Tuesday, September 18, 2007

School Boards Report

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has published a short but fascinating report on how students are using social networking sites. If you're expecting a hatchet job, you'll be sadly disappointed!

The NSBA report provides an overview of statistics compiled by Grunwald Associates for a longer report, which is available commercially from Grunwald. The report documents the high level of usage of social sites by students. OK, that's not headline news, but what might be is the frequency (59%) of students who say they use social networking to discuss educational topics, "including college or college planning; learning outside of school; news; careers or jobs; politics, religion or morals; and schoolwork" (page 1 of the report).

Even more interesting to me was the research into what the report calls "Nonconformists." These are the students who, according to the report, are more likely to influence other students about what software and sites to use; to recruit new users; and to organize events online. These students also tend to have score Bs and Cs in school, probably because they'd rather be networking than learning about the Peloponnesian War.

It seems to me if libraries (all types of libraries) made a concerted effort to recruit these kids to work in libraries, and actually empowered them to do what they do best instead of just having them shelve books, we might be on the cutting edge once in a while, instead of always playing catch up. Just a thought...

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