June 30, 2008
Eureka! – a study just published tells us that Facebook (and other social networking sites) have a significant educational benefit. The crux of the findings are that low decile students, those formerly found to be at the lower end of the digital divide (statistically speaking) are leveraging their quality time spent Facebook-ing and are thus equalizing with their more fortunate peers.
Sorry – but this sounds like namby pamby, bleeding hearted liberal speak here and yet another retreat from effective education. Specific questions I have;
- If there is any educational benefit to be gained from the use of social media – surely all users gain the same benefit thus the technological chasm between higher and lower deciles (if it exists) should remain the same?
- Apparently respondents mentioned a creativity gain to be achieved from using Facebook – sorry but FunPoke does not equate to War and Peace and neither does DrawWall (or whatever it is mindlessly called) equate to DaVinci’s Mona Lisa
- Teachers are being encouraged to increase students use of social media in order to extend these gains – in a time constrained educational system does this mean they’ll no longer be taught to read (oops they’re not anymore anyway)?
These researchers seem to confuse using technology with learning how to create technology. Sorry but using Facebook doth not another Zuckerberg create. And in the same vein listening to Eminem ad nauseum is hardly likely to create Le Quattro Stagioni for our times.
Or is it?
And then again, conflicting reports out of Scotland say that the reasons students are failing (!) is because they are relying too much on a Wikipedia resource which is “riddled with inaccuracies”. The Scotsman is somewhat more realistic when it says;
(it is) easier to blame Wikipedia than the fact that you’re poor parents and your children are out partying or playing video games.
Inaccuracies are found in standard encyclopedias (and newspapers) too. And besides, don’t your schools provide textbooks?
So… a few things here;
- Wikipedia is just one resource among many, it’s defining attribute however, that of citizen creation, arguably makes it a candidate for more inaccuracy than traditional encyclopedias (more here)
- Any teacher or parent who relies on only one resource is crazy (or stupid or both)
- Just as Facebook doth not a Neanderthal create, Wikipedia doth not an Einstein make
- Test scores fall, test scores rise – chief among the reasons are parental guidance and values, and the presence or otherwise of good educationalists