While [ISTE. AASL] standards tend to emphasize learning and work skills, there is a growing concern that students who do not master communication and collaboration enabling technologies will not be able to full participate in modern cultural and political life. As described by Henry Jenkins of MIT:We are using participation as a term that cuts across educational practices, creative processes, community life, and democratic citizenship. Our goals should be to encourage youth to develop the skills, knowledge, ethical frameworks, and self-confidence needed to be full participants in contemporary culture.
Jenkins warns:A growing body of scholarship suggests potential benefits of these forms of participatory culture, including opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship. Access to this participatory culture functions as a new form of the hidden curriculum, shaping which youth will succeed and which will be left behind as they enter school and the workplace.
Social networking, not only teaches and improves skills, but can be used to improve the instruction processes necessary to developing higher order thinking skills in the content areas.
Reynard observes that:Students who understand that their knowledge is socially constructed can benefit immensely from the integration of social networking into their learning process. It cannot be understated that the sooner students understand that their knowledge is not an isolated construct, the sooner they will develop skills of negotiation, debate (an almost forgotten academic skill), critical inquiry, and cognitive positioning – all of which are essential in becoming successful lifelong learners as well as developing expertise in their discipline.
Reynard concludes that “the inclusive educator stimulates student customization of their own learning environment while retaining accountability.” True “differentiated instruction,” individualized learning plans, resources and activities can be accomplished using social networks that are in large part designed by the learner himself.