During October a small group of YALSA bloggers are posting ideas and information about positive uses of social networking tools in schools and libraries. Here’s positive use #9.
In their new book, My Space Unraveled: A Parents Guide to Teen Social Networking, authors Larry Magid and Anne Collier explain how the calendar feature in My Space works and then highlight for parents the importance of making sure that teens disable public viewing of their calendar. That makes sense, public viewing of where a teen will be when via MySpace could definitely put a teen in a dangerous situation.
But, there are some positive ways that teens can use social networking calendars with friends, teachers, families, and libraries. By giving teens the chance to use web-based calendars beyond simply being a tool for letting others know where they will be when, we give them the chance to make choices about when it is safe to use these calendars and with whom they share their calendar data.
For example, Google Calendar gives users the ability to manage who gets to see a person’s calendar on a very case-by-case basis. A user can setup different calendars and only those who are invited to see or share data on a specific calendar have access. For example, as a part of this YALSA 30 days of positive social networking project, the bloggers who are involved setup a calendar on which each blogger selected days that she would blog and listed the topics she plans to blog about. No one else except the bloggers has access to that calendar. No one else except the bloggers can add content to the calendar. It’s a private calendar space for a small group of users.
A librarian and teens working on an advisory group project might setup a Google calendar as a way to put together a schedule and plan the project. The calendar would be accessible to anyone involved in the project. Since it’s web-based it’s accessible anytime an Internet connection with web access is available. As teens work on plans they can add to the calendar, change plans on the calendar, and add notes about the process and project.
In a school a teacher might setup a web-based calendar for students to use when working on class projects. The calendar might have daily tips and lists of what to work on when. Students could add content on each date about what they are working on and create a schedule for themselves. The teacher could add notes about steps the teen might want to consider as he works on a particular project.
Librarians often talk about teen planning skills and what seems to be lacking in those skills. Web-based calendars that are a part of social networking tools can be a great way to help teens gain some of the planning skills librarians (and other educators) see as lacking. If DOPA passes this will be another missed opportunity for helping teens make choices and gain skills that will help them throughout their adult lives.