Classroom Conversations


I’ve been contemplating Anne’s feedback on my draft research plan. She commented that it would be: 

‘…………. interesting to keep an eye on gender issues (what is the gender breakdown of your group?), and on the kids’ reported use of social websites, etc at home’

Well … there are 26 pupils in the class – and the gender breakdown is half and half (Stuart F has recently moved to another school).

We had a conversation in class recently because I wanted to know if any of them used social websites. I thought that the answer would be that the the majority were using MSN, and that none were using MySpace or Bebo. I was honestly surprised at the response, and began to scribble down notes because I wanted to record the conversations as accurately as possible. Here’s a breakdown of the conversation ….

MSN users … 16 pupils out of the 26 ( 11 girls and 5 boys) use MSN regularly. 7 girls and 1 boy use MSN daily. The rest use it at least weekly and there was no real difference between the boy / girl ratio.

None of the children use ‘MySpace’, but 11 of them said that they had Bebo accounts (6 girls and 4 boys). None of them used Bebo daily, but they did all use it at least 2 or 3 times a week.

 When I asked them about their preference to using Bebo versus their Individual Blogs, I was really surprised that they thought that the Bebo site was ‘safer’. They thought that it was safer because they had all opted to choose the ‘only friends can see my page’ option. They felt that there were no worries about ‘strangers’ looking at their site – they were in control? They mentioned that the ‘public’ option on Bebo was for older people (bigger brothers and sisters).

……… so do they feel uncomfortable with their individual blogs?? Too exposed?

3 thoughts on “Classroom Conversations

  1. Hello Margaret, I was talking to my daughter about your post (as we are on holidays she is my only almost age appropriate (13 years old and 1 year out of Primary school) young person at the moment, and she is an avid Bebo-er, on daily).

    We talked about the types of things she does on Bebo – down loading favourite videos, tunes, music clips as well as leaving comments/chatting to friends; adding new background skins and displaying photos.

    Perhaps the exposure is not just a safety issue but has to do with the more academic, school related writing and activities we ask our students to post on their blogs. From what I have seen on Bebo there isn’t a lot of personal response writing, or reflecting on learning or even narrative writing going on.

    We both know that it’s easier to write on our class blogs than writing on our personal blogs – it is much more exposed and confronting especially when sharing our reflections, questions, wonderings. A quick report back on a course or seminar is not too bad though!

    Maybe the “uncomfortableness” is a necessary/positive part of individual blogs – that tension between casual conversations and sharing between uncritical friends (Bebo) and the more structured comments and sharing of personal academic work on students blogs.

    The idea of the “whole world” looking at what you have written is scarier and out of our control but it also supplies the “buzz” of the comments and responses from that “whole world” (as opposed to just your friends replies).

    What do you think? What do your kids think?

  2. Hi Kim, It has really surprised me how much the online world of the kids in my class have changed in the last year!

    I know for a fact that NO children in my last session’s class had access to a bebo or myspace account (I can say this with certainty as it was discussed in detail after my youngest son who was in a music band at the time was interviewed on local radio – one of the pupils asked if the band had a myspace or bebo site and it turned out that only one of them could access it and only through an older sibling’s account). So when my tutor suggested that I find out the present class’s access to these sites, I expected the response to be the same as last session.

    I was surprised as well about their need to keep their sites ‘private’. They talked about the ‘open sites’ being for older teenagers. Maybe more of them are using it because the ‘private’ option has just recently become available?? (I’ve learned that the opposite has happened in ‘Facebook’ very recently …. if you don’t tick the privacy box when setting up your account, your site can be accessed by anyone).

    Some of the pupils in class ARE very comfortable with their Individual Blogs .. and are becoming more confident. I’m enjoying watching the online friendships unfolding between pupils in our classes.

    As you say, I find it much easier to post to the class blog than to an individual blog…. even to the ‘learnerblog’ I set up recently (the encouraging comments from a couple of the pupils were great – even they sensed my “uncomfortableness”!). There have even been one or two comments from them on this blog.

    Your last 2 paragraphs have given me lots of ‘food for thought’, too – but I’m off now to respond to your other comment on the ‘Methodology Questions’ post. I’ve read it briefly, and think you’ve expanded on these issues there?

    Thanks for the comments .. resulting on my first lengthy comment reply on a blog ever 🙂 It’s helped me to ‘keep going’ and I’ll put a new post on very soon about my Review of Literature section of the dissertation.

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