The social network and education

Social network article pic(credits to LSE Connect, vol 27, number 1, summer 2015)

Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology at the LSE wrote an article in the summer 2015 Connect magazine, on the digital lives of a teenage class. She was on a one-year research on the learning opportunities with digital, networked technologies, via a typical class of a London secondary school. There was a World Challenge project that took place in the school, with the promise of a two week trip to Malaysia for the winners, and if they could raise the funds to take part.

Digital technologies were in place to support the project: emails to connect to fellow participants and with the teachers, intranet for progress monitoring including fund raising, and a website on the Challenge, along with forums for connecting to other schools.

However, it turned out that most of the activities were conducted offline!! The students met face to face after school for discussions, and physical fund raising activities were used (quiz night, cake sale, baby sitting, car washing etc). The research team had suggested to the teacher and students to use a Facebook group for coordinating the activities. There were however, hesitations on both sides – the students had done this on the side, as they did not want the teacher to have access to their profiles, and the teacher also did not want the students to access her personal life! Face to face communication hence has not waned.

At the same time, in my view, it is also notable that the students themselves did undertake to use a Facebook group, for coordinating themselves – just that it is to the exclusion of the teacher. The issues also appear to be around maintaining personal privacy and authority – which perhaps the current platforms have not catered so well too. There could just be room for another social platform if it could also cater to these needs.

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