, clearly, few parents who are anywhere nearby.” - “MySpace Gone Wrong,” Cheryl MacPherson, of Gunston Middle School, < macpherson@apsva.us > – see below for more text, citation, link.

3. NEW RESTRICTIONS IN MYSPACE?“…MySpace.com is planning new restrictions on how adults may contact its younger users in response to growing concerns about the safety of teenagers who frequent the popular online social networking site. …MySpace has no mechanism for verifying that users submit their true age when registering. That means adults can sign up as teens and request to join a 14-year-old's list of friends, which would enable the full profiles. …Driven largely by word of mouth, MySpace has grown astronomically since its launch in January 2004 and is now second in the United States among all Web sites by total page views, … The site currently has some 87 million users, about a quarter registered as minors, according to the company.” - “ MySpace Plans New Restrictions for Youths,” Anick Jesdanun, – see below for more text, citation, link.

SEE BELOW FOR MORE FROM THESE SOURCES, ADDITIONAL COMMENTS FROM ME, AND SOME RELATED LINKS!


COMMENTS [Steve Gilbert]
Apparently, MySpace expects new “members” to be single, non-smoking, non-drinking people who don’t want to have children. When I created my own MySpace account this morning I discovered those interesting “default options” (i.e., the choices selected FOR me if I didn’t make an active choice in response to some questions – note that “no answer” was the default option for some other questions, but not those). And then I discovered that I already had a “friend” – someone named “Tom” whose photo looks like a head shot from an actor aspiring to a role in a TV reality series. He lists millions of “friends” – beginning mostly with photos of attractive young women. It was easy to “de-select” him from my list of “friends,” but now I have none.


If you haven’t heard of MySpace or FaceBook, you should find out about them. You can get an account for free in less than a minute. My college junior daughter doesn’t like me to watch the screen when she’s online with FaceBook, although she has been willing to tell me a little about it and let me see some examples. It has become the FIRST “place” she goes for communications with her friends from college and elsewhere – sometimes even before cell phone, text messages, instant messages, and email.
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NEWSPAPER ARTICLE EXCERPTS: MACPHERSON IN WASHINGTON POST 7-16-2006
“MySpace Gone Wrong,” Cheryl MacPherson, Washington Post, p. B8, Sunday, July 16, 2006
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/14/AR2006071401186.html
“I joined MySpace.com at my best friend's urging. … I started to realize the difference between my MySpace and their MySpace.


“Unlike my generation, which tends to use MySpace to keep in touch with friends across the world, the generation of students I teach uses MySpace as a prolonged, entirely unsupervised locker break. This adolescent MySpace is filled with profanity, dangerously personal information, sexually explicit pictures, drug references and, in some cases, even pornographic videos. Usually these posts are riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors. But the message is clear: Anything goes. During this locker break, there are no hall monitors, no teachers watching for trouble and, clearly, few parents who are anywhere nearby.


“As a teacher of these talented young people, I am uneasy about this virtual world and unsure of my role in protecting my students from the damage it can cause. … I would not condone any 14- or 15-year-old living alone in an apartment and driving a car. So why do we allow these children to live independent lives online?


“And so, this fall, during parent-teacher conferences and back-to-school night, I am going to provide every parent I meet with detailed directions for creating a MySpace profile, making MySpace friends, posting comments and reading bulletins. And for those young adults such as myself who want to take back MySpace from the too young, send me a message or comment. You know exactly where to find me.


