The One Post a Day Challenge is already starting to add up to a big personal project for me. I’m not yet overwhelemd with it, but as I embark on a whirlwind 7 days (kicked off by an overnight trip to Madison, WI to present and punctuated by the Learning Design Summer Camp) I can see the wheels showing some signs of coming off. I’m not there yet though! I am thrilled to see the comments here, but what is already becoming evident is how nice it is to read a wealth of fresh squeezed content from my community every single day. I am enjoying hearing new voices and discovering new blogs. Very cool. One thing I am becoming concerned about is that I see a theme emerging here that I hope is meaningful to those around me — the idea of doing things in the cloud. All of my posts have been focused on using the Blogs at PSU as a personal publishing space and I am hoping it isn’t getting stale.
With that in mind, I thought I would take a stab at a similar, but slightly off topic observation about the coming shift in demographics on our campuses. I am drawing upon some of the amazing work done by our friends at the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Not too long ago I read a few of their reports that focused on online teenagers’ web behavior. Not entirely surprising to see how connected they are, but it is a little stunning to see how sophisticated they are as they participate in social environments. Some highlights that have me thinking about what my campus will look like in 5 years and if our work is going to pay dividends when this generation shows up:
- Nearly 50% of online teens are sharing content online. This isn’t file sharing, it is sharing pictures, text, and other forms of their media.
- 64% engage in at least one form of content creation.
- Girls dominate most elements of online content creation and sharing with 35% of teen girls blogging, and 54% sharing photos. Compared with 20% of boys blog and 40% share pictures.
- Boys are nearly twice as likely to share their videos online — I’m not touching that one!
Why is this the case? Well I have a few suspicions, but the fact that Pew tells us that 89% of them report that people comment on these artifacts some of the time tells me a lot. Wow. So it means to me that they are engaging in a new form of social dynamic that looks a hell of a lot like a digital conversation. I am wondering as a follow up is if they actively market their online lives in a face to face world or if they just know their friends are connected to it and are silent about the publishing? Do they show up at school and say, “did you see my pictures, video, or blog post?” I’m not sure, but Pew also tells us that most of them use their social networks to control access — this is a big reason why Facebook is the number one photo sharing site on the Internet.
With that said, I am reminded of a meeting I had with my colleague, Glenn Johnson, early last week about the blog platform. Glenn has been the “ePortfolio Guy” at PSU for several years and has done an outstanding job socializing the notion of student portfolios. He was showing us how he has traditionally shown people how to use WYSIWYG tools along with our PASS explorer (really an online SFTP like client) that visualizes your personal webspace as files and folders. A metaphor that has been in play for years. When we started talking about teens and their use of social tools for sharing we started to wonder if they had any clue as to where their items were going?
Does a directory structure matter to this generation? Where the hell are my pictures when I upload them to Facebook anyway? Should we care or should we make the jump into just managing assets through tagging them on the way in? I think Pew tells us we have some real decisions to make as it relates to enterprise learning environments and some of our old school preconceptions are not going to match up with emerging trends. I am especially interested in what people think about this and how we can be positioning ourselves to deal with the shift.