Bosco (2009)

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Bosco, J. (2009) Participatory Culture and Schools: Can We Get There From Here? Threshold Spring 2009. (accessed 22-08-2012)

Applications such as social networking, blogs, recreational and educational collaborative games, and publishing of videos, pictures, stories, and commentaries are pervasive in kids' lives. But the presence and effective use of these applications for learning in schools is much less prevalent. Thus, young people experience a two-culture problem as they move between in-school culture and out-of-school culture.

Bosco wishes to see a culture in schools would mean that students are expected to be actively engaged contributors to the intellectual and artistic content of their schooling rather than just passive receivers of a curriculum. Therefore schools should be compatible with the world of information, knowledge, communications, and collaboration as it exists today.

Web 2.0 is taken for granted in the lives of our youth. A Pew Internet & American Life survey that collected data in the last quarter of 2006 found that 93 percent of teens use the Internet and most use the Internet for social interaction. Fifty-five percent of American youths (ages 12 to 17) use social networking, 28 percent maintain blogs, and 39 percent use the Internet to share artistic creations.

However state and federal law requires schools to protect young people by filtering or blocking access to inappropriate materials and to adopt a policy that addresses the safety and security of minors using e-mail, chat rooms, and other forms of electronic communications. Most schools require students and/or parents to sign an acceptable-use policy that stipulates appropriate and inappropriate use of the school network. Another dimension of protection involves safeguarding instructional time from interference. Teachers do not want students to be text messaging during class time. Many schools ban handheld electronic devices for this reason.

Another theme in how schools are dealing with Web 2.0 involves integrating Web 2.0 applications with the curriculum and pedagogy. If the goal is to get teachers to use technology, then a good tactic for selling it to school administrators is to show how the technology can be used without disturbing the existing program

A third theme involving Web 2.0 emphasises discontinuous-change or disruptive-technology. This orientation does not derive from a sense that schools need to change in order to become compatible with a changed world.

The following are some issues that face those who work to bridge the two-culture problem.

1. Networking. In 2003, 85 percent of schools were connected to the Internet with broadband. There are relatively few school districts in the U.S. that have adequate broadband connectivity to enable a full measure of access to Web 2.0 resources.

2. Hardware. As of the 2005–06 school year, there were 14.2 million computers in U.S. schools (a 1:4 student-to-computer ratio). Apart from schools that have a one-to-one student computer program, schools where access to hardware is a constraining factor represent the overwhelming majority.

3. Filtering. Districts have latitude in how they implement Web filtering and how they handle problems that occur when the server blocks a website that ought not be blocked. Rather than fight a losing battle to abolish filtering, it is more useful to help schools devise reasonable policies and procedures for filtering to enable teachers and students to use the Internet for good purposes.

4. Mobile Devices. Many schools restrict students from using their cell phones. If we really seek to bridge the two-culture gap, it seems reasonable to explore how the use of students’ own connective appliances could be made safe and sane for their in-school learning.

5. Parental/Citizen Concerns. Any effort to reconcile the world inside schools with the world outside of schools needs to recognise the critical role of parents and the public. Parents expressed scepticism about the value of many digital-media platforms, particularly when it came to whether digital media could teach kids how to communicate and collaborate.

6. Organizational/Professional Development. There is a need for more and better professional development for teachers pertaining to the use of computers, the Internet, and Web 2.0. School reform requires re-examination of formal and informal policies, practices, roles, and rules by participants at all levels of the organization.

7. District-Level Leadership. Effective and sustainable deployment of Web 2.0 in schools can occur only when the good thing happening in a particular classroom or campus are considered mainstream in the district, rather than an aberration.