Posted by knoblockj
My 17 year-old son has friends from school that he like to hang out with. They go bowling and go to the movies. They play online video games and go out to eat. They do all the things you would expect a group of teenagers to do. They are all within 4 or 5 years of each other.
My son also has a group of cousins. The cousins get together every couple of months, mainly because of a family get together or some sort. They hang together because they all have to be in the same place together on occasion. They like to do things like video games, bowling, movies – basically, they like the same things that my son does with his school friends.
Once, his school friends wanted to go bowling, but the cousins were over. I suggested that he take the cousins bowling with his friends. Oh my goodness! Apparently that wasn’t acceptable at all. It was as though I expected him to walk on a tightrope between two buildings, 100 feet in the air. His explanation? “My worlds can’t mix.”
Bernadette Longo, in her article “Using Social Media for Collective Knowledge-Making: Technical Communication Between the Global North and Global South” discusses the expectations of students to utilize social media and technologies from their real lives in their student lives. Outside of school, students create and share content. Longo asserts that professors struggle to incorporate this outside learning interaction while still maintaining their position of knowledge in the classroom. The problem is that if educators don’t address the technological expectations of students, students “may tune out of their academic lives” (p. 30).
My son was very successful at keeping his worlds separate. Social media is the place where he couldn’t do that. Things he posted, things he shared, and content he created opened up dialog between him and his friends, him and his cousins, and his cousins and his friends. In addition to social media, technology in general helped meld his worlds. My son created a server in our home in which he ran a Minecraft game. Only those he invited in could access it. He would play Minecraft with friends. When friends weren’t available, he invited in his cousins. Before he knew it, friends and cousins were logging on at the same time. He even found that they played together even when he wasn’t live. After playing Minecraft together, they recognized each other’s names on Facebook and Instagram. They began to interact outside of Minecraft. The worlds have met and they like each other.
When they came together in real life, they all knew each other. My son had to go to a wedding where all of the cousins would also be. Since it was my other son’s wedding, I hired some of the friends to help “work” the wedding. It all went well at first, but since the cousins and friends began to figure out who each other were, I ended up paying a bunch of kids to dance, hang out, and have fun.
I understand the two worlds idea. Once upon a time I used to be much more verbal and active on my Facebook page. Now that I am “friends” with colleagues, co-workers, family, promoters, various bands, and other “worlds,” I am very careful not to make political posts, emotional posts, overly personal posts, and the like.
Longo says, “For technical communication teachers, establishing learning environments in which students learn from each other — as well as from people outside the classroom — provided opportunities for authentic learning that can prepare students for the workplaces practitioners now encounter. Using social media in classrooms, teachers can recreate professional settings in which technical communicators learn about users directly.”
Using blogs and discussion boards bring social media to the classroom. The fine line in my eyes is incorporating more public venues of social media into the classroom. I like to keep my academic world separate from my personal world. I also keep my professional world separate from my personal world. Although, I utilize social media as though my world were mixed. Although, I want my personal world skills be be usable in my academic world.
Longo, Bernadette. (2013). Using social media for collective knowledge-making: Technical communication between the global North and South. Technical communication quarterly. DOI: 10.1080/10572252.2014. 850846.
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