Study finds MySpace not just for goofing off

MySpace and other social network sites teach students about technology, stir their creative juices and broaden their views, according to a new University of Minnesota study. Interesting, the study points out that the students were actually pretty unaware about the fact they were learning when on the sites.

The six-month study (view a video about it) focused on students ages 16 to 18 at 13 urban high schools in the Midwest who use MySpace.

"What we found was that students using social networking sites are actually practicing the kinds of 21st century skills we want them to develop to be successful today," said Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher in the university's College of Education and Human Development and principal investigator of the study, in a statement. "Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They're also sharing creative original work like poetry and film and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology. The Web sites offer tremendous educational potential."

The study also found that low income students are pretty much on par with more well-off students when it comes to tech-savviness. Participants were from families at or below the county median income of $25K.

More must-reads from Bob Brown:


* What "The Sopranos" taught me about technology (plus our Sopranos tech quiz)


* Behind the scenes of MIT's network


* What makes Harvard's net tick


* The network industry's most colorful story ever


* Alice and Bob: Security's inseparable couple


* A brief history of the Bob-ification of the computing industry


* When animals attack...corporate networks


* Earthquakes, fire and lightning: Must be a NEBS test


* For the record: Guinness book open to industry's greatest hits


* Whirling through the world of propeller beanies

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