Since the term Web 2.0 was first coined and educators considered its presence in the classroom, social software has become increasingly popular. While some forms of social software, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, have gained some acceptance as useful pedagogical tools, social “connection” sites (MySpace, Facebook, Xanga, LinkedIn, and such) have not been as widely embraced. While many students already inhabit these spaces on a daily basis, educators now are just beginning to discover their potential use in the classroom. However, social networking services such as those cited above mostly have been viewed, on the one hand, as simply “tools” for increasing connectivity among their participants--that is, simply a means to an end. Other faculty, in a more extreme view, even consider these services as a distraction to the real business of the classroom and establish policies to limit their use.
I suggest that these spaces are more than just a distraction or convenient tools for social networking, but they are themselves “texts,” albeit texts much different than the texts valued and taught in the Academy. By considering these spaces as text, we may gain a greater understanding of how our students develop as writers/readers in the digital age, how we can exploit these spaces as forums for learning and knowledge making, and how we, as faculty, can use this information to redefine our own notion of text in the classroom.
|Keywords:||Social Software, Online Learning, Computers and Writing|
Associate Professor of English, English Department, Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, IN, USA
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