danah boyd (yes, there are legally no caps in her name), social media researcher, is coming to speak to parents and the rest of the community at Wilmette Junior High School on Wednesday, October 7th at 7pm. See http://fan-ntts.ntnow.org/
Image via Wikipedia
I've used her work in my own teaching and as a way to engage students at the intersection of their lives and course content. For example, in my Integrated Psychology/Sociology course, we embarked upon an entire unit focused around social class in America. Reading about boyd's research on class differences between MySpace and Facebook users proved to be a fascinating way to start the often difficult conversation.
Inspired by this, my students, who were also tasked with learning the required but rather dry social science research terminology, accomplished this by designing their own Facebook research project. Students "played the whole game" by choosing random/representative samples, and discussing the generalizability of their findings.
Finally, my Modern World History students are bucking what boyd identified as the teen trend of avoiding Twitter by experimenting with this social media application each and every Friday of class. We'll see if the students can translate this tool from a purely social/community-building application to something more research-based.