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Teaching Web 2.0 With Facebook--A Quick Story

The other day I referenced an article on teaching the basics of Web 2.0 by using Facebook as the example. Last night my 15-year old was asking me about my Netvibes account and I was explaining that it was a way for me to be automatically updated when new information was added to my favorite blogs and news sources.

"Oh--like the News Feed in Facebook," she said.


What also struck me about the conversation is that while my daughter is a digital native, she doesn't know a lot of the social media terminology. She just uses the stuff and doesn't worry about what it's called. To a certain extent, that's where we all have to go--to a place where we're using the tools as part of our personal work and learning and not worrying about terminology or being scared away by the terms. While my 15-year old and her 19-year old sister are well-versed in most of the tools (my older daughter is now interning for a start-up wiki on celebrities), if I use a term like "social networking site" or "RSS" they just look at me blankly.

I keep coming back to the fact that using the stuff is the only way to really get it. Just talking about it can end up scaring people away.  It may be time to throw them in the deep end.


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Hi Michelle - great article, and so, so true; have recently had similar with my oldest (only 10!) when he was looking at my netvibes as I have that set for my 'homepage'. What you reference about the 'stuff' rather than labels - that tends to work better for me currently. Labels can come later when enthusing others! Language can often become a barrier!

It's interesting, Laura--I think that what's happening is the difference between a child absorbing language and adults needing to study language. Our kids are just jumping in, while adults seem to need vocabulary lists and grammar lessons to get it. But even in learning a language, you're better off going to a foreign country where you have no choice and are required to use the language to get by, rather than sitting in a class studying lists of vocabulary words and taking tests to see if you got them right. That's why I'm beginning to feel like we should just be giving people a few "dictionaries" in the form of instructions and cheat sheets and then expecting them to use the tools.

I think we (educators) name things so we can talk about them and understand how to use them and then forget to drop the jargon and communicate in plain English. My kids tend to talk about what something does...i.e., what do you mean 'go into outlook?' you want me to check your email? Why didn't you just say so?

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