Sunday, April 02, 2006

There is a method to the madness...

After last weeks post, many of you are still asking... Why? Well, I think I need to back up some of the things I have posted with a few facts...

MySpace is becoming part of the culture. When I went to Parkside Intermediate School last week to talk to the incoming 9th graders, I asked the room of 250+ how many of them had a 'web presence?' Not a single hand went in the air... When I asked them how many of them either had or knew someone that had a 'MySpace' account, EVERY SINGLE HAND WENT IN THE AIR! So, in reality, what is MySpace? It's a blog. A place where students can post their pictures, writings, art work, etc. Many parents and teachers don't like MySpace because of the uncontrolled speech that it supports, which I wholeheartedly agree with, but isn't part of our job as teachers to teach students how to express themselves in a socially acceptable manner. Isn't this part of what the 'Academic Integrity Policy' is working towards? So, how can we leverage what students are already doing to make our jobs as teachers easier?

MySpace has become such an ingrained part of 'Generation M' (for Multitasking) that most use it as their alter ego, social calendar and diary all rolled into one. Police are using MySpace to get leads in cases that occur in their cities. There has even been an unintentional sting of a pedophile in Southern California, when a group of 15 year old boys reported a man after they were posing as a 14 year old girl that had broken up with one of their friends. The owners of MySpace like to point these types of stories out, as they publically state how 'safe' MySpace is.

MySpace isn't the only type of technology that students and others are using. Technology usage, is up among all people. Are people becoming addicted to technology? There are many theories, but surveys of technology users shows a 21% increase of users logging on for 'fun.' There are other studies which state that the Internet, which has been seen as a male dominated medium, is attracting more female users and the 'Internet Gender Gap' is shrinking.

With the fun, there is also the unexpected. With everything online being archived by some website or server, what you say in a moment of joy, anger, love, hate, etc. is being saved by someone. This has the potential to come back to hurt you or even get you expelled from school. In the same article, college admissions boards are searching MySpace and Facebook for postings from applicants. But the reverse is also true, college admissions boards are using the Internet more and more to recruit qualified applicants to their schools.

A big thanks to Michele Fichera, Linda Henry, Christy Knott and Martee Lopez for helping Dominic and me in getting a much better handle on the Global Communications course curriculum and how the English, Health and Contemporary World Studies courses can collaborate in a productive way. I scheduled 3 hours for our meeting, thinking that we'd last an hour and a half, tops. We took the entire three hours and I think there was some big eye opening by everyone! Martee and Michelle, how are those shopping RSS feeds coming?

Thanks to you all!


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