Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Facebook power

I learnt today that PGCE students compare school placement experiences through Facebook. Well I expect they’ve been doing it for some time, but the difference is that now the staff have cottoned on! So there’s a sort of student backchannel that exposes the wide variety of provision and experience. Ofsted would love access to this to drill through the glossy veneer of ‘partnership’ which ITE institutions are forced to present! Hearing this made me think how powerful social media can be. In earlier times ITE could operate a sort of divide and rule approach. Just as long as students were isolated in their various placement schools, they could be encouraged to get on with it and to see the local reality as the only reality. Of course they shared stories with friends, met up in pubs and commiserated with each other by phone, but the Facebook network is far more powerful. They are more widely and more publically connected and their conversations build. I expect we’ll be starting to advise students not to use Facebook soon, if indeed we aren’t already doing so. I mean if you ‘have to have a photo taken of you clutching your handbag, mascara running, asleep in the corridor when you were too drunk to make it back to your room’ (Miller, 2010:114) then what’s the point in having a reference?

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