A three year American study, called the Digital Youth Study, which took an ethnographical approach to teenage online usage, has concluded that teenagers now use Web 2.0 socially based content and content creation software to define themselves, develop friendships and communities, and facilitate peer-based learning experiences.
The interesting aspect for those of us looking at ways to enhance learning in secondary schools is how little this technology has crept into the educational environment, as well as how diverse the knowledge and skills bases are amongst students.
Here's an interview with the lead researcher Mizuko Ito.
In July a report from the University of Nottingham came to similar conclusions. It had spent 18 months investigating the use of Web 2.0 technology in secondary schools. Its findings were that students who used Web 2.0 were mainly doing so outside of school time, and were not integrating it into their learning.
It's something we're keen to address at Berkhamsted School and hope to integrate Web 2.0 into our curriculum over the coming months.
Certainly, there's no doubting the fact that students are accessing information in a radically different way to that of their predecessors, even five years ago. The challenge, and it is an exciting one, is to maintain the best practice that teachers are using now and blend it with an appropriate range of complementary and accessible technological tools.
We live, as the saying says, in interesting times.