Is there a place for online social networking in teaching and learning? Author: Tony Eklof


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Presentation for CONUL Advisory Committee on Information Literacy - Annual Information Literacy Seminar, May 28th 2009, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. 2009-05-28.

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Is there a place for online social networking in teaching and learning? Author: Tony Eklof

  1. 1. Your laptop may put you intouch with millions. But if youare alone in reality, in reality, you’re alone.Catherine Blyth, ‘The Art of Conversation’
  2. 2. Social network sites• Social networking sites are changing children’s brains, resulting in selfish and attention deficient young people.• Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity.
  3. 3. Social network sites• Conducting personal relationships through a screen could be related to a rise in cases of both ADHD and autism.• We are enthusiastically embracing the possible erosion of our identity through social networking sites since those that use such sites can lose a sense of where they themselves finish and where the outside world begins.• Real conversation in real time may give way to sanitised and easier screen dialogues.
  4. 4. Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE• Distinguished neuroscientist• Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology• Director of the Royal Institute• Chancellor of Heriot Watt University
  5. 5. Social network sites• People’s health may be harmed by social networking sites.• Lack of real personal interaction may have negative biological effects, such as upsetting immune systems, hormone levels, artery functions and mental functions.• Ironically, they are playing a role in making people more isolated.
  6. 6. • Aric Stigman, Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine• Biologist, journal of the Institute of Biology• ‘fantastic tools, but balance is all wrong-national debate needed’
  7. 7. JISC found that most students surveyed resented the idea of academics interfering with their social space. • OCLC Report• Online Environment Report (UCD) • Respondents felt it• How useful is the was not the role of Library page in the Library and many Facebook and in Directors felt it was Second Life? not a priority staff-• Responses muted, negative, dismissive. wise and money- wise.
  8. 8. Issues• The Digital Divide – Higher education in a Web 2.0 world JISC• Management issues. – Staff time in social network areas• Control (Education Guardian) – Operating in forum not owned by university but by company which may use the information for commercial use’ – Facebook today? Second Life tomorrow? Where to put resources, assessment?
  9. 9. Security & Privacy• Security Issues – The more I upload the details of my existence, even in the form of random observations and casual location updates, the more I worry about giving away too much. Its one thing to share intimacies person-to-person. But with a community? Creepy. (S.Levy, Wired)• Ownership of content – Facebook, forever, even after account deleted.• 10 times more prone to virus attack than email.• Hunting ground for sexual predators.
  10. 10. Twitter• Its something like a collection of personal blogs, only each entry is limited to 140 characters, so you end up with a vertical stack of bite-size, artificially flavored communication snacks. Theyre oddly compelling while remaining staunchly unsatisfying. (L.Sjoberg, Wired) “Twittering stems from a lack of identity” (Oliver James, clinical psychologist) “We are the most narcissistic age ever” “Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist (Dr David Lewis, cognitive neuropsychologist )
  11. 11. Second LifeIt is country club on a computer. Like-minded people whoshare a class, literacy and technological competence canconverse with people like themselves
  12. 12. Hikikomori, (social withdrawal)• Japans Lost Generation In a world filled with virtual reality, the countrys youth cant deal with the real thing.• "Socially withdrawn" people find it extremely painful to communicate with the outside world, and thus they turn to the tools that bring virtual reality into their closed rooms.• ‘Its possible to have real relationships, purely online.’ (Chinese survey)
  13. 13. ‘People in general do not willingly read, if they haveanything else to amuse them.’ (Samuel Johnson)
  14. 14. There is no frigate like a book   To take us lands away (Emily Dickinson)
  15. 15. • Fragmented sense of time• Reduced attention span• Impatience with sustained inquiry• Divorce from the past• Language erosionSocial networking is leading to a blurringof virtual reality and reality and assaultingour economy, our culture and our values.The moral fabric of our society is beingunraveled by Web 2.0
  16. 16. Online Social networks & teaching & learning• We need to debate the serious issues raised by some aspects of Web 2.0 in our Libraries before embracing it unreservedly. We owe it to the past, and to the future.