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social sphere
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morals
ambition
Its Not All Roses - Google Has Announced Its Intentions To Spread Into The Social Sphere Aggresively
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Luke Skywalker's lament was that his father used his powers for evil, in spite of the fact he felt the conflict within.

Most of us have felt similar conflict at times. Life occasionally throws up opportunities for us to test our values and priorities. Are we driven by money, morals, the desire to succeed, love for others or ambition?

As a regular reader and writer about Web 2.0 technology I have been interested in reading about google's announcement of its intentions to spread into the social sphere aggresively. But this is a story in two parts and it's hard to get a sense of where the divide between good and evil exists.

Social networking is a great Web 2.0 tool for science teaching. Students are already comptent and comfortable sharing thoughts and ideas, photos and stories. That makes social networking an easy transition to a group project.

In Biology I ask my students to research one of the key contributors in the curriculum. There are a number of important contributors including Darwin, Wallace, Jenner, Mendel, Watson, Crick, Franklin, Morgan, etc.

Each student takes one scientist and comes to a 'mocktail party' as that character. They need to chat to each other, exchange information and answer questions at the end. A few drinks and nibblies goes down well too.

Social neworking, blogs and wikis allow these sorts of tasks to be set within a timeframe but with even greater capacity for interaction. They can share useful sites, pictures and information with one another and then refer back to each scientist when we reach that part of the syllabus. It makes the learning more real and live as new information can be added all the time.

Combining the two tasks rewards the efforts of the students with a different experience that acknowledges the learning process and outcomes. So my goal has been to try and take advantage of the skills that students have gained through social networking and try to maximise technology in science teaching.

With the countless hours students spend on facebook and google, the countless words that have been typed and the skills learned, it makes it very difficult when two such great allies are fighting. When google announced its intentions to spread into the social sphere aggresively, facebook felt threatened. Well facebook didn't, its community did. Their response was a less than savoury campaign to discredit google, even though their reasons for the campaign were somewhat honourable. There is certainly a good argument for protecting user privacy.

So who should win this argument? Honestly, I don't care. I'm more concerned about who loses. Students use both media regularly and in productive ways, both for learning and for fun. Tools which assist educators to make learning fun, particular Web 2.0 technologies, should be freely available and secure enough that privacy is both respected and protected. This is the minimum we should require.

Let's just hope facebook and google resist the temptation and continue to use their powers for good.


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