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December 14, 2005

Blogs and moral panic

Josie Fraser and Will Richardson have pointed out this excellent article on the moral panics surrounding teens and blogs. Its a fascinating piece, in several parts, that traces reactions to teen's use of LiveJournal, Xanga, MySpace and other blogging and social networking services, and the (sadly predictable) reactions by some schools.

This type of reaction is worth analyzing, and in particular we need to have the counter-arguments worked out if we are to enable institutions to support and embrace (1) students having their own learning management tools under their control, (2) student-contributed technologies in institutions, and (3) students being encouraged to form their own informal learning networks.

It is seen by many as a "safe" option to simply ban and ignore these services, but this has the greater danger in institutions being seen as largely irrelevant "ghettos" with the real action taking place outside - in any case, the sanctions can be circumvented quite easily by savvy students (if nothing else than by simply not turning up, and using their broadband at home). In the long run that risk is I think more dangerous to institutions; providing an open yet supportive environment for student writing and communication may not be as difficult or risky as its made out. But you have to understand students, and understand the emerging teen web culture.

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