Danah’s view on the debate

Danah Boyd, PhD student who blogs about social networking, responds to The Economist debate between Ewan McIntosh and Michael Bugeja. After writing that she believes social networking has little or no value in the classroom, she says:

"I’m not saying that social network sites have no value. Quite the
contrary. But their value is about the kinds of informal social
learning that is required for maturation – understanding your
community, learning the communicate with others, working through status
games, building and maintaining friendships, working through personal
values, etc. All too often we underestimate these processes because,
traditionally, they have happened so naturally. Yet, what’s odd about
today’s youth culture is that we’ve systematically taken away the
opportunities for socialization. And yet we wonder why our kids are so
immature compared to kids from other cultures. Social network sites are
popular because youth are trying to take back the right to be social,
even if it has to happen in interstitial ways. We need to recognize
that not all learning is about book learning – brains mature through
experience, including social experiences.

Yes, there are problems with technology and with technology in the
classroom. Anyone critical of capitalism has a right to be critical of
commercial social network sites and the economic processes that got us
here. But don’t blame the SNSs – they didn’t create the obscenities of
the market, but they are bound by them. Also, don’t forget that the
current educational system was structured to meet the needs of the
market, to create good consumers and good laborers. It ain’t pretty,
and the privatization of education and educational testing is downright
scary, but it’s a systems problem, not a technology problems."



wish I could remember who first tweeted this or shared the
document (sorry). The book, Nine
, appears to be an interesting look historically at what causes shifts
in our working and learning. Although written in 2003, the book makes
predictions that are, in fact, true today. Here’s a passage from the website:

"In just twenty years, between 2000 and
2020, some 75% of our lives will change dramatically. We know this because it
happened once before. Between 1900 and 1920, life changed. We moved from an
agrarian farming way of life to an industrialized way of life. Now it is all
happening again."

Now, much of this is not new. Edubloggers have been predicting some of this for quite some time. But it’s interesting to see the list. The
authors predict nine shifts by the year 2020.

One. People work at home.

Commuting to an office
will become a rarity, a thing of the past. A significant part of the workforce
will work from home or telecommute.

Two. Intranets replace offices.

Offices will diminish as
primary work places. Intranets will replace physical offices for most
businesses, companies and nonprofit organizations.

Three. Networks replace pyramids.

The basic organizational
structure of life in the last century, the organization chart or pyramid, goes
into steep decline. It is replaced by a superior organizational structure, the

Four. Trains replace cars.

The automobile, the
dominant mode of transportation in the last century, loses its dominance and
becomes a peripheral and supplemental mode of transportation. Trains and light
rail become the dominant mode of transportation.

Five. Dense neighborhoods replace suburbs.

Suburbs, and suburban
sprawl, come to a halt and then recede. Towns and cities are reformulated
around dense communities composed of shops, stores and homes within walking
distance of a light rail station.

Six. New social infrastructures evolve.

The increasing
inequality in wealth between the rich and the rest of society comes to a halt.
The issue of inequality of wealth in society is addressed and a variety of
social reforms are implemented to restore more of a balance in income


Seven. Cheating becomes collaboration.

New values, work ethics
and behavior of the 21st century take over. Boys are leading the change in
values and behavior, just as they did 100 years ago.

Eight. Half of all learning is online.

The traditional
classroom rapidly becomes obsolete. Half of all learning is done online,
changing the nature of how we learn and how we teach.

Nine. Education becomes web-based.

Brick and mortar schools
and colleges of the past century become outdated. All education becomes
web-based, providing a better education for both young people and adults.


Image: ‘I drive blurry