Saturday, November 10, 2007

MySpace, Teachers and Schools

This is an extract from a paper I wrote for my ICT Experience Subject at CSU.

Teachers and MySpace
Teachers Joining MySpace
MySpace is, by their own definition, for anyone, so it is not difficult for teachers to join. One of the features that many students get involved in is the schools forums. When selecting schools the social nature of MySpace becomes obvious, as there is no option of listing schools where you have worked only where you have studied. (The author however put that he was attending the school where he works so that he could have contact with the students in their network). Before being able to use a tool effectively with students teachers need to familiarize themselves with that tool. (Green and Hannon 2007 p67).
MySpace as a Social Tool
Most students who use the MySpace network do so because they have offline friends that already use it (Boyd 2007 p9). This social dimension is one that teachers can support and encourage. As the National School Boards Association (2007 P7) states “Both schools and especially parents have strong expectations about the positive roles that social networking could play in students’ lives.”
Part of the process of using MySpace as a social tool in schools is teaching students appropriate online behaviors in relation to both bullying and ‘strangers’. This training can empower teens for their future technology use (Young Adult Library Services Association 2006 in Abram 2007 a), and can be an expansion of the successful work already done in relation to offline bullying (Abram 2007 b) and stranger danger. As Hupfer, Maxson and Williams (2007 p19) state “Just as a parent wouldn’t send a teenager to a shopping mall alone without preparing them to handle any bad situation they encounter, a parent shouldn’t let a teenager navigate MySpace without similar advice.”
MySpace as a Teaching Tool
Any use of MySpace, or any technology for that matter, in the classroom should first consider what learning goals are desired (Newhouse 2002 p5). One way that MySpace can be implemented into the school teaching is as a way of teaching design and web coding as Green and Hannon (2007 p37) explain
MySpace can also allow student a way to publish their work not just for the teacher but also for the wider community beyond the classroom walls (Raiti 2007 p9) in the form of blogs, audio files and videos. This will enable students to look at the way they bring information together to create knowledge in a critical manner. (Wilber 2007)
Schools and Myspace
In both Australia and the United States of America most schools have either stringent rules about the use of social networking (National School Boards Association 2007) or blocked them all together. The total blocking was the case for 13 out of 16 teachers that the author spoke to in relation to this issue, these teachers represented public schools in five states where state wide bans were enforced as well as a number of independent schools and districts. (Personal communication 10th-20th September 2007)
This policy of blocking is supported by some experts and leaders in schools who believe that MySpace is either a time waster (Ashmore 2006) or a danger to students in relation to stalkers or cyber bullying (Belperio 2007). However many other educators and commentators suggest that we should instead be teaching students how to use MySpace and other social networking tools wisely. (Abram 2007a, Broja 2006, Green and Hannon 2007) As Abram (2007b) says “Banning most internet and web applications and sites in schools is the equivalent of trying to teach road safety by banning roads, cars and trucks in school and then sending the kids into the streets to play”. As the American Library Association states “If people were better informed about social networking sites and knew and used the basic internet safety tips, the cloud of fear may decline.”
Stephen Abram (2007 b) suggests that Teacher Librarians, as trusted online guides, need to be talking to parents and administrators to identify the reason behind these blocks. Green and Hannon (2007 p32) found that these blanket bans are not effective, and that many students know ways around them. So it is important for school leaders to become informed about social network sites because the students are using them. (Thompson 2007)

So what do you think? Please Comment or Blog your answers, David

Abram, S 2007a, Justifying the social tools: Improving the conversation, Multimedia and Internet @ Schools, Jan/Feb 2007, online version, accessed August 15, 2007 at
Abram, S 2007b, Shooting themselves in the foot, Multimedia and Internet @ Schools, Mar/Apr 2007, online version, accessed August 15 2007 at
Ashmore, R, 2006, Blocking ‘MySpace’ From Your Space, School Administrator, Oct2006, Vol. 63 Issue 9 p7-7, 1p
Belperio, F 2007, Cyber bully warning, Leader Messenger, October 3 2007, p3
Borja, R, 2006, Social Networking Sites for Schools Promote Safety, Education Benefits. Education Week, 10/11/2006, Vol. 26 Issue 7, p7
Boyd, D, 2007, Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning, Identity Volume ed. David Buckingham MIT Press
Green, H and Hannon, C, 2007, Their Space: Education for a digital generation, online version, accessed September 4 2007,
Hupfer, R, Maxson, M, Williams, R. 2007, MySpace For Dummies, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ
National School Boards Association, 2007, CREATING & CONNECTING, Research and Guidelines on Online Social and Educational Networking, online version, accessed September 15, 2007.
Newhouse, C. P. 2002. The impact of ICT on learning and teaching: A literature review. Online version, accessed June 25, 2007, from
Raiti, J, 2007, A new frontier: Web 2.0 = School 2.0, in Hearts on Fire: Sharing the passion ASLA XX Biennial Conference Proceedings 2007, Australian School Library Association, Zillmere, QLD.
Thompson, J, 2007 Is Education 1.0 Ready for Web 2.0 Students? In Innovate, vol 3 issue 4. online version, accessed August 31, 2007 at
Wilber, D, 2007, MyLiteracies: Understanding the Net Generation through LiveJournals and Literacy Practices. Innovate, vol 3 issue 4, online version, accessed August 31, 2007 from


joshnunn said...

David, apparently we're coming to the same conclusions, as I think your research supports what I've said in the past. You however have been working as an educator in schools since you wrote this (I'm assuming), how has it held up in 'the real world (tm)'? I only see it from the fringes as an 'IT Guy' so I'd be interested in your opinion from the front lines.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for these thoughts and for responding to my blog posting David. I think one of the biggest hurdles for teachers to get over is the perception is that they are over-worked and their day is as full as it can be. Getting teachers to decide what not to continue doing to make room for more productive (for them) activities is very difficult.

alison said...

I like the Abram quote about banning cars. I wish I'd seen this before I wrote this paper (PDF).