Last week I sat in a demonstration of a new sort of academic social networking environment that has many levels for privacy and permission. This is not a criticism at all of the software, but more at the curious attitudes of higher education.
A number of faculty/staff in the audience commended the tool for how it allowed for safe and private areas for classes, compared to open public social networks.
I find myself bothered by this as what seems like prevalent mode of online learning environments.
I remind you this was not at say the elementary school level, we are talking about young adults, who are (or whose parents are) paying many thousands of dollars per year ostensibly to become thinkers, leaders in the world.
So in the realm of higher education, probably the most ideal places learners should get the most opportunity to explore, experiment, try, fail– are we so damned maternalistic in wanting to “protect” online activity? How exactly are we preparing students for the world beyond the diploma by coddling them? By making things safe? That seems to me counter to what the university experience should be, especially at that age of young people becoming who they will be in the world.
Do not get me wrong. I understand there are places for private discussions. But the majority of discourse I fail to see a reason why we should not be embracing, encouraging the use of communication tools that graduates will use beyond the walls?
Could there not be a more ideal time and place for them to be immersed in the open spaces of net? Should they learn their mistakes in communication while on the payroll of your company or organization?
Why are we focused on making things safe, protected, and easy? School should be hard, challenging. I always like how Jeff McClurken talks about wanting to make his students “uncomfortable but not paralyzed”- enough to provoke them to move out of that state.