Sunday, September 30, 2012

I knew it!! The Technoskeptic Strikes Back

We all know that a lot of money from big business is going into making teachers believe they are inadequate in some way if they are not using communications & information technologies whenever possible during all forms of pedagogic interaction. A recent suggestion by many is to "leverage" student time on social networking sites to the benefit of learning. Sounds like a good idea? The thinking is, and I've heard it put this way, "Well, as they spend so much time on Facebook, we should get them to use it to keep studying." Perhaps we should spend a little time, and comparatively little  money, on finding out exactly what benefits Facebook and other social networking sites have for education, before insisting that teachers spend time interacting with computers instead of students.

So far, as usual, there is little or no empirical support for the use of social networks for education. I have also heard it suggested that online learning benefits the few students who are likely to be shy in class, and they can then contribute more in online contexts because they feel less threatened. I am glad to say that I have found some empirical evidence for quite the opposite. In Tracii Ryan & Sophia Xenos. 2011. Who uses Facebook? An investigation into the relationship between the Big Five, shyness, narcissism, loneliness, and Facebook usage. (Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 27, Issue 5, September 2011, Pages 1658–1664, see this DOI), it is clear that Facebook appeals to a particular demographic:
The results showed that Facebook users tend to be more extraverted and narcissistic, but less conscientious and socially lonely, than nonusers. Furthermore, frequency of Facebook use and preferences for specific features were also shown to vary as a result of certain characteristics, such as neuroticism, loneliness, shyness and narcissism.

Similarly, and more importantly for education, in Khe Foon Hew. 2011. Students’ and teachers’ use of Facebook. (Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 27, Issue 2, March 2011, Pages 662–676, see this DOI), we find a pretty damning indictment of the promotion of social media for education:
The conclusions overall suggest that Facebook thus far has very little educational use, that students use Facebook mainly to keep in touch with known individuals, and that students tend to disclose more personal information about themselves on Facebook; hence attracting potential privacy risks upon themselves.
y u no visit 9gag?

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