Neil Selwyn has written an excellent critique of the view that social media is having a postive impact on education. The Educational Significance of Social Media - A Critical Perspective is Selwyn's presentation at an ED MEDIA 2010 debate on the motion: "that the use of social media and networking is contributing to the attainment of significant educational goals in ways that suggest even more powerful future impact."
Selwyn argues that the social media discourse is "driven by belief, speculation, anecdote and personal experience rather than recourse to actual evidence." He takes aim at a central part of the net gen discourse: the view that "digital natives" are actively engaged with social media, not just as passive consumers but active contributors. "The majority of people who do use social media are perhaps best termed as ‘non-active users’ – passively downloading content rather than engaging in any meaningful acts of creation or sharing."
He concludes by highlighting what I think is one of key problems with the ed tech/social media field today, the fact that too much of our discourse is self-referential and self-congratulatory, happening in an "Ed-Tech bubble." He says "we need to stop talking amongst ourselves, and start talking to those people outside of the educational technology community who do not usually engage in such discussions. One of the obvious limitations to current enthusiasms for social media is the self-contained, self- referencing and self-defining nature of the debate. These are generally conversations that only ever take place between groups of social media-using educators – usually using social media to talk about the educational benefits of social media. Outside of the narrow ‘Ed-Tech bubble’ very few people are engaging with these discussions. We therefore need to ... stimulate a new phase of discussion, dialogue and conversation about what social media is – and what social media could be – with everyone involved in education."
Other work by Neil Selwyn:
Adult Learning in the Digital Age: Information Technology and the Learning Society
The Digital Native: Myth and Reality