Tag Archives: MySpace

Hating school, loving learning


Nevertheless, the point about disengagement of students is one with which most educators would not argue. Wesch entertains the idea of ‘play’ as opposed to dull routine and meaningless tasks.

Perhaps the word “play” is imperfect. I could say that in school, they should be invigorated or engaged or even inspired. But whatever the word, the idea is to create a stimulating environment were the learning comes natural and not forced, where the desire to learn is created first. Then, the labor of learning is a labor of love.

Technology is what students of today play with. As many advocators of 21st century learning suggest, technology plays a large part in the new vision of education. But technology is also the thorn in the side of a large number of teachers. Although we use the language – ‘integration of technology into learning’ – not many of us have actually taken this seriously.  Managing technology in the classroom is often seen as asking for more problems. Wesch is clear about the role of technology in his classroom:

Texting, web-surfing, and iPods are just new versions of passing notes in class, reading novels under the desk, and surreptitiously listening to Walkmans. They are not the problem. They are just the new forms in which we see it. Fortunately, they allow us to see the problem in a new way, and more clearly than ever, if we are willing to pay attention to what they are really saying.

What are they saying? I think they’re saying that they’re bored, that their tasks are not relevant, that their projects are not engaging, that they’re sick of being passive recipients of content over which they have no control. When they turn to texting or web-surfing, they’re getting out of the classroom, they’re reaching out into the world.

Wesch explains this problem: 

And that’s what has been wrong all along. Some time ago we started taking our walls too seriously – not just the walls of our classrooms, but also the metaphorical walls that we have constructed around our “subjects,” “disciplines,” and “courses.”

When I was in primary school,  I had a strong sense of where I belonged. I belonged only with kids who were born within 12 months of my birthday.  I was afraid of those a year ahead of me who belonged to an entirely differentand superior group, one that I wasn’t to have anything to do with.  If I had known what learning took place in the older years, I would have wanted to be there, but I learned to sit and wait during reading classes, as students took turns to labour over stories in our reader, stories I had already read early in the year. There was no wider reading, there was no skipping ahead, we all had to be open to the same page, doing nothing but daydreaming. The reader was all we had for the entire year. And so would the next class the following year. Of course, now things have changed a great deal. Now we have many more reading choices, and in some cases primary students can choose to read library books instead of readers from the box. 

But I’m not sure that things have changed as much as we think. We still teach from textbooks. We’re not all consistently planning scaffolded inquiry-based projects which ask rich questions. We’re not experimenting enough ourselves with technological applications and seeing educational possibilities. We’re still proud of research assignments that supposedly encourage independent learning, assignments which leave our students to google incompetently, to copy and paste, to present superficial findings, to lose interest, to just get the thing done, hand it in and sigh with relief.

Wesch is clear about the solution:

Fortunately, the solution is simple. We don’t have to tear the walls down. We just have to stop pretending that the walls separate us from the world, and begin working with students in the pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions.

He says we need to acknowledge the shift in learning based on information being everywhere. What we should do is let go of ‘the sage on the stage’.

When we do that we can stop denying the fact that we are enveloped in a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where the nature and dynamics of knowledge have shifted. In the process, we allow students to develop much-needed skills in navigating and harnessing this new media environment, including the wisdom to know when to turn it off. When students are engaged in projects that are meaningful and important to them, and that make them feel meaningful and important, they will enthusiastically turn off their cellphones and laptops to grapple with the most difficult texts and take on the most rigorous tasks.

Something is not right in the state of education. Wesch, to finish off:

And there’s the rub. We love learning. We hate school. What’s worse is that many of us hate school because we love learning.

It doesn’t have to be this way… 



Found this video on Education Innovation and it prompted reflection. How quickly things have changed in the world of technology in the last few years. Well, ‘last few’ to a person of my generation could mean anything from 5-20. The theme of the video is crowdsourcing. The basic message – we used to have to be physically together to create a crowd, but suddenly, with the internet, we’re able to create a virtual crowd. That is, virtual communities can just form themselves on the basis of shared interests. Fascinating, also, to acknowledge how technology has changed possibilties with photography. Three things have changed what photography can do forever: the development of affordable digital cameras; photo-editing software; and the internet. People are sharing photos, and more and more applications are popping up for creative use of images. Stock photos which used to be expensive are now abundant and therefore cheap because of amateurs’ communities. Think Flickr, think Picasa. Think about photo sharing on Facebook and MySpace. Think about the combination of photos and Google Earth.

Interesting, too, is the blurring of lines between amateur and professional, company and customers. Crowds, or groups, can change a business dramatically, or so the video says. And the most interesting thing, in my opinion, is that online communities organise themselves – what used to take corporate managers to achieve. Could the same be said for schools? How could we free up the system to allow for self-organising groups to form on the basis of shared interest and passion?

Brave new world: learning to connect in new ways

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/KB9vRYyOfz8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

This video (3 in one) of the forum at Stanford University, "From MySpace to HipHop: new media in the everyday lives of youth", delves into a subject that I'm compulsively drawn to - social networking and the implications of these new ways of connecting. The questions that come out of these presentations are vital to our understanding of youth in order to evaluate and re-evaluate our teaching and learning programs. Some of these questions are:

  • Are we seeing an evolution to a new kind of engaged community?
  • Should we be enthused about the ubiquitous nature of digital media or should we be deeply concerned?
  • As educators, how can we spark the same engagement and motivation that we see on MySpace and Facebook?
  • Are young people changing through their participation with digital media?
  • How does this change their relationship to school and home life?
  • Why do they participate in digital communities rather than real life?

 Although the research study presented here doesn't tell us what to do, only what we need to know, I think that it's vital to realise what we need to know. Our familiarisation with Web 2.0 applications is only the beginning of a new direction in education. More importantly, we need to understand why we are doing this and what else we need to find out. One of the speakers points out that we may be at an inflection point where change is accelerating and old ways disappearing, where systems are no longer working, indescribable innovation is becoming possible. If this is true, then we need to understand it and we need to understand the good and the bad, and we need to harness it.

I've spoken about the significance of audience for young people. The first speaker makes an important point - Web 2.0 and what young people do within this environment is inextricably tied with who they make it for and with. MySpace and Facebook enable deeply social activity not driven by the technology itself. Network publics are an extension of youth's existing publics. How does this change young people's relationship to school and home life?

I'm going back to the question I was asked at my recent interview: how do we get to know adolescents?

This question is at the heart of the research presented here. The goal of the research is to understand these changes from the point of view of youth themselves. As the first speaker said, before we can design our own adult-centred agendas for education, we have to try to take young people's agendas and experiences seriously on their own terms.

Have a look at Heather Horst's submission to the website Digital youth research. I found this link on Hey Jude. Thanks.

Facebook/MySpace? What the…? (#10,11)

Facebook Vs Myspace (Ben Heine)

Originally uploaded by Ben Heine

What’s the difference between Facebook and MySpace? To find out, I asked my son who uses both: 


– more customised in terms of html; the look is more customizable;
– you can stick pictures wherever you want and also YouTube or widgets
– he feels it’s more ‘his space’ and puts effort into making it look nice and individual
– automatic widget from lastfm  plays his cds on autoplay so it comes on for visitors.


– no autoplay, so visitors have to click on to hear his music, and they might not do that
– smoother, when you tag someone it works better – doesn’t open up a new window or take forever 
– photo albums are better, quicker , tagging is better
– better for groups – eg. interests, themes, etc
– he likes to send messages to more than one person at once (like email) and when they reply it goes to everyone in the group selected so it’s good for collaboration

His general comments:

MySpace can look awful (matter of taste)whereas facebook is the same for all
It’s ridiculous that we talk to the same people on MySpace and facebook and msn but we do it

– writing on the wall in facebook is similar to comments on MySpace although with Wall to wall, if there’s a conversation going on b/w two people, it’s easier to keep track of

Participating in these socialnetworking communities, you know more about a person – their taste in movies, music, comedians etc. than you would otherwise – you can’t always work that into a conversation.

My views:
I think that for school, using something similar gives the kids an identity, this is their space, and includes all that they think makes them unique and what they want their friends to know and see about them. Book and film reviews pages could be set out more like this, so that students have an identity and their own space for creativity.

Drupal might be a good option. What do others think?