Vanity searches now not so vain, rather becoming par for the course

PEW has just released a new report looking at how people manage their online identity and they found:

When compared with older users, young adults are more likely to restrict what they share and whom they share it with. “Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities,”

I think the vigilance isn’t that surprising as young adults are the ones who are out there trying to define their identity so it makes sense that they are hypervigilant.

How Millennial are you?


It seems that this quiz might also represent “how much of a parent with a young child are you”, but regardless, when I have actual Millennials scoring lower than me, I think it is time to reconsider what the term means. It seems to me that Millennial here would be “how socially active are you and how much of your media do you access via a data link”.

PEW finds that young people are finding long form blogging less “sexy”

PEW is reporting that there is a drop in blogging among the under 30 demographic, a general lack of adoption of Twitter, except for high school girls who seem to be getting keen on it. The reason for this drop seems to be Social Media.

But for all the drop in activity that might be caused by the increased adoption of Social Media, there might be an increase of people who will start using traditional blogging for some of the advantages it has (length, data portability) that social media updating doesn’t allow. To me, I would think that if you’ve got a population that is keen on sharing what it is doing with everyone and anyone, but it is one that has just enough time to input a couple taps to update a status, then the lack of longer compositions make sense. But as people get a chance, and are able to reflect on those smaller updates, I think you’ll see old skool blogs coming back.

At the same time, it doesn’t seem to me that old skool blogging is going to take this laying down. WordPress has released tools for all three major mobile platforms and this tool could help traditional blog find a place in this mobile and fast paced world.

Teens and Cell Phones over the last 5 years.

I missed this back in August as I was away for part of the month, but PEW has gone back over their data from the past five years to take a look at how the use of mobile technologies by teens has changed.

The first, and most important finding is that teens have almost caught up to adults in terms of ownership. They also found that as teens age, phone ownership goes up and the ownership of other mobile devices goes down. This suggests to me that mLearning and mobile access is only going to become more important over the next decade.

Extending my ISSOTL thoughts

Am I ever glad I copied this before I posted:

Emerging from ISSOTL, I had some time on the train, so I took advantage of one of the apps that I just downloaded – Viigo – to read some of my feeds while I was waiting/riding. A few articles caught my attention and so this morning while I was going through Reader (hmm… it seems that all my brain dumps start this way) when I saw them again, I was sure to take action – a little bit of scaffolding in action there – seeing headlines twice seems to be useful in being able to identify the signal from the noise as opposed to a careful once through reading.

Anyway, so the first article was the new PEW survey on networked families, the second was an article that looked at how mobile phone users use their phones, the third was from EduTopia about collaboration and the last was from Science Daily on the idea of “TheirSpace” that came out earlier this year article that looked at a study on social networks. So how are all of these linked in my mind?

The PEW article suggests that even though the ubiquitous connectivity that is affored by broadband and ubergadgets would keep family members (I’m assuming that these are in middle/upper middle SES homes) locked into their own worlds, be that pleasure or work, families are still able to be “together while apart in the same room”.

Despite fears that many Americans are isolated from family members, because of  separate agendas and immersive personal internet and cell phones, most families are together at night.  Their heavy home internet use suggests that many households are hubs of personal communication networks, as people log on individually to email, IM, post on social networking sites and chat. They are both together with their families and connecting outward to friends and relatives elsewhere. They are neither isolated individuals nor Dick and Jane’s traditional family. Rather, their households are active sites of the interplay of individual activity and family togetherness.

The second article looks at activities users partake in when on the phone (in the US) and the top three uses are messaging, mobile internet and email. This seems to suggest that it is indeed possible for families to remain “together while apart” as PEW suggests. So if we extend the idea of the family into the classroom, it would go to suggest that people or students/instructors are willing and able to use network connected devices to maintain their connections outside of the home and perhaps the classroom – assuming that the individual enjoys either or both.

Edutopia looks at collaboration and how collaboration/social learning comtinues to show results:

  • Students learn more deeply when they can apply classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems, and when they take part in projects that require sustained engagement and collaboration.
  • Active-learning practices have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.
  • Students are most successful when they are taught how to learn as well as what to learn.

In my head, this connects not only to the first two articles about connectivity, but also to the ideas that I took away from ISSOTL that students need to be encouraged to look inside themselves to find truth and knowledge. By extending the classroom beyond its usual walls, students are able to interact with content, or observe concepts in the “world” while away from the expert, encouraging them to ask their own questions and form their own knowledge. If we are able to take first article that people do indeed use networked devices to connect and collaborate when together in groups of similar disposition (families, classrooms, clubs etc).

But before someone inside the academy spots the thread of social networks through the first few resources, Science Daily brings forward this warning:

But the survey also found that 41 per cent of students were against being contacted directly by tutors via Facebook. A report on the preliminary findings warns that the university will need to tread carefully if it wants to use Facebook to communicate with students for administrative or teaching and learning purposes.

