MySpace Isn’t Blogging

Link to: Scobleizer – Microsoft Geek Blogger

In the recent session that I took part in with a group of K-12 teachers, we talked about how MySpace and FaceBook actually work against teachers who want to use social software for learning purposes. Our initial premise was that students who had experience with online communities will be better prepared for academic uses of tools like blogging than those who didn’t. A number of participants who had spent some time with MySpace questioned just how much transferable learning–other than uploading pictures–really takes place in these huge “commercially oriented” social communities. I agree that what students are doing on those sites has very little to do with the kind of social software use that I’m promoting with our faculty. Are students who use MySpace and FaceBook really that much more “digitally native” than those who don’t?

Most faculty aren’t aware of how much “unlearning” has to take place for students whose primary exposure to on-line community building comes from these commercial sites. Since most schools block FaceBook and MySPace, many teachers have never seen these communities, so they can’t build on their students’ experiences effectively in involving them in more academic pruposes.

Today is “MooseCamp” and Matt Mullenweg (the founder of WordPress) is leading a discussion about comment spam. But, coming into the session he mentioned that he already has 90,000 blogs (including mine). That’s very cool, but I heard yesterday from someone who works with MySpace that they are seeing 220,000 new MySpaces opening up EVERY DAY. Whew!

Huge is an understatement. If this figure is accurate, more than a million MySpace accounts are opening each week–most of them, I imagine, by teens. We need to dig deeper into what these impact these sites really have on our students’ skills.

I think students learn more skills than we think. They learn how to comfortably manage their accounts, write in a browser, and manage images. (Those are all things that my graduate students often have trouble with.) They certainly do learn to upload pictures–last Saturday William and Mary students had uploaded 1034 new photographs to FaceBook by 3:45 in the afternoon. MySpace users certainly learn how to design hideous looking web pages–and I think most of them know exactly how hideous they are.