I picked up the title for this post while rummaging through a set of links and comments that took me from one post to the next.
I started at “I Miss the Old Blogosphere.” From there I travelled to “The Web We Lost” and then back in time to Dave Winer’s post “Corporate Blogging Silos.” Each of these writers have been thinking about the loss of individual voices and spaces among the cacaphony of a web where we write and think in spaces other people create for us. (Read The Circle by Dave Eggers? Thought about deleting every social media account you have because of it?)
One of the first reasons that we brought kids online was to help them grow their own voice. We didn’t bring them online to develop a “presence” or an “audience.” We brought them online to help them see the world through globalized eyes, seeking out diverse opinion and experience as something to value. We gave them a space, helped them to plant and water it with writing and pictures and comments from around the world. We worried about helping them get their content out at the end of the school year or helping them to establish a space they could build on and maintain year after year.
So, what to do?
1.) Teach your students to use social media sites and apps safely and responsibly. Don’t scare them away from these places. They are great places to connect with others
2.) Help them to grow a space online that will be their homestead. Important pictures, ideas and content will go here. Teach them to look after it and maintain it. Help them to build a community of readers, writers and thinkers.
3.) Teach them about technology like RSS that will help them to find others and grow a reader and a community.
For about $100 / student a school could help all of their students to establish an independent domain and space at some place like Reclaim for their entire middle and high school career. At the end, burn them a DVD of all of their work and give them the choice of continuing their space if they want to.
Overall, help them to grow and build a space online that is their own. Give them the basic technical skills they need to maintain it. The great thing about the digital land rush is that there is room enough for everyone.