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."