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Insight from the marketing industry

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A quick reflection on a post by Michelle MacPhearson, a blogger who aims describes herself as “integrating “Web 2.0″ technology – that is, the hip, new, cool stuff all the kids are using – into my marketing”.

MacPhearson is responding to a Danah Boyd essay on to teen identity formation on the internet. She looks at the issue from marketing perspective and claims most marketers are missing the point and don’t see social networking sites as the identity forming tool it has become for contemporary teens.

She encourages marketers promoting via social network sites, to reflect on the value their product or service bring teens. Products will succeed in  the social networking domain if they can help teens work out who they are and proclaim their identity. These sentiments are echoed in the marketing and advertising literature (see, for example; Gangadharbatla, 2008)

Now before you get cynical about marketers, there is a valuable lesson here for educators.

As we attempt to integrate social networking into formal education, we must me mindful of student motivation, interests and attitudes. Are the tasks we’re asking students to complete using social media furthering their ability to construct identity, or allowing them to express themselves: Or are our best laid plans destined to go awry?

If we are not using online tools in the way students are, or harnessing the skills they have developed through their use, then we are starting from scratch, squandering the opportunity that students engagement with social media affords educators.

Gangadharbatla, H.  2008. Facebook Me: Collective Self-Esteem, Need to Belong,and Internet Self-Efficacy as Predictors of the iGeneration’s Attitudes toward Social Networking Sites. Journal of Interactive Advertising. 8(2).

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