Can Facebook replace face-to-face? This interesting question was recently posed in the ISTE forum hosted at
ISTE will be selecting two responses from submissions to publish in the Sept/Oct. Leading & Learning with Technology journal. The response I decided to submit to ISTE is included below.
Can Facebook replace face-to-face?
Given the revolutionary change in the internet since its inception and the current capabilities of web 2.0 tools, this is certainly an interesting question to pose. As an avid technology user and life long learner this question has prompted a lot of pondering on my part.
In my view, life is fundamentally about people and relationships. Relationships provide the foundational connection between people as they foster many emotions: love, trust, comfort, sense of well being, caring and personal value. Relationships contain a core ingredient of real time interaction as one of many important components. I do not believe the essence of human interaction can exist in complete isolation. Social networking applications such as Facebook function in an asynchronous communication patterns. I do not believe fully functional relationships can exist with this interactive pattern only.
Based on this thinking, I would have to cast my vote as ‘no’. Facebook can not fully replace face-to-face interactions.
However, I do see an exciting future where people will have more and more opportunities to live in a blended world that maximizes one’s experiences that embrace face to face interactions and relationships, effectively use Facebook, other social networking tools, and other web 2.0 tools, as a way to connect with people, learn and work in a rich and collaborative manner.
As we continue to develop and refine our notions of the meaning of digital citizenship and learn how to embed these fundamental values in each of us, I believe we will have impacted human communication in a truly positive and global way.
A couple of weeks ago a co-worker gave me a copy of Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug to read. I read about a third of the book today. As I started to read, I could see that the typical web user patterns described in the early chapters were in fact a reflection of many of my own browsing habits.
There were a couple of key points were made that really struck me. Although it seems painfully obvious, it is important that web sites be designed to reflect the manner in which the TYPICAL end user will use/browse/interact with the site. The bottom line is, if a site is too awkward to use, people will be less likely to return to the sight. Secondly, in spite of the careful design of most sites, users gather information much in the same way you do zipping down the highway and glancing at a bill board.
Ideas covered in the book so far include: simplistic design, minimizing the amount of text used, establishing a clear visual hierarchy of information and minimizing the clicks – and all illustrated effectively through some great analogies.
My context? As we look at rolling out web sites for large numbers of staff in my Board, we have been focusing on simple design in an easy to use, easy to support environment. Many aspects of the book clearly line up well with our intent and gives me even more insights to planning our rollout of websites.
I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book. Based on what I have read and learned so far, I would recommend Don’t Make Me Think as a good read for anyone involved in web design whether your plans are big/small or professional/personal.
Working in education is a great place to be. In many respects, we have more opportunities than ever before. Consider all that is before us: curriculum requirements, improved achievement scores, literacy, digital citizenship, the role of technology, integration of technology, web 2.0 tools for learning, the changing role of the library, content filtering, the many forms of elearning, use of smart phones, content delivery, social networking, equity and inclusion, funding, sustainability, infrastructure, sufficient staffing levels, user generated content, engaged learners, teacher training and best classroom practice. This is by no means a complete list, but gives a good idea of the complexity of challenges that all educational institutions are grappling with.
One of the key points to ponder in my mind, is the notion of systemic change. Every educational organization has a complicated landscape of successes, excellence, innovation, broken fronts and perhaps some failures. How do we capture all of the right aspects of the many educational ingredients I listed above and mould them into a plan for systemic change to benefit all students?
In my role as a K-12 CIO, I am actively engaged in analyzing and developing strategies to align our IT planning with the learning agenda in a sustainable and progressive manner that will give us the best of 21st century learning and support systemic change for improved learning. While this topic will be the main theme of my blog, I will write about educational technology in broader terms as well as other personal interests.