09 April 2007

Student Experiment

I used my freshmen writing students as guinea pigs tonight. Or rather, as indicators to the hunch I had that some of the technology that is mentioned over and over again among librarians and other adult geeks (and I use that term most affectionately) is not really what students are all about.

So I asked them.
"How many of you use Delicious?" No hands.

"How many of you use Flickr?" No hands

"How many of you use Digg?" Two hands.

"How many of you use MySpace?" A few hands.

"How many of you use Facebook?" All hands.

"How many of you blog?"
"What's a blog?"
"Are you kidding?" I was glad this last line was iterated by a student rather than my expressing my surprise.

19 intelligent, thoughtful, interested first years at a school priding itself on technology and half of them didn't know what a blog was.

I did ask them what they thought about adults being on Facebook and MySpace. The results also affirmed my assumption: students want to use these sites as "their" space. They aren't interested in my becoming their "friend" in these sites and they openly admitted that they don't want me to know or see all the things that are in their Facebooks.

"Do you realize though," I asked, "that just because you don't want me to see it doesn't mean that I can't? Do you realize how open your 'private' space actually is?" They did realize this and that wasn't going to stop them. But they certainly made it clear to me that if I signed up tomorrow, whether as their instructor, their librarian, or even as a 'friend' that they couldn't say they would connect to me. I am after all, old. Not even thirty but old.

Fascinating class. Fasctinating results, especially given all the thought I, and many other librarians, have been putting into our incorporation of these technologies into library 2.0. To me it just emphasizes the need to understand each of these technologies and express why they would be a powerful tool in the library or educational context. Just because it's hot doesn't mean that the application is either a) appropriate for our needs, or b) as appealing to students as we wish it were.

Next class I plan on asking them how many went looking for one of these technologies after I mentioned them.

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