Sunday, November 23, 2008
A MacArthur Foundation report, "Living and Learning with New Media", was recently highlighted in the New York times article, "Teenagers' internet socializing not a bad thing".
The report's findings? Kids are learning valuable technological and social skills as new media is interwoven into their lives. So a note to all parents: all that time on Facebook and MySpace is not just a waste of time! The report broke down their social media motivations into categories such as "friendship driven", "interest driven" and culminated in "geeking out" where "Youth turn instead to specialized knowledge groups of both teens and adults from around the country or world, with the goal of improving their craft and gaining reputation among expert peers."
What does this suggest for online tutoring?
Traditional online tutoring, as it exists today, reflects the top-down hierarchy of tutoring offline. It works because it fills a need for students who must navigate the one size fits all classroom based on state standards and topped off with standardized tests.
The report suggests there is a potential role in education for "Networked Publics"(participation in public culture that is supported by online networks), and peer-based learning. The study says, “New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting. Youth respect one another’s authority online, and they are often more motivated to learn from peers than from adults.” Online tutoring companies are well positioned to facilitate peer-to-peer based tutoring, but I wouldn't look to the big online tutoring companies to blaze any trails. Luckily for them, the one-size fits all school system is not apt to change very soon.
What are your thoughts on peer-to-peer learning?