-- Cheryl MacPherson, Alexandria, [Virginia] teaches eighth grade at Gunston Middle School in Arlington. © 2006 The Washington Post Company
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NEWSPAPER ARTICLE EXCERPTS: WITTENBERG IN CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION JUNE 16, 2006
“Beyond Google: What Next for Publishing?” Kate Wittenberg, EPIC – Columbia U., The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Chronicle Review, June 16, 2006


This is G o o g l e's cache uses the following 2 urls – but I don’t know if they will work for everyone… : http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:LsuSP0wEqQEJ:chronicle.com/temp/email2.php%3Fid%3DpDkJXkCtFVXSDfNJTFBHrgsmgNFbVj58+chronicle+higher+education+myspace&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=2&client=firefox-a
or
http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:LsuSP0wEqQEJ:chronicle.com/temp/email2.php%3Fid%3DpDkJXkCtFVXSDfNJTFBHrgsmgNFbVj58+Beyond+Google:+What+Next+for+Publishing%3F+advertisement+Printer+friendly+E-mail+article+Subscribe+Order+reprints+By+KATE+WITTENBERG&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=1
“…If ‘digital natives’ are the next audience for our scholarly resources, shouldn't we be thinking about new ways to organize, store, and deliver our content? In fact, is content even what we should be focusing on for this next generation of users, or are the tools, functionality, and access built on top of the content what are of real value?


“…Until now we have spent most of our energies in rear-guard actions: fighting Google over copyright infringement in its plans to digitize library books, for example. It's time to think ‘beyond Google.’


“Going forward, our work must take a more experimental turn. We need to get serious about developing online publications that allow students to freely explore the vast array of content and tools available through the World Wide Web, while still allowing an appropriate level of guidance concerning how to select and evaluate the sources that they find. And we must look at methods to deliver and store content in ways that allow students to use their remote devices to access it and that work through and enhance the online communities where they spend so much of their time.


“…One strategy we could pursue involves meeting users on their own turf… build a networking space focusing on the information needs of students…enable dialogue and collaboration among its users, discussion of readings, and creation of multimedia class projects. Faculty members and librarians could create profiles of their own, with commentary on the subject under discussion, and users could decide how to integrate the content and tools we provide into the environment they create for themselves.


“…Keep in mind that we are all mutually dependent, and that no group is in a position to dictate the discussions or the outcomes: Search engines need the content provided by publishers and libraries to provide a high-quality experience for users; libraries need stable, robust technology platforms, wide use of their collections, and growing communities of new users; scholars and students need more effective access to information and the skills to determine its quality and value. So it is alarming that those groups are so often in conflict that they end up in court rather than at a conference table.”


Kate Wittenberg is director of EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia; http://chronicle.com
Section: The Chronicle Review; Volume 52, Issue 41, Page B20; Copyright © 2006 by The Chronicle of Higher Education
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NEWSPAPER ARTICLE EXCERPTS: JESDANUN IN WASH. POST JUNE 21, 2006
“ MySpace Plans New Restrictions for Youths,” Anick Jesdanun, The Associated Press,
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/20/AR2006062001768.html


“…MySpace.com is planning new restrictions on how adults may contact its younger users in response to growing concerns about the safety of teenagers who frequent the popular online social networking site.


“…MySpace has no mechanism for verifying that users submit their true age when registering. That means adults can sign up as teens and request to join a 14-year-old's list of friends, which would enable the full profiles.


“…Driven largely by word of mouth, MySpace has grown astronomically since its launch in January 2004 and is now second in the United States among all Web sites by total page views, behind only Yahoo Inc., according to comScore Media Metrix. The site currently has some 87 million users, about a quarter registered as minors, according to the company.


“…At MySpace, which was bought last year by News Corp. for $580 million, users can expand their circles of friends by exploiting existing connections, rather than meeting randomly or by keyword matches alone.


“…It offers a mix of features _ message boards, games, Web journals _ designed to keep its youth-oriented visitors clicking on its advertising-supported pages.


“…MySpace has recently become a target of parents, schools and law enforcement officials concerned that teens who hang out at MySpace can fall victim to sexual predators.


“…MySpace also will beef up its ad-targeting technology, so that it can avoid displaying gambling and other adult-themed sites on minors' profile pages and target special public-service announcements to them.


“…The changes follow a number of safety-related measures that includes the hiring of a former federal prosecutor and Microsoft Corp. executive as its online safety chief. MySpace already has developed safety tips for parents and children and devotes scores of employees to monitoring the site around the clock.