The researchers say: “The survey data illustrate that Facebook is part of the ‘social glue’ that helps students settle into university life, that keeps the student body together as a community and which aids in communication (especially about social events) between the student body. However, care must be taken not to over privilege Facebook: it is clearly only one aspect of student’s social networking practices and clearly face-to-face relationships and interactions remain significant.

So how does this all stitch together as an extention of ISSOTL? Well, it seems to suggest that as different as we seem to think the millenials are, for some things, they really are not all that different. Face to face time is important, collaboration is important, being involved in their learning is important.  This is all great for creating some manner of rationalization as why not to “go heavy” into technology integration, but if the family and clubs (interest and otherwise) are any indication, technology is being used already in a near seemless way to extend and enhance face time, collaboration and involvement – so why is that not happening in the classroom? Is it that, as some claim, instructors just don’t want to use technology? That the academy wants to remain “basic and accessible/pure”? Or is it just an inability to assess being able to get the job done in more than one way? What is it that is holding the classroom back?

Growing up Gaming

Let’s start with this:



There is an interesting message here, there are likely many people out there who think like this – people for whom the ideas from the Matrix are not really that far fetched. But the take home message is that we have come to a point that games have matured to a point that they can encourage an emotional response – something that I think is perhaps even a little bit more important than the social elements of learning. Once emotion is engaged, learning becomes (perhaps) a survival skill.

If we take a bit of freedom with this idea, we can assume that the emergence of this “survival skill” of learning is brought on in part because the player believes that there is an element of risk involved with the decisions that are to be made. Now granted, not all games are going to require decisions – sports and rhythm games are obvious examples – but those that do, the strategy games or the RPGs out there are likely to be the ones that are used to help scaffold learning. Of the later group, the ones that are the most useful are those that provide the most interesting choices and that potentially involve some measure of risk – ala Sid Meier’s quote:

a [good] game is a series of interesting choices. In an interesting choice, no single option is clearly better than the other options, the options are not equally attractive, and the player must be able to make an informed choice. (Rollings, Andrew and Dave Morris. Game Architecture and Design. Scottsdale, Arizona: Coriolis, 2000, p. 38.)

These interesting choices are those that fit very nicely into “serious games” (interesting aside by Ars), which many would think are the only way to get players looking at social or potentially civic issues. As it turns out, the latest PEW survey actually looks at this. It also links into some of the ideas from the Libraries post earlier this week about getting students involved in reading.

So how do all these bits knit together? For many youth, it seems games are an avenue to become involved in their worlds, both real and simulated. In an age where parents don’t feel that neighborhoods are not safe enough to go out and play (Check out Stuart McLean’s podcast), kids may have found their interactive outlet in games. Games are no longer an idle pass time. They are a legitimate media for many “under 30s” and seemingly most “under 20s”. Games encourage conversations that stem from emotional connections that players create with the characters and stories that they manipulate. These conversations are fueled by the fact that not every player makes the same choice while experience a common world, and this has very obvious analogues to the real world. I think it is time to stop identifying games as a specific learning object class and realize that it is a peer to all the other tools (Sports, Music, Arts etc) and learning objects that are commonly used in schools.

Another PEW Study

These PEW studies are getting depressing, but they are certainly helping us oldies (yeah right, like I’m an oldie) understand these young’ns. The most recent one is on writing, something of a lost art to hear many instructors of first year university courses – but why is that? Lack of motivation to be sure:

  • Topics relevant to their own lives and experiences;
  • Teachers and other adults who challenge them;
  • Receiving detailed feedback on their work;
  • Opportunities to write creatively; and
  • Having an audience for their work.

Well it seems to me that blogging fits that bill pretty good, doesn’t it? Well it would if instructors at the higher levels were not afraid of marking non standard writing assignments… and what is with the “between 4k and 6K” word limits?? And, and … why so rigid in structure?? Huh?

Before you light off, I understand the limits – they are there to suggest that this is the space that it would take the average student to get their point across. Longer limits earlier because “younger” minds in a field tend to wander. Why all the standardization down to the format? Well, that is not only to help make marking fair, but also to ensure that those who need the imposed organization get it.  Ideally, there would be some instructor/student combos out there who would not have to worry about these guides, but they are there for the majority that “seem” to need them – and perhaps only because that is the only way that we have ever taught kids to write. 

I don’t have the time right now, but hopefully soon I’ll read the report and post back after ward. 

Interweb is Gender Shifting

It looks like the ‘net is starting to shift its balance to being more female heavy as opposed to male heavy in terms of users. This according to a PEW study that is also discussed here on the Times Online, giving it a bit of a British bend. The back end of the web continues to be male dominated however. Key to this growth seems to be the Web2.0 tools that include blogging and social networking:

A recent study by the Pew Internet Project in America on teens in social media found that blogging growth among teenagers is almost entirely fuelled by girls, whom it describe as a new breed of “super-communicators”. Some 35% of girls, compared with 20% of boys, have blogs; 32% of girls have their own websites, against 22% of boys.

Please note the comments on this post.