September 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

Andrea Lunsford a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University from her Stanford Study of Writing research conducted for 5 years concludes,

..we’re in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen since Greek civilization and young people today write far more than any generation before them.

Nowadays, people express themselves so much in their facebook accounts, blogs, tweets or sms’s it greatly increases their ability to write. Twitter updates in less than 140 characters helps our thoughts be brief. Blogs on the other hand lets us get in depth..or writing on the wall teaches us how to grab the attention of people or commenting on a post/video is nothing but argument.. There have been concerns on using acronyms like LOL or gr8, etc, but it does not mean people who use it do not know the spelling for ‘great’ or similar words.


Anyway, why not take social networks deeper into the classroom? For e.g, Create a controlled environment which could simulate YouTube or Flickr(could be any social network having enough scope for participation) and let the students interact meaning people would contribute to the community and get commented/criticized for an item, etc. Over a period of time when these interactions are recorded and assessed it would provide interesting insights on the behavior of an individual or the level of contribution in a collaborative space. It’s been realized that such kind of controlled environment even promotes innovation cited by this INSEAD research paper (InnoTube : A video-based connection tool supporting collaborative innovation).

In the world of book publishing, collaborative reading (using a wordpress theme) is already in practice where readers can add their comment on for each page/paragraph/sentence or even a word in a book, much like Wikipedia. This would at the end basically look like a used hard copy text book which is valued for its smart explanations and notes on the sides of pages.

More implementations like the above would harness the power of social networks in a quantifiable way. As a sort of confession, I was part of the team that created the 1st version of InnoTube cited above under Albert Angehrn at CALT-INSEAD.

Arun Vallappan


1. WIRED Article – Clive Thomson On the New Literacy

2. InnoTube Brief Introduction – Video

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