Social Learning, Careers, and Networks
These are questions for our students as we help them find their place in the world and develop them into life-long learners. I suspect we are not doing a very good job of emphasizing this which is one of the most important of the digital world citizen skills.
As I watch my 18 and 21 year old children, I recognize that their most important goals are assisted by social network technologies (texting, Facebook™, Flickr, etc.). Their priorities (currently) seem to be social ranking and grouping in general. I can only hope that they eventually will find their efforts gravitating towards expanding their ‘professional/intellectual/spiritual’ positions and leveraging their network to expand their realm of influence and circle of resources.
Is it a ‘new type’ of metacognition that I am engaging in here? As I am thinking about intentionally nurturing relationships I want to share my passion for learning and giving back to that same community. The key word I think is intentional - that is being mindful of how I am connecting. Understanding that there is real value in some connections and yet other connections are a distraction from growth. This seems to be an increasingly important self-evaluation that we and our students need to make.
Most of us who are parents encouraged our children to ‘choose their friends wisely’. We talked about friends that were bad influences and being a friend that was a good influence. Once again, technology amplifies the implications of real world opportunities, skills, and such in the virtual world of cyberspace.
“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter. With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations, — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.”
President Obama • May 2010 Commencement Address • Hampton University, Virginia
I think it may be very hard (some say impossible) to teach ethics and values. Perhaps if we were to see more classrooms leveraging Web 2.0 and Social Networking technologies as learning tools; perhaps if more of our teachers were able to share how they themselves were networked, lifelong learners; perhaps then this issue of the distracted, networked learner would be alleviated and the double edged sword of technology would reap great benefits.
Disciplined networking and informed/evaluated access to others is what will determine the character of the 24/7 media environment that our President has referred to.