Via NCTE Inbox comes this article/news release from the University of Minnesota, “First-of-its-kind study at the University of Minnesota uncovers the educational benefits of social networking sites; Study also finds that low-income students, contrary to recent studies, are in many ways just as technologically savvy as their counterparts.” Not a very succinct title, but it kind of says what it’s all about. This press release also includes links to some video of the researcher talking about her study; at some point, I’ll want to actually look this study up.
In terms of the graduate class I teach about computers, writing, and pedagogy (ENGL 516), this stuff– access and social networking– was “the line” last semester. I pointed out at the beginning of the class in winter 2008 that I wasn’t going to accept any seminar papers/research projects about a lack of access, because I believed that a) access has been proven to be not a problem, and b) that argument was really an excuse for “I don’t want to do/learn this computer stuff.” This new study will probably add to that argument. But while I haven’t had a lot of students do research/writing on social networking yet, this still seems to be a line that many of my grad students will not cross, particularly those students who are practicing teachers and closer to my age. I ask my students to set up a facebook account for the class, and there are a few who believe that this will end their careers and/or destroy their private life.