It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens

Danah Boyd (2014). Yale University Press.

(online version available under a Creative Commons license for use that is noncommercial.)


Introduction: Four affordances are common among computer mediated communication (CMC): persistence, visibility, spreadability, and searchability.

Chapter 1: out of context, teens can appear ‘peculiar’ on social media and they often have inaccurate mental models of their audience in social media, often believing it is who they have chosen as “friend” or “follow”

Chapter 2: In order to retain some privacy, teens engage in “social steganography,” that is, hiding messages in plain sight by using shared knowledge and cues to express ideas (such as a song or line from a movie).

Chapter 3: Current environments have curtailed teens ‘freedom to wander’ of past generations. Social media has become the new ‘neighborhood’ in which teens have ‘freedom to wander’.

Chapter 4: This chapter discusses moral panic and the fear predators are lurking everywhere and the resulting restrictive responses. There is some discussion of how this can impact teen depending upon the strength of their support systems. The underlying message seems to be ‘it takes a village’; that is, parents need to look beyond protecting their own children and work as a community to protect all children.

Chapter 5: This chapter concerns bullying, meanness and cruelty, and also celebrity status. I am reminded of Little Women when Amy burns Jo’s book as an immediate way to gain power and seek an exchange of hurt feelings without consideration for the more permanent consequences. Social media allows these actions to move beyond the immediacy of the playground to be more persistent in time and space, visible to more individuals, more easily spreadable to wide audiences, and the instance findable for replay. The point is made that attention is a currency and it can have both healthy and unhealthy outlets and outcomes.

Chapter 6: Chapter six begins with students’ self-imposed racial segregation within the physical spaces of school (if you know the movie Clueless – there is the scene in which Cher walks Tai though campus pointing out which group hangs out in what sections). The discussion then turns to how social media can also be used to segregate. “We don’t live in a post-racial society, and social media is not the cultural remedy that some people hoped it would become.”

Chapter 7: Chapter seven begins by point out that just because “teens grew up in a world in which the internet has always existed” does not mean that they “automatically understand new technologies”. As being comfortable with technology “is increasingly important for everyday activities: obtaining a well-paying job, managing medical care, engaging with government” it is imperative that schools not compound digital inequality by failing “to help youth develop broad digital competency”.

Take away:

Adults need to stop treating digital connectivity as an encounter unlike their own physical experiences. To make sense of teens digital lives, adults need to begin mapping it onto the non-digital interactions they know. For example, In fair weather it is play outdoors in foul weather it is board games and crafts indoors. In less turbulent communities children are free to wander about and explore their neighborhoods. In more turbulent communities children go to digital environments to seek freedom and wander about. Once adults begin to understand how teens’ digital interactions map to the adult’s non-digital life experiences, then there may be an understanding of the motivations behind teens’ digital behaviors as well as insights into how to use the adults’ non-digital experiences to both setup more mutually acceptable boundaries and create intergenerational sharing of common core needs and expressions of those needs.



Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education

Garrison, Anderson, & Archer. (1999).

The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105


With the increased use of computer mediated communication (CMC) in higher education, the authors set out to identify “the elements that are crucial prerequisites for a successful higher educational experience”.

For a brief tutorial on the Community of Inquiry Framework see https://www.purdue.edu/innovativelearning/supporting-instruction/portal/files/4_Community_of_Inquiry_Framework.pdf

Given the model that for a successful educational experience three aspects of interaction need to be strongly supported –  teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence, we should first understand what each presence entails.

The most significant point, in my opinion, made by the author was the value of text-based communication over oral-based communication in terms of time for reflection, higher-order cognitive learning, and critical thinking.

The majority of this article seeks to define teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence.



Laura Gogia (2016). Why Students Should Blog in Public. Messy Thinking.

7-20 NOTE: Now have access to the correct source: https://googleguacamole.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/why-students-should-blog-in-public/

From Gogia’s slideshare I found the JISC Digital Resident & Visitor Project interesting: mapping project interesting (Visitor-Resident x Personal-Institutional grid and plot how you engage with the Web).


NOTE: Complete 2-step process to access this linked source: Set account, requested author’s permission to view. Apparently the permission is not automated. No reply yet so looked for alternate possible source. Found dissertation: 2016 – Virginia Commonwealth, Richmond: Documenting Student Connectivity and Use of Digital Annotation Devices in Virginia Commonwealth University Connected Courses: An Assessment Toolkit for Digital Pedagogies in Higher Education.

[highlights pertaining to students-blogging-public]

Based on Chapters 4 and 5 of the dissertation, the author did not set out to look at the connections between connectivity and learning, that is intentional connections, reflections, and resulting learning. The study undertaken did suggest, according to the author, that learning can be supported by these digital connections student make that span “across concepts, people, space, and time”. The assumption, then, is that by blogging in public, the opportunity  to for connections, and therefore learning, increase.

What I did find of interest in this dissertation was the references to self- and peer-assessment based on the following two sources:

Boud, D. (2000). Sustainable assessment: Rethinking assessment for the learning society. Studies in Continuing Education, 22(2), 151-167. doi: 10.1080/713695728 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241580761_Sustainable_Assessment_Rethinking_Assessment_for_the_Learning_Society

Pring, R. (2015). Philosophy of educational research (3rd ed.). London, UK: Bloomsbury.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *