Sunday, January 10, 2010

Simple Subject Sunday: WORDS Have Meaning!

Do you believe that words have power through the meaning they convey? If you agree, I think you understand the power of learning.

After noticing that unfriend, was selected by the New Oxford American Dictionary as the 2009 word of the year, I decided that I need to put my oar in the water to row the learning boat to a more conciliatory island. What should we call people with whom we work, learn and share in our professional social networks?

For instance, I know the default word choice for associate is called "friend" on .nings, yet it seems to me the term "friend", has become such an overused term nowadays, it doesn't always accurately portray the professional relationships of those who are learning and working together online.

A few years ago, when I first joined Classroom2.0, I always referred to the people that I "friended" as colleagues, as did several other people in that network. As time went on, Steve Hargadon change the term "friend" to COLLEAGUE. I was very happy with that decision. I felt that "colleague" more accurately described our professional/learning relationships. Many people had mentioned that they were hesitant to agree to be "friends" with another person on CR2.0, but they would become "colleagues". Some of us ARE friends, but most are colleagues because we work together in groups or teams that are not related to our age, gender or other defining concepts.

After seeing many learning networks use the word "friend", as I see on personal networks like MySpace and FaceBook, I would like to suggest that teachers, parents and other community members who interact online with students,  MUST consider investigating the use of some other word.

What kind of a message are we sending to students if we want them to participate in these online networks, but we make then run gauntlets like friending people they may barely know or even tolerate at school? Or worse, what kind of message are we sending if these students are not friended or unfriended?

I'm hoping that you will agree, and consider using another word, besides friend, on your networks. A friend is a person that you build a relationship with, not someone you just or in the World of Matter. Personally, I like the word COLLEAGUE, but I would suggest that you might use VisuWords to find a better synonym.

Thanks in advance for considering this idea!

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