© 2006 The Associated Press
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RELATED LINKS – EDUCATIONAL USES OF BLOGS, ETC.


Exploration Guide: Educational Uses of Blogs, Wikis, RSS Feeds, etc.For “beginners” in higher educationwww.tltgroup.org/blogs.htm


Barbara Ganley of Middlebury College blogs about Barbara Sawhill visiting there to “…give a workshop on using Web 2.0 technologies [blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, Skype, …] in second-language teaching. …”http://mt.middlebury.edu/middblogs/ganley/bgblogging/NOTE: This thoughtful blog can be VERY slow in loading.


Very useful Wiki probably created by Barbara Sawhill of Oberlin College. Sawhill Who MIGHT be involved with “Language Lab Unleashed” – which appears to be a very useful, interesting Website that never mentions who is running it or authoring most items!http://www.languagelabunleashed.com/mod/wiki/view.php?id=18

11 comments:

  1. Although I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, my initial reaction is that there are some areas of a student's life that should be "free" of an instructor's intrusion. Whether instructors should be making educational use of MySpace and FaceBook strikes me as somewhat similar to asking whether instructors should be making educational use of a student's dorm room, or use of places where students go to hang out with their friends.

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  2. We will be posting an "about us" section soon. Thanks for the heads up!

    --Barbara (http://www.languagelabunleashed.com)

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  3. This is an ongoing discussion in the academic library community - should libraries (and librarians) create profiles in social networks in order to reach out to our yound constituents. That is, will we preceived as "with it" because we are present in these spaces. Or, as Drew says - are we simply authority figures that have no place being where students are primarily socializing. What do we gain by attempting to create an academic space in this socialization space? Also, it seems that just creating a profile is a fairly passive way to achieve connections with students. I do belive social networks are something we have to watch, but I don't know of any eduational benefits - and perhaps there shouldn't be any. It's not an education setting. Either we need new communities designed around educational interests or we need a better sense of what students will tolerate in these spaces.

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  4. Anonymous10:34 PM

    Anonymous said...
    "Tom" is actually the owner/moderator of Myspace.com. He's everyone's first friend, by
    default.

    As a parent of two teenagers, I'm always put off by the strident commentary about how teenagers use anything that they use socially, including web sites.

    MySpace was originally conceived as a social network for musicians, where they could meet, trade music files, solicit new members, fans, etc.

    Both of my sons (still in high school) now belong to a local rock band; all the members met, one way or another, through MySpace. The entertainment world is very different from high school. Its social norms are what teenagers aspire to, not what the
    "grups" in charge of their lives want them to do.

    I have to wonder what a lot of these screeching adults would do if they heard what goes on on the [school] bus, every single day. If you're watching what your kids do, and participating in what they do in ways that don't overtly embarrass them, it's a lot easier to get a grip on this stuff.

    Of course, if you don't have teenagers in your life, it's a lot easier to criticize, I suppose.

    Nothing makes sense without ontext.
    cb
    --
    Camilla B. Baker
    cbaker5@aug.edu
    Library Instruction Coordinator
    Augusta State University
    2500 Walton Way
    Augusta, GA 30904
    706-667-4908 (W)
    “Give me ambiguity, or give me something else.”

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous11:15 PM

    ALSO SEE: "How hanging out on the Internet became big business," John Cassidy, The New Yorker, May 15, 2006, pg. 50 Vol. 82 No. 13; SECTION: FACT; The Online Life - "...interesting article in "The New Yorker" a couple of months ago which may speak at least tangentially to your rhetorical question."
    William W. Currie of Firelands College, Bowling Green State U. wcurrie@bgsu.edu


    P.S. Since it is such a long article, you may wish just to go to your library and read it. That way you'll get cartoons, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous11:16 PM

    One thing we want to concern ourselves with when it comes to MySpace, etc., is whose "territory" in cyberspace is whose.

