Tuesday, August 28, 2007

MySpace - another look

No, not MySpace in the classroom, of course.

I've had a MySpace page for a little over a year, I guess. I just wanted to see what it was like, to see the dangers, to try and understand the fear. So I have one. I've done basically nothing with it. I have a puny 3 friends. Well, they're not puny, it's just such a short list.

A couple of weeks ago my wife went on MySpace.

Here's her MySpace page.

Now you have to understand that my shock came in large part because of the reaction I had received over a year ago when I casually let it pass that I had set up a MySpace page. The earth shook. "You did what?!!" I had crossed a line of sanity. Several lines, it seemed.

That tune changed when a big-time publicist recently said my wife absolutely HAD to have, among other things, a MySpace page, like right now for an upcoming NYC recital. Things got different, fast. I am Mr. Tech Support in our household, so my work was ripping and uploading mp3 files, CD cover images, setting up an html coded profile, linking to a YouTube video, helping with passwords, etc. Once that was done, I sat back and watched, amazed.

My wife is now, just a couple of weeks later, part of a well-organized community on MySpace - mostly classical performing artists. (bonus points if you can find another edtech apostle amongst her friends) I had no idea this world was there. She has added current and former voice students (she teaches at PLU). Even more amazing. It is a very different world from blogging, but it has similarities. There is a "Twitter" sort of IM capacity, there are networks of "friends" constantly changing in size and shape. There are "bulletins". I'm only scratching the surface, because I know so little...

It is an amazing community. I find myself going from friend to friend - being intrigued over and over by the folk in her ever expanding friends list. It's surprising where you can end up in a couple of clicks. You can be on Renee Fleming's or Neil Young's site in a couple of heartbeats. Lots of junk for sure, but the networking opportunities are amazing.

So where are the teachers? Do we not need to network? Is subscribing to an rss feed for an edtech blog, one after another, manually, enough of a network? Or is there more?

MySpace is exploding. The edtech blogosphere is not even close to moving this quickly.

What is the lesson here, and can we learn anything from MySpace? Should we be there?

I am. Wanna be my friend?

5 comments:

janice said...

Mark,

I think that the issue for educators is TIME. I don't know why other people seem to have more time, but maybe it is the quality of the time. They have uninterrupted time maybe.

Anyway, I would love to be your my space friend and at the bottom of my blog I have an invitation to my space. I set one up, but every time I go there I am frustrated and I hate all of the ads and I give up. So, I have not even gotten rid of the distracting ads yet, because I don't have the motivation to figure out how. It would just take too much time and effort.

Janice

Mark Ahlness said...

Janice, yes, it is indeed time, I agree with you 100%. But when I spent a little TIME looking around MySpace this summer, what I found surprised me, in a good way. And then I just wondered if there was this network of educators doing incredible things there. Probably not :)

I also agree with you on the complexity of the supposedly intuitive MySpace. I won't tell you how long it took me to figure out how to simply login to my account - or to add a friend... Thank goodness my wife's around to help me out with the technical stuff (yikes)

Hey, thanks for the add - Mark

ms. whatsit said...

In my community, MySpace is feared and loathed; and I am not even allowed to create a class blog with classblogmeister because everyone in my district holds such negative perceptions about kids using the internet to communicate. It's very frustrating, especially since teachers' abstinence obviously doesn't stop kids from using it.

I do, however, belong to Classroom 2.0 and other ning.com social networking sites. Perhaps that's where all the teachers are.

Still, you've planted a seed in my mind about MySpace . . .

Brenda said...

I looked at both myspace and facebook over the summer at the prompting of my students. Facebook has a much easier layout I think. But so far I haven't put a link to my facebook page on my school website. A few of my students who are now in college have found me. But for now I want to keep my facebook page social and not a "teacher" space. Has anyone else had this dilemma?

JSG said...

As the mother of a 'tween I could experience myspace and facebook 24/7. The appeal of the digital social network is sometimes stronger than face-to-face. My daughter takes her notebook and im's her friend on our desktop across the room during sleepovers. What do they im about? Who likes who...How the latest boy band member/movie star is hot, the same thing's they'd say in giggles and hushed tones during lights out. The same popularity contests "I have 130 friends," my daughter beams. Pretty harmless.

Educationally, I think this presents both pros and cons. As a writing teacher I have had to shun im language from the English classroom. Yet I think that kids come with a better understanding of what writing is. We write to communicate, and it's not a big, mysterious, scary thing. If you can blog or im, you can easily learn to do the writing you need to do for school.