I’m honored to have an article I wrote a couple of years ago, “Rethinking MySpace,” republished in the newest book by the Rethinking Schools group, Rethinking Popular Culture and Media.
In terms of publications related to teaching practice, Rethinking Schools is basically the only periodical I consistently read, and I want to encourage any teacher to read and support this work. Rethinking Schools is put together by full time teachers who do this out of a commitment to social justice teaching; as much as I am proud to count myself as a contributor to the magazine, I can say with utmost confidence that I’d still be reading, subscribing, and recommending Rethinking Schools’ materials regardless of if I had written for them.
Now, I realize it is 2011 and I’m now in the position of promoting an article about MySpace. Like Friendster, MySpace has pretty much come and gone. [A good read related to the downfall of MySpace can be found here.]
Talking with students recently, several admitted that they still have an account there, but that for the most part they are almost entirely interacting with peers on Facebook. [This is significantly recent shift that I want to explore further in future posts. Less than a year ago, I would talk to students about Facebook and it was still not considered “cool” or accepted by youth. This was pretty much still the norm.]
In any case, regardless of which corporate entity students are adopting for their social networking, participatory media has directly changed the way students communicate, socialize, learn. The practices I describe in “Rethinking MySpace” are far from obsolete and the challenges we educators face are becoming more complex.
Critically, we need to recognize that many people (not just students) are engaging with new media tools without questioning the structures that are in place: How are companies making money off of my decisions in a space like Facebook? How is this money being used? What capitalist ideologies do I reify each time I “like” a friend’s status update, retweet, or respond to a colleague’s request on a network like academia.edu?
The literacy skills we instill in students need to include not only how to interact with the new tools that have emerged over the past few years, but also a recognition to understand the implications of using these tools.
In upcoming posts, I want to expand on ideas I began with in “Rethinking MySpace,” question how social networking practices have transformed my practice, and explore what is happening in larger conversations about privacy and social networking. In the meantime, please support Rethinking Schools (and their sister site Not Waiting For Superman).
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