    We have discussions on our campus, which is divided by a road between most of the residential area and most of the academic space, about bringing acedemics to the student side. And the student leadership often agrees; faculty should show their concern about student spaces. But ask the rank and file among students and they'd just as well we stayed where we are.

    So, pehaps, with MySpace. This article from Ad Age notes that WalMart is getting into the MySpace type game. But, as the article implies, user expectations might run contrary to uses they don't own. Co-opting TheirSpace into OurSpace might take the whole point out of it for students.

    A good place to start might be a list of what capabilities MySpace has that, say, Blackboard hasn't. A friend list maybe. It's easier to use probably. it looks cooler but that's not a capability....

    Bob

    Dr. Robert Gershon
    Robert.Gershon@castleton.edu
    Chair, Communication Dept.
    Fine Arts Center
    Castleton State College
    Castleton, VT 05735
    www.castleton.edu/communication

    ReplyDelete
  7. Here here to Bob's comments!
    Co-opting "cool" places/spaces for terminally uncool things like school can drive students away. To say nothing of the logistic headache of carving an academy grove out of the wild jungle of such environments. (hence the beauty of something like Second Life where you *can* do just that).

    But as Bob points out, learning from what tools these sites have and how students employ them can inform our efforts.

    Looking at products such as iCohere (www.icohere.com) and Learning Times contrasts sharply with Blackboard. Blackboard does several things well, however, it currently has little or "off label" support for collaborative community building, especially compared to something like a MySpace.

    As we move to a more open, collaborative classroom mode, top-down, students-as-auslanders online tools and spaces have to evolve.

    If there is not an existing resource for using Blackboard/WebCT for collaborative and "scoial networking" best practices, perhaps the TLT Group could create one?

    -Mike Renock-Welker,
    Instructional Technologist
    North Central State College
    Mansfield, Ohio
    mrw@ncstatecollege.edu

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  8. Anonymous2:39 PM

    Drew, Steven, Bob, and others,
    I'm glad you've brought up this territorial intrusion concept.

    One of my my sons has suggested to me that I should have my own site on MySpace. I think what's on his mind is hooking me up with other single adults, because we all know now that MySpace isn't just populated by kids. To me, however, in my heart, it feels a little too much like snooping. I love my kids' friends; half of them call me Mama. I would never do anything to change that, but every so often, I have to remind all of them that ours isn't a peer relationship. I'm one of the parents, and always will be. It may not seem so to the young ones, but that feels like ineligibility, at least in this context. When mine leave home, I will probably change my mind. As others have mentioned, our kids check MySpace before e-mail, IM, any other communication device except the ever-present cell phone, which is the ultimate multitasking tool.

    But I still find the idea of an institutional presence in MySpace fascinating. There is a parallel discussion of this very topic going on right now on ILI-L. For several years now, I've had an interest in whether the way young adults use social networks and communications channels has any bearing on how they perceive all web-accessible sources, including e-journals, .edu's, e-books, etc. I am loving these discussions.

    Camilla Baker
    cbaker5@aug.edu

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  9. I agree with Drew Smith. Why do we think that every new technology or interface can be harnessed as an educational resource? Aside from beging able to contact teachers with little effort, students generally consider email to be designed as a social resource and most do not want messages from teachers innudating their inboxes. Blackboard could be enhanced by integrating collaborative writing functionality similar to some of the tools that have been mentioned in this space. CHRIS

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  10. Anonymous3:49 PM

    Your mentionof the friend Tom you got right away when creating a MySpace account is because Tom is the creator of MySpace and still does a lot of the behind the scenes with it. Having him as your friend allows him to let almost the entire user population (except those such as yourself who deselect him) to be cautioned of upcoming security changes and announcements. It's a formality to help all the users stay connected to what is changing with the network.

    ReplyDelete
  11. New Internet "activities" MySpace and FaceBook are spreading faster and further than their predecessors.

    ReplyDelete

What do you think?