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Course 1

Hanging Out on the Internet

“Unlike with other genres of participation (e.g., messing around and geeking out), parents and educators tent not to see the practices involved in hanging out as supporting learning.” (Living and Learning with New Media)

That was exactly me and my first reaction: Just hanging out on the internet can’t be productive and even worse it must be a waste of time. All the more I was surprised to read that this doesn’t have to be the case.

Teenagers are

  • developing and maintaining friendships/relationships with close (local) friends
  • finding out interest/talents – creating an own identity, taste and style
  • engaged and they are believing in something which motivates them to do whatever kind of action
  • communicating with others
  • teaching friends and parents
At a first glance it doesn’t seem too bad, but at a second glance I’m asking as a teacher: How can I open the world of the internet to my students for a different, more contributing involvement? How can I get them always on and always contributing?
I started smiling when I realized that I am probably already doing a step in that direction with my Grade 4 without knowing it. The students are inquiring into “The brain” of the human being. They are reading informational texts and creating afterwards a post for their own wikipedia. The wikipedia is simple and easy to use so the students are able to contribute knowledge to the community every time they are posting something. On my side I try to contribute instructional videos for the first time in my teacher life, f.e. How to create a post? or How to save your draft own the server?. It is a beginning.
Wiki Grade 4
Related to my thoughts here I read What does it mean to disconnect? Thanks, Jeff, for food for thoughts!

2 replies on “Hanging Out on the Internet”

Your first reaction was the same as mine. I was really struggling to see ‘hanging out’ as supported learning, so thanks for detailing the different ways that you see it as being this. I love the idea that children are ‘finding out interest/talents – creating an own identity, taste and style’, but at the same time I do worry about what they may stumble across as they meander in and out of the different places. Another blog I was reading talked about the big responsibility we have as teachers to support the growth and development of children, and I feel that perhaps this constant connection to so much in the world challenges us in this respect. That sounds like I am a massive power freak, wanting to be solely responsible for the learning that children make, but what I mean is that we have to ensure that children have the skills, knowledge and maturity to be selective. I don’t believe that is always the case. (To contextualise, I teach at primary level so think about primary level children as I write.) Many children are easily influenced and manipulated, and others are skilled at doing that. Just as our parents didn’t always approve of where we went and who we went with, the same is true for the places/people on the internet; while huge learning is there for the taking, who is to say what type of behaviour will result? That said however, the creativity and ideas that are communicated allow children to experiment, invent, reinvent and question go way beyond anything that my generation is used to, and we as teachers have to learn to grow and develop these skills within our children, and then continue with contribution.

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