If you haven’t heard, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator and CEO of Facebook has been named Time Magazine’s Person of the year 2010. There’s always lots of discussion about social media and negative impact on education- but here’s the reality.
To quote the excellent Time profile written by Lev Grossman:
“This year, Facebook — now minus the the — added its 550 millionth member. One out of every dozen people on the planet has a Facebook account. They speak 75 languages and collectively lavish more than 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. Last month the site accounted for 1 out of 4 American page views. Its membership is currently growing at a rate of about 700,000 people a day.
“What just happened? In less than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a twelfth of humanity into a single network, thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S. If Facebook were a country it would be the third largest, behind only China and India. It started out as a lark, a diversion, but it has turned into something real, something that has changed the way human beings relate to one another on a species-wide scale. We are now running our social lives through a for-profit network that, on paper at least, has made Zuckerberg a billionaire six times over…
“Zuckerberg’s vision is that after the Facebookization of the Web, you’ll get something in between: wherever you go online, you’ll see your friends. On Amazon, you might see your friends’ reviews. On YouTube, you might see what your friends watched or see their comments first. Those reviews and comments will be meaningful because you know who wrote them and what your relationship to those authors is. They have a social context. Not that long ago, a post-Google Web was unimaginable, but if there is one, this is what it will look like: a Web reorganized around people. “It’s a shift from the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends,” say Sandberg. “It doesn’t matter if 100,000 people like x. If the three people closest to you like y, you want to see y.” (Grossman, 2010)”.
The question for me is not about the potential negative impact of social networking on our students. It’s here- it’s not going to go away. The question is, how can we utilize this powerful transformative social force to help kids learn and minimize the potential negative impact through education and modeling positive social behaviors.As an adult, using Facebook is a personal choice. As an educator- you have to look at anything that gets kids this fired up and think- how can I use that to my advantage? How can I get that same kind of energy into my classroom? As educators, if our job is to help prepare for their future, how can we continue to look at a set of skills that appears to be evolving into a something that will be vital to the way we interact with each other in the future, both personally, and at work, and block it out completely?