Taking an in-depth look at student interest in and use of social media and online gaming at times made me uncomfortable (am I too distracted by my Smartphone as well? how much of 2009 did I lose to Farmville?) Other times it made me feel empowered (helping students with a project in which they are blogging really does have add-value and relevance!)
Mostly it left me not wanting to fully commit to a belief one way or the other and spitting out cliche and colloquialisms left and right. That question I proposed above? “Guilty as charged!” Do the pros outweigh the cons? I cannot commit definitively so I will say “Everything in moderation!” Oh yeah and “it’s complicated.” Students are definitely social networking, so “if we can’t beat’em we better ~ at least ~ join’em” or we will get left behind.
The reality is today’s students (of all ages) are using social media and online gaming (in large numbers according to the Pew Research Center), so librarians need to be knowledgeable about how these technologies impact student learning and daily life. This knowledge can then inform our teaching and help us stay relevant. Digital literacy and digital citizenship is a logical extension of other library efforts such as information literacy. Keeping on top of tech trends is another big componant of our job. Integrating social networking and gaming into our teaching can have a positive impact on learning while making lessons relate to our students’ lives better.
If students are going to be using social media and online gaming, then we should be able to help them use these platforms more intelligently and efficiently – whether that is teaching high schoolers about filter bubbles (Pariser 2011) or middle schoolers about their digital footprint (Internet Society 2014) – there are opportunities for librarians to make a difference in the online lives of our students. I believe librarians can equip students with tools to make their socially networked lives a little LESS complicated.
Douglas Muth Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/dmuth/7540543816
Internet Society. (2014). “Your Digital Footprint Matters.” Retrieved from: http://www.internetsociety.org/your-digital-footprint-matters
Pariser, Eli. (March 2011). Beware online “filter bubbles.” TED Talks. Video retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en