At the Science Online 2010: Exploring Science on the Web conference in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina this past weekend, I attended a panel session of students from Stacy Baker‘s Staten Island Academy Biology class. The panel, Blogging the Future — The Use of Online Media in the Next Generation of Scientists, featured eight students who covered the following topics:
- Salina – data analysis
- Mike – extremebiology.net/blog
- Ammar – www.ptable.com
- Melina – chemtouch iphone app
- Brooke – Waves iphone app
- Alex – The Body Pod Game
- Carl – RPG Games
- Jack – Jack’s game
We learned how students use social media tools for homework and daily interaction with classmates and friends. They’re jazzed about anything that involves their friends (interaction) or what friends/others think is cool (the buzz factor).
Their comments about Twitter:
- Twitter is for adults.
- What’s the point?
I agree, from their perspective. My daughters don’t use Twitter. They text and Facebook their friends. They tease me about my TWaddiction, and threaten to take my iPhone from me during holidays — TWintervention. I digress….
Here’s how I see it:
Students have an extensive social network already. A well-populated, self-contained social bubble where the latest buzz spreads like a flash fire that consumes all the oxygen. Then they move on to the next buzz. Within their bubble, facebook meets their needs quite well. But, the moment they step out of their social bubble and yearn for the bigger buzz –timely information about what’s going on in the world, job fields or project funding — they may find Twitter useful. Or more likely they’ll leap-frog to the next social media buzz to follow Twitter.
Jack presented the games he created. We were totally blown away.
I piped up from the audience, saying someone needed to hire Jack. I asked Jack if he wanted to come to NASA and be an astronaut. He looked blankly like the words NASA and astronaut meant nothing to him. Someone else from the audience answered for him, ”Why would he want to be an astronaut, when he could be a game-developer?”
BTW: Did you know that the #1 career field for college graduates is game design?
Note: I received quite the ribbing about getting shot down by Jack. Oh NASA, we have SO much work to do! But, on the bright side, Salina was thrilled to talk about NASA.
Yay, SPACE-girl power!
Two major takeaways:
- Students look for apps to help with homework. App developers take note: student’s create your buzz for you — if the app is cool AND meets their needs.
- Students prefer social interaction over flashy design! If their friends or other students aren’t part of the experience, they won’t engage.
I leave you with this final image (and tweet) from the conference: