Learning is about friends

In an earlier posting, I asked, Should we blog in the classroom? One aspect of answering in the affirmative is looking at the social aspect of learning. That is, when people work together, play together, learn together, it's simply more engaging, interesting, and motivating. Katrina Rinaldi, a high school senior, has written quite a few articles on student perspectives on technology (in Students of Explanazine). In her article Students on Student Technology -- Why We Like Xanga (Part 1), the social dimension of technology and learning is prominent. Her article is worth reading in its entirety, but here are some excerpts:

Human contact. Something every human yearns for -- especially teenagers. ... Thankfully, with Xanga, when you can't be with your friends physically, you can at least browse their thoughts online as well share your own ideas.

Xanga is an online blogging site that now also allows you to accumulate a social network. ....

I prefer Xanga to Myspace because it's more personal. ...

The main attraction of Xanga for me and my friends is the ability to write and post your own thoughts and ideas, quotes and passages from books, or even pictures. You also get to read your friends' posts, and comment on them. Xanga certainly helps us understand each other better -- you learn to see people differently when you really understand where they are coming from and how they think.

Xanga is also an amazing resource for keeping in touch with friends. ...

Interaction with friends is necessary for friendships to continue, and Xanga is a great way to make that interaction happen. It works if you're separated by continents, or simply stuck inside because of weather or punishment. I think it probably seems like time wasted to parents, but a good deal of the time teenagers spend on Xanga should be considered social interaction. While that may not seem like a huge thing to some parents, but believe me, it is.

There's not much to add here, but for me Katrina highlights the need for teachers always to keep in mind how to build communities of personal interaction and friends in the classroom. In my readings, I see a lot about the need for interaction and the social, but little about "friends."