New Slide: People Formerly Known as the Audience

Not long ago, I came across this great quote from Jay Rosen, an NYU Journalism professor, Huffington Post blogger, and member of the Wikipedia Adivsory Board:


Download Peopleformerlyknown

Jay's argument—one that is supported by other new media thinkers, including Clay Shirky—is that we're living in a Participation Nation.

Driven by the very human desire to connect and the development of tools that make interacting incredibly easy, 61% of all online adults have joined social media spaces, spending spending an average of 6 hours each month networking, sharing, and keeping up with neighbors and family members (Madden, 2010; Nielsenwire, 2010).

We're reading blogs and leaving comments on videos. We're maintaining profiles on several different social networking websites and carefully crafting complex digital footprints that are a reflection of our personal and professional selves. We're arguing, debating, creating shared knowledge together—and we're almost always coming back for more.

Essentially, we're collectively pushing back against broadcasters. 

We've embraced the ability to connect beyond organizations, to form our own networks, and to create our own content without permission.  Rosen's point—one that newspapers are learning the hard way—is that we don't make the best audiences any more.

That's cool, isn't it? 

Sure it is—and our students think so, too. 

Need proof? 

Then consider these statistics:

  • 93% of teens access the Internet regularly. 63% are online every day and 36% are online several times each day.
  • 73% of all online teens and 72% of young adults are using social networking sites to stay connected with one another.
  • 82% of 14-17 year olds and 55% of 12-13 year olds have profiles on social networking sites.
  • Almost 7 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 have Facebook profiles, comprising nearly 10% of all Facebook users in the United States.
  • 37% of the teens in social networking sites join groups to stay connected.
  • 25% of the teens in social networking sites are using their cell phones to check and update their profiles.
  • Teens use their social networking profiles to manage existing relationships,share thoughts, touch base, send public and private messages, comment on one another’s blogs, and post on each other’s profiles.
  • Teens also use their social networking profiles to build diverse core networks that they rely on for guidance and advice.

(Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2010; Lenhart, Purcell, Smith, & Zickuhr, 2010; Gonzalez, 2010; Lenhart, 2010b; Lenhart & Madden, 2007; Hampton, Sessions, Her, & Rainie, 2009)

So if participation has become a basic expectation—the new normal, so to speak—of content consumers in today's world, can schools that are still presentation-driven, lecture-loving communities really survive?  Aren't we turning off our "clients" every time we pass policies or support practices that make participating in—and beyond—our classroom walls possible? 

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm disgusted every time that I'm forced to suffer through a sit-and-get professional development session because I've fallen in love with the always connected, hyper-social learning that I do the minute I leave my faculty meetings.

Isn't it possible that our kids are just as disgusted every time they are forced to suffer through sit-and-get school years?

8 thoughts on “New Slide: People Formerly Known as the Audience

  1. Bill Ferriter

    Bob wrote:
    When will results matter? So called “student centered instruction” has helped to put us far behind our global competitors. No other country is so foolish.
    Thanks for stopping by, Bob. Here’s my reactions:
    1. “Results” will only matter when we have a clear definition of what “results” we really care about.
    If having creative problem solvers who think across borders is something that matters to us, your direct instruction is going to come up short time and again.
    If “results” means higher rankings on international multiple choice tests, then everyone should make direct instruction a centerpiece of their instruction.
    Your assertion that the US looks “foolish” behind our global competitors also comes up a bit short. If that were true, why do so many international students come to the US to study after high school?
    China is actually a great example. K12 students there may outperform our K12 students on international tests like PISA, but by the time those same students get to universities, they’ve had the innovation beaten out of them and they’re intellectually exhausted.
    Same with Sinagapore, whose minister of education still believes the US K12 system of education does a better job preparing innovators than anything they’re doing in SE Asia.
    So again, what “results” do we care about?
    And more importantly, what “results” will matter the most for the kids in your class ten years from now?
    Those aren’t easy questions to answer, no matter how much we wish that they were.
    Does this make any sense?

  2. Bob Dean

    When will results matter? So called “student centered instruction” has helped to put us far behind our global competitors. No other country is so foolish… I use every kind of technology in my math classroom, including; youtube, facebook, online assessments and worksheets, email help, doc cameras etc, etc…. all of it involves direct instruction… the only method that has a proven track record of success….and the only method that isn’t based on the latest fad and has been used successfully from the beginning of time.

  3. DuWayne Krause

    I disagree with much of what you say. I have highly participatory classes, but I am against the use of technology in my classes. With our addiction to internet interaction kids no longer do anything physical and they lose the ability to interact face to face with a real person. At the beginning of the year I have to train/force kids to interact face to face and work together. Once they have acquired this skill their support for each other, skill level, and enthusiasm soar.

  4. Bill Ferriter

    Mr. Borders wrote:
    How many readers do you have for your blog? How many comments per post? If it is anything like mine, only about 1% of the readers are commenting. So the “participatory interaction” is mainly illusion; most people are still passive consumers.
    If blogs were the only social networking tool that my readers were using, I’d probably agree with you, Mr. Borders.
    In reality, a ton of my readers are also active in places like Twitter and Facebook, which make participating quicker and easier.
    For those readers, blogs become a forum for deeper expressions of thought. Twitter and Facebook become forums for quick interactions with each other.
    An example: Eric Townsley, a principal in Iowa, read my recent post on teacher evaluation. He didn’t leave a comment, but he did message back and forth with me in Twitter about the topic.
    Then he wrote his own blog entry pushing back against my thinking.
    That’s what participating looks like. Blogs aren’t the best—or the only—tool that are a part of a person’s participation patterns.

  5. gasstationwithoutpumps

    How many readers do you have for your blog? How many comments per post? If it is anything like mine, only about 1% of the readers are commenting. So the “participatory interaction” is mainly illusion; most people are still passive consumers.

  6. bill01370

    I share your sentiments, and myself would want most to work in a student-driven, participatory school (mine is like that in many ways). But as long as there are people who are teacher-centered and don’t really get student-driven learning (and believe you me, there are), there will still be a place for sit ‘n get schools.

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