Only connect

1 Oct

I accept the theory that today’s students are ‘digital natives’ (see John Naughton’s column in The Observer for an explanation). Problem is, I don’t see it in practice.

When I asked a lecture theatre of over 100 first year students ‘who has a blog?’ only one hand went up. It could be that the first lecture isn’t the time to show your hand; it could be that those on MySpace or Bebo don’t think they’re blogging. More likely, though, they can’t connect a purely social, teenage activity with an area of academic study or professional practice.

In the industrial age, people had to compartmentalise. Workers were units of production at work, people with lives outside. But in the information age our skills, interests and prospects are intertwined (and the different strands can easily be revealed by a Google search). Work becomes more interesting – and more important. And the classroom becomes a window on this world, not an ivory tower.

3 Responses to “Only connect”

  1. David Phillips FCIPR 01/10/2006 at 2:23 pm #

    A nice reality check and very insightful comment.
    Asked how many use IM when doing homework last year I got a forest of hands.
    Progressing from there, there were other social media applications in common use.
    Mobile provides the most attractive platform.

  2. Derek Hodge 04/10/2006 at 4:59 pm #

    Asked my MSc students about this today. Out of twenty of them four said they had personal blogs and six used MySpace, Bebo or something similar.

  3. Jessica 10/10/2006 at 1:20 am #

    Hi, Richard.
    After reading this post yesterday, I decided to ask my fellow MAPR students at Bournemouth Uni how many of them had a blog. The only person to raise their hand was the other American girl who has a blog on MySpace, which she even questioned if that counts. I am the only one to have two blogs, a professional and a personal. My class is composed of many nationalities, many of which have media, marketing, or communications backgrounds. However, I’m baffled that only two expressed interest in receiving my list of PR and marketing blogs to read even after citing that participating in the blogoshere is a great resource for practical, real-world opinion, spotting trends, and networking and that several students in the US and UK have gotten jobs at big-name PR companies partly because of their participation.
    I’m hoping to start a communications club that highlights all of the social media and other internet tools and trends that universities aren’t able to incorporate into the program as quickly as those tools are emerging and evolving. Do you have a communications club or society at your university? Are they covering subjects such as this? I’d love to hear about it and exchange ideas.

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