Kyle, whom I used to work with at The Sheffield College, reminded me today of an email she'd sent me in August 2005, with her assessment of "The Facebook". If you've got anything similar in your email archives, feel free to paste it in as a comment to Kyle's piece.
From: Kyle McGrath
Sent: 11 August 2005 00:51
Subject: the facebook
Hope all is well with you...
I don't think you've mentioned *the facebook* yet in your fortnightly mailing? *the facebook* was brought to my attention a couple of months back by my niece, Sara, a high school Senior in N.Y. - headed towards SUNY Purchase as a freshman in September. Through *the facebook*, she has, over the past couple of months, already met the students that she will be living with and studying with in September, and they've formed a social community, and she is also in a developing learning community (of nerds)...
Not only do they know who is bringing the iron and who is bringing the ironing board - Sara tells me that they know a lot more interesting stuff that she's not prepared to divulge even to her favourite aunty.
FYI, the facebook concept is a development of the American high school Yearbook concept. The Yearbook is about who you are saying good-bye to (High School), whereas the Facebook has, over the past few years, been produced by some colleges to introduce (College/Uni) freshmen to each other.
I gather that *the facebook* serves both functions - Sara is in a community of people she is saying goobye to as well as in a community of people she is saying hello to.
*the facebook* doesn't translate particularly well to the U.K. - in America, kids normally have a firm College/Uni offer by April of their Senior year, so there is a six-month window for community building. Here, they dont' know until August (which, of course, sucks - what is going to happen to them between April and August, that is going to impact on their ability or aptitude?).
Nonetheless, from what I've seen *the facebook*, it is a shining example of how social networks can develop to support learning.
These days it takes a lot to impress me - and I'm impressed. http://www.thefacebook.com/
[Used with the permission of the author]