Friday, May 8, 2009

This Week in Social Media: YouTube Delivery, Sext-Ed and more...

This week's topics cover the gamet from picking wedding dresses online to sneaking through government firewalls just to get online. I'll start with the YouTube delivery. It's not what you think!

I'm not talking about delivering a video to the YouTube platform. I'm talking about a man who had to deliver his own wife's baby with no help from anyone but YouTube video's! Yes, there are actually videos about that. In Can't Get Midwife? YouTube Will Assist, a British man explains that his wife's history of speedy deliveries meant that getting to a hospital was not happening and the midwife they planned to use was unavailable. YouTube to the rescue! You really can find just about anything on the Web today. What are the implications for YouTube in education? Especially when YouTube is often blocked? Is that good or bad? On the one hand, students will access YouTube online at home and learn anything they want to (and maybe more than we want them to!) but shouldn't we, as educators, be able to find useful videos for the classroom and show them as appropriate?

The internet is all about being open and available to all, right? Well, not quite. Many countries block websites containing content that they do not want accessible to their citizens. In Iranians and Others Outwit Net Censors we see that organizations exist that focus on helping everyone have equal access to the internet - but it's often at their own risk. I bring this up because it's important to remember that though we sometimes view the internet as a democracy for all people and our students probably are growing up believing this, we have not overcome censorship around the world. What does it mean to be a digital citizen? Does it depend on where you live?

Remember the Prom? Well, now there is a way for girls to ensure that nobody else comes dressed in their Prom dress. Online Photo Says "It's My Dress, Pick Another" explains that many boutique stores are creating a registry of which girl purchased which dress for which school's Prom and won't let anyway else buy the same dress. What's more, Facebook groups have been set up to let the girls post their dresses online so that others will be discouraged from buying the same or similar dresses. Why is the relevant? Because it's just another way that teens today are making use of Social Networking tools to meet their needs. These trends will continue and as educators we should be tapping into them also.

Lastly, sex ed has a whole new twist: When the Cell Phone Teaches Sex Education. Services have been popping up around the country to answer teens questions about sex and relationships. Many of these are canned questions that they can choose from but several new services are providing 1-1 personalized answers anonymously through texting. In some states this is designed to overcome school mandated limitations of abstinence-only curriculums. How do you feel about this service? What are the implications for families and students themselves. As educators, curriculum matters and we have to realize that if we are not teaching students what they need or want to know (sex ed or otherwise) they will find out from other places. Today, it's easy to do on the Social Web.

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